And 49 Points Go ‘POOF’!


Castroneves Houstone 2013The signs were all pointing in the right direction.  Helio Castroneves carried a 49 point lead on Scott Dixon into the Houston double-header only needing to maintain consistency to solidify his name atop the IndyCar Points standings signifying him the winner of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship.  Not since 2004 has IndyCar seen a driver compete with the consistency that Helio Castroneves has traversed in 2013.  Add to that that the Team Penske driver was ‘untouchable’ on the speed chart during the test at Auto Club Speedway which will serve host to the IndyCar World Championships on October 19.  All Castroneves had to do was keep his nose clean during the Houston weekend and he would clasp his firm grip on the championship.  The IndyCar gods had other plans.

The 2013 season has seen Castroneves benefit from others misfortune on numerous occasions, and, while he deserves credit for putting himself in the position to take advantage of those miscues, it had to come back around at some point.  Luck in racing is like a one hit wonder music artist in that it shines on you for a while and goes away overnight.  Castroneves wishes it had shined for a few weekends more.

The weekend started out badly for Castroneves as a mishandling car in qualifying on Saturday resulted in a starting grid position of 21st, his worst of the season on one of the most physically demanding circuits on the IndyCar schedule.  Even with the poor grid position, Castroneves only needed to, methodically, drive his way up through the field as he had done countless races previous, but the unthinkable happened on lap 22 when Castroneves’ No. 3 Shell V-Power Chevrolet slowed in turn four and limped to pit lane with a gearbox issue.  Team Penske rectified the issue but not before Castroneves found himself several laps in arrears of the leader who just happened to be title rival Scott Dixon.  The worst case scenario had occured as Dixon secured the race win and maximum points while Castroneves was forced to settle for 17th place…a result that his points lead shrink to just eight markers heading to the second race of the weekend on Sunday.

Castroneves Car Houston 2013As day broke on Sunday, Castroneves and the No. 3 team caught a break from mother nature as a heavy rain shower washed out qualifying for race two putting Castroneves on the Pole with his rival, Dixon, right alongside.  After a great start, Castroneves hit a colossal bump on the front stretch fracturing the gear box housing putting him behind the wall and last place in the running order.  The worst possible weekend that Castroneves could have dreamed of happened and he leaves Houston, a weekend he entered leading by 49 points, trailing Dixon by 25 points heading to the finale at Auto Club Speedway.

Castroneves Auto Club 2012The scenario becomes very simple headed to Fontana in two weeks.  In order to win the title, Helio Castroneves will have to be at least as special as what was indicated in the test session and he will need some mishap for Dixon.  With 25 points separating the two, if Castroneves wins Pole Position, leads the most laps, and wins the race he has a maximum possible points of 53 for the weekend.  Even if Castroneves scores max points that weekend, Dixon can finish sixth and still win the IndyCar Series championship.  This is far from over and five hundred miles is a long time to race to decide this thing.  Rest assured, no matter what happens in the championship, the IndyCar finale at Auto Club Speedway will be one of the races to watch across the 2013 motorsports calendar!  Make sure to tune in to see how it all finishes out!

The Fight Goes to Fontana…


The Grand Prix of Baltimore had all the make-up of a race that could bring drama, competition, and flat-out weirdness to the IZOD IndyCar Series and its championship.  Baltimore’s place on the schedule as the penultimate race in the championship proved to be an important date for everyone involved.

The weekend began precariously for the IndyCars as a set of light rail tracks caused teams’ DW12s to become airborne for as much as seventy feet down a straightaway causing Race Director Beaux Barfield to install a chicane neccessitating drivers navigate around the problem area.

For an event that almost didn’t happen and rescued by Andretti Sports Marketing it became very important to competitors.  Team Penske and Will Power looked like they were  going to all but sew up the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship.  All the signs were present with IndyCar competing on a street course, an avenue that Power has all but dominated since joining Team Penske full-time in 2010.  The weekend at Baltimore started just how Team Penske had hoped when Power took the Verizon Team Penske car to the top of the starting grid winning the Pole Position and capturing one more point toward the championship.  Everything was going to plan, until Race Day.

