Sunday, March 29, 2015

First Impressions: St. Petersburg 2015

1. This could be a long season. Juan Pablo Montoya won the race but Will Power dominated and Hélio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud finished fourth and fifth and they started 1-2-3-4. Montoya took advantage of a pit lane mistake by Power's crew and won the race. Power made a hard charge, even made contact with the Colombian late. I knew Penske was going to be quick and were going to be at the front. I didn't know they were going to unleash an ass-whooping.

2. Nice job by Tony Kanaan breaking up the Penske party with a third place finish but he was not a factor at all. He stayed at the front all day and it worked out in his favor.

3. Sébastien Bourdais finished sixth, his first career top ten at St. Petersburg. Like Kanaan, he wasn't a factor at all but was at the front all race.

4. Ryan Hunter-Reay was the top Honda in seventh. Every team will be going back to the drawing board to try and figure out how to beat Penske but Honda has to go back and try to figure out how to become a contender for a podium.

5. Great drive for Jack Hawksworth. Started 21st, had to change his front wing early, was on a completely different pit strategy, had to pit from 3rd, fell out of the top ten but charged to eighth in his debut with A.J. Foyt Racing. I expect big things from his this year.

6. Luca Filippi finished ninth after starting 19th. He brought the car home and that is the one thing Mike Conway struggled with in 2014. Conway might have won two races but his next best finish was 13th. Not a bad debut for Filippi at CFH.

7. Marco Andretti rounded out the top ten. He had a solid day. Damaged in front wing once but overcame the adversity.

8.  Graham Rahal's orange livery is fantastic. That should be his full-time livery. Just replace the Mi-Jack stickers with Steak & Shake and Maxim when necessary. Rough break for Rahal on the penalty for contact with Charlie Kimball, who had a tire rub and was smoking heavily. He would have had a top ten if it wasn't for the penalty and could have been the top Honda.

9. Watching Scott Dixon get manually jacked on pit stops while everyone else was using the pneumatic jack is like seeing the one dog at a doggy day care wearing a sweater. You just feel bad for him and want to give him a hug.

10. Simona de Silvestro had a great qualifying session but rough race. I hope she gets a few more starts this season. Can't base everything off one race.

11. Dale Coyne Racing hired a crap driver and a driver who won a race with an illegal fuel cell and they finished 23rd and 24th respectively. You are right Dale, there is no way Justin Wilson, Conor Daly or Ryan Briscoe could have done better than that. Good choice.

12. IndyCar needs to adopt local yellows or code 60 because it shouldn't take five laps to pick up two or three pieces of debris that are next to barriers. You can't throw a full course caution for every bit on a debris. Major, big piece, of course but if you are going to throw it for every little piece of debris, you are going to have 66% of the race under caution and people aren't going to tune in to watch caution laps. IndyCar needs to work on this before the next race.

13. I am sure Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear love IndyCar but I don't think they are ABC's best options as color commentators. Allen Bestwick and Dario Franchitti would be a dream pairing. This year the Monaco and Germany Formula E races conflict with both Indianapolis races but I am sure they could work around those in the future. Gil de Ferran would be another guy to consider. He did a really good job a few years ago when he work with NBCSN on their Indianapolis 500 coverage. Alex Lloyd would also be another great option.

14. Jon Beekhuis was a great addition to the ABC team. He is probably the best pit lane reporter across both IndyCar television partners (No offense Kevin Lee and Robin Miller). He should be the go to guy come the month of May when the likes of SportsCenter and other ESPN/ABC shows want to talk about the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar.

15. I love St. Petersburg. I wish that Green Savoree Promotions could work on extending the straightaway to turn four to create another passing zone but other than that the track does produce some good racing, the crowd looked good, it looked like a beautiful day. I hope to get down there at some point in my life.

16. Not the greatest race ever but let's give aero kits some time. Hopefully the racing will become more competitive as the season goes on. Off next week due to Easter but then off to New Orleans for the inaugural Grand Prix of Louisiana from NOLA Motorsports Park. Perhaps the racing will be a little better and there will be less cautions on a natural-terrain road course.