Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New era in F1 begins down under

Formula One opens its 2014 season down under in Melbourne, Australia this week, and when the cars finally hit the track, a lot will look, and sound, different. New Technical and Sporting Regulations have caused teams to be busy at work over the winter, and it won’t take long for a new order to establish itself in this new era in F1.

New look
After years of stability in both chassis and engine design, F1 made drastic changes to its Technical Regulations for 2014. Front wings are narrower, an attempt to eliminate at least some of the rear tire punctures seen when overtaking attempts go askew. Changes in the rear wing will lessen downforce and create less turbulence.
The most noticeable changes will be the result of a required lowering of the chassis and the nose, both related to safety concerns in rear and side collisions with other cars. The result is a variety of rather ugly front-end designs, with “nostrils,” “tusks,” and “anteater nose” the descriptors used most often in preseason testing.

New sound
Cars won’t only look different this season, they’ll sound dramatically different. Gone are the “bullet proof” 2.4 liter V8 engines that revved to 18,000 rpm, and were as reliable as any power plant in the sport’s history. New for 2014 are 1.6 liter turbocharged V6 engines, limited to 15,000 rpms, and required to run to energy recovery systems (ERS).

With new engines come new potential reliability concerns, and this season reliability is more important than ever. In past years, teams were limited to eight engines per driver, per season. New regulations put that number at five, putting even more pressure on the engineers working on these yet-to-be-proven power plants.
Also, in past years, teams could elect to run a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), giving drivers an 80 bhp boost for up to eight seconds with a push of a button. This year, teams will be required to run two electrical motor generators harvesting kinetic and heat energy from both brakes and exhaust. The result will be the delivery of an extra 160 bhp for up to 33 seconds per lap, all without the need to push a button.

New rules
As if new cars and new engines were not enough, new Sporting Regulations tightly constrain the fuel allocation at each race. Cars will be limited to only 100 kg of fuel for the race, a reduction of almost 35% from last season. Not only will races see teams employ fuel saving strategies from almost the first lap, any malfunction in the ERS systems will have catastrophic consequences.

New faces
Of course, a new season means new drivers in the series, as well as the annual shuffle of veteran drivers between teams. All but two teams have different driver lineups for 2014, with only Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg) and Marussia (Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi) standing pat.

Defending Constructors’ Champion Red Bull welcomes Daniel Riccardo to the team, replacing the retired Mark Webber as four-time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel’s teammate. Rookie Daniil Kvyat replaces Riccardo at Toro Rosso.
Ferrari welcomes Kimi Räikkönen back to the fold, replacing Felipe Massa who found an open seat at Williams after Pastor Maldonado took his sponsorship funding to fill Räikkönen’s old seat at Lotus. McLaren released Sergio Pérez, replacing him with rookie Kevin Magnussen, while Perez found refuge at Force India, where he will team with Nico Hülkenberg, coming back to the squad after one season at Sauber to replace Adrian Sutil, who, naturally, went to Sauber to fill the vacancy from Hülkenburg’s departure.

Caterham was the only team to replace both its drivers, settling on Japanese veteran Kamui Kobayashi to team with rookie Marcus Ericsson.

New finish?
Vettel and Red Bull have run away with the last four Drivers and Constructors Championships, and at times have made it look downright easy. F1’s new era should allow for some early season surprises as teams struggle to come to grips with new technologies, strategies and drivers.

Preseason testing saw Mercedes look strong, while the Renault-powered teams, particularly Red Bull, struggled. But, as with most preseason tests, all that means nothing when the red lights go out at Melbourne. What will matter will be who sees the checkered flag first and gets an early competitive lead in what is sure to be a topsy turvy start to a new era in F1. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Viewer Guide to Sunday's Daytona 500

While it may seem like just yesterday that Jimmie Johnson wrapped up his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the engines in America’s most popular racing series have been silent for three months. That silence gets broken this week when NASCAR kicks off its marathon schedule (36 points paying races and two special events) with its biggest race of the season, the Daytona 500. 

The best way to beat back the grips of Old Man Winter is to make your way to sunny (we hope) Florida and take in the race in person. But, if you are stuck at home watching on Fox, below is a quick viewer’s guide to Sunday’s big race.

