Sao Paulo Preview

The IZOD IndyCar Series is in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300.  This is the 4th year IndyCar has run on this street circuit.  Rain usually seems to end up being a factor for this race at least for some portion of the weekend, however, I’m hearing good weather this year.  If it rains it becomes quite an intriguing and entertaining race.  IndyCar 36 makes it season debut on the NBC Sports Network this weekend.  If you’ve never seen an episode I highly recommend checking it out.  Basically a driver is followed for 36 hours of a race weekend.  It is a great opportunity to learn more about the men and women behind the helmets.  This week’s episode is on Charlie Kimball.  It will be shown Saturday at 6:30pm.  Qualifying for the race will be shown tape delayed for the night owls Sunday at 1:00am ET on the NBC Sports Network.  The race is at 11:00am ET (Live) Sunday on the NBCSN. 

There are several storylines heading into the weekend:

1.       Will Power has won all 3 of the races run in Sao Paulo.  This is also the site of his last race victory….one year ago.  It really seems hard to believe he hasn’t won a race in a year, especially as good as he is on the twisties.  Can he break his slump?     

2.       IndyCar seems to be going through a changing of the guard.  Drivers you don’t expect to be up front have been and those you expect to see on the podium…have not.  I’m curious to see if this trend continues.  I’m not ready to say Dixon, Power, and Dario have lost their mojo, but the results thus far tell the tale. 

3.       Takuma Sato now has confidence and good car underneath him.  Was his race win in Long Beach a fluke or will the performance continue?  He finished on the podium in Sao Paulo last year. 

4.       Kevin Lee will be the only NBCSN guy down in Sao Paulo.  The rest of the crew will be commenting on the race from the Indianapolis studios.  That includes Robin Miller in the booth!  Hopefully someone is on the delay button but I for one love having Robin more involved in the race broadcasts.  While I don’t always agree with him, he always has something to say and cares about IndyCar.  His snark is appreciated as well.

5.  A Brazilian is in the points lead in IndyCar and gets to run his home race.  I’m sure Helio, (as well as Tony Kanaan and Ana Beatriz) are very excited to race in front of their home country fans.  I hear that Kanaan is a rock star down there. 

6.  When is Sebastien Bourdais going to show his hand this season?  I expected more from him and thus far there hasn’t been much to show other than a good run at Barber until he went off track towards the end of the race. 

In Long Beach my pick to win the race, Marco Andretti, had very good finish despite starting near the back of the field.   My winner prediction for Sao Paulo is Will Power.  You can’t bet against him here and you know he’s hungry for a win.   My darkhorse and driver to watch this weekend will be Marco Andretti.  He’s been consistent so far this season and I feel is knocking on the door to win one.  Tune in Sunday!  I won’t be tweeting during the race this week and will be watching it on DVR later in the day Sunday.  Enjoy, everyone, and we’re another day closer to the Indy 500!

Long Beach Preview

*NOTE: I apologize for getting this blog in later in the week than usual, but due to the events in Boston I felt it wasn’t appropriate to be posting about racing during that tragedy.  As I type this now, the manhunt is on for one of the bombers.  Let’s hope the individual is caught.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected by this event and also with the folks near the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. 

The IZOD IndyCar Series is in Long Beach, CA this weekend for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  This will be the 39th running of this race.  It is a highly successful event and outside of the Indy 500, this is probably the race most of the drivers would tell you they want to win.  Essentially it is the Indy 500 of road and street circuits.   Qualifying for the race takes place Saturday at 6pm ET on the NBC Sports Network.  The race is at 4pm ET (Live) Sunday on the NBCSN.  It is preceded by the Firestone Indy Lights race at 3pm ET on NBCSN which is worth checking out as it is a short race and features young and upcoming drivers hoping to make it in the IndyCar series.  Please note that both qualifying and the Indy Lights race are tape delayed, so you may want to stay off the internet prior to those being shown if you don’t want the results to be spoiled.  

