NOLA Sunday Wrap-Up
Well, lo and behold – they got it in. Around noon, I was thinking we had gone all this way to not see a race. We had fun, regardless – but the race was what we came for. The general topic of conversation among all the media types was whether or not the Verizon IndyCar Series would return in early May or July to run this race. As it turns out, the bad weather stayed away long enough to get an official race in, albeit a timed one.
Honda’s prayers were answered. The rain was enough of an equalizer that Honda came away with the win and third on the podium, with James Hinchcliffe & James Jakes respectively. Helio Castroneves was the lone Chevy driver on the podium. In fact, Honda had three of the Top-Five. I’m not so sure it would have turned out that way under sunny skies, but after St. Petersburg and Friday’s practice here at NOLA – I’m sure they’ll take it.
Credit the local fans for seeing this thing through. The stands weren’t full, but when the rain stopped falling around 12:30 – they suddenly started showing up in droves. I’m not sure where they were hiding, but they suddenly appeared. These are some hearty fans here. Partying in the rain is probably nothing to them. Those that were here seemed to be having a good time and many of them made their way to the victory celebration.
Speaking of the victory celebration, it was a very happy James Hinchcliffe celebrating in victory lane. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a driver so genuinely happy to win. After an up and down 2013 that saw him win three times followed by several DNF’s, the Mayor of Hinchtown went winless in 2014. When sponsorship could not be found by his team at Andretti Autosport; he took a sure thing and signed with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. The moved paid off for Hinch and Sam Schmidt. Hinchcliffe seemed ecstatic with the victory and quickly became a fan favorite with the locals that crowded the victory lane area. I included one shot of Hinchcliffe’s mud-covered car. Keep in mind, this is not a matte finish. This car is normally glossy black. After the race, it looked flat gray.
We watched the race from the pits, mostly behind the pit of Helio Castroneves. We got to hear his crew discuss what was going on in Helio’s race and watch them prepare for his pit stops. When his front wing got clipped, they methodically went to the stack of front wings behind us and proceeded to change it in a very orderly fashion. Then they carefully placed the damaged wing in what appeared to be an area that The Captain had designated for damaged wings. Obviously, the episode didn’t impede Helio’s progress.
After two races, things have suddenly become jumbled. The Penske juggernaut seemed intact for the first part of today’s race. Before the first round of pit stops, the first four positions were filled by Team Penske. But things got a little crazy with all of the yellows. Juan Montoya finished fifth and is still the current points leader. Will Power finished seventh after running second to Montoya most of the day. Simon Pagenaud, however, finished twentieth after he got tangled up with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sébastien Bourdais in a spectacular crash that brought out the final caution.
That’s going to do it for us today. Please check here tomorrow as I’ll have more in-depth comments about everything that transpired here over the weekend with the obligatory “Random Thoughts” post with some more photos from the weekend. Susan and I will not be at Long Beach next weekend, but we will be at beautiful Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama; where we’ll do this all over again. Thanks to everyone for following along. It was fun.