I was busy this afternoon registering for my wedding -- yes, it's happening July 26th -- so I caught the race on DVR. While I'm happy for the chance to catch the race on tape, I'm bummed I don't get to share the experience with my friends. Hope to do just that at Barber.
Anyway, so much happened today that I'm going away from my normal post-race post (off sequence if you will) and will just go with a brain dump of thoughts and ideas. I mean, is there really any other way?
So let's get started:
1) Make no mistake, this was Big Boy Racing. Tough drivers, rough, constantly changing surfaces that led to physical exhaustion and quite a bit of tension. Temporary street courses have become like a night at your local short track...lots of broken parts, lots of fired up drivers, and tons of passionate racing. Everybody in the field drove hard today, and everyone earned what they got. That's what this series has become the last couple of years. If you think about it, there are really no "back markers" in the IndyCar series, sure, there are drivers of different abilities throughout the field, but over half the field is capable of winning, even more than that are podium worthy, and the rest can get to the top 10.
2) I loved the bad blood that came out of the race, and there was lots of it. Half of the Field vs. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power vs. Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon vs. Justin Wilson, Graham Rahal vs. Whoever Dares Try to Pass The Chosen One. It goes on and on. I think we're all adults here and would never want to see fists start flying -- although a Clint Bowyer-inspired run through the paddock would be hilarious -- but I think it's a good thing for guys to have a little bit of an edge to each other. While I like the fact that most of the guys in the series are very friendly and get along with each other, it's fun to shake things up, too.
3) Mike Conway proved once again that Ed Carpenter made a huge get when he signed him to drive the twisties this year. So many people thought his career was all but over when he stepped away from the car at Fontana a couple years back and said he wasn't going to drive ovals any more, but the opposite is true as he is always in demand. It's too bad he and his team made a couple of mistakes at St. Pete or he could be a two-time winner this year.
4) The crash. What the hell was Hunter-Reay thinking? That's probably a place you don't think of passing someone when it is actually a street and people are driving down it at 35 mph. His "I saw an opening" excuse doesn't pass muster, and when you add to the fact that his own teammate (James Hinchcliffe) didn't even think about defending him, you know that he really, really screwed up. My own personal credo is that you never wreck the leader of the race. Never. That was a rookie mistake made by someone who has over 100 IndyCar races in his pocket. Leader Josef Newgarden was on cold tires and would have been an easy pass a couple of corners later. He had dominated the race to that point, why get so impatient?
5) Speaking of Newgarden, I hope he gets a bit of luck soon. That race was out there for him to win, and it would've been a huge deal for Josef and his Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team in so many ways if it would've happened. I'm on board with him winning sometime this season, though, he's driven through the field two races in a row and will seal the deal sooner or later.
6) I don't know about you, but I'm getting a bit sick of Power's excuses when he wrecks someone. This whole "oh, gee, man...I don't know...man, I just...I just didn't see him (and so on and so on)" is wearing thin. He pulled the same crap when he drilled Dixon at Baltimore last year. For a guy who wins a lot of races and is a championship contender, he wrecks a lot of guys then spends a lot of time claiming innocence. I might start calling him Bill Laimbeer. If you watched the NBA in the 80s and 90s, Bill Laimbeer would cheap shot guys or start fights, then back away like "who, me?" when people called him on it.
7) Pardon my language, but Carlos Munoz is the s--t. So is Oriol Servia. That is all.
8) When Jack Hawksworth was announced as Bryan Herta Autosport's driver a couple of months ago, there was a lot of angst on the Twitter about the move. I know a lot of it wasn't personal, the great thing about IndyCar is that we as fans have personal relationships with drivers and that skews our judgement sometimes. But two races in it looks like a great move. We'll see what goes down when we get to the oval part of the schedule, but early on he looks to be a keeper.
9) It was actually a good weekend for all the rookies as Munoz was on the podium, Hawksworth ran well and Mikhail Aleshin and Carlos Huertas finished in the Top 10.
10) Long Beach proved once again that it is truly special.
That's it for now. Is this season off to a heck of a start or what?