FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 2014 Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit, Race 2

First Impressions, IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on June 1, 2014 8:44 pm
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The first double-header weekend of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season is now complete. Here’s our take on race 2 from the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit. Feel free to add yours in the comments section at the bottom of the page!

STEPH’S IMPRESSIONS:

I can’t say that race 2 gave me the same warm fuzzies that race 1 did. Once the teams figured out what to do with the reds — i.e., dump them at the earliest opportunity — a decent portion of what added to the drama yesterday was eliminated from today’s event save watching how Mike Conway fared on the opposite tire strategy from the rest of the field early on. Had those two late yellows not fallen there wouldn’t have been much reason to be on the edge of your seat about at the end, and even as it was, as many had predicted, no one really had anything for Helio when all was said and done.

It seems that we’ve come full circle on the penalty calls, though. How is it that Power (finally) draws a penalty, Briscoe punts Sato but doesn’t, Andretti does for putting Sato into the tires, but Kimball doesn’t for nearly driving Hinchcliffe off the road? We must not be getting the replays properly because from this side of the fence that looks crazy, and I heard some more informed people agree with that viewpoint today. This will shortly be something that IndyCar won’t be able to sweep under the rug. (That said, the calls for Beaux’s head are ridiculous. Do you know anyone better qualified who would want his job? I don’t. A revolving door of race directors creates more problems than it solves.)

One major upside: today’s race wasn’t the disaster of a crashfest that last year’s first race 2 was. It seems everyone’s gotten better at keeping their exhaustion in check and their heads about them throughout these marathon weekends, which is an achievement.

We’ve got another six-day turnaround here before we race again, this time at Texas Motor Speedway. Helio fans can rejoice as he’s traditionally strong there and is clearly riding a wave. Let’s see what IndyCar can do this year in Eddie’s house.

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PAUL’S IMPRESSIONS:

Was this even the same track the Verizon IndyCar Series raced on yesterday? While I didn’t have good feelings about the first race of the Detroit doubleheader, I found today’s race to be quite entertaining. It was obvious the course today allowed drivers who had good cars and were really hooked up to move forward while those who were struggling found themselves fading backwards quickly.

I watched the race about 2 hours delayed so I didn’t get to watch the fan response on Twitter come in, but I have to assume the following statement will go against the grain of the general sentiment. I think Will Power’s penalty on the opening lap was the wrong call. Do I think he probably deserved to be penalized? Yes, I do. However, INDYCAR race control this year has set the precendent that side-by-side contact has generally gone unpenalized while front-to-rear contact has drawn the ire of race control. In this case, Power certainly made a low-probability and aggresive attempt but he was ultimately alongside Newgarden when contact occurred. According to precendent, it seems the incident should have gone unpenalized. I don’t agreee with the precendent, but it is the precedent.

After experiencing the high point of his career last weekend, Ryan Hunter-Reay had a disastrous weekend where absolutely nothing went right. I hope this weekend doesn’t destroy his season as Houston did to Helio Castroneves last year. I’m sure Ryan wishes the series was back in action tomorrow so he could get back in the saddle again quickly, but I expect his DHL Andretti Autosport team to bounce back strong like champions when the series returns to action at Texas next Saturday night.

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JOHN’S IMPRESSIONS:

Unlike most it seems, I was actually really captivated by yesterday’s race. Today, though, was a different story. I think the TV crew dropped the ball a bit on explaining how Helio’s strategy got and kept him out front, and there didn’t seem to be as much passing on track. All in all, it made for a relatively lackluster race in my opinion.

IndyCar race control did themselves no favors this race as inconsistency once again ruled the day. A penalty (finally) for Power was backed up with a no call for Briscoe trying a banzai move on Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth that ruined Sato’s race, while Marco Andretti was tagged for a relatively minor contact with Sato that looked much more like a racing incident. Contact in IndyCar seems very much like a game of Russian roulette, as you never know if you’re going to end up on the penalty end of things or not.

I was sad to see Graham Rahal’s race end so early today, as I genuinely wanted to see if he could carry the momentum from yesterday into today, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. On to Texas.

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BASH’S IMPRESSIONS:

It might have been pro-am weekend at Belle Isle: Yesterday the pros raced; today, it seemed the amateurs took the green flag – on the second try – and right away the circus music rang out as Will Power pulled a banzai pass and sent four other cars into barriers/off the course. (Newgarden, Rahal and Wilson accordioned into each other, Kimball used the runoff to miss that pileup.) Race control issued a drive through penalty to Power for causing this mayhem.

Once things settled in, we got to watch Will Power and Scott Dixon work their way up through the field in hopes of challenging Helio Castroneves at the front.

It was all a bit ho hum until 12 laps to go, when Bourdais stuffed it into the tires to bring out another yellow. Helio’s big lead erased, it was time for a shootout with 7 to go. On that restart, Hinchcliffe put on a show making passes, but that was abbreviated by Sato going into the tires with 5 to go. Restart again with 3 laps to go and Helio pulls a nice gap and sails to the win.

Not quite as thrilling as it might have been, but Helio was very strong all weekend and seeing him climb the fence was no surprise.

I have to say this – I am a big fan of the duals weekends and I hope IndyCar adds another one to the schedule as it expands. They definitely add interest and complexity to the overall story lines of a season.

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