Monday, May 27, 2013

Whoa Indy...and ND Woes

Yesterday was a great day at IMS; more lead changes than ever before. The nearly 70 lead changes can be attributed to the parity among teams due to the identical chassis and two engine packages...but the highly-skilled field also had something to do with it.

People can say what they want about the DW12 chassis- it's not sleek enough, it's a bit of an ugly duckling...perhaps.  But, if you like to watch racing as a contest of grit, timing, will and skill, then you probably loved yesterday's 500.

Like everyone else, I want the cars to be faster...and I want more innovation and flexibility within the rules, but yesterday's race was crazy fun to watch. The cars probably have a bit too much downforce right now and not quite enough horsepower, but the end product is close to unbeatable.

All of that said, the strategy and overall approach of race day has drastically changed from mere years ago. With the white flag waving, you no longer want the want to be in second or third place. No one can really pull away from anyone else; I guess that's alright.

Indy is now officially the antithesis of F1. The mostly-Euro series is almost solely a series based on preparation, homework, outspending the next team and "rolling the ball out" (if you will).  I love the look of those machines and the innovation and trickle down of technology over there.  I don't like the glorified parade that those races are.

With just a few laps left yesterday, 22 cars were separated by about 10 seconds...something I've never seen before. Ed Carpenter's tenth place finish after starting from the pole is viewed by some as a failure of a day.  BUT, had the race finished under green, he would have finished just seconds behind the leader.

The fastest cars, especially in the last 50 laps were clearly better than everyone else...and Chevy had a decided advantage (which needs to be adjusted).  But even the guys who weren't in the top-5 were really right there. It's kinda crazy to think that a guy who is 9 seconds behind after around 170 laps is waaaaaay off the pace, but it kinda felt that way.  Guys like Scott Dixon weren't far behind at the end of the race...but weren't really contenders either.

I've been to 25 Indy 500 races now...and have never seen a crowd as elated for a winner as they were when Tony Kanaan earned the checkered flag.  Like me, I think many in the crowd thought that his last chance of winning went away when he lost his Andretti ride a few years ago...I was very wrong- in two years, he's had a top-3 and a win; not bad for a guy left for dead by many.
TK leads a pair of Andretti Racing machines across the yard of bricks
I had thrown him onto the scrap heap of guys like Raul Boesel and (ironically) Michael Andretti- great drivers who shoulda won it, but never will.  Glad I was wrong.

I've heard that the league will finally allow some new aero packages around the safety tub of the DW 12 chassis in 2014; I hope they do as I think we're only a half-step better than we were a few years ago when just Honda was supplying engines to power the old Dallara Indy chassis.  I'm still no fan of spec racing (in theory).  That said, I love the cars being safer and more consistent. The days of qualifying a four or five year old chassis while panhandling for an engine is gone; that's a good thing.  The fact that the cars aren't going 238 mph is a bad thing.

Days like yesterday are nothing but positive for Indy and the league around it...But if they can double the winner's purse, and get the speeds up in the upper half of the 230s, we might see Indy return closer to her former glory.

Even my BS counterpart, J Money had to admit that yesterday's race was exciting...and he's a pseudo-NASCAR apologist.

Bad news for Gunner Kiel and Brian Kelly
Almost two months ago, Gunner Kiel decided to head to the greenest of football pastures, the University of Cincinnati, of course.  He wasn't pleased with the fact that two QBs were in front of him at UND and another was really neck-and-neck with him at the third spot in the Coach Kelly's rotation.

Things change quickly in college football sometimes- This Spring has been one of those for Notre Dame's offense.

Last year's starter, Everett Golson did something nefarious according to the university's academic police.  We really don't know exactly what it is that he did, but it looks like he cheated in some way. The end result is he's no longer enrolled at UND and no longer on Notre Dame's football team.

The erratic, but adequate Senior QB, Tommy Rees will probably be the starter.  BUT, Kelly hasn't ever given him a vote of confidence...Plus, he had a legit run in with the law last season that might have even caused Kelly to second-guess his leadership.  Sure, it's OK for some on their roster to get arrested, but striking an officer kinda makes you lose your job, even for Coach Kelly.  I guess it's a good thing he wasn't kicked off the team last fall, right UND fan?