The race began in Power’s favor as he took the point and extended his lead in the very early stages and looked to be doing what Will Power does best.  Everyone in the Paddock knew weather was going to be a factor with rain showers in the area and it was just a matter of when.  The rain came about a third of the way to the race distance forcing drivers to pit lane to swap slick tires for rain tires.

The race turned difficult for Power when Team Penske elected to keep rain tires as the track dried costing Power valuable track position.  Power’s closest championship rival, Ryan Hunter-Reay, used a risky strategy by keeping the slick tires through the rain to grab the lead.  Hunter-Reay took advantage of a significant strategy miscue on the part of Team Penske and led much of the back-half of the race positioning themselves for a huge points day.  A late-race restart with the No. 2 PPG Automotive Finishes car, driven by Power’s Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe, leading changed the entire scope of this race, and the championship.  IndyCar utilizes double-file restarts on road and street courses where cars line up side-by-side.  The restart zone is signified by orange cones, or a “cone zone”, wedged in the catch fence.  The zone begins immediately after the chicane and when the green flag flew Hunter-Reay was lagging back behind Briscoe and jumped on the throttle passing Briscoe and taking the race lead while Power was, essentially, shoved out of the way relegating him to a sixth place result as Hunter-Reay captured the win shaving Power’s points lead to 17 going to the finale at Auto Club Speedway.

There has been immediate debate on whether Hunter-Reay’s treatment of the restart was within the rules or not.  As the rule book is written, the restart was legal, however, it was not in the spirit of the rule and competition.  They are called double-file restarts for a reason and by lagging back behind Briscoe coming to the restart allowed Hunter-Reay to accelerate a couple seconds before Briscoe and make the easy pass for the win.  Regardless, what is done is done and the fight moves to Auto Club Speedway and it all comes down to 500 miles under the lights on September 15th.  The real winners in this restart exchange are fans of IndyCar Racing.  Yet again, the IZOD IndyCar Series takes its championship to the final race without any kind of “Chase” or “Countdown” system.  When Auto Club Speedway opens for practice, two drivers will be fighting for the series title.  It will be an epic race so make sure to tune in for this one!

CONGRATULATIONS RYAN HUNTER-REAY AND ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT: WINNERS OF THE BALTIMORE GRAND PRIX

Race Recap: Honda 200 @ Mid-Ohio


The IZOD IndyCar Series made its annual stop at the technical, demanding Mid-Ohio Sports car course, a track notorious for discouraging passing and excitement.  But that was on the old Dallara and the Dallara DW12 proved at Barber Motorsports Park that on the tightest of tracks it could provoke fans to arise from their seats and cheer as the cars went by.  Not only is the DW12 faster, in general, than its predecessor, it has shown incredible ability to create passing opportunities where there were none before.  Mid-Ohio featured the 2012 debut of the Push-To-Pass horsepower boost feature on a permanent road course venue.  Added to the drivers calculations was a five second delay from when he/she pushed the button to when the turbocharged engines would give the extra boost making the drivers plan ahead when planning their attack on the car ahead.  The purpose being to encourage use of Push-To-Pass in a more offensive manner rather than defensive.

