Monday, May 29, 2017

Day of Racing 2017

Let's get to it, shall we?

Breakfast: Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco

I'll be honest: my interest in Formula 1 is waning.  It's just not entertaining to watch a two hour parade.  Monaco is perhaps the worst example of this: if you don't qualify on the front row, you have an absolutely terrible chance of winning.  It should come as no surprise, then, that the winner of the Monaco Grand Prix qualified on the front row.

I know, I know, it was a Ferrari front row lockout and it's been forever since they've done that, and it was a Ferrari one-two finish and it's been forever since they've done that, and whatnot.  I don't care.  The only way you can pass at Monaco is via pit strategy, or during the chaos of a race start/restart.  Any other time and you're likely to crash, as Jenson Button found out when he tried to pass Pascal Wehrlein.  The resulting crash put Wehrlein on his side up against the wall and took both of them out of the race.

In other words, the F1 race was rather uneventful.

In typical F1 bureaucracy, Jenson Button was given a three grid spot penalty for the failed overtaking maneuver.  For anyone unfamiliar with it, the F1 race stewards are a bunch of old chaps in suits sitting around a room looking at monitors and saying "you could've done that differently" on occasion, which I equate to your average YouTube commenter who engages in a healthy dose of backseat gaming.  This penalty is to be served on his next qualifying result in this season.  Since this was just a one-off thing, he'll never be able to serve that penalty, and thus penalizing him was pointless.

Lunch: Indianapolis 500

Did I mention Jenson Button up there?  Didn't he retire from Formula 1?  Why yes.  Yes he did.  Why was he back in the car for the Monaco race, then?

Because Fernando Alonso was at Indianapolis.

This move turned a lot of heads and gathered a lot of interest, as well as a lot of bunched panties from butthurt Europeans who consider American auto racing to be a wholly plebeian activity.  I for one don't understand why all the commentators were so surprised that Alonso adapted so quickly.  They spent plenty of time giving him praise for having won two F1 world championships and having raced against the best of the best there (i.e. Michael Schumacher), and then see him having no trouble picking up a slightly different race discipline and fail to add one and one.

I can't say for certain because I've never driven a race car professionally, but for a professional race car driver such as Fernando Alonso, switching disciplines must be fairly similar to a computer programmer learning a new programming language.  The form may be slightly different, but all the core concepts are the same.  It came as no surprise to me that he qualified well and was a factor for the entire race, up until his Honda done blow'd up.  What I took from his interview after his engine let go was that he had way more fun not finishing the Indianapolis 500 than he's had in the past few years in Formula 1.

Other than Alonso, there were a few noteworthy events, namely the crash that took out Scott Dixon in epic fashion as he sailed through the air (and Helio Castroneves drove under him).  Later on, a five-car pileup took out a couple Penske drivers, including Will Power.

At the end, though, it came down to two drivers: Takuma Sato and Helio Castroneves.  Sato was going for his first win after coming so close in years past, and Castroneves was going for his fourth.  Sato is aligned with one faction of the light side of the force, Andretti Autosport; and Castroneves is aligned with the dark side of the force, Penske.  Thankfully Sato held off Castroneves and claimed his first Indy 500 victory.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway may only have four corners, but it produces a far more entertaining race than Monaco.

Dinner: Coca-Cola 600

Because my local Buffalo Wild Wings committed suicide by closing their old location while they're waiting for their new location to be built in an as-of-yet unspecified location, A friend and I had to look for another place to watch this race.  To be honest, I don't really have much of a vested interest in NASCAR, especially this season with the idiotic "stages" thing they're doing, but nevertheless, this day is an important day in auto racing and I'm gonna watch it all.

Partway through there was a red flag for rain.  Fox decided to run a classic NASCAR race to fill the time, and chose the 1987 Winston 500 from Talladega, which happened to have a crash that destroyed the catch fence and brought out a red flag.  So just to reiterate, we were watching a race that had been red-flagged, and the race that had been put on to fill the time was also red-flagged.

They did eventually get going again and the rain stayed away.  It was tough to watch this race, not because of anything that was happening, but because the TV was muted and the captions were off, but I did my best.  With a few laps to go, we were worried that it was going to be JOHNSONWINSLOL, but then I noticed that the gap back to second was gradually going down and people were un-lapping themselves like crazy.  I guess he was trying to save fuel or something, but it didn't work because he ran out with about three laps to go and Austin Dillon inherited both the race lead and the victory, which happened to be his first NASCAR race victory.

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