There are several storylines heading into the weekend:

1.       Honda closed the gap on the Chevys at Barber, will that continue at Long Beach? 

2.       Robin Miller’s Grid Run – How many people will he actually find to talk to this week?  I say 4. 

3.       Hunter-Reay and Power recovered at Barber from bad finishes at the season opening in St. Pete, can they continue the momentum and have good finishes at Long Beach?

4.       Dario’s season went from bad to worse at Barber.  Can he make his way back up the points standings or is he already done for the year?

5.       Charlie Kimball – What a move he made on Power at Barber!  I’m interested to see how he finishes this week and hopefully his performance at Barber was not a fluke.  With his story, it would be a major win for IndyCar if he could start contending for the podium on a regular basis. 

6.       Will Power’s dominance of all things road and street seems to be fading, has the competition caught up to him or is it just bad luck? 

7.       Last year at Long Beach Josef Newgarden made a very brave move going into turn 1 on Dario to try to take the lead and it back-fired.  He had his first top 10 finish in IndyCar competition at Barber.  I’m interested to see how he performs this week.  He’s another driver like Hinch, that with his personality, IndyCar could really use to promote the series if he were to become a winner. 

8.       Hinch – went from hero at St. Pete to zero at Barber.  How will he do this week? 

In Barber my pick to win the race, Will Power, had a decent finish but could never get into the lead.  This week I’m going to say Andretti Autosport goes 3 for 3 and Marco Andretti takes the checkers first.   My darkhorse and driver to watch this weekend will once again be Sebastien Bourdais.  I feel he’s due for a good finish.  Tune in Sunday!  I’ll be tweeting during the race, feel free to follow @mwhood1976

Next week look for a blog I’m going to title “Get Over It.”  It is inspired by reading TrackForum recently.  The gloves are about to come off. 

Barber Preview

This week the IZOD IndyCar Series heads to Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, AL this weekend for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.  You will likely hear several times during the broadcast that Barber is a Gorgeous Facility.  It truly looks like it is and I’m beginning to entertain thoughts of attending the race next year and camping there for the weekend.  It’s only about an 8 hour drive from Indianapolis.  Historically, with the exception of last year, it hasn’t been a great track for IndyCars as it is narrow with not a lot of passing zones as it was designed for motorcycles.  However, last year with the introduction of the DW-12 and some great Firestone racing tires, things changed.  The race at Barber last year was breathtaking and featured a ton of passing and it was a very entertaining race.  I anticipate more of the same this year so you should definitely tune in and check it out.  Qualifying for the race takes place Saturday at 5pm ET on the NBC Sports Network.  The race is at 3pm ET Sunday on the NBCSN.  It is preceded by the Firestone Indy Lights race at 2pm ET on NBCSN which is worth checking out as it is a short race and features young and upcoming drivers hoping to make it in the IndyCar series. 

There are several storylines heading into the weekend:

1.       Can the Honda teams rebound after a mostly poor showing at St. Pete and close the gap to the Chevys?

2.       Can Marco Andretti and Simona De Silvestro follow up their great drives at St. Pete with another good performance here at Barber?

3.       Will Robin Miller pass out during the grid run?

4.       Can Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, and Dario Franchitti rebound from poor performances at St. Pete?

5.       Will the Penske cars, specifically Will Power, continue their dominance of Barber?

6.       How will AJ Allmendinger perform after 7 years away from IndyCar?

7.       If Tristan Vautier can avoid mechanical issues, will he be running in the top 5 again?  He’s fun to watch as he is the only rookie in the field.

