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!

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Milwaukee Mile 2015–Recap

Finally I have time to watch the TV broadcast of the race at Milwaukee. First thoughts– the crowd was good. I was at the race and have attended the last four years. It was a good crowd. The broadcast does not show that at all. When you only see the lower stands it looks terrible but I promise it wasn’t that bad.

Josef Newgarden totally controlled the first part of the race. Around Lap 19 he caught up to Ed Carpenter. There was a lot of complaining on Twitter that Ed Made it so hard for Josef to pass and then just let Ryan Briscoe by. My thought is well of course he did. He didn’t want Josef to pass as that would put him a lap down bit once Josef got by not only did Ed lose some momentum but he was officially down a lap so once you are down a lap you let the leaders go. Okay if it’s your teammate maybe you try and block Briscoe a bit to give Josef a bigger gap but Ed also could have got a bit loose during the pass by Josef and been unable to hold off Briscoe.

Helio Castroneves made a pit stop on the early end of the window to help with that last place “qualifying” position. It will help him a lot. Somehow Helio missed getting his car in line for qualifying and was not able to make a qualifying run. He started at the back of the field.

Lap 57, Briscoe had trouble in the pits with a bad air jack. So frustrating when something so simple causes a big problem. The track is so short any small mistake makes a big difference.

Lap 60, noticing that Pippa was out by this time. I get that you don’t want to have an accident if you have no chance of winning but wouldn’t it have been a good idea to leave her in and let her get some more experience. We saw Pippa post race and anyone who follows her on Twitter knows she was incredibly upset after this race. Perhaps there was a problem with her car but if there wasn’t they should have left her in and allowed her to get some more experience.

Lol- loved the Scott Dixon flashback.

Oh and now I am noticing some of the broadcast problems everyone was talking about an twitter. Just had a bit with Jon Beekhuis and it was breaking up and now Kevin Lee having the same issue. What I noticed while at the race was that the reporters were tweeting back saying they knew there was a problem and that everything possible was being done to fix the issue. Makes a huge difference when you know people are working on the problem. I do remember thinking though that this was a good race to be at so I didn’t have to deal with the bad audio.

Lap 107, Briscoe had so many problems on the pits.

I was glad that David Hobbes was in the booth helping out. He has such a passion for this race with Milwaukee being his home town and I’ve visited his car dealership the last two years for driver appearances. I wouldn’t want four people in the booth on a regular basis but I’m glad they did it for this race.

James Jakes looses an engine and Ed Carpenter has a horrible stop to get fuel. Then as everyone comes in to the pits Josef gets held up by Munoz and losses several spots. Sebastien Bourdais does not stop, we know this will put him on the way to winning but it was fun to listen to the booth about this decision and if Bourdais might be wishing he had new tires. Talked with Jimmy Vasser and he said he only had 10 Laps on his tires so they were staying out. Honestly, of course I know the outcome, but with only ten miles on the tires I would do the same thing. There was still a lot of racing left and in just a couple laps things would even out.

Again even though I know what happens I hate seeing Ryan Briscoe out of the race. Breaks my heart especially after the fun conversations we had with Briscoe over the weekend. Ryan just got loose and there wasn’t anything he could do and just like that took Will Power out too. I had Briscoe in our family bet and Zach had Power so Matthew was excited that he won with Justin Wilson.

By Lap 136 Helio made it up to eleventh position.

Watching the couple laps after going green and it is incredible racing. No one can call it pack racing but it is amazing good, close racing and this years race is so much more fun to watch than last years. Last year we watch Power win the pole and then lead most the laps before taking the checkered flag. This year is anyone’s race.

Lap 152 and Sebastien Bourdais is about 12 seconds ahead of second place Josef Newgarden. I didn’t
realize it at the time but Bourdais was having an incredible day. In five laps Boursais improved his position buy another three seconds.

Lap 158 Stefano Coletti was out. I didn’t notice this at the race.

Lap 180- Wow! What I really missed at the race was how good Bourdais was on new tires. Just passing everyone.

Lap 202- Leigh Diffey apologizes for the audio problems. At least on my end watching it on the DVR it didn’t seem as bad as I thought it would be from all the complaints on Twitter. I noticed and it was annoying but I was still able to keep up on what they were saying.

Lap 213- Bourdais pits and keeps his lead. Fantastic racing.

Hated seeing Justin Wilson have problems while at the race and still bums me out while watching at home. Justin is such a great guy.

The pits were crazy for that last stop.

I remember hating seeing Juan Pablo Montoya in second. I did not want him to win.

With 13 Laps to go and Helio is second. I was thinking how fun it would be for my boys to watch Helio climb the fence.

Sebastien Bourdais was able to keep the lead and win the race. It was a great race both in person and on TV. I love that as I continue attending races it is becoming easier for me to keep up on what is happening on track but I sure appreciate the commentary on TV.

Milwaukee is just such a fun race and the track has so much history. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this race returns for many years to come.

Sebastien Bourdais gets his 34th win. Helio is second and Rahal finishes third.

Bourdais donuts fun to watch again.

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Well I hope no one minded that I wrote the recap as I watched. That was probably the only way I was going to get it done. Also, please check out an article I wrote for Next Gen Indy about why it needs to remain on the schedule.

Milwaukee IndyFest Race Day

After an exciting and fun weekend it was finally race day. The boys and I had a lazy morning at the hotel. I really wanted to attend the TweetUp but it was so early and I knew it would be a long day. I couldn’t ask the kids to get to the track any earlier than qualifying time. We did arrive just in time for qualifying but I let the kids play in the Family Fun Zone rather than sit in the stands. I could kinda see the cars and of course I could hear and follow on my phone. Took a bit longer for the boys to get a turn on the trampoline so after one turn I convinced them to head to the paddock and see who we could find. We ran into Sage Karam right away.

