After watching Sebastian Vettel enjoy a serene Sunday drive through the Ardenne Forest to victory at Spa, I hopped into my not so sporty Subaru Crosstrek and headed to Sears Point in hope of witnessing the finest open wheel drivers in North America do battle on the twisty 2.52 mile road circuit. Little did I know as the green flag waved and the pack went side by side through turn 1 and rocketed up 16 stories into the braking zone for turn 2 that the race was about to resemble a Saturday night short track special. A few weeks back this same group of professionals completed all 90 laps of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course without a single caution! They must have been feeling anxious in Sonoma because collectively their driving was what you would expect from a corporate accounting team enjoying an off site work function at a K1 indoor karting center.
When the dust finally settled, Will Power and Team Penske claimed a controversial victory in a race marred by a record seven caution periods. Controversial because Will Power’s right rear tire changer decided to make like a rodeo clown and purposely walked into the
side of Scott Dixon’s car while the Kiwi was engaged in a 650hp burnout exiting his cramped pit box during their crucial final stops. The result was a penalty call against Dixon that will be debated for years* and a massive boost to the likelihood that Power’s teammate, Helio Castro Neves, will claim his first Indycar title with only four more rounds to go.
*Bulseyeview is heavily invested in Scott Dixon on the fantasy driver market so in our biased opinion Beau “Barf” Barfield’s call was BULLSHIT!
Sears Point is a cool track but it just doesn’t work for Indycars. They can’t get out of the carousel close enough to get a run into 7 and the result is an impatient train of drivers looking to hit something. Just to attempt a pass requires a Kamikaze move that more often
than not ends in tears. I would like to see the circuit officials just dumb the track down and exit 7 onto the drag strip and have a massive straight into a hard braking zone down in the turn 10-11 area.
The one man that seemed to revel in all the chaos was Tony Kanaan. I don’t know if there is a stat out there but I’m proclaiming TK the clear cut winner of the restart wars. Every single time they went green he would scrap and claw a few positions. Sadly after a few laps his lack of pace would make him a sitting duck. The KV team is a waste of driver talent.
Le Professionnel. There is something about Simon Pagenaud behind the wheel that makes me feel secure. He drives on the limit, he’s intelligent, tough, clean, doesn’t overdrive, isn’t prone to brain fade, takes what he can get, etc. I know he’s not setting the world on fire with the Schmidt team but get him a Penske/Ganassi/Andretti ride and he would be tough to beat.
Juan back to Indycar? I love the rumors! If JPM could find himself an Andretti or Ganassi seat he would cause some fireworks. I highly doubt we would see the young gallant Juan Pablo de Columbia that we witnessed in 1999 but he would no doubt add to the drama. And while I’m at it, let’s get Barrichello back. JPM to Ganassi and Barrichello replacing Viso at Andretti? You heard it here first. And somebody take away Sebastian Saavedra’s license!
Crevasse! It’s good to see that I can still jinx (or crevasse as we say in our buzzard vernacular) a driver. I arrived at the circuit in time
to go down to the paddock and stand over Johnny O’Connell as he sat in his Caddy mentally preparing to do battle in the Pirelli World Challenge race. I had my iPhone out snapping a few pics in his face and couldn’t stop staring at that silver beast of a racecar. Sadly for Johnny, I crevassed him and he stalled on the grid, then took out the GTS points leader Jack Baldwin when he finally got the car running and lost his commanding championship lead with only one round to go.
Bad timing for the race organizers. I’m always curious to see how many people turn up to an Indycar race and this year they were really up against it. On Sunday they had to compete with a home Giants game, home 49ers preseason game and the America’s Cup sailing competition. There was absolutely nobody on the road coming from SF/Marin but it appeared that the East Bay/Sac crowd was arriving in force. All things considered, a decent crowd but a little smaller than the days of Danica mania.
Speaking of fans, I loved overhearing a couple of guys having a legit argument because one monkey was positive that Mario Andretti was going to be participating in the race. Not Marco or Michael, I’m talking the 1978 F1 World Champion! “Dude I’m telling you I heard he’s going to be out there. What is he 60? That’s nothing man. He’s racing today bro!”
It’s hard to go to any public event in Northern California without somebody sparking a doobie and on lap 46 a crew in my area whipped out a J and started puffing away sending all the parents nearby scrambling to keep their children out of the line of fire.
If GoPro CEO Nick Woodman ever loses all of his money he could have a career doing monster truck radio voice spots. His call of “Drivers Start Your Engines” sounded like it was coming from a seasoned WWF public address announcer.
Townsend Bell was spot on when he called James Hinchcliffe’s turn two save a rail slide. I’ve never seen a car ride a curb like that. Street style Indycar could become a cool side competition. Still seeking the video on Youtube.
One final thought from a race won due to a mechanic getting nailed while servicing his car: watching Michael Andretti do a burnout on the head of one of his crewmen never gets old.