8.       How will James Hinchcliffe perform after his first victory?

9.       How many times will JR Hildebrand be asked about running over Will Power at St. Pete?

 

In St. Pete my pick to win the race, Will Power, was running pretty well, until the incident with JR.  I’m going to go with Power again this race as he dominates Barber.  My darkhorse and drive to watch this weekend will be Sebastien Bourdais.  Last year at Barber with the boat anchor, I mean Lotus engine, he was able to pass a bunch of cars and miraculously finish 9th.  How will he do this year with a Chevy?  Tune in Sunday!  I’ll be tweeting during the race, feel free to follow @mwhood1976

St. Pete Recap and Thoughts

The first race of the season is over and we’re off and running in the world of IndyCar.  From my seat the race was extremely entertaining and there were several on-track passes for the lead.  As I tweeted (follow me @mwhood1976) during the race, unless circumstances got in the way, no one would touch Power.  Unfortunately for him, the circumstances did not work out in his favor.  JR Hildebrand had a brainfart under caution and ran up and over Will’s car.  It was a rather low speed crash so I was surprised how easily JR’s car got up and over Will’s.  Makes me wonder if the rear wheel guards are actually serving their purpose?   I don’t think they’ve been extensively tested.  The only other instance I can think of where they didn’t seem to matter was last year when Graham and Marco got into each other at Long Beach I believe.  Speaking of Marco, he drove the best street course race I can remember him driving in recent memory.  His hard work and driver coaching in the offseason apparently has paid off.  I also want to give props to Simona.  She drove a heck of a race and would have had a podium finish had her tires not fallen off so much at the end. 

Finally, we have to talk about the Mayor of Hinchtown.  What a great drive by James!  He raced hard and clean, and stayed up near the front.  Helio slipped up at turn 1 on the final restart and Hinch got him.  Hinch is a great ambassador for IndyCar and it was a very popular win. 

Observations/Opinions of the Weekend

  1. When is the last time we’ve seen Franchitti make that bad of a mistake.  It’s rare. 
  2. Honda has some work to do.  It seems they are still behind the Chevys.  Although Takuma Sato and Tristan Vautier both performed very well in the Honda.  Dixon had a great drive from the back of the field for a good finish.  I’ll hold off too much judgment for now but if the Hondas are slow at Barber as well, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens. 
  3. Way to throw Honda under the bus, Chip.  It couldn’t possibly be that your team just doesn’t have a handle on the DW12??  Heaven forbid it be anything wrong with your own team. 
  4. There seemed to be a lot of electrical issues in the cars at St. Pete.  Here’s to hoping that gets sorted out. 
  5. Vautier is the real deal and will win a race this year. 
  6. The NBC Sports Network coverage was top notch and Leigh Diffey is an outstanding commentator. 

I’ll be back next week with a Barber preview. 

2013 IndyCar Season Preview

After the eternal IndyCar offseason it’s finally time to get back to racing!  I apologize for falling off the map last year after only a few blogs but it was hard to get any momentum going when you start midseason.  So I pulled into the pits and went back to the garage.  But I’m back now to take the green, so let’s get started! 

I prefer to focus on the future of IndyCar rather than the past so I’m not going to get into all the craziness that went on in the offseason with management changes.  The one thing I will say about the offseason was it was slower than usual with driver changes.  I feel this is a good thing, IndyCar could use some more stability in its driver lineup.  There were a few driver changes but it wasn’t as crazy as it has been in the past.  Heck, even Oriol Servia stayed with the same team!  When is the last time that happened?  I can’t recall but it’s been a while. 

With that out of the way, let’s get on to previewing the 2013 season that starts this Sunday at St. Petersburg (Noon on NBCSN).  I’m going to start an IndyCar fantasy league for anyone who wants to join, the information for that will be provided at the end of this blog.  My plan is to provide a preview and recap for each race as well as other miscellaneous blogs about news happening in IndyCar throughout the season.  I’m going to predict winners for each race, so that at the end of the season you’ll all be able to tell me how wrong I was. 

Here’s my team/driver preview for 2013:

AJ Foyt Enterprises – Takuma Sato: Sato has always been fast, there’s no questioning that.  However he tends to tear up a lot of equipment.  If that trend continues it will be interesting to see how Super Tex reacts to his parts bills.  If Sato can keep his equipment under him, I could see him challenging for a win this season.  He was fast in preseason testing. 

