2019 Indy GP Race Day

The boys and I headed over to the track around 11:00. It was a beautiful morning but the weather man said rain was coming. I went out in the morning and purchased some additional rain ponchos to make sure we would stay dry. We brought some but when you are out for an extended time we might need extras to keep our things dry or have a dry place to sit. We parked in our usual spot and walked in.

We usually sit with our friend Mark but Mark didn’t make it this year. We decided we would still sit in the same spot though on the mounds by turns 7,8,9. We walked over to set our chairs down. When we got to the mounds it was obvious that the crowds were down this year. The spots on the top of the mounds were full but just inside the top row was plenty of spots to put our things. The boys decided they would just hang out by our seats since they are too old for the kids zone and didn’t want to walk over to Pagoda plaza. However, before I walked over to the Pagoda we realized we left all the rain gear in the car. I hiked back to our car because I was fairly certain we would need it before the day was over.

When I reentered the track I went past the garages and the Pagoda. Met up with Lisa and Joan there. Couldn’t convince them that the mounds by turn 8 were a great place to watch the race from and they chose the mounds by turn 1. The skies were growing darker so I went back to the boys to make sure we had the rain gear to keep dry. By that time they were ready to venture out and grab a snack. They returned just before the start of the race.

As the race began so did the excitement. Alexander Rossi was out before it even began. Rossi was clipped by Pato O’Ward and then hit the wall. The race stayed green. A couple laps later yellow came out when Marcus Ericsson hit the wall. When we returned to green Colton Herta was spun and Ryan Hunter-Reay clipped Herta. Herta was my fantasy pick. I had just taken over the top spot on a Facebook fantasy league I’m a part of. I’m sure I dropped way down now.

Eventually the rain picked up at Indy. Our rain ponchos were on and everyone was guessing when the best time to get on rain tires was. Some got them on too early and some waited. As the race neared the end, Scott Dixon was struggling with his tires. Simon Pagenaud looked like he was unstoppable. Pagenaud was able to get around Matheus Leist and Jack Harvey. While neither one of those drivers are rookies they are both newer to full time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series. I wasn’t surprised Pagenaud got around them. Dixon would be another story and there were not many laps left. Pagenaud neared Dixon with two laps to go and then made an amazing pass right in front of our seats. I could hear he was coming in my headset and was already yelling. That was enough to make Zach peek out from his rain poncho and he saw the great pass too. Simon Pagenaud won the sixth running of the Indy GP, his third win at this track, tied with Will Power.

Prior to the weekend I would have said I’m fine with anyone winning except Will Power or Simon Pagenaud as between the two of them they had won all previous races. That’s the fun thing about IndyCar though, as a race advances you find yourself rooting one way or another. I didn’t really want Scott Dixon to win even though he would have been a new winner at the GP so I was cheering for Pagenaud to get around Dixie. He did and I loved it. So in all other scenarios where a Penske car might win I wouldn’t be thrilled but Pagenaud needed that win. Simon hasn’t won since 2017 and rumor is he won’t continue at Penske. Maybe this will help him keep his position. He is such a fun and talented driver. I hope he is racing for many years to come.

Scott Dixon finished second- again. I don’t recall the exact number but he has quite a few second places at this race. Jack Harvey finished third. It was a great race by Harvey. I was so close to picking him for my fantasy pick over Herta. Oh well. Love seeing Jack and the Michael Shank team on the podium. A shout out to Matheus Leist and AJ Foyt Racing for their fourth place finish. Matt started way in the back of the field and moved his way up to fourth. Tony Kanaan started last but the team took a gamble and put rain tires on early. Turned out to be a bit too early and Tony didn’t do so well.

We packed up our things and joined the track invasion before the boys headed for the car and I took one last trip past the garages. Since Matthew can drive he got the car and pulled it up as I exited the Speedway. We stopped at the Foyt Vault post race. I had a glass of wine and the boys enjoyed a soda. The main reason for our stop though was to buy the new 103 wine featuring Tony Kanaan. It’s a $60 bottle of wine, much more than I’ve ever spent on a bottle but this bottle is three of May favorite things- AJ Foyt, Tony Kanaan and wine! Steve said to pick one up as a Mother’s Day gift and I didn’t thing twice. The boys then played shuffleboard so I looked through some of the books they have and was reading while I waited for them. We had a simple meal at Culver’s and ended our evening in the hot tub at the hotel. Another fun race day!

