Indy Flash Floods Victory Lane

My wife heard me say on Sunday morning that Castroneves would probably win the Indianapolis 500, but my heard was with Danica. The race had its boring periods—what long race doesn’t? That’s when you flip through a magazine. Meanwhile, the play-by-play was often useless when something noteworthy did happen on the track or in the pits. Marty Reid & Company were several ticks behind and had difficulty identifying cars. How can they spend three weekends at the Speedway and not instantaneously recognize any given car? I might be one of the few who appreciates Scott Goodyear as a commentator. But Eddie Cheever is like the human appendix, a vestigial organ that serves no important purpose and can be removed with no measureable effect. He makes me long for broadcasting comeback by Bobbie Unser.

Milka sparkled at last.
Milka the Venezuelan sparkled at last (in last).
As for Castroneves’s sobbing, yes, he went through a lot with the trial and all, but you’d never see A.J. Foyt do that. As soon as the checkered flag waved, the National Weather Service put out a flash flood warning. (Oh, to have been in the same room as Tony Stewart during the Victory Lane deluge!) But Castroneves isn’t the only tearful Brazilian. When Emerson Fittipaldi won his first 500 he blubbered that he had wanted to win Indy since he was a wittle boy. (When he won his second 500, he drank OJ instead of milk, which was pretty rude.) I wonder if an Uruguayan would shed as many tears as a Brazilian. The only Uruguayan I know who has ever raced Indy cars, Gonzalo Rodriguez, died in a 1999 crash at Laguna Seca. It’ll probably be a while before the next Pampas-to-Brickyard crossing.

The race was a bit on the boring side because no car had an advantage. The IRL formula is tuned too fine. There used to be significant variations between cars, between chassis and engines; hey, an entry or team with a clear advantage adds tension and drama to the race. (“Watch Murphy in the Havoline/Valvoline/Vaseline Twin-Engine Special work his way back through the pack after that unplanned stop for hemorrhoid removal.”) Danica finished third because of her pit crew. Not to say that she didn’t drive a perfect race. She’s amazingly steady and rarely makes a mistake. But she gained positions exclusively through her team’s efficient pit stops.

Me, Short Chute between Turns 1 and 2, right where Andretti hit.
Me, staying off the wall in the Short Chute between Turns 1 and 2, where Marco hit.

So many crashes! Why is it unsurprising that Marco Andretti didn’t last a lap? His brash comment about Mario Maraes was deeply arrogant and self-serving. Sorry, Marco, but trying to pass someone on the outside in the short chute between One and Two just seconds after the green flag’s fall is the epitome of imprudence. For anyone who disparages Danica, just compare her results to Marco’s. And Graham Rahal’s declaring himself one of the cars to beat but slamming the wall on Lap 55 goes into in the annals of unsupported braggadocio.

Meanwhile, how Tony Kanaan merely limped away after clobbering the wall was mind-boggling. Justin Wilson’s slide into pit lane could have ended much worse. And poor Vitor Meira! Raphael Matos was evidently going to storm to the front, executing a grand (or grandiose) pit strategy, but being outside Meira at the entrance to One was just crazy, and Meira took a Cedar Point coaster ride. Here’s wishing him a full recovery. This year’s race saw the rookies and youngsters causing more mayhem than ever. In comparison, Milka Duno (last among those running) sparkled like a jewel. In tribute to the fastest woman from Venezuela, I just might purchase the “I am a fan of Milka Duno” license plate frame from her website.

One thought on “Indy Flash Floods Victory Lane

  1. The smell of Meira’s burning tires woke me from my mental time out. Not much passing, and just perceptible changes in the gaps between drivers. My group of Indy buddies and I longed for the days when Buick turbos would blow up in white clouds of smoke after setting qualifying records. But as times changes, some traditions remain: the crackle over the PA system notifying the crowd that an Andretti has been involved in an incident.

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