Rocketships, Redemption, Retention-Texas 2016

What a great race at Texas!  The last lap became a battle of the rocketships. A driver who lost a late lead here four years ago won. The points leader stayed on top and also extended his lead. It was a wild night at Texas Motor Speedway.  The second great oval race in as many weeks produced the fifth closest finish in Indycar history.  Here are some musings from this semi-authoritative source:

Rocketships-

During his ten minute practice, Graham Rahal referred to his car as a “(Not safe for TV) rocketship.”  After the race, James Hinchcliffe called his car a rocketship.  The two rocketships crossed the line virutally together.  Rahal may have had a bigger margin if he hadn’t raised his arm in celebration before the stripe. He made a great over/under move to get to the bottom of the track to get ahead of Hinchcliffe.

Redemption-

Toward the end of the 2012 race at Texas, Rahal had a 10 second lead over Justin Wilson when he brushed the wall in Turn 4.  He continued, but the car had lost its handling. Wilson swept by him to win the race.  Saturday night, he slipped by the leader on the last lap to win. Some tracks seem forgiving in that regard.

Retention-

Simon Pagenaud just might have sewn up the title in this race.  Even though he only added eight points to his lead, and the outcome is still very much in doubt, his decision to drop back from the four wide fight for the lead was a champion’s move.  It was a very different form of points racing.  Still, I admire his desire to fight for a win he didn’t really need until he decided it was best to settle for fourth.

More Thoughts on Texas-

Track president Eddie Gossage went all out in efforts to draw a crowd Saturday. He offered deeply discounted tickets and refreshments, free admission to first responders.  It was great to see a track president tell fans he was sorry about the rainout and the delay in restarting the race, and then do what he could to make it up to them.

Kevin Lee did an outstanding job filling in for Leigh Diffey as the broadcast booth anchor. I hope he gets more opportunities in the future.  It was another great broadcast by NBCSN. I really liked the camera on the wall that showed the cars flashing by. My only issue with the tv crew was talking about points as they run. That is by far my least favorite part of a race telecast. It is a totally irrelevant statistic that means nothing. The only points that matter are the points when they finish.

Was this Ed Carpenter’s last drive? After his accident he said he is excited to be back next year, but we will see.  I think Ed will be a great owner, and that is where his focus should be.

Four of the five ovals on this year’s schedule had great racing. Phoenix was the lone exception. No one could pass, not even to get by to lap a car. I’m glad the other ovals worked out so well.

Points-

Pagenaud leads Will Power by- twenty-eight points now with two natural terrain courses left.  Pagenaud and Power both excel on this type of track, so the battle for the title is still very much on.

Tony Kanaan is now third in the standings. Surprisingly,  Josef Newgarden is only ten points behind Kanaan in fifth despite his last place finish at Texas and top ten runs by both Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, now fourth in points.

 

 

 

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