A couple posts ago I discussed if the GP was a good race weekend. I can safely say it once again was a wonderful time.

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Alexander Rossi Dominates at Long Beach

When Alexander Rossi first joined the IndyCar series in 2016 it was obvious to the fans he would rather be in F1. After his first season and winning a little race called the Indianapolis 500 he seemed to be a bit more interested in staying in IndyCar. Now in his third season I think it is safe to say Alexander Rossi is thrilled to be running in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He has also won the hearts of the fans and many of us were thrilled to watch him dominate and win at Long Beach Sunday afternoon. I’m always the first to say I hate a Penske parade. I want lead changes and drama but I loved every minute of the race on Sunday and was thrilled that Rossi led so many laps before finally taking the twin checkered flags. Farther back in the field was where the drama was and that all made for a fun and interesting race.

The drama began in qualifying, nothing too major at first but then Ryan Hunter-Reay was penalized for not staying in the designated lane when leaving the pits. In the driver meeting they were very specifically told where the blend line was and where they could cross over to the race track. During qualifying RHR cut over early and was penalized and therefore did not advance to the fast six. Now Marco Andretti is often called a cry baby but that title should really belong to Hunter-Reay. It was very clear he cut over too soon. It was a mistake, it stinks, move on.

The middle of the car needs to pass over the orange line. It didn’t. Ok so it was qualifying and not the race but a rule is a rule and after the drama we had last year over this same issue you would think RHR would have admitted he goofed up and be thankful it was only during qualifying and not the race. The race didn’t go so well for him either although that was not his fault- cry over that but man up about your own mistake.

We didn’t have to wait long for more drama- Lap one Graham Rahal had his brakes lock up on him and rear ended Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud spun but Rahal continued on. He had to serve a drive through penalty but worked his way back up to finish fifth. Sadly Pagenaud was out for the day.

Some cars were on a two pit strategy and some on a three pit strategy so that kept us wondering how things would play out. Robert Wickens had gearbox problems and Kyle Kaiser caused the second yellow when he slowed on the track. When the green came back out we were entertained once again. RHR had problems when he punctured his tire. Just not his day. Then Sebastien Bourdais made an incredible pass on lap 47. He passed Spenser Pigot, Scott Dixon and Matheus Leist. Unbelievable. Sadly he crossed over into the pit lane with his two right tires and had to give the position back to Scott Dixon. Ok. That was the right call although it was such a gutsy move I’d be tempted to look the other way if I was race control but rules are rules. The problem was by the time race control told Bourdais he had to give up his position he had pulled away from Dixon by several seconds. He had to slow down allow Dixon to catch up and pass him. Bourdais then passed Dixon again two turns later. However, that just allowed Rossi to build an even greater lead and Bourdais couldn’t recover. Bourdais and Dixon both would later pull into closed pits and effectively ended any chance either one had of winning.

The closed pits added to more of the drama. I see them kinda like a yellow light. You are approaching planning to go and suddenly the light changes or the pits close. You’ve already committed and turning back might not be impossible but also not easy or possible safe. How many times have you gone through a yellow as it turns red because you took half a second to decide which option was better. Stop or go. The way I saw it both Bourdais and Dixon were close enough to the pits and had already decided to pit. Bourdais drove through, Dixon was serviced and then had to drive through during green. Might need to review the best way to handle closed pits during a yellow.

At the end of the day it was an entertaining race and I was thrilled to watch Alexander Rossi win. He clearly dominated the race. Will Power finished second and while it looked for a bit like he might be gaining on Rossi he just didn’t have enough to really challenge. Ed Jones finished third. Very impressive.

Zach Veach also had a great day earning the fourth spot. He is one to watch.

Graham finished fifth and Marco Andretti after poor qualifying finished 6th. Perhaps if they can start from the front of the field he will finally win a race again. I hope so. Tony Kanaan finished 8th for AJ Foyt Racing. His second top ten I believe. That team still needs to improve but I’m seeing glimpses of what could be and I’m very hopeful AJ will be back in victory circle soon.

Less than a week till the IndyCars are Racing again. This time at Barber Motorsports Park. I love this time of year!

