Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sonoma 2013: First Impressions

1. I am going to start with what happened today at the Belgian Grand Prix. Greenpeace protesters had a field day protesting Shell's (the title sponsor for the Belgian Grand Prix) arctic oil drilling. I don't care what your stance is but if IndyCar is naïve enough to think this won't happen at Houston, another Shell sponsored event, they are dead wrong. Though IndyCar is not as big as Formula One and needs to gardner national attention, it shouldn't come from a protest that has nothing to due with IndyCar itself but a sponsor of an IndyCar event. You can't back out of Houston and you can't sever ties with a sponsor but IndyCar and the promoter Mike Lanigan have to do all they can to prevent their event from becoming a political demonstration.

2. After seeing what happened today, IndyCar has to make the pit lane safer and limit the amount of crew members over the wall. Time and time again we have seen either crew members or pit equipment being hit on the pit lane and the best way to avoid these incidents are limiting how many bodies go over the wall and what is over the wall before a car comes to a stop in a pit box.

Proposal: No more than three members over the wall. No more than four tires over the wall including the four on the car.

What does this mean?

Either two tire changers and the air jack man, one tire changer, air jack and fueler, whatever, no more than three.

What does four tires mean? When the car comes to a stop in the box, no tires can be over the wall. If tires are being changed, once the tires are removed from the car they have to go over the pit wall before new tires can go over the wall to be put on the car. It limits bodies, it limits equipment, it will make pit lane safer. Fast stops are great and looks amazing but I'd rather be safe than fast. All series, IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula One, have to make pit lane safer.

Oh by the way, who the f*** uses tape to mark off pit boxes? Either use the already painted pit stalls, they've got to be big enough for an IndyCar if a stock car can use them or paint their own lines down. Use green paint, yellow paint, blue paint, whatever it takes to clearly mark a pit box for IndyCar. I can easily move tape, I can't just pick up a painted line.

3. Good for Will Power. Sucks for Scott Dixon.

4. Justin Wilson had the drive of the race though as a few other drivers in the field had great drives. Nice podium for Dario Franchitti. His fourth, third place finish in five races.

5. Great day for Marco Andretti who picks up his first top ten at Sonoma since his win their in 2006. He has to be the most improved driver in 2013. Simon Pagenaud had a great day but an even better was Ryan Hunter-Reay who finished sixth after it looked like his day was shot before the first pit stop and he made up ground in the championship though it was only a few points.

6. Helio Castroneves is bound to win this title. Nothing goes wrong for him. The car never has a mechanical failure. He avoids all spinning cars. This is his to lose.

7. James Hinchcliffe had strategy work in his favor. Looked like he was going to have to pit late and fall deep in the field but Newgarden's caution allowed him to pit and finish eighth.

8. Great to see Simona de Silvestro in the top ten. She needed a great finish.

9. Sébastien Bourdais gets another top ten. Maybe he wins one of the next three races?

10. Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe, James Davison and Sebastián Saavedra all deserved top tens but missed out.

11. Someone get James Davison a full-time ride.

12. JR Hildebrand finished sixteenth. Panther Racing finished seventeenth. You think he walked up to John Barnes and said, "scoreboard!?"

13. Not a bad debut for Lucas Luhr finishing twenty-second, four laps down. He didn't light the world on fire but give him and Pickett Racing more testing time and they will make progress if they choose to run IndyCar in 2014.

14. Rough year for Takuma Sato. Started off gangbusters; has finished twentieth or worse the last six races.

15. Apparently there is a daily limit for tweets and I hit it during the race on my laptop.

16. They should have pushed James Jakes' car behind the wall when he stopped off course in turn nine instead of towing him back. Extended the caution much longer than it should have.

17. How about running Sonoma backward? Everyone goes on and on about the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. I think turns one and two at Sonoma going down hill would be just as impressive as the Corkscrew.

18. For all those who rip Sonoma, it's a great course in a great place. Go if you ever can. It won't disappoint you. The DW12 puts on very good races at Sonoma and it should stay on the schedule at all costs.

19. On to Baltimore. Should be fun.