Wednesday, March 9, 2022

INDYCAR: St Pete Rewind

But just How Much should we take away from the Season’s first race outcome?


Yeah, what’s that ‘Ol sayin’ about A Dollar Short and A Day late!


Since by the time I post this on No Fenders it’ll be Old News. And surely Y’all will already know the results. As I’ll just toss out some random observations instead. Whilst we All wait with Baited Breath over another Pj1 “Slippery liquids” Traction Compound induced race at Texas Motor Speedway March 20th.


Rookie Drivers

(Friday Practice-1/Saturday Practice-2/Qualifying/Race results)

#11 Tatiana Calderon) 26/26/25/24th; -3 laps

#14 Kyle Kirkwood) 12/8/12/18th

#18 David Malukas) 10/17/24/R-Accident (26th)

#29 Devlin DeFrancesco) 13/15/18/22nd

#30 Christian Lundgaard) 25/16/15/11th

#77 Callum Ilott) 22/18/19/19th


Although I’m Not planning on doing this for every race. As I’ve already scribbled here upon No Fenders, I’m very interested over this Six Pack of IndyCar Rookies vs. the rest of the field. As I’ve listed each of their finishing positions for each session above, excluding Sunday’s Warm Up results. And am curious how many of these drivers will become longterm IndyCar fixtures of the future?


Although we really shouldn’t be surprised by Kyle Kirkwood’s performance, since after all He is the reigning Indy Lights Champion, and simply A Bad Arse Driver! With His only limitation this year being driving for A.J. Foyt’s team.


And with Sebastien Bourdais noting during Saturday’s Racer French Fry and Hamburger Show, It’s Back! Track Temp during Qualie’ was a Sizzling 120-degrees, making for super slippery track conditions. And almost everybody was struggling to learn how to fully utilize their Alternate Flinstone’ Red Rubber, for which Bourdais said were One ‘N done! And He didn’t think track conditions would change much for the race. Saying it’ll be interesting to see who can make a set of the Alternate’s last a Stint, or will Thar be a bunch of Alternative strategies instead?


Leading towards Race Day…

Some of what stood out to me over the weekend. Symone’, aka Pageantry’, nee Simon Pagenaud looked really Strong during his Meyer Shank Racing debut. Finishing  P4/3rd/6th during the two practice sessions and Qualifying.


While DJ WillyP’, nee Will Power and Alexander Rossi also looked Strong with Top 5 results in both Practice sessions


Initially I was Puzzled over Romain Grosjean going from “top of Thee Pops” (P1) on Friday  to 19th on Saturday morning’s second practice, Huh? Before learning the Frenchman was looking at his Dashboard? After coming round Turn 10 and Slamming into the back of Takuma Sato’s car!


As a bunch of Drivers had Packed-up vying for Clear track-space! As both Grosjean and Sato’s session’s were done! Wit the front end of Grosjean’s and Sato’s Rear both being majorly Askew!


Really Confused over Scott Dixon’s Struggles, i.e.; P20 Saturday morning. Along with RLLR’s struggles, as Dalton Kellett finished Ahead of two thirds of Booby ruble’s Squad during Saturday’s practice, Aye Karumba! With Graham Rahal and Jack Harvey an uncharacteristic P22-24 respectively! Sandwiching former RLLR Driver Sato in P23 at the end of the second practice session.


Also, Josef Newgarden was the slowest of 3 Penske’s Saturday morning with McLaughlin P1, Power P5 and Josef P14. But remember, Newgarden’s got a brand new Engineer this season…


And while both of Arrow McLaren SP Drivers Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist’s Qualifying results were Disappointing, languishing P16-21 respectively. (With Pato Hitting the Wall in Qualifying) Apparently the most insensed Driver on the Pitlane was Alexander Rossi. As IndyCar’s Oldest Blogger Geo. Phillips of Oilpressure Fame noted how He’d planned on taking a picture of Rossi who was in animated conversation with his father. But Rossi’s menancing Scowl discouraged George from doing so!


Clearly Rossi was Peeved over being the Meat in an A.J. Foyt Racing Qualie’ sandwich! With Kyle Kirkwood the Highest placed rookie in 12th, and Dalton Kellett having his best road course result P14.


Also, the CGR Boyz’ recovered, with Dixon leading the way in seventh, followed by Marcuss Ericsson eighth and Alex Palou tenth.