Andretti Autosport – Marco Andretti: Marco is a very talented driver but for some reason, other than his win at Iowa in 2011, he usually seems to be off the pace of his teammates the past couple of seasons.  IndyCar needs for him to be a more regular winner.  I look for that to change this season.  If you follow Marco on Twitter he has been training hard this offseason and I also heard a report that he worked with a European driving coach this offseason.  I expect Marco to run more up front this season and have better finishing results with a win or two. 

Andretti Autosport – James Hinchcliffe: The mayor of Hinchtown is due for a breakout season this year, especially after being reunited with his former Newman Haas engineer Craig Hampson.  Hinch started off really strong last year but faded towards the end of the season.  Look for him to be more consistent this year and challenge for wins. 

Andretti Autosport – Ryan Hunter-Reay: I look for the 2012 series champ to pick up where he left off, being good on all the different types of circuits IndyCar races on, bringing his equipment home in one piece, and contending for wins on several different tracks. 

Andretti Autosport – EJ Viso: Perhaps a change of scenery will help elevate EJ’s status in the series.  He’s always been a hard racer but historically tears up a lot of equipment.  I’ll give him credit that he brought it home on a more consistent basis this past season and with 3 other high quality teammates perhaps it will motivate him to be more consistent.  I see more top 10s in his future. 

Barracuda Racing – Alex Tagliani:  Tag was very fast on several occasions last season after the team dumped the pig…I mean Lotus engine and got on board with Honda.  This is a smaller but very efficient, cohesive team and I look for them to be up front consistently this season. 

Dale Coyne Racing – Ana Beatriz:  This deal came together pretty late which is SOP for Coyne.  I’m not 100% sure what Bia’s deal is for this season as I also read that Stefan Wilson (Justin’s little brother) might drive the car in some races too.  I’ll hold off on any predictions on this one for now. 

Dale Coyne Racing – Justin Wilson:  Justin is always an animal on the road/street courses and look for that to continue.  The big surprise last season was his win on an oval at Texas.  This team is capable of winning races and I look for Justin to contend on occasion.  I think if you ask many of the drivers they’d tell you they’d be worried about him dominating if he ever got a Penske or Ganassi ride. 

Dragon Racing – Sebastien Bourdais:  I’m a big Bourdais fan and he is one of the most talented drivers in the series.  Unfortunately he was stuck with the Lotus for several races last year and so the team was behind all the other Chevy teams once they got on board with Chevy.  I look for Bourdais to challenge for top 5s this season. 

Dragon Racing – Sebastian Saavedra:  Saavedra only ran a couple races with Andretti Autosport last year so it’s hard to predict how this season will play out for him.  I expect top 15s with an occasional top 10 finish in there.

Ed Carpenter Racing – Ed Carpenter:  I don’t think anyone would argue Ed’s strength is the oval tracks as he has won on them the past 2 seasons.  I look for him to be strong on the ovals again and this is a team that CAN win the Indy 500 if everything goes their way.  Given his sponsor, Fuzzy’s Vodka, is sponsoring the triple crown (more on this later) this year, he will be highly motivated to win those 3 ovals.  Until I see something different, I expect Ed to be mid to back of the pack on the road/street circuits. 

KV Racing Technology-Simona de Silvestro:  Stuck with the Lotus all of last season with no chance to even compete for a mid-pack finish, Simona has to be chomping at the bit to get going this season.  She has said she is shocked by the level of power her new Chevy engine has compared to the Lotus.  She was quick in preseason testing and I expect her to be consistently towards the front of the field this season. 

KV Racing Technology-Tony Kanaan:  Always popular with the fans, TK should be consistently fast and challenge for top 5s this season.  Could this finally be TK’s year to win the Indy 500?  I wouldn’t be surprised.  The place might go nuts if he did.   It went nuts with him simply taking the lead in the race for a bit last year. 

Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing – Charlie Kimball:  Now the sole car in Ganassi’s “G2” operation, it will be interesting to see how this team performs.  Charlie had a couple really good races last year and could start challenging for top 10s this season.

Panther DRR-Oriol Servia:  Servia FINALLY finds himself with the same team two seasons in a row.  I look for that to pay off big for him and the team and challenge for top 5 finishes.  Nobody passed more cars than Servia last season, he just didn’t have the results to show for it.  Look for that to change this year.

