Monday, July 15, 2013

Toronto Notes; Or, Scott Dixon Is A Magical Kiwi

-Well, whatever you feelings about the red cars of Ganassi, you have to admit we have seen nothing short of a dominating performance by Scott Dixon in the last week. Three victories in seven days, with Mid-Ohio next on the schedule? Helio had better watch out--that points lead is shrinking quickly.

-The first race was a mess, from the called off standing start to the disputed/reversed penalty on Dario (which, I believe, should not have been a penalty in the first place, though it was questionable). Lost in that a bit was a truly inspiring performance by Sebastien Bourdais, and a pretty good duel. Add to that another great drive Sunday, and Bourdais suddenly looks a bit revitalized. Could the recent changes at Dragon have salvaged their season? It's tough to tell, especially since Sebastian Saavedra still hasn't been any great shakes this year.

-As for the second race, it was one of those races that is just taken over by a single driver (Dixon, in this case). It was a much cleaner race than we normally see at Toronto, but it wasn't an instant classic, either. It was nice to see the standing starts finally go off. I don't think I'd want them every week, but it's nice to see them as something to make one or two races unique.

-What a disappointing weekend for James Jakes. He was so very fast at the start of the week, but after a 10-grid engine swap penalty for Race 1 and a late crash in Race 2, what looked to be a very big doubleheader turned into zilch. I still think I like him to grab a podium in one of the remaining races, but perhaps I'm being overly optimistic.

-The last restart in the second race was such a downer. It looked as if Ryan Hunter-Reay got a little aggressive, and Will Power and Takuma Sato also paid the price for it. That could easily finish RHR's title hopes, especially with Helio and Dixie not looking to set a single wheel wrong just now.

-Such a rough break for Ryan Briscoe. He looks good to be in the Panther car for at least the majority of the remainder of the season, and then he breaks his wrist, keeping him out for a few weeks. If he can't make it in Mid-Ohio, it will be very interesting to see if John Barnes goes with Oriol Servia, Carlos Munoz, or another direction entirely.

-Speaking of the Panther ride, Carlos Munoz didn't have a superb finish, but I watched his lap times closely, and was really impressed with how he improved over the course of the race. Whether or not he's the Lights champion, I think he's going to be ready to make the full jump to IndyCar next season.

-Looking at Firestone Indy Lights, Sage Karam is still only 8 points behind Munoz, and is still probably the only driver with a chance to catch him in the remaining races. However, Gaby Chaves is coming on strong, and Jack Hawksworth has essentially salvaged his season in the last couple of races. So while I'm still betting on Munoz or Karam, there are other competitors to make the end of the Lights season pretty intense.

-It's about 99.9% sure Matthew Brabham is going to be your Pro Mazda champion, and get that scholarship for Firestone Indy Lights. USF2000 is a bit more murky after Neil Alberico and Danilo Estrela won the races this weekend, but Scott Hargrove still has a 37 point lead over Estrela.

Other Notes: How did Dario Franchitti get away with only doing a single race lap on red tires? The minimum is two, isn't it? Turns out that rules is tossed out if it happens on a doubleheader weekend due to tire supply. OK, then...You knew that with Brian Barnhart subbing for Beaux Barfield this weekend, folks would be on the lookout for anything controversial. A quiet weekend on that front, it was not...Congrats to Alex Tagliani and Barracuda Racing on a hard-fought Top 10. More of that, please!...Tristan Vautier has looked pretty rough out on track for a while now. What are the chances of him returning with Schmidt for 2014?...Congrats to Scott Dixon, now P7 on the IndyCar wins list with 32. And he does it all so quietly..


  1. Why wouldn't you want standing starts for every road/street course race? It is much more exciting than a rolling start. I do not even see how this could be debated.

    1. I guess because folks have different opinions, and have a long history of rolling starts to look at.