Sunday, March 30, 2014

First Impressions: St. Petersburg 2014

1. Will Power did what he does best. He led the most laps, had pit strategy work to his favor and was quick all day.

2. As for the restart that took out Marco Andretti and Jack Hawksworth, was it Power's fault? Maybe. Was the restart zone to far down the front straightaway? Maybe. Personally, when the pace car pulls off the track, the leader should go, not wait until he passes a cone. 

3. Ryan Hunter-Reay had a consistent run as he finished second in Andretti Autosport's return race with Honda. 

4. Helio Castroneves had another good day in St. Petersburg as he held off the defending champion Scott Dixon for the final podium spot. 

5. Simon Pagenaud had a quiet day finishing fifth. 

6. Tony Kanaan comes home in sixth after holding off Takuma Sato, Justin Wilson and Josef Newgarden. Kanaan didn't make much noise in his first race with Ganassi.

7. Sato had a great start but was held out too long on his second stint and went from leading to fourth. Had he stopped a handful of laps earlier, he may have finished on the podium.

8. Wilson and Newgarden both made great runs from the back. Imagine what they could have done if they started better.

9. Ryan Briscoe quietly finished in the top ten. Not a bad start for the Australian.

10. Sebastián Saavedra and Mikhail Aleshin finished eleventh and twelfth. Both had clean races and other than one case where Aleshin was holding up traffic, not a bad race for the Russians debut.

11. Mike Conway could have challenged for the victory had there not been a failure in communication causing the Brit to stay out while everyone stopped under yellow. Then he passed the pace car and was penalized. The Brit had fastest lap until Will Power took it late in the race but sixteenth is all he could manage. Keep an eye on him for Long Beach in a fortnight.

12. Juan Pablo Montoya's average street course finish entering today was 15.5 and he finished fifteenth. He still has to learn the alternate tires which he struggled on. 

13. Was James Hinchcliffe in this race? The Canadian was a non-factor after having to start in the back. Not a great start for his season. 

14. Jack Hawksworth was in the top ten all day before the accordion accident on the restart. He made the Fast Twelve in qualifying. Not a bad debut weekend for him. 

15. Allen Bestwick is the best damn lead motorsports commentator ABC/ESPN has and putting him in the booth was a no-brainer. He really got Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever engaged in the broadcast beyond explaining the same things over and over again (I don't think Goodyear mentioned weight-jacker once during the broadcast, which is a first for him). I still think a driver who has been in the car more recently would do better in the booth. Three leads for a crowded at times but not bad.

16. Not the greatest race ever but not a bad start to 2014. A fortnight until Long Beach and the field is pretty even between Honda and Chevrolets.