No jumping kangaroo could be more excited about going to road courses than Will Power, who won today's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from the pole in a typically dominating performance over Ganassi teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.
Power called it "one of the most relaxing races" he's ever raced, and indeed he led wire-to-wire as if he were on cruise control.
The drivers behind the podium finishers had a considerably more exciting day, and as a result you can expect the hue and cry over double-file restarts to intensify going into Long Beach next weekend.
Critically, there were very few issues on the restarts themselves, as the field impressively cruised through several restarts without incident through the first couple of corners. However, several incidents occurred between turns four through seven as drivers got impatient and reckless, mounting an impressive pile of carbon fiber in wrecks - including one particularly nasty one involving Mike Conway, who was thankfully uninjured.
Once again, it all comes down to driver skill and patience - attributes that were displayed in spades by drivers like Tony Kanaan and Oriol Servia, veterans who put on a clinic of close, hard racing without incident. But the IndyCar field seems determined to counter the oft-repeated argument that this year's crop of drivers are the best in decades by continuing to show signs of bad decision-making and poor racecraft.
With the always-demanding Long Beach circuit coming up next week, one can only hope that Race Control elects to put the onus on the drivers instead of blame the procedures in place. The double-file restarts were exciting and entertaining when the drivers could keep control of their appetites, certainly an excellent antidote to what might otherwise have been a boring parade.
Unfortunately, many drivers involved in incidents were still afflicted with the "Who, ME?" disease - which does not bode well for races to come.
- The star of the race was Tony Kanaan, who put on an absolute clinic of how to drive a top-flight IndyCar race. From the initial start where he picked up 10 (!) positions, he raced patiently, skillfully, and successfully to get another top six finish for his fledgling GEICO team. Just wait until he and his crew get his car figured out, folks. He'll be hard to stop.
- Oriol Servia and Simon Pagenaud also significantly impressed with strong runs. Servia battled hard with Kanaan near the end and finished fifth, while Pagenaud, driving in relief of injured Ana Beatriz, made his first start in a Dallara count with a solid eighth place.
- How about that Simona de Silvestro? She muscled through the field twice - her first march derailed by the spun car of E.J. Viso - and finished ninth. She's tied for fourth place in season points too, people.
- It was a far better day for the Blingmeister, Marco Andretti, who kept his head and consequently didn't get tipped onto it like last week at St. Pete. A strong fourth-place finish was the best performance on another generally poor outing for Andretti Autosport.
- How could E.J. Viso not be at the top of this list? He has wrecked in every session this season. Literally. If IndyCar Race Control could be relied upon to be observant, one might expect Viso to be talked to this week - or even possibly parked for reckless driving, as was Townsend Bell several years ago. He's making us miss Milka Duno who, while slow, at least usually kept the car pointed in the right direction.
- A big raspberry to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who earned our ire last week after bitching needlessly about double-file restarts and then Tweeting about free speech later as a defense. This week, Hunter-Reay was a dive-bombin' fool, passing recklessly and taking Ryan Briscoe out of the race with an ill-considered leap off the curbing... then getting indignant about being penalized by Race Control for avoidable contact. In the next stint, he dive-bombed someone else in the same spot on the track. He seems to be driving with the same sort of vacuous airheadedness of the IZOD models he shot commercials with a couple of seasons ago.
- Hey, Danica Patrick's crew, maybe your strategy of leaving Danica out on old, worn tires after everyone changes to fresh red tires might not have been a good idea. That pit stop with ten laps to go that dropped her to 17th was a terrible miscalculation. You think Tony Kanaan might be pretty happy he's with KVR now?
- I'd give VERSUS a B+ for their efforts with over 5 hours of coverage from the weekend. The on-air talent was tremendous and the broadcast itself was detailed and well-done. But they end up on this list because of the director's irritating and continuous habit of cutting away from spins, contact, and on-track passes at the worst possible time. Bad luck? Or bad decision-making? Either way, it cost them a letter grade.