-Andretti Autosport seems good to grab 2-3 race wins a year in recent years, but two in a row on the short ovals is a nice accomplishment indeed. Ryan Hunter-Reay has managed to overcome a couple of bad races to become a legitimate title contender, and not just because of these last two wins (don't forget, he has two road/street podiums so far). Meanwhile, his teammate Marco Andretti finally grabbed both his first podium and Top 10 of the year. Marco seemed disappointed in the result after the race, but it was still a very good race for him.
-Perhaps the most exciting development outside the race itself is the points battle. Will Power dodged a bullet a bit last night when James Hinchcliffe crashed out of the race, but he still has Ryan Hunter-Reay only 3 points behind him. In fact, the top seven drivers are within a single race weekend of max points of each other. There will be more to come on this, but don't hand the crown over to Will Power just yet, despite his proficiency on the road and street courses to come.
|Deja Vu: RHR in a short oval Victory Circle.|
(Used with permission. Courtesy TrackSideOnline.com)
-Over to Newgarden for a minute: I really like Josef, and he's going to do great things in this series, but after claiming no fault in his crash with Ryan Briscoe, his 10 seconds of watching the replay where he was clearly at fault was one of the more unintentionally hilarious moments in recent memory. Hey, stuff happens, and Briscoe was gracious about it. Owning your mistakes and being gracious about those that aren't your fault is always a classy move.
-Can I again mention how much fun the racing has been this year? Ultimately, I don't really care about whatever mini-crisis comes up in a given week; I just appreciate the Dallara and Firestone (and yes, the teams and drivers) have teamed up to give us some true edge-of-your-seat, skill-based, unpredictable racing.
-Star Mazda is exactly as knotted up as we thought it would be. Sage Karam kept his title hopes alive with a repeat Iowa victory, while Jack Hawksworth's late incident, paired with Connor De Phillippi's P3 finish, was enough to change the order at the top of the standings. CDP is now first, with Jack Hawksworth 4 points back, the unsung Martin Scuncio 17 points back, and Sage Karam 22 points back. The upcoming Canadian swing for these guys should be a great one.
-The Firestone Indy Lights race was a bit of a parade, though drivers such as Gustavo Yacaman did their part to mix it up. Esteban Guerrieri took over the points lead once again with his win over Tristan Vautier, and now leads him by 14 points in the standings. Suffering mechanical failure, Sebastian Saavedra dropped 45 points back of Guerrieri in points, and will probably have some trouble catching the Sam Schmidt cars in front of him. Interestingly enough, judging from social media response, the two drivers most folks seemed to be cheering for were either Bryan Clauson or Anders Krohn, neither of which has a full time ride. Social media doesn't bring sponsorship, but it sure would be nice to see Krohn in a solid full-time ride.
-Other Notes: Justin Wilson brought home another Top 10 on an oval last night. Needless to say, he's really taking to the new type of driving demands of the DW12 on those types of tracks...Ed Carpenter found himself a lap down again early Saturday, but once more rallied for his second P8 in as many races. He now sits P19 in points...It sounds like Lights driver Alon Day's time with Belardi Auto Racing might be at an end. Nothing's official yet, but it sounds like it could be tied to funding (which is usually a good bet if a driver is out of a ride). We'll keep an ear out...Simona de Silvestro brought home her Lotus in P14. The Lotus is still wildly slow out there, but that's a much result on an oval then many of us thought we'd see...Simon Pagenaud looked great on track Saturday night, and leads Josef Newgarden in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year fight by 120 points. You can call that one, folks...