First off, let's talk about the Sao Paulo race that just happened yesterday, shall we? That looks to be the tightest course in the IndyCar series...not many places to pass...but, that didn't mean the race was uneventful or boring. In fact, there were a ton of attempts to pass, lots of aggressive driving and yet another entertaining race.
The new chassis passes with overwhelmingly-flying colors, in my opinion, on the road courses. The varied engines have helped make the races such single-file affairs, which is a big difference from previous seasons on the road courses...and the chassis changes have given some more confidence to mix it up. I'd even say that some drivers have a bit too much confidence in their ability to trade paint. During quite a few periods late in the race, multiple drivers had their noses under the tails of the car in front of them...something we didn't see a whole lot of in previous seasons.
Thanks to resident buffoon, Jan Beekus, I found out that the tails are now as easy to swap out as the noses...that's actually pretty slick and made the day much better for drivers like Dario Franchitti who stayed in the race in spite of getting run into from behind and sent a bit airborne early in yesterday's race.
Look at yesterday's top-3: Power (no surprise), Hunter-Reay, Sato
Sure, Power's still a dominant force on the road courses...but a bit of parity has crept into the series thanks to the new engines and chassis...and that's a very good thing. Watching Target and Penske machines win week after week didn't do a whole lot for me. Plus, watching Power's girl jump after each victory doesn't help the series too much. But, Penske wisely chose the strong Chevy engine during the off-season...and that's paying dividends.
Clearly, the series needs to help level the playing field a bit for the teams that chose the Honda powerplant. The additional boost helped the Honda teams compete as both #2 and #3 were the newly-aided Honda machines...but Power could probably drive a Chevy Cobalt to victory lane; he's just that good on road courses.
The Lotus teams are clearly in trouble...at least for this season. The late jump that they got in their R&D phase coupled with clear funding discrepancies have all but punished the small teams that decided to go through the growing pains with Lotus. Two more teams dropped their deals with Lotus last week...and both were smart to do so. Lotus spun it as them releasing the two teams...but I'm pretty sure that's not the case. Lotus' best finish of the year is Bourdais' top-10...and not one car has really competed yet. In fact, race-in, race-out, the Lotus engine has dwelled at the bottom of the leader board...and I think it'll be more of the same at the greatest racing facility in the world, next month...but, next year, with a full season of testing, things might change. But there's no way it'll change this year.
The little taste of testing that I got to witness earlier this month at the brickyard whetted my appetite...and I'm pretty stoked to watch them turn some laps in just under two weeks here in my hometown.
Sure, there's a lot to get used to with the changes to the cars- They sound like something out of a sci-fi movie or on the Jetson's...and they definitely look different. But, if there's a lot of passing, the drivers stay safe and they can get speeds into the 220s, I think the first year of the new chassis and engines will be a success at Indy. The speed is still a huge question mark...and obviously, without speed, what's the point of racing?