But it was the Fast Six Shootout that got All the Press! With Team Penske’s youngest member Scotty mcLaughlin capturing his Debutante IndyCar Pole ahead of teammate Power, giving Penske a Front row lockout.


Third Quick was Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta with a great “rebound” by Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay P4. And Row 3 see’s an All French lineup with Romain Grosjean fifth and MSR’s Simon Pagenaud sixth.


It’s Finally Race Day!

It’s Funny to Mwah how people are saying this was a great race, which I never got that Vibe from. As Scott McLaughlin simply dominated this race, along with much of the weekend; well at least Saturday and Sunday…


Yes, reigning IndyCar Champion Alex Palou who started tenth did prelentlessly pressure McLaughlin in the final 20 laps, but much of that Drauma revolved around two Backmarkers making life difficult for the Kiwi’ ex-Supercars Driver. As I think it was Townsend Bell who noted the insane amount of wins He had Down Under and was used to controlling a race and seeing the Chequered Flag first…


As it was none other than Palou’s CGR teammate Jimmie Johnson scraggling’ behind in 23rd who first made life difficult for McLaughlin by fighting to stay on the lead lap which allowed Palou to close the gap. And then Devlin DeFrancesco slithering and sliding to remain P22 in the race’s last five laps.


But I’m Not trying to take anything away from McLaughlin who did a Brilliant Job this weekend en route to both his IndyCar career first Pole and W’, as He drove a flawless race and I think also led the most laps? Although I know that Soctt Dixon, who was one of the many on the alternate three stop strategy also led a Boatload of laps before finishing a rather Ho Hum eighth.


And we’ll never know if DJWillyP’ (Power) would have prevailed as winner ahead of Penske teammate McLaughlin? Since Power was the only driver in the Top 10 Me Thinks, to start on the harder, primary Black Sidewall Firestone and was poised to run to lap 36 before his first Pitstop with All of the leaders coming in earlier. But David Malukas who clouted the Wall on lap 25 bringing out the race’s only Caution effectively wrecked this strategy.


Yes there was much strategy being played out, making it seem uncertain if McLaughlin could cycle back to the lead. As Don’t let the Box Score results Fool you, since many of the Back Half of the Grid, I’d say from P15-Down were running the unsuccessful three stop strategy vs. the correct winning two stop strategy. As such “Heavy Hitters” like Pagenaud, Newgarden and Rossi suffered from this, along with Rookies Kirkwood and Ilott, and may be DeFrancesco?


Interestingly Rossi has a new Strategist this year in the form of one Billybob Brazenheatrz’, aka Brian Barnhart, who I think it was Kevin Lee who interviewed him mid-race?


Since what I took away from this race most was that strategy is King, and once a Driver’s Strategy plan was ruined, along with Hoping to correct it with another future Yellow Flag which Never appeared. The Driver was simply unable to salvage decent results with the exception of Dixon and CGR teammate Marcus Ericsson who was penalized for contact with Graham Rahal exiting Pitlane.


As it’s probably just Mwah being Blind and Not being able to See any action Onscreen, But I had a Horrible time trying to follow the race since it felt like every six minutes we were in another Gory Commercial Break making me feel like I was on a constantly Spinning Merry-go-Round that Never Stopped! And I had to constantly adjust the TV’s volume and the Announcers seemed to be repeating each other and really Not giving any Uber’ insightful information!


Since the most entertaining part of the whole race for Mwah was Kevin Lee and Townsend Bell’s back ‘n forth over whether or not Rinus VeeKay was going to be able to finish the race on two Pitstops without running out of Ethanol! Along with Bell’s Quip ‘bout McLaughlin Ain’t 20 seconds ahead of the pack…


May be I was Disappointed since my Numero Uno IndyCar Driver Pato O’Ward and Arrow McLaren SP simply seemed Out to Lunch this whole weekend! Although I know the young Mexican was giving his typical 100% since He Hit the Wall in Qualifying! Then was another of those caught out strategy-wise when changing to a three stop strategy in Hopes of a late Caution Flag that Never Happened. Having to settle for a 12th place finish.


But you can’t fault All of the teams that thought a second Caution would occur, especially since it was a Temporary Street Circuit where the Concrete Canyon’s usually Breed Yellows, and Dalton Kellett almost made this Happen, since I know one of the Booth boyz’ noted how the Flagman had the Yellow Flag in his Hand and was starting to bring it up when Kellett managed to either get going or pull Offtrack…