Although it took much longer than expected, we finally made it to NOLA Motorsports Park. It seems as if we’ve been running off of my mental schedule since we left Nashville last night (7:20 after I had planned on a 6:00 departure). We got to Meridian, MS at 12:30 last night. After finally crashing after 1:00am – old age kicked in and we both just had to get some sleep. We left Meridian at 10:30 this morning – about the time I had originally planned to be here. We finally arrived at the track at around 3:30 local time – after checking into our hotel room with a broken air conditioner. My car was showing 89-degrees while headed to the track, so the air will be needed.
And so it begins, again…our in-person racing season. This weekend begins a stretch of six of seven weekends traveling to race tracks. I would be lying if I said that my wife, Susan, is as excited about it as I am; but she enjoys the entire weekend experience a lot. She’s just not as fanatical about it as I am.
For the past several years, it has almost seemed like a rite of spring to proclaim that this is the year that AJ Foyt Enterprises takes a giant step forward. More times than not, however, the optimism is transformed into reality at about the halfway point in the season. Then the next spring, after a disappointing second half of each season, the optimism returns and the whole cycle repeats itself.
Most know that I am a fan of Team Penske. If you’ve been a reader of this site for very long, you also know that I’m a longtime fan of Helio Castroneves. You can count Helio as one of two to three that I consider as my favorite current drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Since Tony Kanaan is also in this group, some might wonder if I single them out since they are both Brazilian. No, it’s strictly coincidental – but I have also pulled heavily for Vitor Meira and Raul Boesel over the years. I also count Josef Newgarden in that group. It doesn’t hurt that he’s from Nashville, but there are other reasons why I like Newgarden, as well.
Over the years, I’ve taken my fair of shots at Graham Rahal – some deserved, some maybe not. As I wrote a few weeks ago; I heard something in his voice when he was interviewed on Trackside that told me that we may be looking at a new and improved Graham Rahal. He seemed more mature, more focused and most importantly – more likeable. I attributed it to age and the fact that he is now engaged. Whatever the case, I found myself hoping that the second generation driver would have a much improved season this year.
After watching the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg yesterday, which was won by Team Penske driver Juan Montoya; I talked to a couple of friends about the race, scanned social media, thought about what I had watched – and still wasn’t sure what I thought about what had just transpired. Let’s just say it was a mixed bag for me.