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We also saw the Indy Lights drivers waiting for introductions.

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The day was much warmer so we sought out some shade and a snack. While we were eating I received a text from Mike Knapp (15DaysinMay) that he and his son had arrived. Mike and I have become pretty good friends over the years, I believe we have met up at the Milwaukee race four years in a row now. Mike had his son, Kevin, with him and we all caught up for a bit before walking through the paddock. Shortly after that we ran into Eric (Erock_in_Indy) and spent some time catching up with him. As we talked, James Hinchcliffe walked by. I’m not sure where he was heading but he was in a rush. I walked along with him for a bit because I wanted to let him know that the story I posted about him and Briscoe had my viewership up so much higher than I imagined (big thanks to Steve Wittich, Curt Cavin and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for sharing my story). Mike was also able to get a quick picture. After that we looked at the couple vintage cars still there and then watched the winner presentations for the Lights race. Then the boys and I went in search of shade to cool off before the race began. We sat on the blacktop under the tents set up for the vintage cars and it turned out to be a good place to sit. It was nice and cool and Zach was able to get a couple more autographs on his hat. The boys took advantage of the cool and rested.

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We watched the first half of Driver Introductions but I didn’t want to take a chance on being late to our seats so hopefully I can catch the rest on Youtube. James was doing a great job. As we neared the stands our seats were in I heard someone calling my name. It was Butch and Dan from the previous day. They were finishing their beers and hopefully made it to their seats in time. I had to run up and say hi. They were also wanting to get the blog address again- (Hope you guys found it. We sure did enjoy meeting you.) We made it to our seats with only a few minutes to spare. We were mostly in the shade by green flag and it was a perfectly delightful time to watch the race. I haven’t watched the race on TV yet but I will share what I saw from my seat and hopefully have a race review up in the next day or two.

Green flag waved and Josef Newgarden led the field. Matthew was asking questions, which of course I could barely hear. Where is Justin Wilson? How do I know what Lap it is? How fast are they going? He was really engaged. Zach begged to go to the Family Fun Zone and tried to take a nap. It was Lap 90 before Matthew finally was willing to take Zach for a snack and stretch their legs. I love that they can wander slightly out of eyesight (with firm instructions and Matthew’s cellphone) so different from our first trips to the track. So I continued to watch the race which had been caution free and had Josef looking really good.

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Without notes here is what I remember– James Jakes car was smoking and that brought out the first yellow. Of course pits were busy. I believe it was the pit under yellow when Josef had a long pit stop and that was at least in part to having to wait for Carlos Munoz to get into his pit box which was right in front of Josef’s. Josef lost quite a few positions on that one. Ed Carpenter came into the pits at least three times. I’m still not sure what exactly was going on there. He was in so much I am very surprised he ended up with a tenth place finish. When we did go back to green it wasn’t for long. Unfortunately, Ryan Briscoe lost control of his car and took out Will Power with him. Matthew immediately texted me- he was still listening to the race even if not watching announcing he won our bet. I had picked Briscoe to win and Zach had Power. We said whichever driver finished highest would be the winner. Matthew had Justin Wilson. So even though the next yellow would be for Justin, Matthew won the family bet and walked away $10 richer. The boys rejoined me and we watched as the race continued and Sebastien Bourdais took the checkered flag- yes he literally took the checkered flag.

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It was a really good race. Good passing and just enough side by side to be interesting and yet not scare anyone. I’m looking forward to watching the broadcast.

So the boys and I headed to the infield to try and congratulate the drivers and Matthew was still trying to find Justin Wilson. We had spent so much time in the paddock that when we got there each boy ran a different way and all I could do was hope they were going where they said. I followed Zach (as best I could because Matthew had his phone but if I lost Zach that could get interesting). Zach and I got out on the track for a bit and got a sweet picture of Zach in the tire marks from the donuts Bourdais did. Then Zach and I gathered autographs- Tony Kanaan, Sarah Fisher, Pippa Mann and Simon Pagenaud before we received a text from Matthew. He had found Justin Wilson!

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I love his selfie with Justin. Eventually Zach and I made it over and got another picture with Justin and had him sign an old Justin Wilson shirt Matthew insisted on buying years ago when it was way too big (see picture) but was the only one we could find. Justin signed it in 2012 and you can just make it out. Now we have a nice new autograph near the old one.

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Our day was complete! We had hung out by Justin’s transporter so often hoping to see him without luck. Matthew was super excited to get to say Hi.

I was reluctant to leave but it was time and we had to drive back home so it was time. We bought Zach a Graham Rahal/Steak n Shake shirt and waited for a shuttle ride to the parking lot. The boys loved hitching a ride. On our way home we stopped for Whatchamacallit bars. Seems that is now officially a tradition on the way home from a race.

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We had a great time and both boys were upset when I said we would not be going to another race this year. We attended three this year so they sure can’t complain. I guess I’m finally turning them into fans. That makes me one happy mom.

Hopefully, I will have a better race recap soon but before I close I just want to give a shout out to Pippa Mann. When Zach saw Pippa he ran up to her. We’ve met her a couple times so we know how great she is with fans. When we reached her though it was very obvious that she was upset and frustrated with the days race. She was talking with a crew member but put on a smile when she saw Zach and signed his hat. I didn’t even ask for a picture and instead gave her a hug and reminded her that she had a lot of fans pulling for her. If you follow her on social media she has admitted it’s been a really hard time for her. I’m hoping things go better next week and that she can use this experience to learn and move on. I truly believe she has the talent, she just needs more time in the car. I sure hope she gets it.