Familiar faces, different places
A new season means new drivers in new garages, and this year brings about some big changes. For the first time in 13 seasons, Kevin Harvick isn’t driving for Richard Childress. Rather, he teams with Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick in the Stewart-Haas Racing garage, joining fellow incoming veteran, and 2004 Cup champion, Kurt Busch. While it might take a while for fans to readily identify Harvick in the #4 and Busch in the #41, it won’t take either driver very long to establish his presence at the front.

 Replacing Busch in the Furniture Row Racing #78 is Martin Truex, Jr., still finding his way back from being collateral damage in the wake of Michael Waltrip Racing’s clumsy attempt to manipulate the field for last season’s Chase. Ryan Newman moves from Stewart-Haas and finds himself in Childress’ #31. 

A new face will appear at Daytona, but in a familiar number from yesteryear. Rookie Austin Dillon will race in the #3 car of his grandfather Childress, a number missing from Daytona since Dale Earnhardt’s fatal accident at the end of the 2001 race. Dillon won the pole and will lead the field to the green flag on Sunday, and he’ll be a story to follow the entire week.

A driver by another name
The name you will hear most on Sunday, even more so than “Daytona,” is likely to be Danica Patrick. NASCAR legend Richard Petty drew a lot of attention earlier this month when he stated Patrick could only win a race if every other driver stayed home. While he may not have been tactful or politically correct, he might not have been wrong.

 In the past 9 seasons, Patrick has raced in some of the top equipment in both IndyCar and NASCAR, a total of 222 races (116 IndyCar, 60 NASCAR Nationwide, and 46 NASCAR Sprint Cup), and has exactly one victory to show for her efforts. Patrick attracts lots of media and fan attention because she’s a pretty woman in a field of men – she definitely sticks out.

That being said, Patrick does her best on big circuits where the racing is flat out, playing to her strengths and completely avoiding her shortcomings in threshold braking and rolling back onto the throttle. She will give it a good run on Sunday, but look for other competitors to be more likely winners.

The race to get to the race
The purpose of the race’s first 400 miles is to get to the last 100 miles. Unfortunately, some contenders will fall to the wayside, victims of mechanical failures or an accident – it happens every year to at least one big name, and it leaves the door open for some of the sports lesser known names, like Trevor Bayne, winner in 2011, or Derrike Cope, winner in 1990. Expect one or more big name to be on the sidelines by the 400-mile point, with the most likely cause being caught up in another driver’s wreck.

 Then, buckle up for the last 100 miles. Nobody remembers second place at the 500, so the race always brings last lap thrills. With this year’s Chase for the Cup rewarding race victories more than consistent points paying finishes, more of the field will have a ‘win or get wrecked trying’ approach. Don’t leave the sofa the last 10 laps.

So, who wins?
Who knows? The competition in NASCAR is too tough to mark a clear favorite, and the formula rewards racing cooperatively in packs, at least until the final dash to the checkered flag. However, even in the tight field, there is usually an upper tier that comes to the front. You won’t get great odds betting the Hendrick (defending 500 and Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) or Joe Gibbs Racing drivers (Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth), but you’ll likely have an opportunity to celebrate.

Drivers, start your engines!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reno Air Race Champ on Quest for Perfect Lap

On September 15, Steven Hinton piloted Voodoo to his fifth consecutive championship in the Unlimited Gold class at the 50th Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show in Reno, Nevada. The youngest Unlimited Gold champion ever, Hinton has won every Unlimited Gold Final he's competed in. On the Friday of this year's races, Hinton sat with me on top of his Voodoo team'strailer and provided a description of racing at nearly 500 miles per hour, 50-100 feet off the ground, at Reno.

The race starts at 1,000 feet
"Coming down the chute, there are up to ten airplanes, lined up wing tip to wing tip, ten feet apart, 1,000 feet off the ground. The pace plane makes a call, 'Gentlemen, you have a race,' and that point he ...

Click here to read the rest of the post on Yahoo.

Race along on Twitter @RayHartjen. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bits here and there from Silverstone

Round eight of the 2013 Formula One World Championship is complete, and as the teams head to Germany for the next race a week’s hence, a few points come racing top of mind.

