As Good As It Gets

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The last fifteen laps of the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 provided as good of racing as I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot of racing in my lifetime. The Top Four at that point consisted of Scott Dixon, Will Power, Charlie Kimball and Juan Montoya. The four of them jockeyed for position and you really had no idea who was going to win. I was assuming Kimball would be content to finish fourth, but he raced his teammate and earned a strong third place finish.

For about the last five or six laps, it became obvious that the race was going to come down to Will Power and Juan Montoya, although they had swapped the lead back and forth since Lap 188. On the last lap, Power was chasing Montoya as they went down the backstretch. As they approached Turn Three, they came upon a slow car. You that watched the race on television probably know who it was. I do not. Had it not been for that car, there might possibly have been a different outcome. But Juan Montoya earned a thrilling victory over his teammate. Montoya’s record in his three Indianapolis 500’s is first, fifth and first. Not too shabby. I’m not sure, but I suspect Montoya also set a record for the number of years between victories (2000-2015)

The hand-wringing by many was wasted energy. There were no flying cars. No drivers were seriously injured. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for crew-members. There were two Coyne crewmembers injured in a pit mishap along with one from Bryan Herta Autosport.

That doesn’t mean the race was accident-free. The problems started before the green flag dropped. Alex Tagliani had problems getting his car fired at the command to start engines. About the time he got going and tried to join the field, Conor Daly had fire appear at the rear of his “Fueled by Bacon” Smithfield sponsored car (insert punchline here). Daly’s day literally ended before it began.

The at the drop of the green flag, the field couldn’t even get through the first turn before Sage Karam and Takuma Sato tangled. The crash also involved Ryan Briscoe and James Davison. Pippa Mann appeared to lock up her brakes and had to pit for new tires. All the cars were able to continue after repairs, except for Karam. His day was done.

Before the field could take the green flag, Simona de Silvestro got together with Montoya and damaged his rear bodywork. When Montoya rejoined the race after his repairs, he was in thirtieth place, which makes his victory all the more impressive.

The race opened with twelve laps of caution before there was any green flag racing beyond the first turn of the first lap. When it finally flew, the race stayed green until Lap 64 when Bryan Clauson slapped the Turn Four wall. We saw what was left of Clauson’s car after the race. The floor of the car had a huge split in the undertray where it had sustained damage. It was a nasty hit.

From there it stayed green until Lap113, when Ed carpenter and Oriol Servia got together in Turn One. That’s one we had a clear view of from our seats. It looked extremely violent in person and I was very glad to see both of them get out of their respective cars under their own power. Then Tony Kanaan, who I really thought was going to win the thing, inexplicably crashed soon after a pit stop.

The final crash was the worst. It involved Stefano Coletti, Jack Hawksworth and Sebastian Saavedra. Once they got going again, it set the stage for some of the best fifteen laps of racing I’ve seen here.

Unlike last year, the yellows were spaced well. You never want to see accidents, but if you have them – you want them to be pretty evenly spaced.

Overall, I thought it was a very good race. Dixon appeared to be the class of the field at first, but then others emerged. It was very compelling as it set up for a great ending.

Congratulations to Juan Montoya on his second victory, and Roger Penske on his sixteenth.

I will have my normal “Random Thoughts” here tomorrow. Please check back then.

George Phillips

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11 Responses to “As Good As It Gets”

  1. I was certainly concerned about flying cars and I’m happy that none of them took off. I’m still concerned and hope some solution might be found before the next big oval rather than treat the UFO’s as a fluke that could never happen again.

    Looked like a beautiful and exciting day at the track, even though the best racecar driver in the world, Scott Dixon, fell to fourth. (I’ve decided to be a Dixon promoter.) I’ve never been that big of a Penske or Montoya fan, but dang–J.P. is a good, aggressive, tough driver.

    Not as good as Scott Dixon, “B.D.I.T.W.,” but still good.

    Honda has to be disappointed with the month of May but Bobby Rahal’s kid and Michael Andretti’s kid both did nice jobs considering Indycar mandated that Honda had to run lawn tractor engines.

    As for ABC–never been a fan of the snooze brothers, Cheever and Goodyear–but the thought hit me while watching that nobody really knows how best to present Indycar races. Indycar’s are small and really fast–they have to get closer somehow and more intimate with the action. And if I was a sponsor, I’d want them to figure out a way to make my logo bigger on those cars too. And have the drivers mention my name once in a while.

    Good job George, look forward to reading more.

  2. I’ve never been much if a Penske fan, and never followed Montoya when he raced taxicabs. But he won me over during the course of the race with some of the ballsiest moves I’ve ever seen at Indy. At one point he went low on Dixon in 1 and was so close to going off the apron that dirt flew. By the end of the race I was pulling for him to win it. Great racing at the end. Can’t ask for more than that.

  3. Ron Ford Says:

    Conor Daly and Sage Karam must be crestfallen tonight. Really tough luck. Dumb move by Sato. I’ve never been much of a JPM fan, but you have to give him his due coming from the back to the front and the move that Tom described here was like that of RHR last year. I did not think that Montoya could hold off Power and Dixon. I am a Scott Dixon fan (George might describe me as a Emma fan) and I thought this would be his day again. Kimball deserved his podium finish. For Marco, perhaps more than any other driver, the 500 is everything and the rest of the season is just waiting, So he and Graham did well to finish where they did with those clunky Hondas. The announcing team has never been an issue with me. The racing usually speaks for itself and this was some damn fine racing. The iconic Jim Nabors version of Back Home in Indiana cannot easily be replaced, but I thought it was well done. I feel bad for Mary Hulman George. What happend there? Bizarre. I have no criticism except that reserved for the Sato move. Now I just have that feeling you get when something you have waited 364 days for is finished. All I can do is reach for some ice cream. Sigh…………

  4. “Somebody lost their Cheetos ” – Scott Goodyear for Cheetos super bowl ad

  5. So many Penske and Ganassi cars….

  6. billytheskink Says:

    Fun race, though I was hoping that a greater variety of teams would compete for the win. Rahal with a Le Mans-esque class victory.

    Justin Wilson was the car that got in Power’s way on the final lap, though the overhead replay did not make it look as if he cost Power all that much speed.

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