Panther Racing-JR Hildebrand:  They will be good at Indianapolis, they always are, and probably will be a mixed bag at the other tracks.  JR Hildebrand is a young American that needs to be a race winner for the series to promote, so let’s hope for great things.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Mike Conway:  As of now Mike only has a deal to run Long Beach where he has won before so I do not have any expectations for this situation.  Mike no longer wants to run oval races.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-James Jakes:  Nowhere to go but up for James.  He should start having better finishes being with RLL. 

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Graham Rahal:  Graham teams back up with RLL for a full season.  Graham will be top dog on this team and I think the pairing will do well.  I look for Graham to contend all season long for wins and his team is usually strong at Indy so not out of the question for him to win the 500. 

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing-Josef Newgarden:  With occasional flashes of brilliance last year and also lots of bad luck, I predict better things for Josef this season with a year under his belt.  A very personable guy and a great ambassador for IndyCar, it would be great to see him run closer to the front his year.  If he could start winning, even better. 

Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports-Simon Pagenaud:  The little team that could will keep on doing this year.  Simon is very talented and has a great team behind him.  I predict a win this season.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Tristan Vautier: The 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year (hey he’s the only candidate this year) has been impressive in preseason testing and was impressive last year in Indy Lights.  This is a rookie who could potentially win.  Look for him to challenge his teammate Simon and elevate the game for Simon.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing-Scott Dixon:  Dixon is always a threat on any circuit.  Look for more of the same this season. 

Target Chip Ganassi Racing-Dario Franchitti:  Dario will be gunning for his 4th Indy 500 win this season so that will be interesting.  Other than winning Indy last year, there weren’t a lot of highlights for Dario.  Is father time catching up with him or was it just an off season, only time will tell.  As always, he’s a threat to win anywhere, just like Dixon. 

Team Penske – AJ Allmendinger:  Dinger gets a shot at redemption after being fired from Penske’s NASCAR program last season for a failed drug test.  It’s been 7 years since AJ has been in an open wheel car so while he is a fantastic driver, I’ll reserve any judgment for now.  Right now he’s just scheduled to do the Barber race and the Indy 500 but I expect the team will come up with sponsorship and we’ll see him more than that.  Does he have the talent to challenge for top 5s?  Heck yes…but we will see.

Team Penske – Helio Castroneves:  Like Dario, Helio is going for his 4th Indy 500 win this year.  Always fast at Indy, and in a Penske, he has a shot.  I look for another good season for Helio, with a win or two and consistently finishing in the top 10. 

Team Penske-Will Power:  Will this finally be the year Will Power gets the monkey off his back and wins the Championship?  I think it is.  If it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have none at all.  Power is a beast on the road/street circuits and continues to improve on the ovals.  I look for more of the same this season with lots of poles and wins.  Will is my pick for the 2013 Championship. 

Things to Look for this Season:

1.        Dario and Helio are both gunning to join the 4 timers club of winners of the Indy 500.  It could happen this year.

2.       The return of Pocono Raceway to the schedule after being gone for many years…should be a great track for IndyCar and look for an exciting race.

3.       Triple Crown – Another blast from the past for IndyCar, pays a million to win Indy, Fontana, and Pocono

4.       Doubleheaders – we’ll have doubleheader weekends with two complete points paying races at Detroit, Toronto, and Houston. 

5.       Standing Starts – This should create a new challenge for what I already consider the most diverse drivers on the planet.  Champ Car tried this in the past with a lot of success so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.  Standing starts will be tried in one of the doubleheader races at both Toronto and Houston.

6.       Can Will Power finally do it?  I say yes!

Predictions for St. Pete

I predict a Will Power victory!  However turn 1 at St. Pete is a bit of a tricky one to get all the cars through on a double-file start so strange things can happen and a lot of good cars can be taken out and we’ll see if anyone surprises us with a victory in this one.  Either way, I can’t wait to get this season started!

