For the straight recap of the final Indycar race at Twin-Ring Motegi, click here. Otherwise, buckle up for the gaynalysis!
I’m going to be straight up like Paula Abdul: I did not watch the race. I know, bad Ross. But, you can’t blame me for not being in the gym on a treadmill at 1AM on Sunday morning to watch the race live. However, I stayed up-to-date with the race on Twitter and have watched the race highlight reel from Indycar.
For those of you unfamiliar, Indycar has raced at the Twin-Ring Motegi oval since 2004. Unfortunately, the oval was damaged during the earthquake earlier this year. Instead of aborting the event, Indycar agreed to race on the road course. If any of you have Gran Turismo 4 at home, you can race on both the oval and the road course.
First off, I want to start by saying that the restarts were some of the most pitiful I have seen all year. Additionally, the restarts at Baltimore were just as bad. Kindergarteners with A.D.D could form better double-file rows. Seriously, come on guys. It isn’t that hard. I raced go-karts with a bunch of redneck kids in the woods of South Mississippi and we could do it.
In similar fashion to the race at Mid-Ohio, Scott Dixon started from the pole and won. If he starts up front he is going to be relentlessly fast. That is a guarantee. In other Scott Dixon news, before leaving for Japan, Scott and his wife Emma welcomed their 2nd child, Tilly, into the world.
Apparently, the race was neither a snoozer like Infineon, nor as exciting as Baltimore. For most Indycar fans that was fine. We all were hoping for a drama free face. No flubbed calls, no mad drivers…just a good race. However, that wasn’t the case. There are 2 moments that define this race:
1.) Dario Franchitti’s kamikazi move into Turn 1 could be, in the coming weeks, the tide turner of the 2011 championship. Approaching turn one after a restart, Dario attempted to make it 3-wide. Obviously, this did not work out at all. Not only did he spin out Ryan Briscoe, he also spun out teammate Graham Rahal and caused another teammate, Charlie Kimball, to go off course and into the sand trap. Mr. Chip Ganassi was not happy at all that one stupid move took out 3 of his cars that were running in the top 10. Dario was “penalized” by being sent to the end of the field on the restart. Many fans were upset stating that the penalty was not severe enough and he should have been given a green-flag drive thru penalty. Nevertheless Dario carved through the field to finish 8th. Dario did man up and admit fault. For Dario to admit he messed up you know it was a very obvious mistake.
2) Helio Castroneves took to Twitter after the race complaining about the officiating and Brian Barnhart because he was penalized after the checkers for passing someone under yellow. The rant can be read here. Whether the penalty was the correct call or not, I’m not sure. I haven’t seen the pass in question. However, the questioning of the officiating can be traced to the word “discretion” used in the Indycar rule book. What “discretion” creates is the ability for fans, drivers, and teams to question almost any call by race control. Instead of having hard and fast rules that if you do X then Y will happen every time no matter what, discretion allows leeway, bias, and favoritism…or so it may appear. So, Helio can be somewhat justified by ranting that officiating is biased. I say we have a big bonfire at the conclusion of the season and burn the current rule book. A fresh start is what is needed. No discretion!
All that being said, I’m personally tired of all of the complaining. I’m just glad this was the last race at a road or street course for the current Dallara package. The car has been past its prime for some years now. The cars were never designed to run on road and street courses, so it is time for them to be taken out to the back of the pasture and be put down for good. Additionally, I listened to Speed TV reporter Marshall Pruett on Trackside last week with Kevin Lee and Curt Cavin. Pruett stated that Dan Wheldon has had great things to say about the new car. It seems like the road and street courses will be a lot more interesting next year with the drivers being able to drive the car much harder and attack the corners more. I get the feeling it will be like going from racing a Ford Crown Victoria to a Ford Mustang.
One last thing before I stop rambling. I’ll first say, again, that I’m neither a Danica Patrick hater nor a fan. I’m neutral to her. But, she made a comment in reference to Brazilian drivers in an interview with the Associated Press following the Nationwide race at Richmond that really irked me. You guys can read for yourself if you haven’t already and draw your own conclusions. I’ll just say that I will be more than happy when NASCAR inherits the joy of Danica next year.
And that’s it from Japan. I apologize for not being able to watch the race live, but I was certain I wouldn’t have made it very long on the treadmill at 1AM. The next Indycar event will be the Kentucky Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway broadcast live on October 2nd on Versus at 2PM Eastern. Trust me, it will be an event you will not want to miss.