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Ten Worthless Opinions – Mid-Ohio Back-to-School Edition

August is here and you know what that means, don’t you?  That’s right, it’s back-to-school time everywhere.  Open the newspaper or turn on the TV and you are inundated with ads and commercials for every item your entitled little geniuses need.  With that as a backdrop, here’s this weeks WO’s (worthless opinions).

1.  Everyone line up, please.  Single file.  Let’s take a seat in Professor B’s classroom.  Every school has that teacher that’s a little off-center but so sincere and bright that he becomes a favorite.  That’s Jon Beekhuis.  Every broadcast he explains something that helps me understand the engineering marvels of racing and how these concepts affect the teams and drivers.  Class, pay attention.

2.  Sometimes it takes a practical lesson for students to see the value of their knowledge.  After the deluge at Mid-Ohio and the tragic lightning strike at Pocono, it behooves us to pay attention to weather warnings.  I met Brian Nuedorff (@NASCAR_WXMAN) at IMS last week.  His real job is a TV meteorologist in Idaho, but he is an avid NASCAR fan and provides up-to-the-minute forecasts for fans of the various NASCAR series.  Like most bloggers/social media types, he does it for free.  Leading up to the red flag at Pocono, he was screaming on Twitter to stop the race and evacuate the stands.  It didn’t happen in time.  As someone who has managed large events for a living, I can tell you that there is a certain inertia in making the decision to evacuate a facility.  Is your information accurate?  Do you have a plan?  What effect will it have on the event?  What effect will it have on everyone involved in the event?  The simple answer is to say “do the right thing.”  Right is always easy to ascertain in the past tense.  It’s much more difficult in the present.  Here’s a link to Brian Nuedorff’s response on the Pocono weather situation on Sunday.  Read it, please.  And the next time lightning is in the area of an event you are attending, do the right thing and seek shelter.  Don’t wait to be told.  Trust yourself to do the right thing; don’t wait for someone else to make your decision for you.

3.  Justin Wilson is the strong “B” student in class.  He pays attention, does all of this homework, participates in discussion, but when the test rolls around he just misses an “A.”  After getting spun and not stalling his car, he battled back as best he could to soldier home in 18th.  Sometimes a teacher just wants to give a kid an “E” for effort.

4.  Every class has a kid who cuts up, makes jokes, and basically keep a smile on everyone’s face, whether you are a teacher or student.  Josef Newgarden is that kid.  Teachers want to discipline him, but he just ends up making them laugh.  Newgarden almost cracked the top ten this week.   He ran up front until the second half of the race.   Let’s have a short Socratic seminar using this question:  HOW IN THE HELL DOES THIS GUY NOT HAVE A SPONSOR?  Please discuss following the Socratic rules.  What?  Not familiar with them?  Damn American educational system.  Just watch this video and talk among yourselves then.  You won’t see this kind of stuff in NASCAR, class.

5.  After lap 4, ABC/ESPN/NBC showed a graphic on the biggest movers.  Graphs and charts are always a hit when doing multi-media presentations.  It listed Newgarden and Conway at +4, Tags and Barrichello at +3, and Viso at +2. I liked this; however, it would have been nice to SHOW SOME OF THE PASSES.  You have to support your assertions with proof.

6.  Just like the over enthusiastic student who becomes enamored with props and graphs during a presentation, ABC/ESPN/NBC followed that up later with a new graphic that showed Simona de Silvestro,  James Jakes, and Ed Carpenter as the new biggest movers.  Now I was really confused.  I didn’t see those passes, either.  Just like a student who finds facts while researching but does not think about those facts, our broadcasters missed that those passes occurred during pit stops.  Give yourself extra credit if you noticed this.

7.  The booth crew of Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekuis, and Wally Dallenbach did a fine job of explaining the 2-stop versus 3-stop strategies.  It made me long for a yellow flag to allow the 3-stoppers to cozy up to the 2-stoppers.  The back and forth between Beekhuis and Dallenbach explaining these situations works.  That’s the kind of classroom discussion you need: disagreement without animosity.  Both of them are willing to be convinced by the other.  Poor Bob chimes in occasionally trying to draft off their knowledge.

8.  Every class has the answer guy who always knows the right formula, law of physics, or equation for any situation.  In this IndyCar class, the valedictorian is going to come from either the Penske or Ganassi families.  They always have the right strategy and the right fuel mileage.  And to top it off, they’re cool, too.  You are always a little jealous of their seemingly effortless success, at least until you see how hard they work to be cool and successful.

9.  Push-to-pass was…something.  Sometimes the newest fashion you see in a catalog or on a mannequin just doesn’t quite work when you wear it to school.  That’s push-to-pass.  The five second delay seemed like a good idea to prevent it being used as a defensive measure.  The problem with the new iteration seems to be that the driver has to stay on the gas or the button clicks off.  This pretty much means that you can’t use the PTP in a corner if you are not accelerating.  Not only does the driver have to plan to push the button five seconds before it takes effect, he needs to plan to push it at a time when he is on the gas.  In other words, it’s FUBAR.  I think IndyCar needs to dial it back to how they had it.  Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey comes to mind here.

10.  Every student in school needs an assignment notebook with a calendar to plan what they need to do and when they need to do it.  I think it’s time for Randy Bernard to start filling his in.  We only have three races left.  Three!  Next year, IndyCar needs a solid schedule put together as early as possible.  Bernard says 19 is the number of races IndyCar needs to fully activate sponsorship and stay current with the public.  He also says the promoters need to pay up front.  Total agreement here.  Just my opinion, but the schedule for next year is vital.  IndyCar needs the traction that a firm schedule provides to induce sponsorship, both at track and on TV.  This test will not be graded on a curve.

Those are my WO’s (worthless opinions) for this week.  Now please excuse me.  I’ve been told to stand at the board and write “I will compose better WO’s next time.”  It seems I got caught cribbing from the Internet.

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