Series devotees who secretly suspect Penske will win every single Sunday – but yet repetitively hope it isn’t the case – have seen this race before.
Photo from sports.usatoday.com
Riveting racing made a brief appearance in the 2016 IndyCar series season opener, but vanished more surely than Dale Coyne fans’ momentary folly that the team has the remotest chance of winning a race. The combination of the cavernous street circuit, the still overly weak aero kits and highly aggressive and inexperienced jockeys made for a predictable race – and one reminiscent of other sucky street course events. Leaving us at one point wishing for rain – anything! – to liven up the show, it just seems all those beautiful horses are wasted running in a bumpy alley – not to mention the duplicate body work bills.
Photo from indycar.com
Juan “schoolgirl giddy” Montoya forced his way around Coyne’s young Hoosier Conor Daly – the favorite of underdog lovers everywhere – just past mid race to repeat in St. Pete. It was the Cap’n’s zillionth IndyCar victory and started his fiftieth anniversary year off right. Such a Penske perfect day was had that Pags – feeling froggy – even led early, though that soon croaked as he finished second. Helio “holding on” Castro Neves narrowly missed a Cap’n sweep coming in fourth behind the top Honda, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay.
After breaking his own qualifying record, Will Power sat out the race due to a flu that led to a “mild concussion,” or some such thing. We’ve dubbed his malady the “Wanka virus” and wish him a speedy recovery. His substitute came from beyond left field in the person of ancient Spaniard Oriol Servia, who admitted before the race that he hadn’t even talked to “Sour Grapes” Power. Perhaps the Wanka virus is contagious. Servia did complain bitterly of the car reeking of Vegemite, however. Like most things, the reporting on this was about as clear as rookie Alex “Bernie’s boy” Rossi’s super secret contract with AA. Or the unrepeatable post race Graham Rahal non-bird, non-controversy stemming from the race stopping Munoz-triggered pileup. Ugh.
Photo from autosport.com
Several drivers complained vociferously about Carlos “OK” Munoz’s driving, Rahal and Daly among them, the latter mentioning Munoz chopping him “three wide” in the pits. Conor confirmed debris became a problem thereafter, saying that over-heating resulted. Rahal – who repeatedly experienced trouble – retweeted Munoz’s acceptance of responsibility for punting him, creating a parking lot where a quasi race had been on lap fifty seven. Graham approvingly added a thumbs up to the post race tweet and apparently all was forgiven. Incredibly IndyCar was trending briefly during the race, though this was due largely to the fact that IRR’s social division was drinking beer like Elvis consumed downers, nearly breaking Twitter in the process.
The crowd looked sparser than in years past, but this could have been caused by either a sudden shortage of hard hats, or all the Newgarden and Rahal fans having left the building. At the risk of repeating ourselves, two caution periods seemed like twenty as they dragged on interminably again thanks to the fragile aero kits and the canyon-like course. It seemed like the only way to DNF was to run out of noses, or to have the misfortune of being in Munoz’s or Marco’s immediate vicinity. At least no fans were grievously injured this year, though there certainly was no shortage of flying debris. As in the days of CART old, some fan disappointment was definitely discerned.
Photo from ethicsalarms.com
The new slate of constantly rotating stewards must have shared Newgarden’s electrical issues, as their debut exemplified how not to call a race. Of course Helio wasn’t penalized for blatantly swerving across three lanes of traffic into the pits, but neither was Marco who pin balled into other cars all afternoon. The three blind stewards couldn’t miss Munoz’s missteps, however – they’d have to be deaf as well to remain oblivious to his Michael Andretti abetted antics. Neither race control nor Munoz should be allowed a repeat.
Photo from foxsports.com
ABC’s coverage ranged from laughable to maddening, whether it was Cheever “getting deep” or Alan Bestwicke utterly ignoring the on track action. Marco did manage some airtime, however. After already smacking into a leading car – or pulling a Sato – he proceeded to nearly pull a Montoya, narrowly avoiding a safety truck by swerving wildly under one of the repeated cautions.
Photo from usatoday.com
The Borat-cast went from bad to worse, as prior to Dale Coyne mumbling something unintelligible into the microphone, Eddie “low information” Cheever noted that the contact on track was due to “the cars being too close together.” Also, what’s Jan Beekhuis doing there when Katie Hargitt’s sitting at home, on a podium?
Photo from sundownpictures.com
Admittedly, it was kinda thrilling to see IndyCar back in action, if only for a few fleeting minutes of televised action between the highly repetitive Honda ads and Goodyear and Cheever’s self aggrandizement. We only wish the racetrack – and the racing – were more entertaining. And less Juan-y. Oh, and also less monotonous. On the bright side, now it’s on to Phoenix, a middling oval where they go around and around and around . . .
Post Race Quotes –
Juan Pablo Montoya: “He he he he he!”
Fans Overheard On Exiting: “Eh, it was all right. Except for that jackass who won.”
New Unpopular IRR Hashtag of the Race –