Random Thoughts On São Paulo
Whether it’s in the wet or the dry, it looks like Will Power has pretty well figured out the streets of São Paulo, Brazil. Against an ominous forecast, the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 was run practically rain-free. This was in direct contrast to the previous two versions that were both heavily affected by rain. It didn’t matter. The result was the same. Will Power won in very non-dramatic fashion.
For those that are complaining of Power’s dominance on street courses, try taking a step back and appreciate what you are witnessing. At Barber and Long Beach, Power made things interesting because he was starting in mid-pack before he drove to victory. At São Paulo, Power started on the pole and only relinquished the lead during pit stops.
On the surface, this seemed like a boring race because Power led almost all of the laps and he made it look effortless. This isn’t just Team Penske giving him a better car; this is a display of talent that is head-and-shoulders above everyone else on the grid. Sure, it helps that he is on the best team in the business and that he has a Chevrolet engine in his car – but those things didn’t help his teammates this past weekend. Helio Castroneves qualified twentieth and Ryan Briscoe tenth. Briscoe crashed early in the race, while Helio did very well to finish fourth.
It actually was a pretty good race behind the leader. Mike Conway was fast all day, but caused an accident and got caught up in another on his way to a very disappointing nineteenth place finish. Tony Kanaan was another driver who excelled throughout most of the day, yet only had a thirteenth place finish to show for it. The same goes for Scott Dixon who started third and finished seventeenth – the product of an ill-timed caution for Josef Newgarden hitting the wall late in the race.
On the other hand, some drivers made great strides from the start. As already mentioned, Helio Castroneves went from qualifying twentieth to finish fourth, although he was helped a little by a reshuffling of the starting grid due to penalties to other drivers for various reasons. Ryan Hunter-Reay had a great run. He started fifth and ended up second. After the season Dario Franchitti has had so far, he is probably relieved to be headed home to Nashville with a fifth place finish. Rubens Barrichello is probably not satisfied with finishing tenth in his home country, but he is showing steady improvement. I still expect him to win a race this season. Ana Beatriz started twenty-first and appeared to be headed for a top-ten finish in her homeland, only to be caught up in the late-race pile-up, which dropped her to twentieth.
But up front, it was Will Power all the way. Unless he was to get caught up in someone else’s crazy move on a re-start, there was little doubt from early on that he would win. Yes, that made it boring in a way – but it was good to accept that just to watch an artist perform his craft. His talent on street courses is exceptional. Don’t begrudge him for that. Admire it and appreciate it. It may be a while before we see someone else with such enormous talent for these type of tracks comes along again. Of course, his record on the oval at 16th and Georgetown is not quite as stellar. He’s decent, but obviously beatable. If he figures that place out – look out!
TV Coverage: First off, NBC Sports Network had little, if any, control over the camera work. They were at the mercy of the Brazilian TV feed. But kudos to Kevin Lee for literally fighting his way through the maze of Brazilian TV personnel at the end of the race in order to get to interview Power first.
Kevin Lee was the only on-air talent that was on-site. The booth trio and Robin Miller all stayed behind and called the race from a studio in Indianapolis. There was some lag-time and some static at first from on-site, but all in all – there were few technical glitches given the distance and logistics involved.
I was a bit perplexed during the intro of the pre-race show when Bob Jenkins said there were three Brazilian drivers hoping to score a win in their home country – Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and Rubens Barrichello. There was no mention of Ana Beatriz. This wasn’t the fault of Bob Jenkins – he was simply reading a script. The video that followed along only showed the three mentioned drivers. Someone in production obviously screwed up and omitted Bia. Not good.
One thing that was Bob’s fault was when he proclaimed that Bryan Herta Autosport and Dreyer & Reinbold were both leaving Lotus for Honda. Huh? When did I miss that? The last I heard was pure speculation that BHA would be going with Honda and DRR would go with Chevrolet. When was it announced that DRR would also be going with Honda. Fortunately, later in the broadcast – Jon Beekhuis set it straight that nothing had been announced and then restated the rumors that we had all heard.
I have few complaints with the job that NBC Sports Network has done, but I do have one – Please minimize the info bar at the top of the screen. There is a huge chunk of space that is always blank, and then the scroll hangs down way beyond that. I’m probably exaggerating, but it seems like almost the scroll at the top blocks twenty percent of the entire screen. It is very annoying and intrusive. I like the information but graphic artistry should come second when you’re blocking the view.
On another note, I hope that NBCSN can sell more ad time before qualifying weekend. I can appreciate the message, but seeing grotesque chest scars and double amputees in the anti-smoking ads is getting a little old. Coverage started at 10:00 am local time. It was just a little too early to be seeing those sights repeatedly.
I keep saying it, but if you haven’t seen any of the episodes of IndyCar 36, they are worth seeking out online. They are some of the best-produced programming I’ve ever seen that involved INDYCAR.
Tough day for Newgarden: I’ll admit a strong bias for Josef Newgarden. Not only is he a Nashville native, but he is an exceptionally good guy – and will be good for the series if they can hold on to him. He drove a great race yesterday, but only has a twenty-third place finish to show for it. He was punted by Simona de Silvestro and lost a lap and seemed to be caught up in a lot of incidents throughout the day. Then, he slapped the wall late in the race and ended his day. It’s a shame. He drove much better than his results showed. Don’t be surprised to see him on the podium before the summer is over.
All in all: This was not a great race, simply because there was not much doubt who would win. At the risk of sounding like a NASCAR fan, thank God there were a few incidents that shook things up and kept things interesting. Otherwise, Power would have completely checked out. Still, when you sit and watch him drive – it’s hard to not appreciate it. He has hardly put a wheel wrong all season. At least we now know how this circuit races in (mostly) dry conditions. I like the looks of the track and would like to put it on my list of tracks to visit whenever I win the lottery.
The Month of May: OK, we now have four road courses behind us. As hard as it is to believe, the season is now officially one-quarter over. But starting tomorrow, the Month of May officially arrives. I can’t promise that I’ll have a post every day in May, but I’ll certainly post more than my usual three days a week. There will be a post tomorrow welcoming the month along with an announcement of an upcoming contest for the month. Plus, there will be a couple of other surprises I’ll have throughout May. So please make sure to visit Oilpressure.com every day throughout the Month of May. The Indianapolis 500 is almost upon us. I can’t wait.