Team Penske began the weekend building on the momentum gained from Helio Castroneves’ victory at Edmonton City Centre Airport two weeks earlier.  Weather conditions wreaked havoc on the preparations for the race and Helio Castroneves suffered a bruised wrist in the morning practice before qualifications where the Brazilian failed to transfer to the second round of qualifying resulting in no better than 13th Place starting position.  Castroneves’ race got exponentially more difficult when Team Penske elected to change the Chevrolet engine in the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental DW12 resulting in a ten-spot grid penalty as per the IZOD IndyCar Series Rule Book meaning Castroneves would start 23rd.  Castroneves’ Team Penske teammates fared better on Saturday qualifying with both Briscoe and Power making the top-6 shootout for the Pole.  Briscoe held station qualifying in 6th right behind Scott Dixon.  All Will Power did was shatter the IndyCar track qualifying record on the way to netting his third Pole Position start of 2012 eclipsing Dario Franchitti’s fast lap by two tenths of a second.  The top six was Power and Franchitti followed by Pagenaud, Tagliani, Dixon, and Briscoe.

Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay entered Mid-Ohio Sports Car course with the points lead and looked to continue momentum gained from three straight wins at Milwaukee, Iowa, and Toronto and a 7th Place result at Edmonton.  Very early in the race, Hunter-Reay’s team became concerned that something inside the No. 28 DHL/SunDrop Pelonia Chevrolet was amiss and may cast a dark cloud over their day.  Hunter-Reay remained stationed in the top-10 for much of the early portions of the race, but coming to the last round of pit stops the car began sounding, according to Jon Beekhuis, very sour and ill and Hunter-Reay fell sharply off the race leaders’ pace.  Eventually, Hunter-Reay was called to pit lane inside ten laps to go marking the first time Hunter-Reay was not running at the finish since Texas in June.  The silver lining in this is Hunter-Reay’s engine will be regarded as a mechanical failure during the race so no grid penalty will be assessed at Sonoma.

Looking at IZOD IndyCar Series history, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course could have Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s name stamped on it, driver Scott Dixon’s in particular.  Since the first IndyCar Series Race at the storied facility, Dixon had won three of the five races.  His only blemishes, a third place in 2008 and fifth in 2010.  Dixon just has a knack for this course which, due to its tight nature and minimal passing opportunities, requires strong qualifying efforts, tire and fuel management, and flawless pit stops to achieve the top step on the podium when the checkers fall.  Dixon excels at all of these factors giving him essential ownership of the IndyCar Race on this circuit.

Race day began ominously as the course was drenched by overnight and morning rainfall making the morning warmup almost useless to determining a race setup just because of the uncertainty surrounding the conditions for the 85-lap event.  The race began in insanity as a huge pack of 25 DW12 IndyCars fought for the same piece of real estate causing Justin Wilson to spin and continue, but losing precious positions.  Common in IndyCar Series races, varying pit strategies became a game changer.  Teams had the option to select a three-stop or two-stop pit strategies.  Those toward the back opted to go for the three stop strategy hoping that the yellow caution flags would wave in their favor.  The one problem with this strategy was, for the second consecutive race, there were no cautions and the race was run under green from start to the checkered flag.  This race was won on the final pit stop when Scott Dixon, who stalked the rear wing of the Verizon Team Penske car of Will Power for the first two fuel stints, benefitted from a clear pit entry giving Dixon a faster pit stop by the smallest of margins, but it was enough.  Dixon’s crew was able to insert the fuel probe just milliseconds faster than Power’s resulting in the change of position.  Then Dixon went to work driving away from Power to Victory Lane for his second win of the season also pulling Dixon back into the heat of the points race with tough days for Castroneves and Hunter-Reay.

CONGRATULATIONS TO SCOTT DIXON AND TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING: WINNERS OF THE HONDA 200 @ MID-OHIO

R.I.P. DAN WHELDON

RACE RECAP: IOWA CORN INDY 250


The IZOD IndyCar Series returned to the Iowa Speedway June 22nd for some old fashioned Saturday night short track racing.  Racing at Iowa is uniquely challenging for the IndyCar Paddock as the track surface is only 7/8 of a mile in length, but progressive banking gives the track the characteristics of a superspeedway and lightning fast lap times under 18 seconds.  IZOD IndyCar drivers requested a low downforce setup similar to that run at Texas Motor Speedway earlier in the month.  The result was a race that the drivers had to drive instead of mashing the gas pedal and hoping for the best.  The hope was the race would be much like Texas with competitive side-by-side racing but with the driver a big part of the winning equation.  Iowa Speedway delivered!

