Yeehaw! The season is finally underway!
I have my 68th cold of the winter, so my note taking during the race was filtered through a NyQuil haze. With apologies for any giddiness or illogical meanderings, here are my random thoughts captured during the Grand Prix of St. Pete:
I always watch the start of this race through my fingers, but everyone survived to get a clean first segment of the race completed. Surprised that Dario slipped into the wall on cold tires after his first stop, bringing out the first yellow. And yes, Dario doubters, he took responsibility for it. On the restart, cars went spinning and contact happened. And yellows bred yellows as they always do.
Susie Wheldon waved the green. She’s been popping up in my dreams the last month or so, always in the company of a certain current IndyCar driver. I must be dreaming about it because I think it would be a good pairing. #NotStartingRumors
Simona de Silvestro, James Hinchcliffe and Tristan Vautier impressed all weekend. Takuma Sato also had a strong weekend, starting second but dropping to around 10th about midway and hovering there the rest of the race.
It was fun to see Oriol Servia (he with fellow Spaniard Salvador Dali on his helmet) leading the race midway in Daliwood, USA. (There’s a Dali museum inside the course in St Pete.) Servia then pitted and his car quit – it took several laps to get him re-fired. Ryan Hunter-Reay had problems at the same time and shut it down in the pits. Something about yellow cars?
Lots of clutch in this race – malfunctioning clutch, that is. Josef Newgarten fell out about the same time as Servia and RHR were having their troubles. Electronics – gears, throttle issues, system issues – seemed to dog a lot of cars today and took Vautier out near the 2/3 point in the race. At this point, Newgarten could scour pit road and find enough drivers out of the race to make the Florida edition of his Harlem Shake video.
Sebastian Saavedra crunched his nose into the Turn 10 wall. Add another dancer to Newgarten’s video. A few laps later, we saw JR Hildebrand somehow drive up and over the side of Will Power during caution and crunched the wall as well. Power came in for a new right rear tire and and left without his right rear tire guard and right rear view mirror. Power made a second stop for further adjustments and labored to a 16th place finish. Hildebrand looked sheepish back at his pit box for a bit, then joined Newgarten’s Harlem Shake dance team.
Hinch powered past Helio Castroneves on the lap 85 restart and grabbed the lead, and that was all she wrote. While great battles raged behind him, including a strong drive from Marco Andretti to grab the third spot on the podium, Hinch drove on to his first IndyCar win. Oh Canada! Hopefully, a star is born, because Hinch has what it takes on and off the track.
Overall, it was a typical narrow street race with a side of carnage and some excitement at the end courtesy Marco’s advance and Hinch’s win. But it’s good to get the season underway. With that, I’m off for more NyQuil and a nap. Thanks for enduring my goofy mood.