Random Thoughts On Watkins Glen
It’s always interesting to get the different perspectives from people that saw the same race. This weekend found me armed with a couple of days off and tackling several projects that had nothing to do with racing, but involved chain saws, hedge-trimmers and cleaned out gutters. By the time Sunday hit, my age was showing and I had vowed to be a slug and stay inside to watch the Camping World Grand Prix at the Glen. I was exhausted and at times found myself getting drowsy during the race.
When the race was over, I had decided it was not the most boring race I had seen, but it was certainly not the most exciting. Then my brother, who is a bigger oval fan than I am, called and let me know what an entertaining race it was. Go figure. I don’t know if I was so tired that nothing would have entertained me, or if he was just in the Independence Day spirit. I have since spoken to a couple of other people who also gave me mixed reviews.
Maybe it was a great race, but my gut reaction is that it was typical road course – nice scenery, attractive venue, minimal passing and Will Power dominance. Power certainly deserved to win. He made driving the historic circuit at Watkins Glen look easy. I don’t know if his car was any better than his Penske teammates, or if he is just that much better. I like Power and will certainly have no problem with him winning the championship this fall. But with him still leading the points after four straight ovals – it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the field as they just finished the first of five straight road/street courses. Power got the maximum available points this weekend by winning the pole, the race and leading the most laps.
TV Coverage: There were a few plusses but several minuses. Other than the Indianapolis 500, it is rare for either of the network partners of the IZOD IndyCar Series to show the playing of the National Anthem. Fortunately, ABC considered it appropriate to show it on the Fourth of July. Good for them.
I also think they have seriously upgraded their pit reporting with Rick DeBruhl replacing Brienne Pedigo. Jaime Little does a good job and Vince Welch is generally at the top of his game. But the two in the booth still put me to sleep, no matter how much yard work I’ve done.
The biggest gaffe was at the drop of the green flag. As the cars had already gotten into their rows of two and were approaching the final turn, they inexplicably chose that time to explain the difference between the primary and alternate tires. The field was already into turn one before Vince Welch realized that they had already taken the green flag. Not good.
Marty Reid also touted how great their side-by-side coverage was by explaining that we hadn’t missed a thing, while they were away. The trouble was, the break didn’t feature side-by-side. Oops!
KV crashless (almost): The good news was that all three cars from the KV Racing Technology stable finished the race without incident. I’m not sure, but I think that’s the first time that’s happened this season. The bad news is that EJ Viso wadded up his car on Saturday and had to start in an untested backup at the back of the field.
Maybe they can have a race weekend at some point this season where all of their cars make it back to the shop unscathed.
Good weekend for Hunter-Reay: The financial pressure that has dogged Ryan Hunter-Reay has finally reached a happy ending. It was announced on Sunday morning that many of the current Andretti Autosport sponsors have stepped up enough so that he can continue for the remainder of the season. He responded by turning a sixteenth place starting spot into a seventh place finish.
Andretti woes: Unfortunately, the rest of the Andretti Autosport team didn’t fare so well. Tony Kanaan qualified thirteenth and ran as high as sixth before a last lap splash & go forced him into a twenty-first place finish. Danica Patrick ran at the back of the pack all day and was never a factor. Marco Andretti is now setting a pattern of being racy in the first half of a race and dropping like a stone in the second half.
Other than Hunter-Reay, it appeared that their bright spot was going to be newcomer Adam Carroll. The twenty-seven year old from Ireland certainly didn’t drive like this was his first IZOD IndyCar Series race. He held his own; running as high as ninth, before a pit miscue sent him to the back of the field. He recovered somewhat to finish sixteenth.
All in all: It was a fairly predictable race. It was pretty much between Penske and Ganassi drivers all day. Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves tangled early and put themselves in an off-pit strategy situation that didn’t work out. While the announcers kept putting the blame on Dixon, I thought that Helio moved over on him causing Helio’s rear tire to collide with Dixon’s front-wing. Whoever was to blame, it essentially took two of the front-runners out of contention early.
With four more road/street courses looming ahead, the championship contenders have been put on notice that Will Power is serious about winning this title. Others need to step up their game or else his perceived weakness on ovals won’t matter late in the season.