Yeah, the title is kind of damning with faint praise, but it is not totally true. The race had much to like, and quite honestly, for the Verizon IndyCar Series meeting expectations is kind of a big deal. Expectations, meet IndyCar.
- As expected, Team Penske dominated the day. Was there ever any doubt? The best shocks, a Chevy motor, and that 50 year Indy thing. If this happens all year, well, just expect it.
- Additionally, Juan Pablo Montoya defies expectations. He is not too old, fat, or cautious. He also seems not to care a whit about what anyone expects. IndyCar can expect a new champion this year.
- Chevy, once again, is preparing to eat Honda’s lunch. Did you expect otherwise? Honda has been playing catch-up since last year’s aero mistakes. Even with this year’s obvious gains, Honda is still behind. Can the new motor updates coming down the pipeline even things up? Expect Honda Performance Development to add the power.
- What’s a race without a victim? At St. Pete, Graham Rahal was victimized by the the optimism of Carlos Munoz. Nobody is a better victim than Graham Rahal. You just know that gesticulations will follow every time he feels wronged. And he feels wronged often.
- What’s even more expected than the victimizing of Graham Rahal? The expected self-immolation of Marco Andretti, of course. It seems Marco is snake bitten. And it appears he carries his own snake. After working his way up the grid, Marco managed to spin and hurt what looked like a pretty good car. If he can keep his foot-shooting pistol in his holster, Marco may surprise this year.
- You can always expect the Verizon IndyCar Series to have at least one driver each year who cannot get out of his, or anyone else’s, way. It appears Carlos Munoz is meeting that expectation. After causing the multi-car kerfuffle in Turn 4, Munoz managed to also end Conor Daly’s bid for a podium. While it would be nice to hang a black hat on Munoz, he’s just too darn nice. He accepted blame for all his transgressions. What kind of IndyCar driver does that? Munoz needs to attend a seminar at the Graham Rahal School of Victimization.
- If experience has taught us anything, it’s that Conor Daly can wheel a race car. Every time he gets in an IndyCar that doesn’t catch on fire, he competes. Thanks to some Dale Coyne strategy, Daly found himself with a chance for a podium finish, at least until Carlos Munoz found him. Expect a podium for Daly this year, and maybe a chance to move to a better funded team in the future.
- As always, viewers can expect ABC to miss passes and follow the wrong battles. On the other hand, ABC’s pit work is great. Speaking of ABC’s booth, could Eddie Cheever be a bigger shill for ABC’s broadcast of the Indianapolis 500. I forgive him completely for that. I feel the same way.
- If you agree with IndyCar honcho Mark Miles’ belief that IndyCar is growing, then you had to be excited by the TV numbers. A 1.09 might not open any floodgates of sponsorship money, but they don’t close any, either. Of course, there were no NCAA tourney games and NASCAR didn’t start until later in Phoenix. Good to have a TV partner willing to find a nice slot. I sure hope we can expect more of this.
I certainly hope this met your expectations. If not, just remember the words of Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar: “If you expect nothing from somebody, you are never disappointed.”