Windscreens, Matheus Leist and The Amazing Race!

If you haven’t figured it out by now my blog is a place for me to state my opinions. My husband could care less about IndyCar so I need a place to say what I’m thinking. I’m a girl after all and girls like to talk, it’s how I process things so thanks to my readers I have a place to say what I’m thinking about some things happening in IndyCar. So if you want more details read George Phillips blog post about Windscreens or Mark Glendenning’s article on Racer.com about Matheus Leist.

LETS START WITH WINDSCREENS-

Dan Weldon’s death was such a shock but losing Justin Wilson, my family’s favorite driver, made me ready to consider anything that would keep the drivers safe. I love the speed, the sounds, the cars but the really reason I love IndyCar if the drivers and teams. They could be racing on tricycles and I would still watch. I like the people. If we need to greatly alter the cars to keep them safe I’m all for it but what is safe when you are traveling at 200+ miles per hour. I never once thought a closed cockpit was the answer. So currently IndyCar is testing windscreens. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen and heard so far! You almost don’t even notice them on the cars. They look like they’ve always been there. I don’t think they distract from the new sleek design at all. The car still looks fantastic to me. I have some concern about rain, bugs and dust/ debris obstructing the view since drivers won’t be able to reach tear off strips or turn on wipers to remove any thing on the windscreen but it does seem a lot safer. I don’t think this design would have helped save Justin’s life. I am less sure how it might have helped Dan. It’s racing, it will always be dangerous. My fear with the windscreen is where the large debris that hits the screen goes next. Again- racing will always be dangerous. I’m thankful to IndyCar for continuing to seek ways to make it safer through time and research. So far I’m excited and optimistic about the windscreens. Here is a view from Scott Dixon’s visor cam. It looks great!

MATHEUS LEIST

As disappointed as I was that AJ Foyt Racing did not resign Conor Daly, I’m excited for their 2018 season. I think Tony Kanaan will be an amazing asset and I hear good things about Leist. The good news keeps coming, Matheus was the fastest rookie at the IndyCar rookie test at Phoenix on Thursday. Matheus ran 63 laps on Thursday. His fastest lap was 184.236 mph. Pietro Fittipaldi was close behind with 183.347 mph. I imagine AJ is quite pleased to have his guy on top. We all know teasing is just that- testing. Drivers aren’t necessarily attempting to go their fastest but it is still a hopeful sign for the 2018 season. Tony Kanaan and Leist also seem to having a bit of fun with the new partnership. I hope they both have a great season.

So that brings us to THE AMAZING RACE!

I hate that fans of the Amazing Race might be wanting to tune into IndyCar to watch Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly only to find out that Conor does not have a spot in the 2018 season. So disappointing. That said if I wasn’t a fan of IndyCar already I’m not sure that Alex and Conor would be the team I was rooting for. We see glimpses of their personalities but I feel the other competitors get more airtime than the IndyCar guys. Maybe it’s because I want to see more of Alex and Conor so it’s very obvious to me when they aren’t on screen. So far the guys are holding their own and progressing on the race. I actually enjoyed it more when the teams did a partner swap. Alex and Conor were chosen by team Ocean Rescue, Lucas and Brittany, Alex paired with Brittany and Conor with Lucas. Alex and Brittany did fantastic and came in second. Conor and Lucas got stuck their truck stuck in the mud. That was a bit embarrassing since the Big Brother contestant was able to make it through- although he did go through before Conor and it seemed obvious that the trail was going to be in worse condition as more trucks eroded the trail. Then Conor waited in the car as Lucas winched it out. I know someone needs to give the car some gas but it made Conor appear lazy. I kept screaming at the tv for Conor to jump out and help. Conor seems a lot stronger to me than Lucas so I was getting frustrated. They did get the car out and advanced in the race but while I love Conor this episode did not show the best side of him. I actually preferred Alex paired up with Brittany (as least for this episode). They made a great team. Hope the IndyCar guys stay around longer so viewers can see how great they really are.

So all that said, I can’t wait for The IndyCar season to start. St Pete can’t get here fast enough! Oh and I love that Helio Castroneves will be the Grand Marshall for the St. Pete race. What a great way to honor him. He will definitely be missed so I’m thankful to have him participating in this way and look forward to seeing him at Indy.

