Texas IndyCar Race Review: Attrition Edition

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Photo from indycar.com

The racing was breathtaking Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway – as usual – when they weren’t screwing it up. Cautions breed cautions the saying goes, but apparently the same isn’t true for red flags. Instead, the thrilling race petered out under yellow with Will Power anticlimactically taking his second win at Texas.

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Photo from indycar.com

There were accidents galore, with a dozen cars retiring due to contact. By contrast, the race saw only one mechanical when pole sitter Charlie Kimball’s Honda expired. Nine cautions flew for 66 laps including the red flag stoppage. There were no fewer than seven crashes including James Hinchcliffe’s pit lane fiasco as well as six on track incidents. The race had it all. Ed Carpenter even did a 360 on a lap 102 restart, spinning on the front straight before amazingly saving his car and avoiding everyone else.

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Image from twitter.com

Alexander Rossi was first out, the victim of a Ganassi sandwich as he got bounced like a basketball between the blue cars and into the wall. It wouldn’t be the last time Tony Kanaan was involved in an on track fracas. Later, he moved up the track, pinching Hinch into his SPM teammate Mikhail Aleshin and causing a frightening eight car pileup that brought out the red flag on lap 152.

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Image from twitter.com

Carnage was strewn all over the track, the SAFER barrier busted. Fortunately everyone was all right. The forty two year old Kanaan – often a vocal critic of oval racing – survived accidents of his own making and went on to finish second. In a rare display of owner emotion, he drew an angry earful from Dale Coyne during the delay. Both Coyne’s cars were eliminated, including the 19 driven by aggressive Frenchman Tristan Vautier. Filling in for Bourdais in his first race in nearly two years, Vautier had been challenging for the lead much of the night.

Race control’s iron fist slammed down frequently, with eleven penalties for a variety of infractions. Aside from rather mundane pit infractions, three penalties were assessed for blocking and there was also Hinch’s avoidable contact episode exiting the pits. Curiously enough, Kanaan wasn’t penalized.

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The stewards weren’t finished with their scattershot sentencing, however. In an embarrassing though rare rubber screw up, Firestone tire blistering forced two so called “competition cautions” toward the end bringing mandatory pit stops. Brought on by recent repaving it was all uncomfortable and contrived, reeking of NASCAR and serving to lessen our overall race experience.

With five to go, Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (that’s so weird to write) reverted to form, spun and took out Ganassi’s Scott Dixon and Max “Paris” Chilton. Perhaps it was poetic justice for the team’s repeated earlier transgressions. The baffling race ended under yellow, the only objectionable part of the entire show. Well that, and the winner. If one red flag was acceptable – and they’re becoming more and more common this year – then why not a second for a fitting ending?

Overall the show at Texas was exquisite, when they weren’t screwing it up.

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7 thoughts on “Texas IndyCar Race Review: Attrition Edition

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