UND should still be quite good in the fall, but the loss of Golson to academics, Eiffert to the NFL, Riddick to graduation, Wood to NFL practice squad (two running backs) will make things interesting. UND's offense will have a QB who's prone to mistakes and fumbles, no sure-handed relief valve underneath and no experienced running back behind Rees.

Our Boilers are in the midst of an overhaul as new coaches try to get all the moving parts to move as a unit.  UND's offensive tumult should be a bit of music to our ears as we look ahead to the most difficult schedule in the nation.


T-Mill said...

Eh, what is punching a cop? Remember, it is ND! They can cover up a sexual assault and not claim responsibility for a death and everything is good. Makes me wonder what Golson really did to get kicked off. By their standards, nothing short of a Crime Against Humanity would do.

boilerdowd said...

I thought the same thing.

Mommatried said...

From National Title Game back into Crimson and Cream gear. Must be maddening for their fan base not knowing what to wear this season.

Mommatried said...

From National Title Game back into Crimson and Cream gear. Must be maddening for their fan base not knowing what to wear this season.

J Money said...

I was hopeful our resident Indy Car expert would address the anti-climactic finish (under caution) after hours of exciting racing... but alas.

Boilergal said...

I have a totally different take on Sunday's race. Of course, this is coming from someone that attends only the Indy 500 and couldn't really care less about the IndyCar series... It feels to me that the end of the race was rigged, kinda like when an NBA team is leading by 20 or so in the 3rd and the coach benches all of the starters (or the refs decide to call for the team behind) to make for a close ending. A caution occurred when RHR was in 1st around what, lap 192? There was a great effort made to get the track cleaned up to get under green before the end of the race. At lap 196ish they go green, TK takes the lead out of turn 1 and boom, his little buddy that was not in contention for the win goes into the wall seconds later (if that!) and there is zero effort to clean up the mess and get the race back under way. TK, the overwhelming fan favorite, gets the win, which is a nice payback to those Indy fans that stuck around for his hour-long parade lap where everyone overly applauded the dullest ending to a race with a record number of lead changes. What a letdown, talking about all the lead changes, how exciting(!!) to lead to an ending where the guy's buddy goes into the wall for him at the right time so that we can watch 4 caution laps. I suppose next year Scott Dixon will be the winner (if he can get in position at the end, someone will see to it), only seems to follow the script.

BoilerBloodline said...

BoilerGal...when Graham Rahal wrecked at the end, he never made contact with the outside wall...which makes a huge difference in clean up time. At the end when Franchitti hit the outside wall, it was a pretty hard hit, they have to be certain there is nothing on the track...including oil, fuel etc...Although I was very very happy to see TK win, I wished he would have won it under green but there was no way to clean that up in two laps and EVERYONE knew it as soon as it happened. No conspiracy there.

boilerdowd said...

J- 500 miles doesn't mean 502.5 miles...really no need to address that. NASCAR can do it their way, and keep adding laps until they get Jimmy Johnson in the position to win as much as they'd like.

Bloodline is correct, BG; Rahal's accident was simple to clean up because any fluids lost were lost in the grass...Franchitti's wreck occurred completely on the track; debris and leaked fluids are always the biggest concern on the race course and with three laps left, they would have had to red flag them to get it done.

There's no doubt that it's a bit anti-climactic to end under yellow, but if they'd have gone green for two more laps, the combo of cold tires (it was still about 15 degrees too cool for those cars), evenly-matched cars and drivers risking it all to win would have probably resulted in another wreck in one or two.

I was shocked that the cold tires didn't come into play more during the day- Carpenter showed early that the cold tires mattered greatly, but most of the drivers showed an immense amount of restraint during the race, which is imperative during a big oval race; margin for error is slim.

Boilergal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boilergal said...

