Random Thoughts On The GP Of Indianapolis
The different reactions to races that you see on social media, is an interesting phenomenon. After the Phoenix race, I saw where people thought it was terribly boring. After attending the frigid Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, a check of social media on Saturday night showed some people calling Saturday’s race “epic”. Neither race was as bad or as good, as those on social media thought.
For the record, I thought Saturday’s race was OK. It wasn’t great, but it was better than last year’s snoozer that saw Will Power lead sixty-five of eighty-two laps. The best part was that even with the cold temperatures, there was very litte carnage. I was there in 1992 when the cold Goodyear tires would not adhere. It was colder on Saturday than that day twenty-four years ago, but the Firestone tires did their job.
The only car with slightly significant damage was Tony Kanaan’s, from the Chip Ganassi stable. You would hate to see one of the lower budget teams have a setback with equipment before practice begins today for the Indianapolis 500. You hate it for Kanaan, but at least Chip Ganassi won’t be hurting to make the minor repairs to the car.
I pretty well covered the details of the race in Saturday’s wrap-up post along with bemoaning the fact that the championship is becoming a one-man show. Not that I wish any ill will to come Simon Pagenaud’s way, but it sure would spice things up a bit if he would just let someone else win one of these things. Not only is he blowing the field away, he’s embarrassing his Team Penske teammates. Juan Montoya has gone quiet since winning the opening race and Will Power has become an afterthought.
Helio Castroneves is the one sliding in under the radar. His worse race of the season was an eleventh place finish at Phoenix, after blowing a tire while leading the race. He has quietly put together other finishes of fourth, third and seventh, before finishing second in Saturday’s race. He now finds himself in fourth place overall and just one point behind Montoya. For not having won a race yet this season, he is quietly sneaking up on every top driver not named Simon Pagenaud.
But if Pagenaud can win his fourth race in a row by winning the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, he deserves to run away with this championship. Is he that good or is everyone else sort of mired in a funk? The next two weeks can give us a lot of answers.
TV Coverage: As of this writing, I have not yet watched the ABC race coverage. I’ll be curious to see what they did with it. The stint where Conor Daly led a stretch of laps was the most intriguing, in my opinion. I’m wondering if they hyped it as Daly leading in his hometown, or if they figured that it was just a matter of time before things settled out and Pagenaud resumed the lead. It was good to see Jon Beekhuis in the pits on Saturday. His technical insights bring a lot to the broadcast. That explains why he is doing double-duty with ABC and NBCSN. I just wish he was on every broadcast instead of selected races.
Oval Conversion: I get all of the revenue producing signage around IMS. It brings in dollars that ultimately helps sustain the Verizon IndyCar Series. I really have no problem with it at the three-year old Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis The race at Barber has more tradition than the GP at IMS.
But I have to admit that I’m not wild about the green walls down the straightaway or the Verizon logo plastered all over the walls of the short-chute in the south end. We went by the track on our way out of town yesterday around 1:30. I was glad to see that the walls were once again pristine white in preparation for “500” practice starting today. I saw a notice on Twitter just after we got home that the oval conversion is complete. That’s good to know.
Odd Feeling: One thing that feels strange about this race, even on the warmest of days, is how empty the place looks. What is considered prime seating along the main straightaway for the Indianapolis 500, is undesirable for the Grand Prix. Therefore the place feels totally empty when the cars are on the grid ready to be fired, even though it’s not.
If you look far to the north in Stand J, you see the stand is nearly full, if not completely. That’s because that is the best vantage point for the Road Course Turn One. The thing is, they are so far down you can’t even hear them – even when the cars are not running. It’s hard to feel much buzz on the grid when there are no fans in the stands in front of you.
All in All: Had I driven four hours to go to this race and it was held in another venue, I’d be feeling a little disappointed on this Monday morning. As I said earlier, it was an OK race, but not a great race. The cold and cloudy weather made it worse.
But this race was held in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That made the whole trip worthwhile. If you like going to IMS but feel overwhelmed by the race day crowds for the “500”, you might want to give this race a try. The atmosphere is a lot more laid back and relaxed. We were able to move about the whole facility with ease the entire weekend. The only problem was, we froze to death. The northerly winds cut right through you as they made the 46-degree temperature feel about ten degrees colder.
Before I close, here are a few random photos from Victory Lane after the race.
The third annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis is now history. It’s done. It was a nice little distraction and gave us a taste of racing at the historic facility. But now it’s time to turn the page and today, things get serious. The first practice for the 2016 Indianapolis 500, starts today at noon local time. By late this afternoon, the Grand Prix will have already been forgotten about. The Month of May will have started for real.