(Originally posted by Bash to Planet-IRL.com.)
Yesterday’s vibe at Infineon Raceway was fun and relaxed, but Sunday’s was raring to go at the start. Arriving at the track at 9:30 AM, it was already jumping with spectators and the media center was full of folks doing their thing.
The word is that sales were up for this race, and I’d be interested to hear what others in attendance think. The crowds in the garage area and around the grandstand were large, but you can’t judge attendance by density in the main grandstand. Although it’s convenient to the garage and fan zone area, it isn’t the best place on the course to watch the race. The hills out around the turns and backstretch offer the best views, and that’s a better place to gauge attendance.
The weather was much better today with the fog clearing early, warmer temperatures, and less wind.
Against this backdrop, there wasn’t very much that was surprising about today’s events. JK Vernay won his fifth race of the season in Firestone Indy Lights with Charlie Kimball and James Hinchcliffe joining him on the podium. Another notable finish was fifth-place Pippa Mann, who recorded her best FIL finish three weeks after having surgery on her broken left hand.
In the IZOD IndyCar Series race, it was another episode of World Domination by Will Power. He jumped to a lead at the green and only relinquished it briefly to Scott Dixon for a last pit stop. Power topped off the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship he locked down at Mid-Ohio and stretched his overall championship lead over Dario Franchitti by finishing two places ahead of the Scot. Scott Dixon tried in vain to challenge Power for the last few laps, but his tires finally went off and Power took the win.
Surprises at Infineon? Well, you never expect to look out the window as the green flag drops and see Dan Wheldon spinning down the frontstretch on his lid. (Dan is fine.) And although there wasn’t much change at the very front of the field, there was a lot of action through the rest. One thing credited with the increased action was the compounds Firestone brought for this race, a rousing success by all accounts.
Another surprise: hearing Mike King say on the IMS Radio Network that a credible source told him Takuma Sato’s contact with Danica Patrick in Friday’s practice was on purpose. Their contact in the race had Patrick fuming that he’d done it again — although, of course, Sato denied this. That relationship will be interesting to watch as the final ovals unfold.
In closing, I noted the usual complaining on Twitter that this race is a real snoozer. All I can say is: you just gotta be here. There’s a lot more happening than TV can show you, and it’s a special place to see an IndyCar race.