Over recent years, the IZOD IndyCar Series has not shied away from trying new formats to spice up their schedule and encourage new fans to pay attention.  In Iowa, they tried a new twist to the race weekend which was qualifying determined by three heat races as opposed to single car qualifying averaging the speed of two green flag laps.  Practice times determined the field for the three heat races with odd numbered cars from 11th on back fighting for the inside lane and even numbered cars fighting for 10th on back for the outside lane.  The top-9 practice times were the only cars able to contend for the Pole Position ultimately won by Dario Franchitti.  The format was interesting and worth exploring, but the contention for most drivers was that every heat race should have meaning for the winner.  A transfer spot to the final heat race for the Pole would remedy that situation.

The race’s already late start time was delayed by over an hour due to heavy rains earlier in the day.  Props to NBC Sports Network’s broadcast team as they navigated the rain delay by offering compelling interviews with just about every driver in the Paddock.  The Iowa Speedway crew completed the track drying procedure and drivers were called to their cars.  Polesitter Dario Franchitti saw his night come to an end before it started as his Honda engine gave out on the warm-up laps ending his day.  The race restarted and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske benefitted from Franchitti’s engine troubles to take the early lead being chased by James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay while all three drivers navigated early lap traffic.  The early laps provided exactly what the drivers were hoping for…competitive side-by-side racing but the cars were a handful to drive.

Will Power suffered another night to forget in Iowa when, early in the race, Power navigated his Verizon Team Penske car to the low side of the racetrack in turn 2.  The problem was that the No. 5 CITGO KV Racing Technology car piloted by EJ Viso was closing on Power and was inside the Team Penske driver at the time.  The two cars made contact sending both cars into the SAFER barrier ending the race for both drivers.  Power later admitted to his mistake and patched up any ill feelings with Viso.

As happens frequently in auto racing, strategy became paramount storyline in the race and Roger Penske looked to have given Ryan Briscoe an opportunity to win the race on a great fuel strategy.  At the end of a previous caution, Penske called Briscoe to bring the No. 2 Transitions Adaptive Lenses Dallara Chevrolet to the pits to top off the fuel in the car to go a little bit longer on the next stint than every other driver on the track.  As the next round of green flag stops cycled through, Briscoe found himself on a lap all on his own and was looking to be in a great position if a caution came out.  The caution came out, but, unfortunately, Briscoe was the driver in the wall bringing out the yellow.  Briscoe maintained the low lane as he was going to pit the next lap when he was dive bombed by Josef Newgarden who was just off pit lane with fresh tires.  The incident resulted in an end to the race for Briscoe and Newgarden.

The cars from Andretti Autosport, as in the 2011 race, appeared to be the strongest horses in the race with only Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon able to offer consistent challenges to Michael Andretti’s stable.  However, the race turned sour for another championship contender as James Hinchcliffe had his GoDaddy.com Chevrolet snap loose and get into the fence leaving Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay left to duke it out for the win.  Katherine Legge spun in turn 2 with two laps to go ending the race under caution giving Ryan Hunter-Reay his second win in a row.  With Power and Hinchcliffe having issues in the race and the late fade by Scott Dixon, the points were shaken up greatly in after Iowa.  Power maintaned the points lead by three points over Ryan Hunter-Reay with Dixon maintaining third and Helio Castroneves leapfrogging Hinchcliffe to 4th in points.

CONGRATULATIONS TO RYAN HUNTER-REAY AND ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT: WINNERS OF THE IOWA CORN INDY 250

  R.I.P. DAN WHELDON

Race Recap: Milwaukee IndyFest


The Milwaukee Mile is a one mile oval track with, essentially, flat corners resulting in a race experience that requires driver skill and mechanical grip to be fast.

