Monday, May 23, 2016

Musings From the Weekend: The Narratives

James Hinchcliffe won Indianapolis 500 pole position. The NASCAR All-Star Race was good on track but a mess. There was nothing but photo finishes at Mugello. The Formula E championship will come down to the final round in London again. Pirelli World Challenge has a familiar face in a new place and still ending up on the podium. BMW had a good weekend. V8 Supercars had a first time winner on Saturday and he decided to do it again on Sunday. World Rally returned to Europe and Sébastien Ogier did not win. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

The Narratives
Every year there are narratives entering the Indianapolis 500.

There are narratives of redemption and the most notable is James Hinchcliffe. As Dario Franchitti put it, from kebab to pole position. People were celebrating Hinchcliffe just getting back in the car and I think we all would have been satisfied with Hinchcliffe taking the green flag from 19th on the grid but to return and put the car on pole position is outstanding. He was seconds away from death and now he is 500 miles away from glory.

Then there is the return of Menards to the Speedway sponsoring Simon Pagenaud. Menards was on cars in the Indianapolis 500 for a while during the split but this year is twenty years removed from Scott Brayton's fatal accident. Menards partnering with Team Penske is like Ray Bourque being traded to the Colorado Avalanche, Menards is never going to have a better chance at winning the Indianapolis 500 than this year.

Speaking of Penske, Hélio Castroneves is going for his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in the 100th Indianapolis 500, 25 years after Rick Mears won his fourth driving for Team Penske and this is Team Penske's 50th year of competition. The planets and stars could not be anymore aligned then they are for Castroneves and Penske. If there was ever a year for Castroneves to win his fourth, this is it. No one has won more at the Speedway than Roger Penske. Could he be the author for another chapter of history?

The Andretti narrative still hangs around and this year Marco Andretti will have to come from 14th on the grid to end his family's drought in the Indianapolis 500. The crazy thing is now might the right time for the fortunate to fall on the Andretti family. Three of the last four winners have started on row five or worse. Bill Sweikert is the only Indianapolis 500 to start 14th but other droughts have come to an end. Ryan Hunter-Reay was the first winner from 19th since Bill Vukovich 60 years prior. Juan Pablo Montoya's win last year from 15th was the first from that position since Graham Hill in 1966.

These are just the highlights but there are plenty of other stories out there. Graham Rahal looks to win on the 30th anniversary of his father Bobby's lone Indianapolis 500 victory. A preacher could win as a co-car owner with Oriol Servià as the driver. Townsend Bell has to be the sleepiest of sleepers. Mikhail Aleshin is becoming a cult hero at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his driving style. Stefan Wilson follows in the footsteps of his brother. Formula One rejects (Alexander Rossi, Max Chilton) and ladder system write offs (J.R. Hildebrand, Sage Karam, Gabby Chaves) have a chance to etch their names in the history book after years of uncertainty and disrespect.

We enter with 33 narratives. Only one concludes in victory.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about James Hinchcliffe's Indianapolis 500 pole position but did you know...

Jorge Lorenzo won by 0.019 seconds over Marc Márquez in the MotoGP Italian Grand Prix. Johan Zarco won in Moto2 by 0.030 seconds over Lorenzo Baldassarri. Brad Binder won in Moto3 by 0.038 seconds over Fabio Di Giannantonio.

Sébastien Buemi won the Berlin ePrix and trails Lucas di Grassi by one point with the doubleheader in London ending the season July 2nd-3rd.

Patrick Long swept the Pirelli World Challenge weekend at Mosport in his first weekend with Wright Motorsports after EFFORT Racing withdrew from the championship earlier this month. Lawson Aschenbach and Canadian Max Riddle won in GTS.

Marco Wittmann and Timo Glock split the DTM races at Red Bull Ring.

Tim Slade swept the V8 Supercars weekend at Winton Motor Raceway, his first two victories in the series.

After missing the last two rounds, Kris Meeke won on his World Rally return at Rally de Portugal.

Joey Logano won the NASCAR All-Star Race. Matt Crafton won the Truck race.

Coming Up This Weekend
The 100th Indianapolis 500
Monaco Grand Prix
Coca-Cola 600
24 Hours Nürburgring with the WTCC support races.
Pirelli World Challenges return to Lime Rock Park.
Super Formula runs at Okayama.
World Superbikes heads to the land of its current masters: Donington Park.