Random Thoughts From Barber

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Susan was driving my car as I typed, so there is no telling what this will look like. I have not seen the television broadcast and I have nothing to go by except what I saw live and a printout of the race results.

My original impression though, is that this race was more entertaining than last year’s. After the yellow on Lap 1, it was somewhat of a parade. There was no passing to speak of. But once there was a yellow around Lap 30, the race took on a different look.

I think next year, I’ll spend most of my time over on the backstretch. The speeds are much greater, you get a good view of the entire backstretch and you also get a good view of turn five – which is the best passing zone on the track.

I got a great view of the start, which was much cleaner than St. Petersburg. Tony Kanaan must’ve passed eight cars. I watched him through Turn 2 and it was a patented Kanaan move. He started in twenty-fourth and when they went by under the caution, he was in fourteenth. He ended up sixth. Pretty impressive.

At one point, Danica Patrick made it up to fourth after starting twenty-second – mostly due to not taking tires on her last pit stop. The plan backfired and she finished seventeenth. There were several impressive runs, though.

Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud both did their country proud, finishing in eleventh and eighth respectively. Although she spun to avoid hitting the spinning EJ Viso and was on the tail end of the lead lap, Simona de Silvestro stayed with it all day and finished ninth. I was also glad to see Oriol Servia had a strong weekend, finishing fifth. He and James Hinchcliffe had great qualifying runs for Newman/Haas. Hinchcliffe showed that he was a true rookie and spun on the first lap. He finished twenty-fourth.

Justin Wilson drove well until he tangled with Rafa Matos. I don’t know what happened – I never saw it live or a replay – but he ended up with a disappointing finishing in nineteenth place.

Things look pretty interesting heading into Long Beach. Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe are still looking for a good finish. Andretti Autosport drivers had another less than mediocre day – other than Marco, who acquitted himself nicely after starting the season off on his hat. Right now – it’s pretty much between Will Power and Dario Franchitti. It sounds familiar and will probably be the theme throughout the season. Nothing against either driver, but I hope there is someone else to step up some weekends.

I’ll have some final pictures possibly tomorrow.

George Phillips

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16 Responses to “Random Thoughts From Barber”

  1. In the movie, EJ Viso should be played by that Mayhem guy in the insurance commercial. If I was a driver, I’d be more worried about him on the track than Milka. She’s just slow, he’s a guaranteed yellow and I wish they’d give him the boot.

    I thought the new Versus driving suits made the announcers look like the cast of some cheesey 50′s outer-space movie.

    Willie T. Ribbs worked the Lights race and was painful to my ears and I think they said Wally Dallenbach was going to run a Lights race? Did I hear that? Jan Beekis (sp?) is very good in the booth.

    • “new Versus driving suits made the announcers look like the cast of some cheesey 50′s outer-space movie”

      redcar, that line made me snort my coffee this morning. Thanks!

  2. Maybe IRL can adopt the adjustable rear wing setup now used in F1 to aid in passing.

  3. The American Mutt Says:

    Not to defend Viso, whom I’m a big fan of…no wait…the opposite of that, but that spin wasn’t his fault. Simona tapped him from behind.

    Dear Briscoe, if you open the door for a driver to pass you don’t be suprised when said driver attempts to pass you, and if you immediatly slam the door oh him don’t be suprised when he hits you.

    Dear Barnhardt, go away

    • The spin wasn’t his fault, but the way he handled it was. . . . and I’ll countersign your note to Briscoe.

      • The American Mutt Says:

        I was about three glasses of absinthe in when that wreck happened, so while I saw it, I don’t really remember Viso’s response, and will have to defer to you on this one. I don’t like him, and wouldn’t be suprised at all if he handled it poorly.

  4. Bob Jenkins didn’t seem to know whos Sebastian Bourdais was. He seemed shocked when he made an early pass.

    Overall it was a better race than last year, but no pass for the lead?

