Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sanity returns in Canada at AntiToronto

Today's Edmonton race saw a return to sanity and normalcy for the Indycar series. As far as normalcy, Will Power led the bulk of the way and won over another Penske car and Dario Franchitti. Regarding sanity, little of the crazy driving seen in Toronto was present. In the most jaw-dropping development, Indycar series officials handed down penalties when the "avoidable contact" rule was broken-which it was, several times.
Even when Tagliani pitted for repairs after knocking Graham Rahal out before the first lap was complete and wound up at the back of the field, he still had to serve a green-flag drive-through penalty, like he should have. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue.

Rahal and Paul Tracy were completely knocked out of the race by incidents, and Simona de Silvestro suffered a rare (for the technologically mature Dallara/Honda combination) mechanical failure. Graham made a good contribution to the broadcast by joining the TV crew after he was out. Every one else continued in some fashion. After a promising Toronto race, Scott Dixon's championship hopes took a hit when EJ Viso inexplicably (well, maybe not considering the perpetrator) rammed him, breaking his radiator and flooding the cockpit with hot coolant. Still, his team effected repairs and he returned to the hunt. Normally clean Oriol Servia was taken out by Mike Conway in one of those incidents that is maddening for its lack of a clear camera angle.

I thought one of the most interesting parts of the race was the good showings of a number of drivers that are supposed to be really good at this, but have been largely invisible all season. Justin Wilson came out with a top 5 and Sebastian Bourdais was 6th without the assistance of severe attrition (18 cars finished on the lead lap). The Andretti cars were notable for either their absence from the spotlight, or their propensity to run into others. Seventh, 8th, and 9th belonged to RHR, Conway, and Patrick, respectively. A fuel strategy gone awry relegated Briscoe to 10th, and JR Hildebrand showed a respectable 11th.

The closing laps promised a three-way battle for the lead as Helio sniffed at Power's rear wing and Dario laid back, waiting for an opportunity. Power (despite claiming afterwards that his tires had gone off) appeared better able to put power down and stay in front of Helio until the end, despite some aggressive braking moves. Alas, the last 20 laps gave no more changes at the top and that's how they finished.

I thought it was a decent race, though not spectacular. Again, the most newsworthy item was the enforcement of the rules by race control, which is a positive development. Even if it shouldn't be.

The series moves to a sentimental favorite track of mine in two weeks: Mid-Ohio. Again, I anticipate few lead changes, but hope for a solid, entertaining race. More to come this week...

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