FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 2013 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

First Impressions, IndyCar — By on August 25, 2013 8:38 pm
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Following a highly eventful race at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, the More Front Wing team offers our first impressions of how it all transpired.

STEPH’S IMPRESSIONS:

Well, I think that turned out to be a fairly different race than we all expected! That looked more like a Toronto or a Baltimore than a Sonoma by the end. What a strange juxtaposition to have a race like this immediately follow Mid-Ohio, where there wasn’t a single yellow flag and fuel economy was the only big story to tell.

On the biggest headline in this one, I was originally opposed to the penalty. But after hearing Beaux Barfield’s explanation, seeing that contact with a crew member is outlined as an automatic penalty in the rulebook, and watching the overhead replay myself, this was one situation where I was grateful that Beaux was given free reign to explain himself because he absolutely made the correct call for the correct reasons.

Whether all of those other penalties were necessary — and what on earth possessed the drivers to drive such that they drew those penalties to begin with — are much longer stories for another day. And it bears repeating that it’s never a good day when race control is the biggest story. We all hoped those days were over.

In the end, I think a slightly cleaner and less controversial race would have been nice, but I’m much happier to have lots to talk about in the coming days. Would that we should be so lucky to have the same coming out of Baltimore when we have a raceless month to fill!

 

PAUL’S IMPRESSIONS:

Well, that was interesting.  From the early race demolition derby to the late race controversy between Scott Dixon and Will Power, this race was disjointed and lacking flow throughout the entire 85-lap run.  That said, I did find it mildly entertaining and not because tempers flared afterwards.

I know we will talk at great length on this week’s podcast about the Dixon penalty, so I don’t see the need to belabor the point here.  In short, I would have been fine whether the penalty was not called, but by my very personality, I’m a very black and white person.  I haven’t seen any of the post race, so I haven’t seen the overhead replay that I’ve read about or heard Beaux Barfield’s comments.  While texting Steph immediately after the penalty, however, I told her my position — if Power’s crew member and tire were both completely within the confines of the pitbox for the #12 car, the penalty for Dixon was justified.  If any part of the crew member or equipment was in Dixon’s box, then it was a bad penalty.  For too many years, IndyCar and its fans were subjected to calls from Race Control that were inconsistent and seemingly handed down arbitrarily.  In this situation, contact on pit lane is very clearly identified in the rule book as a punishable offense.  It’s black and white.  Dixon either hit someone or something in another team’s pitbox or he didn’t.  If he did, then there is a clear penalty for that.  End of case.  Like I said, we’ll beat this horse dead later this week.

I was very excited to see some great runs throughout the field, though, unfortunately, many of them were squandered by contact and penalties.  Ryan Briscoe and James Davison both looked fantastic through much of the race.  JR Hildebrand had a strong performance for Barracuda Racing.  Tony Kanaan started off strong before he rear-ended Hildebrand.  Even James Hinchcliffe seemed to shake the monkey that he has been battling a bit with another strong performance.

All in all, another decent race but probably not one that will ever been held up as the standard of professionalism.

 

JOHN’S IMPRESSIONS:

Well, that definitely wasn’t the typical Sonoma snooze fest! The turn 7 demolition derby (I lost count), Dixon’s penalty call, Justin Wilson’s strong run, and Will Power’s long overdue return to victory lane made this an interesting event.

Dixon’s penalty call will be hotly debated for sure, but the only thing not in debate is that it definitely played a part in the outcome of the race. Indycar has a job to do in race control, though, and that call has to be made whether it’s the first and second place cars or the ninth and tenth place cars. To suggest that someone shouldn’t be considered for a penalty due to their position in the championship is asinine.  Beaux Barfield face the music and gave a good explanation of his reasoning, and I wish that fans could all have seen the angle he talked about showing the wall signs that differentiate the pit boxes. That said, most fans opinions will still be based on which driver they prefer, and that’s fine too.  I understand Dixon’s consternation, but safety on pit lane has to be paramount. To suggest that someone would blatantly try to get run over by a speeding Indycar is pushing it just a tad, though.  Hopefully in the future Indycar will save itself some headache and put marks down for your pit boxes to make it stand out more. It’s an easy fix.

Oh, and put onboard starters on the cars for crying out loud! If they are spec, they all weigh the same!  Should make for plenty of conversation when the teams unload in Baltimore…

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CHAD’S IMPRESSIONS:

So this is how it ends? This is how Will Power’s 484 day winless streak is snapped? Obviously he is good here (3 wins & a runner up finish) but Power shouldn’t have won today, in my opinion.  I don’t blame Scott Dixon for voicing his displeasure just after getting out of his car. I don’t know if I agree that the move was intentional (who actually wants to get hit by an IndyCar), but I do believe the crew member wasn’t paying enough attention to the situation.  He could have easily avoided the car.  Beaux Barfield’s explanation made little sense at the time he gave it, shortly after the race. You can understand his reasoning, but it doesn’t make logical sense. In the end though, Penske is all smiles heading into Baltimore with the monkey off Will’s back, and a 31-point swing in the championship for Helio Castroneves.

The race itself was entertaining, although it seemed like it was a dirt track race early on. There should be plenty to talk about between now and next week’s race.

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