Pirelli has a problem, and it’s huge
It’s too early in the investigation as to what properly caused the severe tire woes experienced by teams over the course of the weekend, with at least three left rear tires and one front tire delaminating catastrophically during the race, and numerous other close calls reported from pit lane. It’s hard pressed to imagine kerbing at Silverstone to be responsible, leaving the tires to bear the brunt of responsibility. Pirelli has less than a full week to come to a solution and provide tires for the entire field, a time limit that rules out compounds and constructions that are not already under way. Additionally teams are going to have to make adjustments to how they set up the car, namely with greater air pressure to alleviate the tires “rolling” over the sidewall during heavy lateral loading around high speed corners. It’s a publicity nightmare for Pirelli, whose tire engineers are undoubtedly hoping – praying - for steady rain and the use of rain tires in Germany.

Mercedes is solving its own tire woes
The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have had the pace all season long, winning poles and locking up front rows of starting grids at a wide variety of tracks. The Achilles heel, of course, had been extravagantly harsh tire degradation, particularly on the rears, bringing its race pace to a crawl relative to other front running – and in some cases the mid-field – teams. Rosberg’s second win of the season on Sunday may have been a bit of a gift with Sebastian Vettel’s retirement, but it did serve further proof that Mercedes in making steady progress in curing its chassis’ appetite for chewing and spitting tires. Think Mercedes benefited from over 600 miles of illicit tire tests in the days following the race in Barcelona? You bet they did, and don’t think the rest of the paddock don't notice either, as they also noticed the light slap on the wrist of punishment. Mercedes rolls onto the German Grand Prix with tremendous momentum, and Rosberg and Hamilton will enter the weekend as solid favorites.

Reliability, or the lack of, once again rears its head
Watching Vettel’s Red Bull slow down dramatically and retire was very much a shock, not only to Vettel and his team, but to viewers worldwide. The reliability of the modern day Formula 1 car is staggering, with retirements due to mechanical failure being extremely rare, despite regulations limiting the number of engines used during the season and penalizing excessive gearbox changes. Much of F1’s era of reliability can be attributed to a relatively stable package of Technical Regulations, particularly those governing engines. All that changesin 2014, as cars will have to be completely redesigned to accommodate a dramatically different engine configuration. Everything in the engine will be different, with just six cylinders, the introduction of a turbo charger, a new ignition system to accommodate the turbo, and an increase in the amount of energy created, stored, and spent by the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) system. For the rest of this year, non-contact related retirements should remain pretty rare; however, expect it to swing next season to the opposite direction, particularly early in the year. That is if the Pirelli tires don’t get them first.

Mark Webber is on a mission
Don’t let Webber’s comments on the podium of not knowing where the next race’s location is fool you. Webber knows exactly where the race is, and while as a competitor he no doubt wants to win at every track, he especially wants to foil teammate Vettel’s attempt to win his first home country Grand Prix. With Webber announcing this week his move to Porsche and sports car racing next season, he’s racing for himself and for race wins. After falling to 15th on Sunday’s first lap, he stormed back magnificently to finish second, and if the race had been a lap or two longer, he might just have won.  Always a fast, fair driver and a fierce competitor, Webber will be fun to watch over the rest of this, his final F1 season.

The best part of the Formula 1 season is upon us, with a quick succession of one race after another. Here’s hoping the tires become much less of the story next Sunday at the Nürbergring. 

Throw down hot laps on Twitter @RayHartjen

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Early season F1 drivers’ grades

With a short schedule gap before the 2013 Formula 1 season resumes at Silverstone, it’s time for a look back at the first 7 races and hand out slightly early mid-term grades. It’s not as easy as going down the rankings and giving A’s to those on top and F’s to those on the bottom, as expectations vary widely up and down the grid. So, without further ado, below is one take on grades for F1’s group of drivers.

Sebastian Vettel - A
Three victories from 7 races and a comfortable 36 point lead in the Drivers’ Championship gives Vettel his familiar “top of the class” position. Vettel looks to be the odds on favorite to win his fourth consecutive championship, and at only 25 years of age, it might just be the beginning. He’s coming off a dominant performance in Canada, and his form of late has most people forgetting his huge dick move on teammate Mark Webber in Malaysia. 

