Ten Worthless Opinions: Auto Club Speedway MAVTV 500 Edition
What better way to end the Verizon IndyCar Series than with a season-ending Ten WO’s (worthless opinions). Some might think the better way to end the season was watching the actual race, but what do the fans know? Don’t waste your time forming your own opinions. In the truly modern American way, let an uniformed, totally biased, on-line media blogger masquerading as a mainstream journalist do it for you. Here you go:
1. How about a slow clap for Will Power? He outdistanced his own racing demons to finally win a Verizon IndyCar Series championship. No drive-through penalties, no overly optimistic passes, no gestures, no shoulder shrugs, just flat out badassery. His passes on the late restart should become legend. He only eased back on the throttle when teammate Helio Castroneves took himself out of contention with an ill-timed penalty. His post race interview as he exited his car really showed the pressure he was under to finally get it done. He had nothing left. Good on ya’, Will.
2. Speaking of Will Power, his brother Damien, a comedian in Australia, live tweeted during the race. Not sure how much was planned or how much was spontaneous, but it certainly was entertaining. You can check it out at @DamienPower01 on Twitter. He may or may not have been drunk. The jury is still out.
3. Yin requires Yang. You can’t speak of the tortured artist Will Power without mentioning the effervescent Helio Castroneves, a gracious and positive championship loser once again. It seems Power’s late season luck has been passed on to Helio. His adventure above the pit-in blend line that resulted in a penalty took him out of the championship picture. A word of advice: remember Lloyd Braun from the Seinfeld series. His mantra was “Serenity now.” That’s Helio, but he needs to know it’s okay to vent. Lloyd Braun changed his motto to “Serenity now, insanity later” when he realized holding all that bad juju in was not a good idea. Let it out, Helio!
4. If you didn’t see it coming, Penske Racing is back with a vengeance. Even though the teams are still making some in-race mistakes such as putting more front wing in for Power instead of taking it out, the triumvirate of Power, Castroneves, and a strangely upbeat and personable Juan Pablo Montoya may be set up to dominate next year. Scary.
5. I am sure that the schadenfreude fans of all sports who live in the Pacific Time Zone feel in the angst of the Eastern Time Zone fans who had to stay up until 1:30 AM to see the post race on NBCSN was sweet. I hope you enjoyed it. Now go back to watching the NFL at 10:00 AM on Sundays. And enjoy F1 and the Premier League at 4:00 AM. Seriously, did the late time really hurt viewership? Since only hard-core fans watch on TV anyway, the numbers might surprise.
6. Should IndyCar continue at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana? Only if you like good racing. Not many cars but there was passing, tire performance falling off, and enough OMG moments to keep it interesting. Although the prerace activities on the concrete and asphalt were beyond hot, the race was run with the sun down. The Verizon IndyCar Series needs to be here. Big ovals are a dying breed in the series. This one in the California racing market is worth saving.
7. A negative for the series on big ovals is car count. Twenty-one cars on a big track looks like ten. Indy will never be a problem, but Pocono and Fontana need more cars and more on track action. It may not look empty on TV, but it sure does in person. And for the big ovals like Pocono and Fontana to survive, they need people in the stands and suites to make a profit for the promoters. Fontana is lucky to have MAVTV signed for a few more years. If they didn’t, this race would be gone. Pocono needs that sort of sponsor security, too.
8. The Dallara DW12 is a beast. Not only is it a great race car generally, it’s a great race car specifically. In both road/street and oval configurations it is racy. If that is not enough, it protects the drivers. Mikhail Aleshin’s wreck was as nasty as they come, a fence-ripping, chassis-shearing shunt that proved once again that form follows function. Build it to be safe then build it to be fast. Dallara has my respect as does, in retrospect, the ICONIC committee that chose it.
9. Enough cannot be said about the Holmatro Safety Team in the Verizon IndyCar Series. They were at the Aleshin accident before the cars stopped moving. They are the best in the racing business, the gold standard. No one else comes close. Additionally, a hat must be tipped to Hulman Motorsports and the Verizon IndyCar Series for continuing to fund this vital piece of each race. In a time when corporate cost-cutting is the number one way to increase the bottom line, they put safety over profit. My utmost respect to both the Holmatro Safety Team and Hulman Motorsports for a dedication to doing what is right.
10. With all its shortcomings regarding a short season, TV ratings, large oval problems, street race comings and goings, and road course disinterest, the Verizon IndyCar Series, week in and week out, puts on the best show in auto racing on the planet. The product is there. It’s up to the suits in corporate to have the vision and to execute the plan to sell it. Everyone else is getting the job done. Even though the off-season for the series is lengthy, it is an important one for the future of the series. Your move, bosses.