The conspiracy comes from the fact that Franchitti, a 3-time Indy 500 champion forgot that he needed to continue to turn left in turn 1 to avoid the wall. All too convenient for long-time buddy TK! Sorry, it smells of being rigged to me, and no one will convince me otherwise. Interesting that all the TK fans I was with had their heads in hands after the Rahal crash hoping that they could get a green again, moaning that the race could end under a yellow, yet were elated and sang a totally different tune when long-time buddy took one for TK so he could finally win the big one. I guess that's where NASCAR apparently gets it right (though, I follow that even less), they at least let the end of the race end under competitive circumstances. And, someone at the back of the pack can't have an effect on picking the winner.

conk said...

I'm far more likely to believe that Golson was kicked off for academics than Franchitti intentionally wrecked hisself so Kanaan could win. No way. Plus if IndyCar wanted someone to win it'd be little Marco to end the Andretti drought.

Boilerdowd: Full-agreement on the difference of cleaning up Rahal vs. Franchitti crashes, but disappointed to hear you hint of the Jimmie-conspiracy.

Time for IndyCar to take a couple pages out of the NASCAR playbook: green-white-checker finishes and double-file restarts. Why go single-file when those 3-wide starts at the initial green flag are so awesome? I guess it results in too much side-by-side action.

J Money said...

I know this question will make me a rube in the IndyCar world, but why NOT red flag the field after a wreck in the final laps to ensure a green flag finish? I realize accidents could keep happening, so maybe you limit it to one or two instances or whatever (or it it happens on final lap, so be it), but I wanted to ask... I get the point of budgeting for 500 miles, not 502, but I also get people who think a yellow flag finish is a huge letdown.

BoilerByBlood said...

Loved the 500. It was the most exciting race from start to finish in its history. I don't understand why anyone would complain about the finish. This isn't fabricated sports-entertainment like WWE and yes, NASCAR. This was IndyCar racing at it's best.

What blows my mind is the TV rating. It was the lowest in race history. One things certain, you sure can't blame the thrilling product on the track.

boilerdowd said...

conk- you painted yourself as someone who knew quite a bit about racing and watched it a lot during last week's I'm surprised you missed IndyCar attempting the 2-wide yellow starts a few years didn't work well. Also, you should understand that the dynamics of these cars are quite different from the floaters that you like watching; they get up to speed quicker and single-file starts actually encourage passing.

BG- each chassis, without engine or custom tub and wheel costs $350,000. Do you really believe Franchitti would still have a job if there was any hint that he was intentionally running one of those into the wall to help a pal? Second question- Did you read any of Franchitti's quotes following the death of Wheldon? It rocked him. He knows the inherent danger of the sport. If he wanted to help his pal out, he might lightly tap the safer barrier, not floor it into the short chute concrete retainer. Lastly, I was right in front of that wreck, he was fighting to keep it off the wall; you could see his hands (we're in row 1 SW Vista).

I agree with BYB that it was one of the best races I've seen...but I've said that quite a few times in the last decade. F1 viewership is down, NASCAR viewership is down and IndyCar viewership is down. None of that's good news for fans of racing, regardless of which type is your cup of tea.

J, the red flag trick is definitely a NASCAR thing. 500 miles were run, the race was quite need to make it like a soccer match and arbitrarily add time. No one was ripped off watching this one, and luck finally went Kanaan's way.

conk said...

True, bdowd, I am a casual IndyCar fan at best and probably only because I live in Indiana, so I did miss the attempt at double-file restarts. You would have to explain your reasoning why "it didnt work well" but that quote in general doesnt bode well for me getting more into IndyCar, and another reason why I'll stick to floaters.

conk said...

BoilerByBlood or anyone else wanting to trash talk NASCAR, attack its integrity, or dispute its reign at the top of motorsports can hit me up on twitter @haylard

BoilerWhat said...

conk, I will be back into NASCAR when they take the car out of the crew chiefs' hands and put it back into the drivers' hands.
Spec series are not ideal, but are the reality of the times. IndyCar is able to get away with being a spec series more than NASCAR because the aerodynamics are much more sensitive. We can probably both agree the push to pass is pretty weak. However, I prefer that to the "add water and stir" methods to create competitive finishes in NASCAR.