Fernando Alonso - B
A tough grade for Alonso, but one deserved after his boneheaded move in Malaysia, where he passed on coming into the pits at the end of the first lap to fix his damaged front wing, only to see his race end spectacularly in the first corner of lap two, the result of the complete failure of said wing. That one mistake cost Alonso podium point, and the 36 point gap to Vettel might be more than the talented  Spaniard can make up over the remaining 12 races.

Kimi Räikkönen - B
It can be argued Räikkönen deserves a higher grade, what with one victory and 3 second place finishes, and a belief in the paddock that the Lotus chassis is as good as it’s going to get with very little developmental funds on hand. However, Räikkönen’s last two results have been sub-par performances, from him at least. Räikkönen is still Mr. Consistency in scoring points, but he needs much more than 9th and 10th as race results if he’s going to maintain his status as a championship contender.

Lewis Hamilton – A-
Hamilton has done better than many pundits expected in moving from McLaren to Mercedes this season, a move that in the rear view mirror looks like a stroke of genius by the young Brit. Hamilton has secured three podium finishes for Mercedes, and has shown pace in qualifying. Only the chassis’ disastorous showing in Spain has held up Hamilton, that and the pace of his teammate, Nico Rosberg.

Mark Webber – B-
After suffering a second place in Malaysia after teammate Vettel’s ultimate dick move, Webber needed to respond by soundly out qualifying and out racing his teammate and rival. That hasn’t happened. Rather, Webber looks a bit inconsistent and lost with this year’s Red Bull, and his results are not in line with what the expectations are for arguably the best car in the field. It’s not too late for Webber to turn it around, and he’ll need to in order to enjoy any satisfaction in what certainly is his final year at Red Bull.

Nico Rosberg – A-
Rosberg has stepped up his game with the arrival of close friend Hamilton as teammate, outpacing his more esteemed teammate more often than not and being rewarded with a win at Monaco, only the second Grand Prix victory of his career. Rosberg’s struggle continues to be tire degradation in his recalcitrant Mercedes, and the resultant inability to keep race pace with the title contenders. However, if Mercedes can learn to be kind to its tires while still maintaining its blistering pace, Rosberg has a real chance to climb the top step of the podium several more times this year.

Felipe Massa - D
Massa’s season can be summed up in 3 words: !) Not, 2) Good, and 3) Enough. He’s had brief flashes of brilliance, out-qualifying teammate Alonso on a couple of occasions. However, those great days have been outnumbered by bad race finishes and crumpled race cars. Massa’s job for the remainder of the season is to out-score Red Bull’s Webber if Ferrari has any hope of the Constructors’ Championship. He needs to do that in each of the next five races before “silly season” blooms full. If not, expect Webber in the Ferrari seat next season, and Massa in IndyCar.

Paul Di Resta - B
Di Resta has been quick in practice and the race, and deserving of a grade higher than a B. But, it’s a team sport, and Di Resta’s Force India team has hampered him with a couple of costly qualifying miscues, requiring some Sunday heroics just to gather a few odd points. If Force India can put together a complete weekend, don’t be surprised to see Di Resta visit the podium before season’s end.

Romain Grosjean – D
Grosjean’s is a familiar story for him. A flash of brilliance – this year a nice podium finish in Bahrain – punctuating a dismal year of crashes and inconsistent driving. Grosjean has an opportunity – perhaps his last opportunity – in a fairly competitive car. He has the rest of the season to take advantage of it.

Jenson Button C-
Button is known as a smooth, steady racer that can make the most of a car’s ability. However, he is unproven as a lead driver directing the creation and development of a car, and his McLaren is in dire need of development. Moreover, Button has been pushed, and often surpassed, ,by his brash young teammate, Sergio Pérez, and his holding onto an increasingly tenuous position as team leader.  

Adrian Sutil – C+
Two good races, 5 poor ones; put together and Sutil struggles along at the middle of the class, not particularly noticed. However, considering Sutil had to knock the rust off of a year away from F1, he has shown good form. Like  Di Resta, if the Force India team can put it together, Sutil can eye a possible podium, particularly on circuits like Spa and Monza later this summer.

Jean-Éric Vergne – C+
Vergne has responded to the challenge and his Toro Rosso team is moving toward being the class of the mid-field runners. With Webber’s Red Bull seat likely open for 2014, both Torro Rosso drivers will be considered as potential replacements, and Vergne’s form of late puts him squarely in that conversation.

