Monday, July 25, 2011

Edmonton Indy Recap

That's the Will Power we expected.

After his nearest competitor Ryan Hunter-Reay had to serve a penalty, Power blew ahead of the field at the Edmonton Indy race on Sunday. However, Helio Castroneves stalked him the entire last third of the race, making Power work for this one. But when the checkered flag waved, it was Helio in second, and Will Power atop the podium once more.

It was a relatively clean, well-officiated race, which most folks were ready for after the headaches of Toronto.

Let's take a look at some of the other big stories from the weekend:

A Penske Sort Of Weekend: Penske swept 1-2 at Edmonton, and even though Ryan Briscoe had to make a splash n' go fuel stop on the last lap, trading P4 for P10, they looked strong all weekend. We also saw some tremendous pit stops from the team. Better still for Penske, Dario Franchitti dropped back after avoiding an accident to P13, but he did recover very well to finish on the podium in third. Scott Dixon was out of contention early. The Penskes were up this week, and the Ganassis somewhat down overall. All in all, it was the sort of weekend the Penske team desperately needed.

Dixon's Drama: We watched Scott Dixon sit in the cockpit after contact with EJ Viso, waiting for his team to fix his destroyed radiator. When he emerged, it was 5 laps down, finishing in P23. He took a nasty hit in the points, but still managed to maintain P3 in the standings overall, albeit over 100 points behind his teammate. He had threatened to take out Viso in his return to the track, but there was no retribution.

Power closed the gap on Dario, but needs to keep it going.
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)
PT's Early Day: Another early out for Paul Tracy, who had a run-in with Graham Rahal right off the bat. This was a terrible Canadian swing for PT, and you have to wonder how many more chances he'll see in this series. The thing of it is, this one was not his fault; it was a chain-reaction, initiated by Tagliani, who ran into Rahal, who went off, came back on, and collected Tracy. It was a shame for a crowd that definitely wanted to see PT do well.

Broadcast: There were some unfortunate early track PA issues, but overall, it was good coverage once again. The Grid Walk/Grid Run needs to not be a 2-minute afterthought; allot a solid 5-7 minutes for it. Additionally, Versus did a nice job getting of getting Graham Rahal in the booth for driver analysis after his early out.

(Interestingly, I couldn't help but notice Danica Patrick was not discussed that much during the broadcast, except when relevant on-track. What a change from just a year or so ago!).

Penalties Galore: We definitely saw some black-flagging Sunday. Mike Conway and Alex Tagliani each served penalties for avoidable contact. RHR was Will Power's closest competition early, but after colliding with Sato, had a penalty of his own. All in all, it was a less messy race than Toronto, and was especially clean in the last half.

Dale Coyne's Upward Trend: Despite a brief off-road jaunt, Dale Coyne's Sebastien Bourdais managed to finish P6, his second Top 10 of the day. James Jakes started and finished P18, but had a clean race. If Coyne can keep it up, the second half of their season is promising to be a much happier one than the first.

Good Days Overall: Tony Kanaan and Justin Wilson finished P4 and P5, respectively, and had a couple of nice mentions in the broadcasts as they moved their way through the field. It was a display of two professionals racing clean and hard--may we continue to see that. Ryan Hunter-Reay recovered from his penalty to finish P7, and teammates Mike Conway and Danica Patrick seemingly came from nowhere to grab P8 and P9.

Viso/Sato: EJ Viso ended up tearing out the side of Scott Dixon's car, and Takuma Sato was a victim of RHR's aggressive moves. It was a rough result for KV Racing's two junior drivers, but that seems to be the story of their season.

Lights Update: The Edmonton doubleheader for Firestone Indy Lights was a blast, with Esteban Guerrieri beating out Joseph Newgarden in the first race for his first series victory. However Guerrieri had to come in for damage in the second race, and lost ground to Newgarden overall (-63 points behind in the standings). Meanwhile, Peter Dempsey (along with teammate Stefan Wilson) picked up another podium on the weekend for Andretti Autosport. We'll have to see if it's enough for him to continue with the team.

Meanwhile: If you didn't hear about Star Mazda this weekend, JV Horto picked up his first series victory. Tristan Vautier kept his points lead, but Connor de Phillippi is only six points behind him, and his teammate Nick Andries is only eight behind de Phillippi. Horto and Sage Karam are one and two points behind Andries, making for a championship chase that just keeps getting closer and more exciting.

Next up, the IZOD IndyCar Series takes a week off before heading Mid-Ohio.

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