Qualifying was held on Friday with Dario Franchitti grabbing the Pole Position, but the real story of qualifying was the seven cars receiving ten spot grid penalties for unapproved engine changes.  These drivers included Texas winner Justin Wilson, Ryan Briscoe, Points Leader Will Power, and 2nd in Points Scott Dixon.

The race began with Dario Franchitti leading the lion share of the early laps.  The first caution flag was brought out by a single-car spin by Simona de Silvestro ending their day.  de Silvestro’s spin occurred right in the middle of green flag stops with Helio Castroneves in the lead.  Castroneves led much of the middle of the race, but fell back due to tire strategy.  Enter Ryan Hunter-Reay.  Hunter-Reay led the final stint of the race winning the event with Tony Kanaan coming in second place.  Dario Franchitti crashed out after contact with the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske car driven by Ryan Briscoe.  Scott Dixon finished 11th after being penalized for jumping a restart!

The Dixon Penalty became a huge point of contention in the race because Beaux Barfield enforced the penalty after viewing a replay, however, the replay was not of the restart that Dixon was supposedly penalized for.  Instead, it was a replay from earlier in the race on a restart that was waved off by race control.  Barfield’s call likely cost Dixon second in points as James Hinchcliffe took over that position with his third place run.

The Milwaukee IndyFest was, effectively, the last chance for the oldest track in the United States of America to remain in business.  Originally left off of the 2012 schedule, Milwaukee was thrown a lifeline by Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti.  In terms of INDYCAR sanction, Milwaukee has been one of the most exciting and beloved stops on the schedule, however, track promoters were left with old bad debts and hurt feelings putting the track’s future in question.  The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series event produced the exciting racing that was expect but a sub-15,000 person crowd put the event’s future in question.  Enter Michael Andretti.

Michael Andretti has used all of his pull, sponsors, and cars to promote this event.  Since the season began, all of Andretti Autosport’s cars carried logos and web addresses for the Milwaukee IndyFest keeping the event at the forefront of the minds of the fans and media.  The 2012 event saw a jump in fan attendance from the 15,000 from 2011 to over 20,000 marking a 25 percent increase.  The event seems to have bailed itself out as before the Drivers Start Your Engines command, given by Michael Andretti, it was revealed by the promoter that the race would return on the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule which is a big win for all!  Michael Andretti will, once again, don his promoter pants when he helps promote the second Baltimore Grand Prix later this year!

UP NEXT:

The IZOD IndyCar Series takes to the corn fields of Iowa on June 23rd for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway.  Qualifying for the race will be determined by heat races for the first time in IZOD IndyCar competition so make sure to tune in for that!

CONGRATULATIONS TO RYAN HUNTER-REAY AND ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT: WINNERS OF THE MILWAUKEE INDYFEST!

R.I.P. DAN WHELDON

Race Recap: Firestone 550K


This is the one that everybody was talking about whether it was 24 degrees of banking, pack racing, or location of posts in the catch fence.  For the first time since the death of Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the IZOD IndyCar Series haulers loaded into a high-banked 1.5 Mile oval track to compete in the Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway.  The oval track just north of Fort Worth has been regarded as IndyCar’s second home for years hosting more races under INDYCAR sanction than any other facility.  Track President Eddie Gossage is given substantial credit for saving IndyCar racing during the darkest days of the split by providing solid promotion for his IndyCar events coupled with the amazing racing that has been produced at his track over the years.  Texas had become synonymous with side-by-side pack racing while exciting for the fans, the drivers will no longer tolerate.  The aftermath of Wheldon’s death saw drivers calling into question the viability and safety of racing on tracks like Texas as well as safety at these facilities since the fence posts are inside the mesh on the catch fence.  Wheldon’s cause of death was determined as blunt force trauma to the head after he struck one of the posts.  Driver concerns aside, the race remained on the 2012 IndyCar schedule while the similarly configured Las Vegas Motor Speedway was removed.  The week prior to the race at Texas, drivers held a meeting with technical director Will Phillips and race director Beaux Barfield in an attempt to develop an aerodynamic package with the DW12 IndyCar that would eliminate the pack racing.  The solution offered by the drivers, and employed by the series, was to run the cars with very low downforce making it impossible to run flat around the racetrack.  The question was would it work?

