Not a bad race at all.
I'll begin with the television coverage: huge improvement! The new commentary team and producers on VERSUS did a great job making this fun to watch today. Well done there.
William Power was playing in his own league today. I was hoping Scott Dixon could get his nose in there at the end, but Power had more pushes-to-pass left, and Dixon just had to give in. It's going to be a fun battle all season between Power and Franchitti for the title. Two great guys, too, so I'm glad to see that.
Barber's such a nice course. It's a natural terrain road course that you can actually overtake on. Really enjoyed some of the battles we saw today.
Oriol Servià deserves some credit for holding of Tony Kanaan in the last run. He had a huge lock-up and should have lost it, but he ran just enough of an ambiguous line to box Tony in without actually blocking. It's a huge result for him and for Newman/Haas, and it's exactly what a lot of us who watched him in Champ Car, as well as in 2008 with KV, expected from him. Hinchcliffe is going to beneft big-time from partnering with this guy, and, on that note, tough day for Hinch. He impressed a lot in testing and again all weekend, and he's driven plenty of laps at Long Beach, so I think he'll continue to improve. Good to see VERSUS giving him some air-time in the pre-race, too. He's a big personality for the sport and I'm glad he talked it out with Viso.
Viso, by the way, is more of a hazard than his countrywoman Milka. She's just slow; he's spinning all over the place. Every session. It's not always his fault; the deal today was just racing, but he puts himself in bad places for that to happen. He stopped being fun-to-watch years ago; now I just wait for him to retire so the rate of yellows slows down.
Not sure what the strategy for Danica was all about. The Hunter-Reay/Briscoe contact played out perfectly for her; since everyone pitted, she would have kept the position (P7) she had gotten from the three-stopper cycling differently from the typical two and been able to hold that or perhaps advance. The team got greedy and it cost them. I will give Danica some credit, and that's rare for me, but I think she drove really respectfully at the end. She knew she was slower, she knew she was locking it up, and she just stayed out of everyone's way and let people through. I'll give her that. And that car had to be an absolute pig to drive; should she have adjusted her driving a bit for that? Yes, but her team should be familiar with her by now (she's in her fourth year with them), and they should know that she's not the kind of driver who is going to do well on a super-stint of tires, and all things considered, had they taken tires, they would have had a top ten out of a twentieth-place weekend.
On the other hand, I wonder if they didn't want to be P7 around Kanaan, de Silvestro, Meira, etc., for fears that those aggressive drivers might cause some fireworks on the double-file restart. It's clear that Danica's just not as comfortable two-wide and she's really uncertain on the restarts.
Marco Andretti made the most of a rocky weekend for his team to get fourth. Solidly done.
Kanaan, too, made big improvements through the weekend. P24 to P6 is a hell of a drive, strategy or not. Absolutely goes for it every lap, and actually has the talent to do that (unlike at least one of his teammates; Sato's better than Viso but still making some silly errors).
Simonamania continues! P9 is really a good result for them, especially after a few run-ins. Not her best drive, but it's still good to see her results improving from last year even without her same engineer. She was pretty uncomfortable at Barber last year, so to be a top ten runner today is really impressive. I think we'll see a lot more good runs from her as the season goes on, and I think she's a great example that you have to give rookies time with these cars. INDYCARs are so different from any other formula car (and then you throw in the ovals...), and she's shown she can learn. I think the same will apply to Kimball, Hinchcliffe, and Hildebrand over the next two seasons. The performances in FILS/Atlantics do mean something; they just take a year to translate.
Speaking of Kimball, I'm thrilled to see him in tenth. He's a really intelligent driver and knows a lot about the cars, even for a rookie. He has a golden opportunity and I think by season's end we're going to see a lot of that green and orange car.
Simon Pagenaud steps right in, looks terrible, and by Sunday he's back to the Pagenaud we've seen in ALMS, CCWS, and Atlantics. Great drive to salvage something for Dreyer & Reinbold after Wilson (who, by the way, is one hell of a trooper) ran into some trouble.
On to Long Beach next weekend. Should be a good one!