Here are some more observations from the Texas races:
Random Draw Reactions Mixed: Dario Franchitti, Will Power, and multiple other drivers commented on the random starting position draw for the second race, saying it was unfair at best. I personally really enjoyed the draw segment in the field, but it does seem as if fan and driver opinion is trending towards field inversion for the second race.
Wheldon Excels: Dan Wheldon wasn't in a car Saturday night, but still gave us some of the best commentary and driver analysis we've seen in a long, long time. The reaction to Wheldon's commentary in the broadcast booth was overwhelmingly positive, and it's clear he has a future in broadcasting when he finlly hangs up his helmet. His teaming with Jon Beekhuis on the mike was pitch-perfect all night, and made for a great duo.
Chip Ganassi, Lovable Curmudgeon: No, not really. Every time Versus interview the Chipster Saturday night, he was complaining about backmarkers in a "dang kids on my lawn" sort of tone. Frankly, he came off as if he felt 28 other cars didn't belong on the same track as the Target Chip Ganassi Cars. For at least the first race Saturday, he may well have been correct.
Andretti Fights Back: The Andretti cars didn't do much in the first feature, but they made a nice showing in the second. Ryan-Hunter Reay started near the front in race #2, but still had to fight his car to finish P9. Mike Conway didn't have much of a car, but still advanced 9 spots (P17) in the latter race. Danica made a nice run in that race as well to finish P8. Perhaps the best run of the night belonged to Marco Andretti, who started P27 and finished P6 in the second race.
KV Shows Well: Finally, a good night overall for all the KV cars. Takuma Sato finished a very strong P5 in race #1, with EJ Viso 7th and 10th, respectively, in the two races. Tony Kanaan drew the pole in the second race, but didn't have the speed to take victory, settling for P5. Most importantly, though, KV Racing got through the night without a single incident.
Rookie Battle Still Murky...: JR Hildebrand struggled after a strong qualifying effort, finishing P23 and P18 in the two races. James Hinchcliffe had an mediocre (by his standards) night, finishing P20 and P19. Charlie Kimball finished P30 and P23, and lost a little bit of ground in the ROY chase. The battle will spill over to next week.
...But the Champ Battle Isn't: Things are beginning to look more and more like many thought they would at this point at the season, with Will Power, Dario Franchitti, and Scott Dixon your Top 3 in the overall points battle. Orio Servia's weak showing at Texas (only 13 points total) loses him a spot to 4th overall, and TK remains a distance back in P5, with Ryan Briscoe gaining on him. We're 1-2 races away from having an all Penske/Ganassi Top 4.
|Nowhere To Be Seen: Monkey.|
(Image Courtesy IndyCar Media)
Howard's Night: If you missed it, Jay Howard was a blast to watch in the first race, aggressively moving up 13 positions. It's nice to see someone get another shot and do pretty well with it. Plus, it sounds like Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing might be putting together a few more races, so there's hope for seeing Howard or possibly Bertrand Baguette at least once more.
The Battle For 22nd: Depending on what happens with TEAM money on the offseason, being in outside the Top 22 cars in points could be injurious to your racing program's health. Right now, Sebastian Saavedra, Ana Beatriz (plus Pagenaud's points), and James Jakes are all looking like it might come down to them, with Viso a possibility unless he has more races like Texas. If any one of the usual backmarkers can put together a big finish, that could give them some breathing room. As it stands now, the fight remains a race-to-race proposition.
Carpenter's Pattern: Ed Carpenter has qualified well now at Indy and Texas, but seems like he's fighting the car all race long once the flag drops. Ed and Sarah Fisher Racing have shown some great speed and managed a good finish at Indy, but it seems like they still need to put a full race together to reach the top. SFR dropped 19 combined spots between the two races.
Davey's Last Race?: The rumors were Davey Hamilton would be retiring after Texas. Even though his results were generally poor last night, it's tough to find a nicer or more inspirational guy in the paddock than Davey Hamilton. I hope we see him Vegas, but if not, let's have a big cheer for a genuinely nice, humble, and dedicated racer.
A Few Words On Alex Lloyd: Alex doesn't always get a lot of attention, but he should. He made an incredibly clutch run to just make the field at Indy, and at Texas, he took a car with some substantial drag issues to move up 11 spots in the first race. You get the feeling that if he would just get a somewhat more competitive car under him, he could set things on fire. In any case, because he doesn't get enough attention, kudos and cheers, Alex.
Next up is the Milwaukee Mile this weekend.