Random Thoughts On Edmonton
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.