IndyCar Fantasy League

I’m starting an IndyCar Fantasy League for any that would like to challenge me.  It is free to participate and join. 

1.        Go to fantasyindycar.com and sign up for a free account.  After creating your account you can pick your drivers.  It will ask if you want to join a private league  and the league number is 44.  Password for the league is: indycar2013 

2.       If you have any issues joining or questions, email me directly at mwhood76@gmail.com  Thanks and good luck!   

It Is What It Is…

Where do we start with thoughts on this past Sunday’s race at Belle Isle?  What should have been a great weekend following the heels of a fabulous Indy 500 turned out to be a big black eye for IndyCar. 

1.        The Racing (we’ll leave out the pavement issue for this topic…for now): Racing at Belle Isle has never been much more than a procession of cars following each other.  There is only one real passing zone there and even that is dicey at best sometimes.  For people who dislike road/street course racing, Belle Isle is a perfect example of why that is.   For a good portion of the race, you had about 2/3 of the field stacked up behind E.J. Viso.  It wasn’t necessarily his fault, it’s just no one else could get around him.  So you have the leaders pulling away by a big margin from the rest of the field because cars could not get around E.J.  Scott Dixon stunk up the show by having such a fast car.  The mover of the day that seemed to defy you can’t pass at Belle Isle was Dario Franchitti.  I’ll put it on record I’m not much of a Dario fan but you can’t deny his performance Sunday.  Kudos to him.  I have been reading reports that the promoters of this race want to open up an old section of the track not used since before 2001 which would create another passing zone or two.  Let’s hope for that!

 

2.       The Pavement:  Now let’s discuss the pavement issue…I understand that as a race promoter you can’t predict everything that is going to happen, but the status of the pavement around the Belle Isle circuit was embarrassing, you could even see it on TV.  Understand that Detroit winters are harsh on the pavement there, but you’d think a little more attention would have been paid to the condition of the racing surface.  It survived practices, qualifying, and other racing series during the weekend, but I personally think that the suction from the massive downforce the DW12 produces was a huge factor on race day in tearing up the track.  As Scott Goodyear on ABC television is always fond to say, these cars generate enough downforce that they could drive upside down on a ceiling.  So I think it was several factors that produced what happened.  I do applaud the track and IndyCar for doing everything they could to get a finish out of the debacle.  I also applaud the track workers for their hard work to get the track raceable again as quickly as possible.  I applaud Beaux Barfield for his handling of the situation from race control albeit there probably needs to be analysis done on how to handle the tire situation better when they went back to racing for the last 15 laps.  A couple teams got hosed (Ryan Briscoe in particular). 

 

3.        Big Picture:  Belle Isle concluded what should have been a celebratory week for IndyCar but turned into another example of the ugliness that seems to always linger around this racing series.  You had the owners mad at Randy Bernard, him lashing back on Twitter, so on and so forth.  Then you had the situation at Belle Isle and it wasn’t on NBC Sports Network, it was on ABC, so you have a much bigger audience.  Any fans IndyCar might have gained from a fantastic Indy 500 were probably lost after they watched the debacle. 

 

Anyway, now we’re moving on to Texas this Saturday night on NBC Sports Network. Definitely tune into this race, it should be a good one.  Tommy Kendall will be in the booth since Wally Dallenbach is off to provide color commentary for TNT’s summer NASCAR races.  Tommy for those who aren’t familiar, is very opinionated (educated opinions though) and should be highly entertaining in the booth.  Here’s to hoping IndyCar can regain some footing and stop the negativity going on right now over the owners vs. Randy and now the owners rejecting the aero kits…AGAIN.  Owners, the fans have tolerated you delaying the aero kits by one year already, don’t do it to us again!  That concludes this week’s column, but I’ll be back next week to recap the Texas race.  Stay tuned!

