The 2011 Indianapolis 500 was one for the ages. After the month of May I was exhausted both mentally and physically. The race this year lived up to all the hype. Here’s my opinion of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Good: Wheldon wins, Dan Wheldon’s whole racing life revolves around the Indianapolis 500. He could have jumped at any offer to race the full IndyCar season but for him it was all about the Indy 500. He was waiting for a team that had a good chance to win and Bryan Herta Autosport was his choice. Couldn’t have happened to a better bunch of down to earth people that love racing. They’re not racing the full season but they are the perfect example of the little team that could. Reminds me of the good old days of the Indianapolis 500 when most teams entered had a chance, not the ones with all the money like in most recent years.
Good: JR Hildebrand and Panther Racing. I’ve never seen such dignity and class after such a heart-breaking finish. JR Hildebrand faced the media right after the accident. Didn’t complain, blame others, or the car. He pointed the finger directly at himself and took all the blame for the accident. Said he felt worse for letting the National Guard and the troops down. Doing so many fans around the world now know what we already did, JR Hildebrand is a class act and you can’t go wrong rooting for a guy like this. Panther Racing took the loss, didn’t file a protest over when the yellow came out and try to win the Indy 500 in court. Thank You Panther we don’t need any more Indy 500′s ending like that. You will get an Indy 500 win in the near future, I believe in karma.
Good: Simona de Silvestro was an inspiration to us all. After getting badly burned and having second thoughts about getting back in the car. She met her fears not only for herself but for all of us watching. Sure her race didn’t have a fairy-tale ending but she’s a hero for what she overcame during the month of May. Simona’s star is shining for IndyCar. To HVM Racing Thank You. From keeping Simona in good spirits and focused to entertaining the fans during the month of May. The created twitter accounts for the primary car of Janet and back-up car of Pork Chop were brilliant and entertaining. More teams should follow your example and interact with the fans more.
Good: Alex Tagliani showed everybody on pole day that the script CAN be flipped. An underdog can come out blazing and shock the world. Not enough can be said about Sam Schmidt, what he’s done this year at Indy will live on forever. From the tears on pole day to reaching out and helping so many others all I can say is Thank You and hope to see you doing it again in the future.
Good: This year Oriol Servia is showing everybody that he still has it. Oriol has done nothing but impress every single race. With Hincliffe as his team-mate 2011 is looking better and better for Newman/Haas. They are back where they belong fighting for the win at every race.
Good: For it being Pippa Mann’s first ever IndyCar race she sure didn’t drive like it. Running most of the race without having any water was unbelievable. She held strong and finished in a respectable 20th place. Not only did she have to get accustomed to the car’s setup and everything that goes with preparing for her first Indy 500 she notified fans through twitter when she was able to give autographs and meet with them. That’s huge and not necessary but she did it because she appreciates and cares about her fans.
Good: Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan, and Tomas Scheckter showed what fearless at Indy is all about. Slicing through the field lap after lap, going from the back to the front numerous times. High side, low side, in between, you name it they did it. I only wish we could have seen in-car cameras for all the edge of the seat action these three created the whole race.
Good: After a terrible showing for Andretti Autosport in qualifying Marco and Danica both regroup and finish a respectable 9th and 10th. Could have been a lot worse with ill-handling cars. Andretti Autosport kept on adjusting the cars and Danica came within a yellow flag of winning it all. Great turn-around from qualifying.
Good: Bertrand Baguette took the lead late in the race and also came close to winning. Proved he deserves to be racing more often. He’s for real.
Bad: Ganassi Racing and fuel problems. What else can be said, all the fuel mistakes that were made during qualifying and the race cost Chip Ganassi big time. What do you want to bet we don’t see that happen again for a long time.
Bad: Penske Racing was never a factor. Yes read that again never a factor. I still can’t believe what I saw. Penske’s top finisher Will Power P14. From pit mistakes to slow ill-handling cars. Shocking and totally unexpected.
Bad: Andretti Autosport not able to get all their cars qualified. Second year in a row with big problems getting the cars up to speed. Tom Anderson was let go because of it. Then buying Bruno’s ride and leaving Bruno packing to go home. I don’t blame Andretti Autosport for doing it I blame the rule. It took all of the excitement out of qualifying. Made it seem like if you don’t qualify it doesn’t matter. As long as you have the cash you’re in. Rule needs to be changed for 2012.
Bad: Paul Tracy, Takuma Sato, and EJ Viso. Tracy got in the marbles and walled it early running by himself came back to finish 25 laps down. Sato crashed on lap 20. Viso crashed with Hinchcliffe going 3 wide into turn one on lap 27.
Ugly: I watched the race on ABC. The pre-race was magnificent, covered all the pageantry, the anthem, and the flyover was breathtaking. The race coverage not so much. From start to finish ABC focused on the cars that were in front. With the double-file restarts I wanted to see everything that was going on throughout the field. That’s where all the action was at. Rahal set a record passing 67 cars, at last count I think TK passed 49. I don’t recall seeing any of them on TV, or maybe a split second of a pass here and there. Cars that were running up front got shuffled to the back with no explanation on the broadcast. I would see cars going three wide and the camera would switch to a car running by itself or show a car pitting. Some cars were a lap down with no explanation given. I was furious, after being able to only take so much I switched to the radio feed of the race. Which was a bit delayed but I received a full explanation of what was happening on track and in the pits. ABC outdid themselves this year with commercials, a few times the race would be shown for a minute or two then go back to commercial. No complaints about the coverage for the last 20 laps but not so the rest of the race. So happy to see Versus will be back for the Texas IndyCar races.
That’s it for now, happy to say I’ll be attending the races in Texas. With the side by side restarts and the random draw for the second race this will be another one not to miss. Look for more posts trackside. Hope to see you there!