Sergio Pérez - C
Pérez’s start to the year was abysmal, and then he turned a bit of corner in races 4-6, showing great aggression and determination, and developed to be quite the pain in the neck of teammate Button and others like Lotus’ Räikkönen. Pérez’s second half will be dependent on how the McLaren team develops its chassis, as one gets the feeling Pérez is pushing the car to its absolute limits.

Daniel Ricciardo – C-
Riccardo’s rather strong start to the season has faltered of late, but his Torro Rosso seems to be on the upswing. The next 5-10 races will be critical for Riccardo, with results determining where he might race next year, with everything from a seat to Red Bull to a seat on the sidelines as a spectator a possibility.

Nico Hülkenberg – C-
A season to forget thus far for Hülkenberg, with his former team Force India looking strong while his new team Sauber taking a rather big step backwards this year in relative performance. Hülkenberg has plenty of reason to race the next couple of months, as he’s a strong candidate to be driving the second Ferrari next season.

Pastor Maldonado – D
A race winner last year for Williams, Maldonado is not a factor this year, and continues to find creative ways to cause contact with other cars. Never boring to watch, Maldonado is being watched closely, as his Venezuelan financial backing is at considerable risk, and without quick improvement, Maldonado might be enjoying his final races in F1.

Esteban Guitérrez – C-
Guitérrez’s horrible start to the season left no room but to go upward, and he has done just that, albeit in baby steps. With his Sauber improving gradually as well, Guitérrez appears to be on the cusp of earning his first world championship points.

Charles Pic – D
Switching from Marussia to Caterham this season hasn’t changed much for Pic, as he is still on the outside looking in for his first championship points.

Giedo van der Garde - D
Formula 1 is tough on any rookie, particularly a rookie with a back marker chassis. Van der Garde has struggled to find his way, and in Canada even struggled to stay out of the way.

Jules Bianchi - I
Bianchi earns an Incomplete, as he’s done enough with the handcuffed Marussia to draw attention up and down the pit lane, but hasn’t really delivered results in practice, qualifying, or races. The riddle remains, what can Bianchi do in a competitive chassis?

Max Chilton - D
Although in a different color car than van der Gaarde, Chilton is in the same situation. He’s gaining experience and learning the circuits, but Chilton can only hope the stars align for Marussia to compete for a point this season.

Valterri Bottas – I
Bottas gets an Incomplete. Clarly talented, the Finnish rookie showed the best of his skills in qualifying third under slick and changing track conditions in Montreal. However, his Williams is a sitting duck on a dry race track, unable to contend positions with any teams other than Caterham and Marussa. 

Race along on Twitter @RayHartjen

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Will an aggressive Sergio Perez force a change of how F1 is governed?

In the past several years, Formula 1 officials have made it clear that causing “unnecessary accidents” with other drivers will result in penalties. A relatively minor infringement might garner a time penalty of twenty seconds. More serious mistakes might bring a grid penalty of five to ten positions at the next grand prix. Repeated offenses can even bring a race ban, like that experienced by Lotus driver Romain Grosjean just last summer.

At the Monaco Grand Prix a couple of weeks ago, the racing was a predictable single file affair of follow the leader, as the tight, twisty circuit through the streets of Monte Carlo traditionally makes overtaking nearly impossible. If you don’t pass cars through pit stop strategy and execution, you’ll likely finish where you started, moving up only through the attrition of others.

Unless you’re super aggressive.

Unless, like two weeks ago, you’re driver Sergio Perez racing your McLaren. 

On several occasions, the super aggressive Perez barreled out of the tunnel and dive bombed a rival under heavy breaking into the Nouvelle Chicane. Without touching other drivers, at least during the majority of the race, he was able to make it work, even without executing a clean overtaking maneuver.


Drivers like Ferrari’s esteemed Fernando Alonso fell victim to the tactic. With a quick glance in the left side mirror, Alonso determined if he stayed on course, Perez would likely run into him, ruining both of their races. Prudence suggested he short-cut the chicane, to prevent an accident and continue the race in one piece, in his current position.

All of that sounds great until … stewards penalized Alonso for shortcutting the course to maintain the position. The judgment required Alonso to give up the position on the track, and at Monaco, unless it’s raining and you’re Aryton Senna, that’s a position not likely to be recovered.

