Sunday, April 19, 2015

First Impressions: Long Beach 2015

1. Talk about an old school CART feel to this race. New track record, One caution, difficulty passing, pit strategy, Ganassi and Penske dominating at the front. Not a bad race considering the first two. Scott Dixon work strategy to get around Hélio Castroneves and take his first career victory on the streets of Long Beach. Both drove great races and were the class of the field

2. Great battle for third between Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan and Sébastien Bourdais with it finishing in that order. New aero kits have made it even more difficult to pass. Pagenaud made a few looks on Montoya but couldn't get by.

3. Josef Newgarden finished seventh, his first top ten at Long Beach and he rounded out a Chevrolet 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. What should we expect when we get to Barber?

4. Marco Andretti and Carlos Muñoz were the top Hondas in eighth and ninth. Quiet days for both drivers. Neither were close to victory but drove fine races. For all those who bust on Andretti, here he is leading the Honda parade and finishing in the top ten. Can he get some love?

5. Sebastián Saavedra rounded out the top ten. After going 3-for-56 in scoring top ten finishes, he is now 1-for-1 driving for Ganassi. It must have been frustrating as hell for Sage Karam, watching Saavedra finish in the top ten in the car he thought would be his for the full season and watching it from Scott Dixon's pit box couldn't have been any better. More motivation for Karam, who will be back in the car at Barber.

6. Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jack Hawksworth were the next four finishers. Honda has drivers on the door step but they just can't breakthrough. Hunter-Reay qualified fourth, might have been screwed on the start (more on that later) but faded and wasn't a contender. And it appeared Chevrolet was getting better fuel mileage than Honda. Another week, another race, another trip to the drawing board and they've won this season.

7. Charlie Kimball rounded out the top fifteen with Gabby Chaves finishing 16th. Kimball has to be a little puzzled seeing his three teammates all in the top ten while he languishes back.

8. Conor Daly didn't get in the car until Saturday morning and finished on the lead lap (something Coyne had failed to do in the first two races) in 17th. Imagine what he could do with a full race weekend. Coyne hasn't announced his drivers for Barber but he knows who he should hire.

9. Takuma Sato, and James Jakes did nothing. Will Power stalled getting into the pit lane after Luca Filippi stalled getting into the pit lane and it cost him. Power came home 20th. He can't afford many races like this especially with his teammates finishing in the top five.

10. Stefano Coletti set fastest lap, 68.0969 and finished last. I am not sure if that has every been done before. He has the pace. He had a few accidents this weekend. I am not sure what happened during the race that put him 11 laps down. He didn't hit any barrier but did have an extended pit stop. Let's see what he can do at a permanent road course next week at Barber.

11. I want NBCSN to show the drivers the start of this race and ask them what do they see? You had the front row side-by-side and that was it. Pagenaud had a massive run on Hunter-Reay and took the position with ease. I want to know if the drivers think that is acceptable and why they don't strive for better.

12. There was one full-course caution in this race and it was for debris. That's progress from the first two races but there shouldn't have been a full-course caution for that debris. Hire corner workers and use local yellows. When the coast is clear, send a corner worker out, pick it up and run back. It would take all of 15 seconds. The corner would be back to green before the drivers made it back around. If not, the drivers know how to slow for a local yellow. If they don't slow down, penalize them.

13. Moving on to Barber. My favorite road/street circuit on the IndyCar schedule. When the series first went there, everyone was nervous it would be a boring track because it was built for motorcycles and isn't that wide but IndyCar has put on some of their better races there in recent years. Can Honda turn around their success at a race they sponsor? I bet they hope so.