Random Thoughts On Edmonton

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I must admit, I was not really looking forward to the Edmonton Indy yesterday. It’s not one of my favorite races and this weekend was devoted to yard work at our new digs. My yard work did produce one burning question – why on earth would anyone purposely plant holly bushes? These are the kind that are extremely tough to cut and you get stuck multiple times while trying to clean up – even with gloves on. I’m lucky to be able to type.

Anyway, with the telecast slated to go from 1:00 to 4:00 central time – it pretty well knocked out most of the afternoon. I came in at 12:58, hoping that my sacrificing yard time would be rewarded with a good race. I got my wish.

This was an enjoyable and entertaining race from start to finish. Much to the chagrin of those that claim that race fans only watch races for the crashes – this race had no crashes and no yellows and was still enjoyable to watch. Although Helio Castroneves (my pick) won the race – I thought the drive of the day went to his teammate Will Power. Power started seventeenth due to a ten-spot penalty for an unapproved engine change, and managed to finish third. Such a drive was not enough to keep Power in second place in the points, however. He was overtaken by Helio, who now sits in second – only twenty-three points behind points leader Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished seventh.

Credit Helio’s strategist, John Erickson, for making the call to bring Helio in a lap earlier than Alex Tagliani on the final pit-stop. Helio was running second behind Tagliani at the time, but by the time they both cycled through their pit stops, Helio was in the lead. Tagliani fell back and finished a disappointing fifth, after leading throughout much of the race.

After the final stop, Tagliani was also passed by Takuma Sato. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I figured he posed no threat to Helio and my pick. I assumed that Sato would do something foolish to take himself out of the race. I just hoped that it wouldn’t take Helio out with him. Still, I never thought Sato would be a threat to win in the closing laps. I was wrong.

Sato was hanging with Helio for the last twenty or so laps. There were a couple of times that I thought Sato might pass Helio, but he didn’t. He was running out of push-to-pass time and had to conserve them to give himself a chance. Helio still had plenty of push-to-pass time in order to use it defensively, if needed. In the end Sato had nothing for Helio. Credit all three drivers on the podium – Helio, Sato and Power. They each drove great races and were all deserving of winning the race. Ultimately, Helio held off Sato’s charge and held on to win.

TV Coverage: I thought the coverage was pretty much what we’ve come to expect from NBC Sports Network. Bob Jenkins had one noticeable flub when he called Jon Beekhuis “John”. Other than that, I thought the booth guys and the pit reporters all had a solid day yesterday.

The one exception to that was Robin Miller’s Grid Run. Spontaneity is one thing, but poorly timed and awkward live TV is another. Unlike many, I’m a Robin Miller fan and think he adds a lot to the NBCSN broadcasts, but I think the Grid Run has run its course and needs to be dropped.

A long way in a short time: It’s hard to believe that Bryan Herta Autosport is in its first full year of existence, yet they were poised to bring home their second win yesterday – after taking the 2011 Indianapolis 500 as a one-off effort with Dan Wheldon last year.

Now that they have dumped the Lotus engine, BHA is suddenly a contender at almost every race. They also just might have the best looking paint scheme on the grid. Bryan Herta deserves a lot of credit for putting such a talented team together on a tight budget.

Good points battle: Although most would say this is a three-way battle between Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves and Will Power – I wouldn’t quite give up on Scott Dixon just yet. The first three are separated by just twenty-six points, then Dixon falls in fourth place sixty-one points behind Hunter-Reay with four races remaining. It isn’t likely that Dixon will catch up, but stranger things have happened. At this point, my money is on Castroneves.

Learn how to say it: I’m still amazed how those that should know better, still mispronounce Helio’s name. I’m sure Paul Tracy continued to call him HEE-lio just to get under Helio’s skin, but yesterday – Bobby Rahal referred to him as HEE-lio also. I think a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has earned the right to have their name pronounced correctly after being on the scene as long as he has.

All in all: Surprisingly, this was a fun race to watch – even more fun than yard work. It was a clean, yet spirited race from flag-to-flag. I’m an admitted Helio fan, and part of the reason is the passion that he continues to show for this sport. No matter how many times he wins, he always treats each victory like it’s his first. It’s good to see that age hasn’t diminished his desire to win.

George Phillips

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17 Responses to “Random Thoughts On Edmonton”

  1. Great, now George will be ranting on bushes until he gets a terse email from the Arbor Foundation.

    This has to work well for Will Power, he makes up more than he lost for the grid penalty and now he’s well positioned for the next 3 races to dominant.

