Change is inevitable; the talk leading up to the first race of the season for the IZOD IndyCar series is momentum. IndyCar feels that the changes it has made leading up to this season is going to bring larger crowds to the track and higher television ratings. Today we see the first installment on the Streets of St. Petersburg for the IndyCar series.
With the IndyCar series waving the green flag for the first time this season, it gives a real feel that the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is truly getting close. This year will be the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race. We will look forward to that in just over two months from now.
The engines have fired and the cars are on their parade laps on the 1.8 mile street course. Will Power leads the field to the green flag and a big wreck occurs into the first turn. Marco Andretti has flipped his car upside down. Scott Dixon is involved in the wreck as well. Andretti drove the car hard into turn one and got bumped from behind by Helio Castroneves sending him sideways and then over Dixon.
Lap five and Will Power gets the field back underway. Dario Franchitti jumps into the lead and is now followed by Tony Kanaan. Graham Rahal is now dragging the rear wing of his car along the ground by the tether strips. Rahal will have to pit to have a new wing put on the car.
Lap six and Herdanicaship (Danica Patrick) has a problem with her front wing. The caution is now out with EJ Viso spinning his car and is off the track in the dirt. IndyCars cannot be started by the driver, so if you stall, you are at the mercy of waiting for someone to come start the car for you. The caution is a huge break for Herdanicaship. She will be able to pit under the yellow to get a new front wing put on the car. To follow-up on Rahal, he was bumped by another car and hit a tire wall breaking the wing off.
Lap 11 and the Franchitti gets them back under way. Hopefully this restart will give us an opportunity to see some green flag racing. Unfortunately that is not going to happen as caution is out on lap 12 for front wing debris on the track from Ryan Briscoe. Briscoe had clipped Oriol Servia and broke the front wing leaving a huge piece of debris in the middle of the track.
Lap 14 and the green comes back out and Franchitti gets to the first corner first as a car spins behind him. Caution is out again. Who said that IndyCar cannot run at Bristol, oh sorry thought this was a road course and we would see no passing and nose to tail racing all day with very few, if any, cautions. This is actually getting annoying to the fact that the pace car has led the most laps.
Lap 16 and the green is back out for Franchitti. Looks like the field may have finally made it through the first turn without incident.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was just on the broadcast crying about the double file restarts. I have a one thing to say at this point, quit whining and drive your car. If you expect this series to survive financially, you have to find ways to have excitement on the track.
Lap 30 and Franchitti continues to lead with Simona De Silvestro in second and Tony Kanaan in third. Nose to tail racing is the order right now with no passing occurring anywhere on the track. This is not surprising at this point in the race. With all the attrition at the beginning stages of the race, the drivers are probably just happy to get some laps logged before pressing any issues.
Lap 33 and the first round of green flag pit stops are underway. This is also a good time to mention that the teams have a choice of tires to use in the race today. Red ringed tires are a softer compound than the traditional all black tires. This allows the teams to pick a tire that will work a little bit better with their car setup. Drivers must use at least one set of both types of tires in the race.
Lap 39 and Charlie Kimball has destroyed the left side of the car along the wall. The accident brings out a full course caution slowing the field. A good green flag stretch of racing since all of the commotion at the beginning of the race. I am not sure that anyone is going to be able to touch Franchitti today. He has a fast car and no one has had anything for him to this point in the race.
Lap 44 and the race is back on. Herdanicaship has destroyed another front wing on the car. Franchitti jumps back out to the lead as the first lap back under green comes to a close. Herdanicaship makes it to the pit lane and goes out with her third front wing of the race.
Lap 50 is the half way point of the race with the top five being Franchitti 1st, Power 2nd, Kanaan 3rd, De Silvestro 4th, and Alex Tagliani 5th.
Lap 67 and green flag pit stops have begun. No change in the top five prior to the upcoming pit stops.
Lap 80 and only one change in the top five, Takuma Sato is now in fifth. Franchitti has opened a sizable lead over second place Power.
Ten laps to go in the race and no changes in the top 5 to report. The race seems to be for third position. De Silvestro is staying on the back bumper of Kanaan and keeping the pressure on. Even the broadcast has stayed with this battle on the track.
There are now five laps to go and no changes in the top five. A couple of cars have slid through turns as the laps are winding down, but nothing major to report. All of these cars were able to continue along.
Checkered flag waves as Dario Franchitti takes the first race of the season in the IndyCar series. The top five stayed the same as listed above.
The race started with a lot of cautions and really no feeling or momentum to the event. The second half of the race was quiet and went by quickly with really no passing on the track. A good start for the series though.
IndyCar is going to have to address how the drivers perform the two wide restarts. The problem I saw with the restarts was that the drivers were waiting until they were on the front stretch approaching the start finish line to get lined up. The back end cars had a lot more speed coming to the line than the leaders. The field needs to be formed well before getting to that point.
Time to switch over to NASCAR in California.