Don't cry for me, Scotland

FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 10: Dario Franchitti of Scotland, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, prepares to qualify for the IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone Twin 275's at Texas Motor Speedway on June 10, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

IndyCar's Twin 275's at Texas Motor Speedway are now safely in the books and - no surprise, sadly - the two power teams each won one. I'd love to see an underdog win (Ed: He's kinda All-American that way) but the reality is the Big 2 of Penske and Ganassi still hold the overall edge over the also-rans.

True, Alex Tagliani scored a second straight pole in Race 1 for Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Tony Kanaan led some laps in Race 2 for KV Racing Technologies, but Tags faded and wasn't a serious contender once the green flag fell and TK got there by the luck of the draw.

The draw? Oh, yes, I've got some thoughts on that. But more on that later.

I find it interesting that IndyCar's most historic and tradition-rich race, the Indianapolis 500, was followed by arguably the most blatantly-manufactured-for-TV-attention-grabbing spectacle: the Texas Two-Fer. (Ed: We made him promise not to write "Texas Two Step" ... wait, arghh).

To be clear: I enjoyed both races, although neither was as dramatic or compelling as one would expect from the high-banked and fast TMS. As I tweeted (shameless plug: @ScottWhitmore) on Saturday, I appreciated that the series tried something new to add excitement - too many big organizations are too paralyzed by fear to do that.

I'm not sure, however, that we'll see a repeat of the Twin 275s, but if we do I'm sure several aspects of the format will be significantly tweaked.

In the opener the teams were obviously in conservation mode, wanting to be sure to get into the nightcap. The field was nicely shook up for Race 2 thanks to The Draw, and the potential was there for lots of action as many of the big hitters started deeper than usual (Ed: he'll get to it ...).

But while I suspect the fans in the stands had quite a show as the likes of Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Marco Andretti sliced through the field toward the front, I'm not sure we at home got the same flavor from watching our TV screens.

I'm not trying to knock Versus here; maybe it was just me, maybe there were too many good visuals to pick from. But I didn't get a sense of building excitement from an exciting run to the front. Instead, we were periodically told how the hard-chargers were doing and then - BANG - Dixon takes over second place, with the audience just getting to see the end of the pass.

*  *  *

Time to address the elephant in the room.

I also had no problem with "the draw" portion of the event. It was interesting to hear from each driver in the field, especially as they didn't have their PR person hovering nearby to nudge/warn with a lifted eyebrow or nervous laugh.

But was the drawing of starting spots unfair considering the points implications, as Franchitti, Dixon and team owner Chip Ganassi pointed out to anyone and everyone in earshot? Yes, it was. Will IndyCar do it again if given the chance? Probably not.

But it was done on Saturday, and as I pointed out those races are now in the books. Should Franchitti lose his third series championship by the 14 points he lost to Power in Race 2, or less, he and Ganassi will point to Texas and cry foul louder than any of us cares to hear.

Tough.

There are so many what-ifs and coulda-beens in motorsports that any number of scenarios can be developed for the rest of the season to play out.

What if Franchitti drew a higher starting spot but cut down a tire? What if Power, who started Race 2 in third, cut down a tire? What if the positions were reversed and Franchitti started third and Power was 28th? What if the Scotsman wins the next two, three or four ovals and Power DNFs or has pit problems and finishes well down the order in one, some, or all?

What if, what if, what if.

*  *  *

My advice to Franchitti and Ganassi would be this: finish the season, running as hard and as well as you usually do, and see where you are. Neither man did themselves any favors complaining on Saturday's broadcast - Ganassi's complaints about having to actually race against drivers he thought beneath his own was particularly galling, but sadly unsurprising.

Personally, I think Franchitti's chances of another title are just as good as they were going into Texas. Not to go all Larry Mac here (Ed: Um, ouch?), but I don't think Power would have gotten his first oval victory if he had pulled a starting position of 15 or higher. In fact, the bigger story from Saturday would have been if Power had not won after starting third.

Although Power will gain a confidence boost for getting that first roundy-round win, Franchitti and Dixon are still the drivers to beat on ovals as we saw on Saturday after both started deep in the field but finished well up the order (Dixon, 2nd; Franchitti, 7th). Power may not win or even finish well on another oval this season.

What if, what if, what if.

*  *  *

So don't cry for me, Scotland. The Texas Twin 275s were an interesting experiment and I liked that IndyCar tried something different and new. But I'll also be OK if we don't see it again.


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