Some quick thoughts in advance of this year’s Indy 500, scribbled down while shanghai’ed (briefly, and only because President Obama was allegedly flying through at the time, but still) at Chicago Midway International Airport, on my way to Indy for the weekend:
- “Red” cars almost locked out the first two rows in qualifying. However, other than Helio’s pole speed, the entire bulk of the field is covered by less than 4 MPH. With the draft supposedly making more of a difference in traffic this year, and the addition of the “push to pass” button, we might be in for a decent race on Sunday. Well, at least among the “red” cars at the front, and then another decent race for 6th through 10th for the entire rest of the field.
- Bruno Junquiera ran the seventh-best speed of the entire field, in worse conditions than the Pole Day qualifiers ran in, and after only seven laps of getting up to speed. Um, I think he’s going to be fast on Race Day.
- Andretti Autosport was out to lunch on qualifying weekend. I don’t think that will hold come race day. TK will be doing a patented Derek Daly “burn from the stern” (that’s the phrase patented by Derek, not the actual act) from his 33rd starting spot, Marco and Danica will be able to hang in there in the mid-pack, and move up with other peoples’ mistakes, John Andretti will be doing his thing of being completely invisible until you read the race rundown in the paper in the next day and you find out that he finished 12th, and RHR will be doing RHR things all day (that’s “passing people” and “being a general nuisance to people in theoretically superior equipment” to the uninitiated out there).
- The KVRT drivers will probably continue to damage equipment, both theirs and others’. Sorry, Jimmy. I love ya, but you’ve got a team full of crashers there.
- Alex Tagliani will hang with the lead pack until the first round of stops, have a slightly slow pit stop that puts him between the leaders and the midfield, and will drive around by himself until he falls afoul of some nonsense. Sorry, Alex, but the fairytale is going to end around lap 80, and probably at the hands of one of the aforementioned KV guys.
- First out? Sebastian Saavedra. Sorry, kid. Your gearbox is gonna give up on lap 14.
- Speaking of 14…Vitor…get comfy in the 10th through 15th range, and then be ready to move up late in the day. I’ve got you pegged for a semi-out-of-nowhere 9th place this year.
- The “New” Snake Pit will be derided by the oldtimers as too tame and by the family crowd (which, who am I kidding? I’m probably a member of now) for being inappropriate for any year post-1983. My opinion? If you have to start a Twitter campaign to publicize your “drunken outsider festival of alcohol-laced debauchery with extra booze on top”, that's not a good sign. Um, you know who else uses Twitter to disseminate PR material? Scott Dixon. You know who else? CNN News. You want to be associated with the wild and crazy likes of those folks, “New” Snake Pit? Didn’t think so.
- I will quadruple my all time record for money spent on merchandise in one weekend, between the new Izod throwback t-shirts, some great looking new team and driver hats, and my sudden compulsion to buy a diecast to put in amongst all the butterflies that adorn my daughter’s room.
- Between Izod’s publicity campaign (including getting Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson to be front and center on Sunday), some great potential stories on Race Day, and some potential history in the making (Helio matching Mears, Foyt and Unser), the 500 will be in the top-3 stories on Sportscenter on Sunday night. And we were all here for the comeback. Bask in that.
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