What’s the difference between a hero and a zero? Imagine the consequences if Alonso stayed on his line through the chicane. The corner would clearly be his, and any contact from Perez, from behind and on the side, would be squarely the preventable cause of Perez; a preventable accident perhaps punished by a penalty.

Requiring Alonso and others to relinquish a position kept by likely preventing an accident the cause of the aggressive Perez raises an interesting dilemma. The rules are black and white. Short-cutting the course to save or gain a position requires giving up that position. Negligently causing preventable contact requires a penalty. But, what if one does one to avoid the other? After all, getting caught up in another’s poor judgment ruins your race to.

Monaco is a unique circuit and often delivers unique circumstances and results (OlivierPanis, anyone?). However, don’t expect Perez’s aggressive driving style to be a Monaco one-off.  Plus, don’t think for a second every other driver is going to school and thinking, “Hey, that seemed to work.”

Canada is next up on the F1 schedule this weekend. There’s a lot to suggest this is a story that just might have legs the rest of the season.

Run hot laps on Twitter @RayHartjen

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Winners and Losers from Indianapolis

More than any other race, the Indianapolis 500 can make or break an entire season, and in some cases – Buddy Lazier and Buddy Rice, for example- entire careers. Sunday’s race proved no exception, as the month of May saw its winners and losers at Indianapolis.

Winner:  Tony Kanaan
Of course, the obvious winner was the, uh, race winner, Tony Kanaan. A sentimental favorite of both the IndyCar community and the fans at Indianapolis, Kanaan broke through his hard-luck past and finally celebrated with his long-awaited drink of milk. Since his rookie year in 2002, Kanaan had led races – at least one lap in each of his first seven starts - and even qualified for the pole in 2005. Frustrated by a second and third place finishes, and finishes under the yellow preventing him from any last lap dramatics, karma came full circle and provided Kanaan a win when the yellow caution flag flew moments after Kanaan burst into the lead on a restart on lap 197. Always a master at starts and restarts, it’s fitting Kanaan’s victory came as a result of one of his primary strengths.

Winner:  Andretti Autosport
So, neither Marco Andretti or any of his four teammates at Andretti Autosport ended up in Victory Circle, the entire organization flexed its muscles as the team to beat for the remainder of this year. Recall, it was just a couple of years ago when Andretti Autosport had difficulty even qualifying for Indy, with Danica Patrick barely squeaking into the field and Ryan Hunter-Reay missing out entirely (he raced only after owner Michael Andretti bought the qualified car of Bruno Junqueira and put Hunter-Reay into it). This year, Andretti drivers were fast off the truck, and showed their muscle in the race, with Carlos Munoz, Hunter-Reay and Andretti taking 2nd, 3rd & 4th.

Loser:  Honda
First, traditional series stalwart Honda was locked out on pole day, as the fast nine qualifiers shooting out for the pole position all boasted Chevy power plants. Then, race day provided insult to injury, with various Chevy drivers continually shuffling the lead, allowing Honda-powered drivers a spot at the front only when green flag pit stops temporarily shuffled the order. Honda looked lost all month, and it appeared they lacked the needed power to overtake down Indy’s long straights.

Winner:  Carlos Munoz
Sunday’s Indy 500 was not only Munoz’ IndyCar debut, it was also the first race of any kind where pit stops were necessary. All Munoz did was run up front all day, battled for the lead and positioned himself for a last lap dash at victory. If it wasn’t for the yellow flag ending the race toward the checkereds, he very well might have found himself in Victory Circle.

Loser:  Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Target Chip Ganassi struggled all month at Indy, with Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti qualifying mid-field and then seemingly anchored there throughout the race. When defending champ Franchitti wrecked in Turn One with three laps to go, he essentially ended the race and provided a fitting close to what proved to be a frustrating and forgettable month for Ganassi. 

Winner:  IndyCar
A record number or leaders and a doubling – yes, doubling! – of the record number of lead changes from just one year previous showed Indy has begun to regain its lost mojo of the early 90’s heyday. True, the racing was more or less single-file, but at least the point car changed often, as the leader had a “sitting duck” aura about him.  The race was another step in the right direction, and it’s up to IndyCar to maintain the momentum through what has in the past been the humdrum part of its season.

Go two-wide on Twitter @RayHartjen