Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day of Racing Part 2: Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a relatively simple looking 2.5-mile oval with not a heck of a lot of banking in the corners.  So why is it that the race is continually exciting, year after year?  Well, that's obvious.  There's 33 people driving around it at over 200MPH.  When you put that many people on the track, there's going to be plenty of battles for position, and when you're going 500 miles, plenty of pit stops to mix things up.  Also crashes.  But mostly the fast driving.

Dario Franchitti absolutely dominated the race, leading the vast majority of the laps and taking the well-deserved victory.  However, my personal award for driver of the day goes to Tony Kanaan.  He had an absolutely horrible qualifying result, 32nd, and changed his chassis before the race, which carried a penalty that put him dead last.  Before the race was over, he had worked his way up to 2nd place.  If he had only had a slightly better fuel strategy, he could have won and become the first person to win from the back row, as well as the first person to win from last place.  Unfortunately he had to pit for fuel in the closing laps and finished 11th.

The race finished under caution because on the last lap, Mike Conway completely ran over the left side of Ryan Hunter-Reay's car, sending them both to the outside wall and Conway flying through the air.  His car was torn to shreds, but thankfully he survived with only a minor leg injury.  So yeah, even though they're going fast, the cars are very safe.  All that debris that flies everywhere?  Those are the parts of the car that are designed to absorb the force of impact so that the driver doesn't have to.  Essentially everything, including the engine and gearbox, is a shock absorber in that situation.  That stuff definitely did its job today as Conway's car didn't have really anything left attached to it when he finally came to a stop.

We couldn't watch a good race without having some good food.  Every year my dad gets people's sandwich orders and we go to Subway to get sandwiches before the race.  My car turned its 100,000th mile on one such trip to Subway a few years back.  In addition we had some good beer from Blue Mountain Brewery, and I brought some soda to have after my beer since I was driving (an Orange Fanta Zero and a Cherry Coke Zero).  The beer was good, the soda was good, the sandwiches were good, and the race was good.  I can't ask for much more.

There were some bullshit blocking penalties (and a couple warranted ones) called early on but once race control got the stick out of its ass, there wasn't anything else getting in the way of the race.

With this win, Chip Ganassi becomes the first car owner to win the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same year.  As long as we're talking history, the Indy 500 itself had its 200th different leader in this race (Justin Wilson).

I guess we'll have dinner in half an hour or so and then it'll be on to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600.  Thanks to television, I can go to Istanbul, Indianapolis, and Charlotte all in one day.  I don't really watch anything on TV other than auto racing, because non-live American entertainment is kind of balls.

Stay tuned for part 3.

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