Long Beach

  Race Notes

Finally watching live

Roger Penske to drive pace car at Indy

Conor Daly is becoming my favorite. Starting 13th. Not bad. Has some experience. 

Hate that Marco starts last. 

Hinch hopefully has a good weekend. 
Hubby bought a boat so I’m no longer live. 
Chilton- jumping curb. Race control finally says no. 

Lap 40- no yellows
Smart move for Dixon lap 52 pit when stuck in traffic. 

And just like that Dixon won the race. 

Pagenaud just in front of Dixon. Tires just on blend line coming off pit lane. Wow. Race control reviewing. Simon given a warning. Wow. Race winning move was actually a violation. Kinda sucks. 

Dixon told no penalty and Dixon is on it. The race is on!

Sato is 6th. Many push to pass left. Looking good. 
Rahal biggest mover. 

Sato passes TK. Cmon Sato!

Hinch so close to Power

New system would be no warnings. Mike Hull upset. 

Not a lot of passing so the line crossing played a huge role in Pagenauds win  

Sato 6 push to pass left. 

Montoya blocks Sato- I’m not a Montoya fan so yes he should be penalized. Regardless Sato proves to be a threat to Montoya. No action taken. 

Cmon Pagenaud 

Sweet!  

5th for Sato

Hinch in 8th, Daly-13th

Didn’t need another Penske win but glad for Pagenaud. 

Feel for Dixon but I know how this win is for Pagenaud after going winless last year. 

5th win for Pags continues to lead in championship 

I decided to leave my race notes in my post. I just jot down a few things during the race to help me write after.

 I was very excited to finally be watching a race live. The first two races we had commitments so I watched St. Pete on the DVR and listened live to Phoenix on IndyCar radio. Both were enjoyable but I prefer watching live. Then Long Beach turned out to be just a ho hum race until we get to the move Simon Pagenaud made cutting over the blend line. 

Helio Castrineves won the pole and Chevy’s dominated as we have seen in the past. The race got off clean except for a little bit of debris but I never heard or saw who damaged their bodywork so it must not have been too bad. The entire race stayed green and wasn’t very exciting. Max Chilton continually took a short cut, not going around a curb. I loved that. He found a shorter way- why didn’t everyone use it? Finally race control told him to stop but he had done it quite a few times. The race continued on without too much excitement. Well at least not in the race. Here at home I got a text from Steve saying he bought a boat. My husband usually does not just make big purchases on the spur of the moment so that was a surprise. I paused the tv and got some details. Looks like our summer just got a bit more exciting. 

I returned to the race. The leaders were being held up by race traffic and Dixon pitted. I thought for sure that was the race winning move and that we would see another win for Dixon. We probably would have too except that when Simon Pagenaud exited pit lane he crossed over the blend line placing himself in front of Scott Dixon and took over the race lead. The TV coverage immediately showed that Pagenaud made an error and would most likely be penalized. Early in the coverage it was explained that any car exiting pit lane must keep the right side tires from crossing the yellow line. Pagenaud was oh so close but the replay clearly shows all four tires crossing the line and it was a move that put him in the race lead. I can only imagine that Dixon was not overly aggressive because he assumed Pagenaud would be given a penalty and that the minimum penalty would be giving up the spot. That was what I thought anyway. Turns out Pagenaud was only given a warning and was able to keep the race lead. Once Dixon learned this you could see him push harder to get passed but was never able to and Simon Pagenaud won the race, his first win with Team Penske. 

I didn’t want a Penske win not did I want a second win for Dixon. I did want a new winner for the season so I guess I should be thankful for that. I always root for the smaller teams so while I am glad Simon finally won again I am also disappointed. Dixon winning two races in a row would have been a disappointment too. Of course regardless of the winner the biggest disappointment was the non call from Race Control. I understand a warning if a car went over the line but did not gain positions however that was not the case.  I don’t believe Pagenaud purposely cheated so I think a drive through would have been harsh but I did expect him to have to give up the position and let Scott Dixon pass. So I leave the race with mixed emotions. Glad Pagenaud won, yet disappointed in how it happened. I expected more from the new steward system. 

