Monday, August 26, 2013

Sonoma Notes: Will Power Returns

-I was in and out with a family engagement during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, which means I messed a bit of Sunday's race and had to go back to cover what I had missed. So what parts did I miss? Fortunately, much of it was yellow flag time. This was not a clean race at any point, but the odds are you'll have one like that every now and then.

-I suppose I should start with a hearty congratulations to Will Power for stopping one of IndyCar's most curious cold streaks. I can't think of a time a driver seemed more potentially dominant without winning than Will Power in the last year. Will has always been so great on the road courses, it's been almost unfathomable that his win drought lasted as long as it did.

-The Scott Dixon penalty...hoo boy. I understand Dixie is understandably enraged at seeing his championship points swing about 40 points after being sent to the back of the field after hitting a dawdling Penske crew member, but them's the rules. Yes, the tire carrier was showing poor situational awareness (no, I don't think he was deliberately trying to be hit), but there's not a lot of room to bend the rules when it comes to safety. If Dixon is going to catch the corner of Power's pit box, well, only bad things can happen, no matter how unfair or stupid the situation. I'm glad I didn't have to make the call, is all I can say.

-Ganassi's Mike Hull saw things a bit differently, placing the blame on poor technology that he thought adversely impacted IndyCar's review of the incident. Is he right? It's pretty strong words, but I'd love to see a comparison of just how IndyCar's replay assets match up against those of the NFL, MLB, and of course, other racing series.

-Moving on from that bit of unpleasantness, hey, what an awesome show by Justin Wilson, recovering from some early trouble to grab another podium (his third of the year). No one was getting Power on that last restart, but Wilson hung in admirably. Even with a few bad turns, this has been a fine season overall for the Dale Coyne crew.

-I still think Roger Penske could take Marco Andretti in a fight. Or, maybe not, but I think the Captain would get a few good licks in. Sunday's "altercation" between Penske and Marco was one of the stranger shouting matches I can recall hearing of.

-So how do the champion points look right now? Well, if you're Helio Castroneves, they look superb. You're 39 points up and Dixon, and Ryan Hunter-Reay has closed, but just barely, to 62 points back. Helio just is doing everything he needs to in order to secure that first IndyCar season championship. Baltimore, two Houston races, and there a goof-up in his future, and can RHR or Dixon capitalize if he does? Oh, and Marco Andretti is still hanging around--70 points back. He's not totally out of it yet, either, as long of a shot as that seems.

-By the way, Power marks our 10th different winner this year. Some guy on Friday had the audacity to complain about how "Ganassi was dominating everything". I'm pretty sure he's watching tapes from a few years ago. Check the points and win columns, friend.

-Charlie Kimball hasn't posted anything north of P20 at Sonoma in IndyCar. This track just doesn't seem to hold much good fortune for him.

-Ryan Briscoe looked good until his troubles, but I hope it isn't taken as anything against when I say I was happy to hear Oriol Servia will be in the Panther Racing car for the rest of the season. Ideally, I'd like to see both guys with strong, full-time rides, but Servia is such a delight to watch as a veteran who absolutely optimizes whatever situation he is given.

Other Notes: That was a nice Top 10 for Simona de Silvestro today. She's not had her name called much in recent races, but that was a very solid drive...Tough debut for Lucas Luhr, but I certainly hope this was a prelude to greater involvement for 2014...James Davison finished P18, but there's no doubt in my mind this guy would do just fine if he were given adequate seat team and a full ride. Probably not in the cards, but another perfectly serviceable weekend...Thank goodness we get back to Firestone Indy Lights next weekend!...Tony Kanaan will break the IndyCar consecutive races started streak in Baltimore. Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles did 2,632 games of baseball without sitting one out, but that's a bit different. Maybe the two could have dinner next weekend?

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