Just as Formula 1 was wrapping up across the pond the Indy Cars were getting warmed up in the land of hockey, maple syrup, and teen drama/rap artist crossovers AKA Canada. Toronto to be more exact. The Honda Indy Toronto race was the official 2/3rds mark of the season and the points race heated up significantly thanks to Will Power’s previous fumbles and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s back-to-back wins. This was the time for the likes of Will Power, Dario Franchitti, and Scott Dixon to not F-up and re-establish some dominance in the battle for the 2012 championship. Unfortunately, each one of them F’d up! Dixon suffered a crash that put him out of the race, Dario had contact which took him out of the race just long enough to lose all hope before he rejoined to try and earn some points, and Will Power had a fight with the wall which screwed his suspension up and put him down a lap over the rest of the field.
At this point you might be asking yourself “who took advantage of all of that misfortune?” The same guy who did the last two times, that’s who! Yes, Ryan Hunter-Reay took his third win in a row after the best laid plans of the top two teams fell apart once again. Charlie Kimball scored a career best second place and Mike Conway nabbed a third place finish. With his win in Toronto Ryan has officially taken over the points lead (34 points over Will Power to be exact) and with 5 races left is looking to be a serious threat for the 2012 championship; which would be the first championship for Andretti Racing since Dario won it for them right before leaving the team to try his hand at NASCAR.
For all the race highlights check out the video below.
Barely recovered from their stop at Texas, the Indy Car grid came back to the Milwaukee mile after a brief absence for “Indy Fest”. Not sure where the new name comes from but I supposed it does not matter much. What does matter is that Milwaukee is just the same as it has always been: short, flat, fast, and unpredictable! If you walked away from the race after the first half you would swear that Dario Franchitti or Scott Dixon would take the victory. However it certainly did not play out that way! Franchitti actually had his day ended early when he had an unfortunate meeting with the wall and Scott Dixon was penalized for jumping a re-start (that decision was later ruled to be “wrong” but it wont change his finish result much). This may leave you asking who was at the front? Why none other than Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport. Ryan was being chased down by Tony Kannan and James Hinchcliffe respectively. While he faced some tough contention from TK he managed to hold off the Brazilian and take the win which actually brings things full circle for Ryan. Back in 2004 he scored his first win at the Milwaukee mile when he raced for Jimmy Vassar in the Champ Car series. To see all the highlights from the race scroll down for video from Indy Car.
There was a ton of racing over the Memorial Day weekend but the biggest event was easily the 96th annual Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. This year’s Indy 500 was a year of firsts. It was the first year with the new DW12 Dallara chassis on the famous oval, the first year in a long time that we had multiple engine manufacturers battling it out, and unfortunately the first Indy 500 without Dan Wheldon who won last year’s race before his tragic death. Really the entire event was a massive tribute to Mr. Wheldon and more so than the thrill of victory, the history, and the glory many of the top drivers wanted to win the event just so they could have the honor of their likeness on the Borg Warner trophy next to Dan’s. The new chassis and their freshly tested oval set up provided for tons of excitement as there were 35 total lead changes, smashing the previous record of 29. There were many who were looking like a good bet to take it all. Rookie James “Hinchtown” Hinchcliffe qualified 2nd and held the lead for a significant amount of time. Marco Andretti also looked very strong and lead more laps than most.
Although, in the end it was the familiar sight of the Target Chip Ganassi team taking control of the race. Teammates Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon took turns swapping the lead several times during the last 20 laps although they had serious contention from Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato. It was Dario who had the lead at the end of the race and despite what can only be described as the ballsy-est oval pass attempt in history by Takuma Sato, Dario managed to hang on to the lead and earned his third Indy 500 victory (under caution). According to Indy Car Dario earned just over 2.4 million dollars for his victory as well as a place in the history books as being among the few drivers to have 3 Indy 500 victories under their belts. To see some of the best race action from the event, scroll down to check out the highlights video.
If you didn’t watch the MoveThatBlock.com 225 Indy Car race in New Hampshire yesterday then you missed one heck of an event. Things started out normally, with a Chip Ganassi/Target car dominating the race, namely Dario Franchitti. While the other teams including Team Penske were struggling to figure out the short oval course, somehow the Ganassi cars had it locked down. However that all ended on lap 188 when Takuma Sato accidentally made contact with Franchitti during a restart, causing him to spin and eventually retire from the race. This made for a prime opportunity for Will Power to gain some much needed ground in the points chase. As Will fought his way to the front of the pack Ryan Hunter-Reay was leading the race with Oriol Servia behind him and a battle for third going on between James Hinchcliffe and Scott Dixon. It was a short time later that things really got interesting.
With 19 laps to go some light rain brought out a full course yellow. After a few caution laps it was evident that the moisture was going to keep coming and in a total breakdown of information and a serious lapse in judgement race control ordered the field to go green again despite pleas from the drivers to their teams to not go green due to the track surface being dangerously slippery. The team owners were livid with race control at the mere thought of trying to back to green in such dangerous conditions and scrambled to find an authority to talk sense into. Michael Andretti predicted that if the race went green again several drivers would spin as most could not even put power down in 2nd or 3rd gear. Michael’s predictions came to past when the green flag came out and Danica Patrick spun which caused several other cars to spin including Will Power. Will absolutely lost it going into a swear-ridden tirade over the radio to his team on the incompetence of race control’s decision. If that wasn’t enough Will got out of the car and started looking for any official he could find and when he did find one he went into a display that many (including myself) are calling one of the greatest indy car moments ever.
