Monday, May 26, 2008

Rough-and-tumble 92nd Indy 500

It was a messy. at times, brutal race. None of the drivers ABC and the ICS would have wanted to win did, though Marco was in the fight certainly. In the end, hearty congrats to winner Scott Dixon. Now, the Great, Good, Bad, and Ugly of the 92nd 500.

The Great: Obviously, Scott Dixon. The cool, confident Kiwi was almost flawless all month and was an absolutely deserving winner. Leading 115 of the 200 laps proves this. He was the one to beat all month, but he made sure never to press too hard yesterday, a wise move on a chaotic day.

Since Danica didn't win (yes, yes, I'll get to that cluster), much of the press in the US will ignore Dixon. That's a shame b/c, although not full to the brim of charisma, he's a good guy, great racer, oh, and he's only 27. He'll be a major factor for yrs. to come.

With that said, here's some New Zealand coverage of Dixon's win. OK, I admit one reason for that link was simply to show a picture of Scott's GORGEOUS wife, Emma. Scotty, let me just say it doesn't suck to be you right now.

Another remarkable drive was that of the runner-up, Panther Racing's Vitor Meira. Meira made THE move of the race by narrowly carving his way through Dixon and Ed Carpenter on a late restart to take the lead. Make no mistake, this result was no accident. This one-car effort had all the speed of the Big Three.

The Good: Despite playing a role in Tony Kanaan's wreck (Kanaan could easily have won BTW), Marco Andretti was a very good 3rd. He had speed all day and on a day when the famed Brickyard did not yield much overtaking, Marco, along with Scheckter, Meira, and top rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay, managed to pass some folks.

Ed Carpenter is a lousy road racer, but he's become surprisingly competent on the ovals. His 5th place was a great run for the Vision Racing driver.

Ryan Hunter-Reay's 6th-place run is not surprising given the year he's had so far. It IS surprising given the fact that he totalled his primary car on Pole Day, a car that never came back to speed. The T-car had plenty of speed, and I think we're seeing the potential many saw before he got stuck with 2nd-rate operations in CART/Champ Car (American Spirit- Remember the "RYAN" & "JIMMY" cars?- and Rocketsports). Needless to say, this is a very good thing. BTW: An RHR win this Sunday in Milwaukee would not surprise me. He won there in Champ Car, and aero is much less of a factor.

The crowd, it must be said, was indeed better than last year. The turn 3 stands certainly had more folks in them compared to years past. But the infield crowd was noticeably larger and more energized. SPEED's Robin Miller said the traffic was notably worse than last year and the last few 500's. Again, this is a good thing. That said...

The Bad: The ABC shills (Brent Musberger is a special kind of awful in ANY venue) tried to convince us that "Indy is back!" Stop it, please! There were still empty seats, and the race won't get the attention it used to for years. We're not idiots. Yes, there was more energy this year, and yes, the crowd was bigger, but 1991 this wasn't.

Graham Rahal was not going to win the 500, but a top 10 might have been within reach. Too bad that Alex Lloyd, who drove for father Bobby, slowed suddenly in Turn 4. In response, Graham went high, too high it turned out, and crashed out on lap 37.

Justin Wilson completed the bad day for Newman/Haas/Lanigan with his wreck later in the race. Can the NHL boys get 2 cars ready for Milwaukee?

The Ugly: 69 of the 200 laps were run under the yellow. Although this was almost predictable, it was ugly nonetheless. The large rookie contingent made this a wreck-fest of sorts. But the TWO spins under yellow were embarassing for Sarah Fisher and Jeff Simmons, and added 7-10 laps of yellow themselves.

Danica v. Briscoe: Stick-and-baller Jay Mariotti writes on it here. Once again, Jason Whitlock is appallingly STUPID. No, this is NOT WWE or, frankly, NASCAR. I do NOT want this sport to rely on gimmicks on circus stunts to come back. Period.

To the incident itself, yes, Briscoe effed up, but that's not the first time a pit lane accident has happened. Danica's petulant, stomping reaction was beyond stupid, IMHO. It was classless and I, for one, am glad the Speedway saved her from herself. Grow up, Danica.

Alex Lloyd was as disappointing (and awful) as Meira was as a surprise. Beyond the lap 37 incident, he crashed coming out of 4 and almost had a spectacular follow-up as the car spun towards pit lane.

Remainders: Robin Miller's takes, many of which I agree with, except for Danica-gate and the return of sprint car drivers. Those days are over.

Good runs by KV racing and Darren Manning (in a Foytmobile!). I want to reiterate the strength of a young American who will be ignored b/c his last name is not Rahal, Andretti, or Patrick: Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Overall grade: B-. Too many wrecks and drivers who still don't belong, but some interesting moments too.

Finally, Emma Dixon is HOT. That is all.

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