As the first practice approached, the tension was apparent through the Paddock.  Would our aerodynamic changes work, or will we be forced to endure pack racing that we said was intolerable?  The answer came very early in the session.  With the low downforce, the DW12s were a handful for drivers and they had to lift in the turns which is what the drivers wanted all along.  Some drivers were happy with the setups and rose to the top of the pylon while others struggled through practice.  Dario Franchitti topped the chart.  A short turn-around from practice to qualifying put tremendous pressure on the crews as they sifted through the mountain of data to determine a qualifying setup.  When was all said and done the first four qualifying positions fell to Honda powered teams with Chip Ganassi Racing capturing three of the top-four.  Will Power and James Hinchcliffe occupied row three as the highest qualifiers for Chevrolet.  Alex Tagliani pulled the huge upset capturing the Pole from Chip Ganassi Racing.

Qualifying was in the books and all was left was to run the 500 kilometer distance of the race.  The race turned out to be a fantastic show with the side-by-side racing that has become IndyCar’s signature on these oval tracks but the field was strung out thus eliminating the pack racing.  The handling characteristics of the cars caught out the likes of Charlie Kimball and Takuma Sato as they both hit the wall early in the race ending their day.  The first half of the race was dominated by Scott Dixon who led over 100 laps in the race, but his day came to an end when he touched the apron trying to navigate traffic sending the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda into the turn four wall.

The race restarted with about 50 laps to the finish with Will Power leading followed by Ryan Briscoe, Tony Kanaan, and Helio Castroneves.  The green flag flew and Briscoe immediately moved to the outside to make a pass on his teammate for the lead when Kanaan moved to the inside to make it three wide.  Power made a reactive blocking move causing Kanaan’s front wing to hit the rear wheel guard of the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.  The result was Kanaan having to pit for a new front wing, his second wing change of the night, and Power serving a drive-through penalty for blocking removing both drivers from contention for the race win. Meanwhile, the other two Team Penske cars fell off opening the door for Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson to claim the top-2 positions.  Rahal looked to have the race locked up until he grazed the turn 4 wall with two laps to go giving the win to Justin Wilson.  The win is Wilson’s third since the open wheel unification in 2008 and his first on an oval.

This race was a huge win for IndyCar as they worked with their drivers and technical officials to create a package that would provide the side-by-side racing action that made IndyCar racing on ovals famous while eliminating the outragous and dangerous pack racing.  There were only three incidents in the race and they were all single car crashes with the safety measures of the DW12 performing outstandingly.  The race at Texas, in a single evening, changed from being a race that the drivers were happy to leave to a race that they want to do again.  The chatter about fence posts and high banks is likely over now that IndyCar has put the driver back into the equation and cars flying into the catch fence is a less likely happenstance that way.  This Texas race also opens up the possibility of a return trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2013 to honor the final year of that contract although IndyCar will want to test at the facility before committing to a 2013 IZOD IndyCar World Championship race there.  Hopefully, Texas remains on the schedule as well giving IndyCar two high-banked 1.5 Mile ovals next season because they are as good as it gets in IndyCar racing.

Also of note, Rubens Barrichello and Simona de Silvestro’s days ended before they began as their cars did not fire after the ‘Boys and Girls Start Your Engines’.  de Silvestro suffered a fuel pressure problem while Barrichello had problems with the ECU unit in the engine.  Both did not start the race.