    Um, I say Hee-lio, hell, I just finally started leaving the space out between Castro and Neves, how am I supposed to say it?

    The grid walk has always been lame. It’s nothing compared to the regal grid walk Peter Windsor used to do. People are just afaid to say it because Weldon was a part of the first few. It’s always horribly timed, like during the anthems or the pre-race potty break, and it always the same crap. “Go win this time kid. Bye.” I know NBCSN can do no wrong in most eyes, but if ABC pulled this crap, Robin Miller would be bitching about it.

  2. Good race at Edmonton and one thought that was clarified is that Bobby Rahal is doing something right.

  3. madtad1 Says:

    It is pronounced “Ay-Lee-Oh” and his last name was Castro Neves, but for various reasons he merged it into one word.

    George, holly bushes/trees are the anti-christ to deal with in yard work. The only thing they are good for is acting like a barbwire fence to keep people from cutting thru your yard.

    As for the race, one of the best yet! Such a shame though that there were no yellows to make it “exciting”, right Bruton?*

    *yes, this is sarcasm

    Sadly, my favorite driver had an off day and was never a threat, but I’m looking forward to seeing him recoup at Mid-Ohio. I hope the Edmunton organizers had a good crowd so the race stays on the schedule.

    • Ron Ford Says:

      Kudos to IndyCar for not throwing the Bruton Smith inspired NASCAR phantom “debris” on the track.

  4. Donald McElvain Says:

    Funniest line of the day by Bobby Rahal. “Helio starts blocking when he picks up his rental car at the airport!”

    • Ron Ford Says:

      Amen to that:) That was a major beer spew as Pressdog would say.

    • Seriously Bob?

      The first one is two easy, Sato totals his rental before he makes it out of the rental lot.

      As for blocking in the 2012 season, one of the biggest complainers about the new rule is his whiny little boy, who also happens to have the most egregious block of the season in Long Beach.

      • Amen to that. Rahal sure is a whiner. And his daddy needs to quit picking on my boy Helio!

      • billytheskink Says:

        Given all of the complaining I read about whiny race car drivers, I would expect Justin Wilson to be the most popular driver on the circuit…

  5. Ron Ford Says:

    Oh, by gosh, by golly
    It’s time for George and holly……

    OK, I apologize to all. That was almost as bad as the grid walk.

  6. billytheskink Says:

    I guess eh-LEE-oh vs. HEE-lio isn’t like MAR-ee-oh vs. MARY-oh, but sometimes people just start pronouncing names one way and never stop. I don’t think they are necessarily trying to be disrespectful. Maybe Tracy was, but I’m willing to give Rahal the benefit of the doubt.

    I was disappointed to see Tag fade fast late in the race, but fading as the race goes on is something that has happened all too often in his career.

    I like the idea of the grid run, but if they’re going to time it so poorly at every single race then they ought to just drop it.

  7. Steve K Says:

    I thought Jenkins was brutal this race. He was constantly messing up the monor details. Does he ever sound excited? Does he ever not sound like a computer talking program?

    Big props to Hee-lio after I bashed him in your preview. He may get his championship afterall.

  8. Carburetor Says:

    My biggest surprise was that I was certain that Sato was going to punt Castroneves and they would spin out, thus giving the win to Power. Bobby Rahal must have been doing some serious coaching over the radio to help keep that from happening. All-in-all, that team has been pretty successful for their first year back full-time.

    I’m not a huge Helio fan, but I do enjoy his enthusiasm, especially when he wins. He seems to genuinely enjoy what he is doing. On the flip side, I’d like to be RHR fan, but his usual whining gets old–I had to laugh when Michael Andretti finally told him to stop complaining about the ‘supposed’ block by Power exiting the pits, and concentrate on his own driving. LOL.

    I too vote in favor of retiring the grid walk/run; the camera shot of the jet fly-over was far more exciting.

  9. I’m not an L-E-O fan, but I enjoy his enthusiasm, and can handle him in small doses. I’m just happy to see different names making their way to the front in each and every race. 10 different drivers in the top 5 the past two races. I wonder which 5 will make it to the front in Ohio.

  10. I was thrilled to see Helio win yesterday. And I like the grid run but it’s been horribly timed at just about every NBC Sports race this year.

    BTW, I pronounce Helio’s name as El-E-O. My family calls him Jellyroll.

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