    I wouldn’t count out Dixon for the championship yet. 3 man race.

  5. I thought it was definitely more entertaining than last year’s race. The double file restarts helped this track tremendously and people were making passes, perhaps mostly in turn 5, but there were passes.

    Hinch was right about Viso though. He should have just hit the brakes. All of them would have been fine.

  6. I think Dixon has a shot at contending for the championship, and if Kanaan keeps driving the wheels off of that KV car he could too. Watch out for him when they hit the short ovals in June.

    • If I’m a team owner and could have my pick of any of the drivers currently in the series, it would be a toss-up between Dario and Tony; but I think I’d go with Kanaan for his hard-charging style and excitement factor.

  7. SkipinSC Says:

    Props to Danica and AA for trying SOMETHING different to get competitive. Had there been a caution in the right place, it might have worked, but she clearly was toast when the tires started to go off. She also showed that she is starting to get the hang of road/street courses and she seems to bring the equipment home without significant damage, even to the point of getting out of the way as the field was inhaling her. Too bad she’ll be off to NASCAR about the time she gets road racing figured out. Aside from Marco’s nice ride, she provided about the only positive for AA all day.

    And can we PLEASE figure out that you CANNOT go driving over curbs with someone next to you? Try it again and again and again, and all you come up with is CONTACT! The Hunter Reay accident was a classic example: Once Ryan got over the curb, he virtually BOUNCED into Briscoe.

    In the interest of competition, INDYCAR should attempt to put an oval course somewhere near the beginning of the season. Whether it’s Phoenix, Fontana, Vegas, or some other venue, there needs to be at least one oval before Indy. With the schedule as it is, Wil Power, who is almost unbeatable on the twisties, should establish a pretty significant lead in the points before the oval season even gets going. If the series is going to feature a reasonably equal mix of ovals and road/street, let’s at least balance the agenda.

    Ratings for this week might be a bit disappointing. As I pointed out, even as big a fan of INDYCAR as I am, I was watching the Masters live and relegated Barber to the DVR. The truly sad part is, that the DVR shut down 2 laps from the finish.

    • I agree with you about scheduling an oval before the 500 . . . preferably the race before, to allow everyone to be in an oval mindset going into Indy.

  8. HB Donnelly Says:

    Not to sound too much like Robin Miller, but this whole deal with drivers acting like morons is creating some animosity and some good pictures and sound for TV. (Hinch giving Viso the business, anyone?)

    Versus was pretty solid; the additions of Dallenbach, Jr., and Marty Snider were very good in my opinion. Willy T in the Lights booth needs a little bit of diction work, but he does add some real-life racing experience to balance out Mike King and I’d like to see Willy T on the “500″ qualifying show. Whoever Versus brought in to direct, though, needs to fix his game; there were moments in both races where he cut away mid-pass to show a bunch of nothing. (the moment in the IndyCar race was very noticeable because the cameraman obviously wasn’t expecting to be live…perhaps he knows more about racing than the director does)

    You’ve done good work on the ground at Barber, George! Can’t wait to see your column of questions for Randy.

  9. Right now your poll has 151 respondents! Is that a record? Plenty of votes and plenty of comments after a post that you typed in a moving car. Hope you got back to work okay.
    I don’t have anything clever to say, but I’ll say that passing is proven possible at BMP, and I am so sick of wankers like Viso taking out drivers whom I favor!
    BTW, I have my eyes on Servia and Hinchcliffe this season.

    • Second all of that, Brian, especially the part about Servia and Hinch. That’s a potentially excellent driver lineup. The veteran who’s fast but almost always brings the car home in one piece and the incredibly fast rookie who’s still a little bit raw, but also has truckloads of personality. That’s a team I can get behind.

  10. ~Yeah, a wily veteran and a young gun, both very personable, fan-friendly and sponsor-friendly, pedaling for Newman-Haas … interesting while we have a spec-car series. Of course I also follow Justin Wilson & others…

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