UP NEXT:

The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to the historic Milwaukee Mile on Father’s Day weekend.  The race is being promoted by Michael Andretti and is the last chance for the foreseeable future for the track to remain on the IndyCar schedule.  The 2011 race drew an abysmal 15,000 people.  Hopefully it’s well attended because IndyCar’s are great there.

CONGRATULATIONS TO JUSTIN WILSON AND DALE COYNE RACING:

WINNERS OF THE FIRESTONE 550K AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

R.I.P. DAN WHELDON

Sao Paulo Recap: What Turbo Upgrade?


If Honda was frustrated and scratching their heads coming out of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, they must be fuming after Brazil.  Prior to the race weekend, Honda won the ability to upgrade their turbocharger to the behest of Chevrolet.  The turbo upgrade was installed to remove a noticeable turbo lag on exit of slow corners and make the Honda engine more competitive on the road and street courses.  The race weekend began with the same story, however, as Team Penske’s Will Power snagged the Pole Position, his second in the first four races and fourth on the season for Team Penske, by .04 seconds over Ganassi driver Dario Franchitti.

The fast six, in general, was more balanced with Power being joined by James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay for Chevrolet while Franchitti was joined by teammate Scott Dixon and Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing representing Honda.  The pace overall of the Honda teams was much closer to that of Chevrolet which is a good sign.  A competitive Honda engine is important for the future of the IZOD IndyCar Series because manufacturer competition is imperative as the series continues to grow into the mainstream of sports in North America.  If Chevrolet was to come out and completely wipe the field with Honda, all of those Honda teams would run for Chevrolet at year’s end making IndyCar a spec series once again

The most amazing thing about this race, other than the fact that the rain failed to garner the race course with its presence, was that all 26 cars made it through the first turn without incident on the start.  The race ran caution free until Ryan Briscoe smacked the wall on his outlap following his first pit stop.  The ensuing restart saw Dario Franchitti punted by Mike Conway bringing out the yellow flag almost as soon as the green flew for the restart.  As is typical on street courses, strategy played a huge factor in determining the race winner.  The only driver able to touch Will Power in this race was Scott Dixon, however, Dixon was forced to make three pit stops to Power’s two thus sealing his fate.  A couple late incidents involving Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden brought out late restarts, one of which saw a 7-8 car pileup ruining many driver’s chances at good results.  Ryan Hunter-Reay gave it all he had, but was to no avail and Will Power captured his third straight win of 2012 and remains unbeaten on the Sao Paulo circuit.

Power’s Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves drove from a miserable 20th place starting position to finish 4th and Dario Franchitti rebounded from the incident with Conway to finish 5th salvaging a good points day.  Takuma Sato also finished 3rd, his best result to date in the IZOD IndyCar Series.  Overall, the Honda engines were more competitive, but Chevrolet still has the advantage as it seems through four races.  Also, Oriol Servia finished 11th in Dreyer & Reinbold’s final race with the Lotus powerplant.

The biggest question being asked through the entire Paddock:

CAN ANYBODY SLOW DOWN WILL POWER?  Some oval races on the horizon to, perhaps, bring the field right back to Power’s rear wing.  Keep tuning in as this story develops over the next 8 weeks.

CONGRATULATIONS TO WILL POWER AND TEAM PENSKE:  WINNERS OF THE SAO PAULO INDY 300!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UP NEXT:

After an open test at Texas Motor Speedway the IndyCars will load into the world’s greatest race course, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the crown jewel on the schedule the Indianapolis 500.  This is destined to be a emotion-filled month as the series returns to the site of the late Dan Wheldon’s last win so the emotions will run high.  It is also the first oval on the schedule begging the question who, Chevrolet or Honda, will have the advantage when the engine spends all its time at high RPM.  Also, some entries are still to be filled and some still need engines so the drama will run high all month.  Make sure to tune in May 19-20 for Qualifying and the Race goes GREEN on May 27!

R.I.P. DAN WHELDON