Sunday, July 22, 2012


I'm stealing this headline (and paraphrasing) from a British gent who sat behind me at the Indy 500 as he yelled "Dario!" in a clipped accent every time Franchitti came by in the lead. Awesome dude, hope he comes back next year!

And you know what? Helio Castroneves' name deserves an explanation point behind it every time he wins a race, because the guy celebrates like no other. As anyone well should, when you don't win 90 percent of the races you drive in your career every one you do should be a big deal.

So we got a celebration like that today as Helio crossed the line first at the Edmonton Indy to win for the second time this season and 27th time in his career, which ties him with Johnny Rutherford for 12th place on the all-time list.

Let's roll through the top five and some other notes and thoughts.

Winner: Helio Castroneves. I called this in my blog post just after midnight, but it is more an indication of a blind squirrel finding a nut more than it is my racing expertise. Still, it was an easy pick given Helio's three runner-up finishes in his four races at Edmonton. Outside of cycling through pit stops, Helio was in the top four all day long and took the lead for good in the final stint. More importantly, he leapfrogged Will Power for second in the points, and stands just 23 behind Ryan Hunter-Reay, who placed seventh.

Runner-up: Takuma Sato. This was one of the better drives of Taku's career. He was smart and patient, was fast all day and made great decisions while making Helio seriously work down the stretch. He could have pushed the issue -- a la Indy (a situation where I don't blame him for doing so) -- and perhaps made things messy, but he drove with a lot of poise. Sometimes it's better to keep turning the screws on someone in hopes of forcing them into a mistake as opposed to throwing a high-risk move out there and ruining two people's day. When he keeps his head and the car in one piece, Taku is very, very good.

Third place: Will Power. Power took an engine change and the 10-grid penalty so eventually started 17th before putting on what can be now called one of his patented drives to the front. Today was hard work, because without the benefit of a yellow, he had to move up by making passes for position. Power appeared he might have something for the top two but dropped back at the end and fell to third in the standings.

Fourth place: Graham Rahal. Like Sato, Rahal needed a finish like this after some frustrating moments the over the last few weeks. Graham's season has been true feast for famine: he has four top-10s (including a second and two fourths) and the rest of his finishes have been 13th or worse.

Fifth place: Alex Tagliani. The native Canadian brought the fans to their feet when he made a pass for the lead on the opening lap and eventually led the most laps on the day. Still, over the course of the second half of the race he just couldn't find the magic he had in the first 45 laps. This does represent BHA's best finish of the season.

No yellows! An IndyCar race went caution-free for the first time since the nightcap of the Texas doubleheader last year. I liked it! Yellows are good for strategy sometimes but you gotta earn what you get when there isn't any cautions.

Big movers. Power jumped 14 spots from his 17th starting position, while Mike Conway moved from 23rd to 11th. Conway had been quick in practice but got stuck in the back because of fuel pickup issues during qualifying. Scott Dixon moved up eight spots officially, but came from even further back after his car suffered an electronic issue early on in the race that involved a reboot. Once again, proving that while people make fun of their tech support guy's suggestion to restart their machine when something goes wrong, it is usually what works.

(Editor's note: I worked tech support for three years so I know what I'm talking about!)

Points. Ryan Hunter-Reay didn't seem to be having much fun today as his run of three straight wins ended. He now has 362 points, 23 ahead of Castroneves and 26 in front of Power.

Push to pass. I still don't know how I feel about this, because while it did enhance some of the racing it also made the end of the race more about hitting the button as opposed to actually driving the car. I wanted to see Sato and Helio actually battle using their cars and talent as opposed to the electronics doing it for them.

But that is a small complaint as I thought the race was outstanding front to back. So the series takes a break next week and comes back stateside to run at historic Mid-Ohio in two weeks. Four races to go, it's getting down to crunch time.

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