I’ll take one more look back at some items from the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 and the stories surrounding it.
Hot Wheels “Fearless at the 500” World Record Jump: Basically, a full-size Hot Wheels track (100’ tall) was built in order to launch a car on a world record jump attempt. Gimmicky? Sure, but if all the 8 year olds in the audience were as thrilled as my inner 8 year old was, it did its job.
Race finish controversy: It had to happen. As I mentioned before, there was no controversy about the finish of the race: the track was still green when Wheldon passed Hildebrand’s crippled car. Or so I thought. Race control has been criticized for waiting to throw the yellow, when it had done so much quicker in response to incidents earlier in the day.
Without considering any of the reasons they may have had for not throwing the yellow quicker, it probably would not have made a difference in the race’s outcome. When informed that Hildebrand had wrecked, Wheldon had two choices: maintain speed and attempt to pass Hildebrand before reaching the start/finish line, or slow down, where he could settle for second place or hope that the crippled car would stop before the line.
Wheldon had nothing to lose. By maintaining speed, he was able to pass Hildebrand, and did so before the yellow light came on.
If the yellow light had come on before he completed the pass, all hope was not lost. In the worst case scenario, he would have been moved behind Hildebrand in the final running order and finished second. In the best case scenario, the finish (with Hildebrand first) would have been reviewed or protested, based on the argument that Wheldon had no expectation of remaining behind a terminally damaged car under yellow or that Hildebrand had not maintained adequate average speed under the yellow (Marco Andretti was moved in front of Alex Lloyd in the 2010 race’s finishing order for this reason). Again, the worst case scenario in this situation is that he finishes second. The presence or absence of a yellow light on the last corner of the last lap of the race would not have affected Dan Wheldon’s actions, and would not likely have affected the outcome of the race.
Double-file restarts: Yes, they were hairy, but no one seemed to have a problem making them work. I mentioned before that some of the restarts had lapped cars in some of the top positions, which I have yet to hear an explanation for. The point of double-file restarts is line cars up in their running order: 1st place on the inside of the front row, 2nd place outside of the front row, 3rd place on the inside of row 2, 4th on the outside of row 2, and so on. I wonder how the restarts would have played out if they’d been prevented from accelerating until the middle of the front stretch, as had been the original plan. I guess the question would be, how fast would they be entering turn one and how many wide could they go at that point? In retrospect, perhaps having the acceleration point in the north short chute was the best possible move in that it allowed the big mess to occur on the front stretch and get sorted out before turn one. Personally, I’m more concerned about double-file restarts during Saturday night’s doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway. The current Indy car has too little power and too much grip for the speeds at that track as it is. Bunching everyone up for all the restarts seems like a bad idea, but that’s for another blog post.
Hmm. Well, that’s it for now, I guess.
I do owe you some photos from the race weekend, please bear with me. I’ll get them up.
I’ll just add a shameless request: I’m planning to attend the June 19 Indycar race at Milwaukee, but have not yet secured a ticket. If any of my readers has an extra or knows of someone with an extra, please drop me a line. Thanks!