Let’s talk Honda’s. Clearly they are not the preferred engine/aero kit but Takuma Sato finished fifth and I swear he would have passed Montoya if we had a couple more laps. Loved seeing AJ Foyt racing having such a good weekend. Hinch did well too after two not so good races. As I said in my race notes- Conor Daly is becoming a favorite of mine. He started and finished 13th. I would have loved to see him in the top ten but he held his own and I’m looking forward to watching him improve as the season continues. 

Less than a week until the race at Barber.  Personally, I’m hoping it’s the week we see a team other than Penske or Ganassi win. 

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

I was excited to watch this race, after all the cautions for debris at St. Pete and the rain at NOLA, I was ready for something closer to the norm. Well that is what we got. For the race itself not too much stands out for me. It was a good clean race. The guys kept their cool and we had a good race. Maybe I am missing some of the drama of the previous races after all. Well perhaps the race itself doesn’t stand out but there were a few things from race weekend that sure did. Let’s take a look at those.

DRIVERS

1- Disappointed to hear that both Sage Karam and Simona DeSilvestro would be sitting this race out. Sage would be replaced with Sebastian Saavedra. Saavedra did really well. He was never a favorite but after his ability to get back in the car and be on pace I was cheering for him. I always love seeing a one off do well. Which brings us to Conor Daly.

2- Carlos Huertas was replaced by Rocky Moran Jr. This was so confusing. It was my understanding that Huertas was a full time driver. I would understand replacing Francesco Dracone but why Huertas? I honestly have no clue how Dale Coyne operates his team. Unfortunately, Moran broke his thumb during practice late Friday afternoon. Conor Daly, who is at every race with helmet in hand, was asked to fill the seat. Woo Hoo! Conor is one of those drivers that every IndyCar fan wants to see in a full time ride. To make things even better, Conor did awesome. He moved up from his 21 starting position to finish 17th. He brought the car home in one piece. He finally gave Dale Coyne a driver fans could cheer for. I sincerely hope we see him in a car again soon.

3- Will Power did not advance in qualifying. He started in 18th position. Bad luck for Power but love when the big guys get knocked down a bit.

4- Scott Dixon won! I believe it was a tweet from Curt Cavin that said when Dixon struggles for two races he wins the third. It was very prophetic. Dixon started strong and didn’t make a mistake.

5- Josef Newgarden had a great weekend. Josef made it to the top six in qualifying. He also had a good finish in 7th position. After the last stop for pits we saw Juan Pablo Montoya pull out on his cold tires just in front of Newgarden. Since Newgarden had his tires warmed up it seemed he might be able to pass JPM. Unfortunately Newgarden did not make the pass and the cameras did not keep on them. Next time I noticed Newgarden had faded back quite a bit and was no longer a threat. Man I would have loved to see him get in front of JPM.

TV COVERAGE

1- NBCSN is greatly preferred to ABC- we all know that. Where is Leigh Diffey? Brian Till makes a good stand in but I want Diffey back. I understand he has other commitments but I am ready to hear his voice and his enthusiasm.

2- Always thankful when we can watch qualifying. This is especially important for catching up on the news when drivers have been replaced as they were this weekend.

3- being able to both listen and watch practice sessions from race control has been great. It’s so much easier to keep up on the event.

MISCELLANEOUS

1- What was up with the fluorescent sunglasses. Dixon looks like he had the Golden Arches on his red cap. I didn’t care for the look. He wasn’t the only one. At least three drivers were sporting them. Looks like they got them from a vending machine. Perhaps people cooler than me would disagree but that is one style I don’t care for.

2- I enjoy seeing the opening ceremonies, including the prayer. I am a strong Christian and always pray for the safety of those at the race. I love seeing/hearing the prayer televised. It’s becoming more the norm to not do anything that might offend someone else. So glad NBCSN and IndyCar and willing to televise and continue the tradition of praying before a race. That coupled with our National Anthem should make every American proud.

3- Sir Patrick Stewart gave one of the best calls to start engines that I’ve heard. Loved the emphasis he put on it.

4- Saving the best for last–Sam Schmidt! Wow! How cool is it seeing Sam drive a car around the track. Loved seeing him do it at Indy and loved it even more at Long Beach. He is such an inspiration. With James Hinchcliffe’s win last week and driving the following week, Sam is having a good month. Hope May is kind to him also.

So I guess that sums it up. Not the most spectacular race but still an interesting weekend. Can’t wait to see how things play out at Barber.