Indycar shared the weekend at Long Beach, once again taking open-wheel to the west coast street circuit. I had expected there to be carnage in the opening laps around the high concrete barriers, but was pleasantly surprised by how well the drivers behaved. The first major incident was in the pit lane, with Marco Andretti sliding out of his bow and sandwiching international driver Sebastian Bourdais into the divider wall. Marco would later admit to not even knowing Sebastian was there. Paul Tracy of CART fame has arranged rides for some of this year's Indycar races and ran Long Beach with Dragon Racing. He would be penalized for spinning (this blogger's favorite) Simona de Silvestro.
The race seemed like a three way battle between team Penske, Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, and Helio Castroneves; and Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay. In the closing stages however, Castroneves dove for the leaders, taking himself, Will Power and Oriol Servia for a spin on turn 1. It looked like it would be down to a duel between Briscoe and Hunter-Reay, until Hunter's car gave it up on the front straight. Then to the surprise of everyone, Hunter-Reay's teammate at Andretti, Mike Conway drove up to take over second place. Conway in his second year is most known for being involved in a last lap incident at last year's Indy 500, where he went airborne into the catch fence, and broke a number of vertebrae, missing the remainder of the season. Conway in a black and silver liveried car with his last name across the rear wing drove right up to Briscoe, passing him with laps to go, and pulling away, taking his first Indycar win. Dario Franchitti would finish in 3rd, which gave him enough points to pass Will Power for the lead in the points standings.
Formula 1 was a bit of a thriller in China. Upon starting the cars and rolling off to the grid McLaren's Lewis Hamilton detected a smell of leaking fuel, prompting his team to tear open the back of the car and change an air supply filter on the grid, moments before the start. The valiant effort was a success and Hamilton would take his car onward. McLaren had a great start to the race, not allowing Vettel to walk away like the first two rounds of the season. The new compound Pirelli tires finally did what they had promised, making the pit strategy a vital part of the race. A bit of a gaffe by McLaren's other driver Jensen Button when he tried to pull into Red Bull's pit box for service cost him time and the lead of the race. But Vettel's decision to only make 2 stops would be his downfall, allowing Hamilton (who made a 3rd stop) to overtake him with the grip advantage, taking the win with 4 laps to go. Mark Weber who started a dismal 18th, would pass Button in the closing stages to add a second Red Bull onto the podium. Nico Rosberg of Mercedes had a great performance, rounding out the top 5.
For something a little different I'm going to cover this weekend's Nascar event, from Talladega. Now honestly I'm not a fan of Nascar for the sole reason of their vehicles. I think they are too far removed from anything on the road to still call themselves 'stock-cars.' A Nascar is built from the ground up out of steel tubing bent into the shape of the car making the roll cage the entire car structure. Also with the standardized specifications, the only difference from one team to another is who assembled the engine, and how the suspension has been set up.
This weekend they ran at Talladega in Alabama. As one of the 'super-speedway' tracks, a 2.66 mile tri-oval with over 30 degrees of banking in the corners. This allows the cars to run at their top speeds which are cut back by Nascar's restricter plate policy (which limits the amount of fuel the engine can use at one time). Due to this policy the car's are on a fairly level field for horsepower to encourage 'pack racing.' This adds to the 'entertainment' factor, but is disliked by drivers who see it as the cause of many of the wrecks on those tracks. Due to some changes in the car design and track surfaces, the driver's have discovered that by running directly in line with another car, it gives both of them a higher top speed. This '2 car draft' is controversial right now, and from what I saw of the race yesterday is the only way to succeed on this style of track right now. In the season opener at Daytona (another restricted track) a relatively unknown rookie Trevor Bayne won the race, thanks to a having veteran Jeff Gordon as his second car.
|2 car draft in action|
Jimmy Johnson, last year's defending champion would eventually win the race, with popular names Clint Bower, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kevin Harvick made up the top five.
P.S. I just realized this blog broke 100 followers over the weekend. Thank you guys SO MUCH! Here's some automotive beauty to get you through another Monday.
|Head on over to http://seriouswheels.com/ for this and more cars, all in wallpaper size.|