Another Month of May Gone By…

Hello everyone!  Sorry for the delay in getting the next blog out but it was a busy end to May with Pole Day, Bump Day, Carb Day, Race Day, and Little League with my son taking up a lot of my writing time.  I had said I was going to write about Pole Day through the eyes of my son but unfortunately that blog would only be about two sentences long.  He thinks going to the track is cool, but it’s a long day for him and after about 2 hours he loses interest.  But I’ll keep taking him and hopefully one of these years he’ll really get into it.  I asked him if he thought he could drive an IndyCar and he said “I’m not old enough.”  :)  

So let’s do a recap of the rest of the month of May:

1.  Pole Day was a lot of fun and I was surprised that only Newgarden’s Honda made it into the Shootout.  I do love the Fast 9 Shootout format the speedway put in a couple years ago, hopefully they keep it as it gives fans a reason to stick around for the whole day.  It was quite exciting watching Hinchcliffe take shots at Briscoe’s pole speed.  

2. There wasn’t much bumping going on at Bump Day so I took the opportunity to use my Bronze Badge to walk around the garages some more.  I picked up a few more autographs on my program: James Hinchcliffe, Helio Castroneves, and Simona DeSilvestro.  So I now have 12 Indy 500 wins autographed on my program…very cool!  

3.  Carb Day is always a personal favorite of mine.  I get some friends together and set up our 10×10 pop up shade tents in the infield in Turn 3.  If you ever want to look for us, we are between bathroom 135 and the spectator mound.  Each year our setup seems to grow, this year we had our 10 ft. blow up pool going and some people set up a slip and slide next to us.  It was quite entertaining.  We watch a little bit of IndyCar practice and a bit of the Freedom 100 race but Carb Day…at least for me…is more a day to celebrate the month of May with my friends at the track.  You have to get in line on side streets north of the track around 6am which stinks getting up early, but getting the spot we do makes it all worth it.  

4.  Race Day: It was sure a hot one!  For race day you have to be in line on the side streets by around 4am.  You send a couple people with your pop up shade tents and a tarp into the track to get your space saved while the rest of the group drives the car into the track.  This year, it seems to have been a new group of police officers and yellow shirts doing traffic because it turned out to be a cluster.  Our car never made it into the track, so after we’d saved our space in the infield, we had to walk back out of the track and carry the rest of our gear back in…hopefully this year was a fluke because outside of getting in line at 4am, I am not sure what else you can do.  We set up in the same spot as Carb Day with the same gear.  If you’re wondering how you fill a 10 ft. inflatable pool…well, you set up right by the bathroom like we do, get a 100 ft garden hose, and duct tape it to the faucet in the men’s room.  Genius!  I really enjoy race day as a lot of friends will stop by, we can make our own breakfast and lunch, and it’s an atmosphere like none other.  It was pretty emotional watching Dan Wheldon’s car go around the track before the start of the race.  His death still affects me, mainly because I was actually there when it happened.  The race itself was fantastic!  I have never, from start to finish, witnessed a 500 quite like that one.  There was passing throughout the field all day long and at no point until the race ended under caution did you have a sense of who was actually going to win the race.  As a race fan, I don’t know what else you can ask for.  I’m thankful everyone made it through the race unhurt.  The crash with Conway and Power was quite frightening and hopefully Dallara can make a few more adjustments to the DW12 chassis to prevent its tendency to spin around and get airborne.  

Moving on to more current topics, we have the Belle Isle race this weekend from Detroit.  It’s a street course we haven’t been to in 4 years and everyone has the new car so hopefully those factors should make it highly entertaining.  I expect Will Power to win again as he seems to be in a class of his own on the road and street courses.  Also, I’m sure you’ve all read about some team owners calling for IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard’s ouster from the CEO position.  You want to run out the man who’s turned around the ratings, attendance, and had IndyCar’s revenue break even for the first time in its history?  Come on people….it’s kind of been a dark spot on what was an amazing Indy 500 that we should be celebrating.  I’m hoping it turns out to be a lot to do about nothing because in my opinion Randy has done an amazing job.  Not everything he’s done has been perfect, but IndyCar is headed in the right direction.  And with that though, I’m done for now, I’ll be back early next week with thoughts and opinions of the race this weekend from Detroit!