After the carnage was over race control immediately red flagged the race bringing the whole thing to a stop while they tried to figure out what to do. The final decision from control was to end the race in the order the cars were in before the initial yellow flag came out. This granted the victory to Ryan Hunter-Reay (thus appeasing Michael Andretti’s anger), Oriol Servia took second place while Scott Dixon nabbed third. The furious Will Power (who later apologized for his tantrum) walked away with a 5th place finish which shaved 15 points off of the points gap between him and Dario Franchitti.
So far there has been no official word on possible fines for Will Power due to his “colorful display” and language during the incident but we are expecting an answer on that to come soon! In the meantime check out the race highlights below.
The Honda Indy 200 is officially in the books and the winner has made history. Scott Dixon was on an absolute mission the entire weekend. He was fastest in practice, dominated qualifying, and went on to own the track on race day. After some questionable contact between Dario and Will power on the first lap Dario was able to hold on and take second place which increased his points lead over Power. Ryan Hunter-Reay was able to hold onto first place despite fighting fatigue due to Mid-Ohio’s very physical configuration. To make matters worse for Ryan, his drink tube was broken! Get that man a Gatorade! In other track hi-jinks Danica Patrick made herself the most hated woman in Ohio by taking out hometown hero Graham Rahal in a “racing incident” after which Graham’s team had to talk him out of taking revenge on the tiny terror. I’ll bet he is glad that Danica is going to NASCAR next year.
Next up on the schedule is the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at the New Hampshire Motorspeedway oval. This is the first time Indy Car has been back in NH in 10 years. Will the drivers take to it like any other oval? Or will they be thrown off but nuances at the track that they aren’t used to? We’ll find out a week from now!
I waited all year and the time finally came for open wheel racing to come back to town in the form of the IZOD Indy Car Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Last Sunday was race day and I was parked in my usual spot in grandstand 29 along the main straight of Shoreline Drive and waited for the cars to come blasting by me at 180mph into turn 1. With 2 races in the season already completed (St Petersberg and Alabama) victories were split between the Target Chip Ganassi team and Penske Team with one each so fans were playing the “Ganassi or Penske” game coming into this weekend. With Will Power scoring pole position it was looking like the round would go to Penske but then we were reminded that Long Beach is a street course and street courses almost always equal chaos.
The first bit of anarchy started when Helio Castroneves spun Justin Wilson by making contact with him in the hairpin coming on to Shoreline Drive. That mishap brought out a full course yellow which bunched up the field and destroyed any gap that Will Power had built up on the rest of the field. A double file restart was attempted once Justin was clear but the drivers caught stage fright and for the most part stayed in a single file line when the race went green again. Ryan Hunter-Reay managed to snag the lead from Will Power but just when Ryan was starting to get used to being out front another incident with EJ Viso and Danica Patrick brought out another full course yellow which again bunched the field back up and killed any gap that the front runners put on the pack.
This time race control made sure the Indy Cars really did make a double file restart when the track went green again. The result of which was everything going wrong! Helio Castroneves struck again but this time he got into his own teammate Will Power causing both to spin around which totally screwed up Team Penske’s day. Then inexplicably Takuma Sato got a flat and ran into the tires just past the convention center, and a few other rookies mysteriously spun out in the same area just after Sato came to a stop. It was all absolute madness. With all the carnage another full course yellow came out and once things were cleaned up they went for the double file restart once again. This time things went more cleanly, yet things still kicked off with a surprize as Alex Tagliani, Dario Franchitti, and Mike Conway all put pressure on front runners Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay on the start. First Tagliani seemed to get the jump on the two Ryans but out of no where Mike Conway makes a move on Dario Franchitti then weaves past Tagliani just as Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car decides to take a dump. Then Conway puts a brilliant move on Briscoe to take the lead in the last 6 laps or so and holds on to take his first ever win in the Indy Car Series! It looks like the rest of the season could turn into a three way battle between Ganassi Racing, Team Penske, and Andretti Autosport!
Scroll down for a few highlights from the race and stay tuned for more Grand Prix posts coming up!
Indy Car made a stop in Alabama this weekend at the famous Barber Motorsports park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix Of Alabama. The track is a favorite among the drivers but most were visibly restless and apprehensive about the start of the race. Many wondered if there would be a repeat of the opening lap pile up that happened at St. Pete with cars flying over each other and folks turning upside down. To help remedy the problem race officials moved the “acceleration line” back an additional 125 feet and during the driver’s meeting the race stewards had a simple message for all the drivers: “grow up”. It was made clear to all the drivers that they should know how to handle the situation without going to pieces, literally.
The message must’ve gotten through because the race started off without a hitch. Especially for Will Power who was the pole sitter for the event in a intense qualifying session the day before. Thanks to his new training regimen he was able to lead the race from flag to flag taking the win with Scott Dixon following behind to take second and Dario Franchitti taking third spot on the podium. A notable result was Marco Andretti who managed a 4th place finish. Now that Alabama is in the books the next race on the schedule is right here in our back yard at the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach. We’ve got our tickets! Get yours!