On Saturday we were treated to the second of our five ovals on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, and man was it awesome! This was truly a race that had it all! We had great racing that did not require cars to be all over each other for the full race, and we had mechanical failures, meaningful passes, and some drivers a little hot under the collar when it was all said and done. INDYCAR was able to do something though that I have been preaching for the last six months and that was offer a creditable race on the heels of the mess that was Belle Isle.
I am not going to jump on here and say that we should drop the number of road and street course races because of what we saw this weekend, but it does not really hurt the argument that we need more oval races on the schedule. I don’t think there needs to be a rule that says the schedule MUST be split, but adding probably three more ovals to the schedule would certainly spice things up and make for a more rounded championship. I also know that if the racing was as good as it was Saturday on the other ovals, I say bring on the other mile and a half tracks like Kansas Speedway. The one thing that we have to try and fix though is the attendance at these NASCAR tracks. Texas looked pretty good, but the track always looks bare when we hit these big speedways not named Indianapolis.
The racing was just amazing. The DW12 really put on a great show. The mushroom buster allowed for some amazing draft passes and did not require the cars to be in a pack like we seen with the old chassis. This made for what I thought was safer racing and answered a lot questions after the Las Vegas race as to high banked mile and a half ovals being feasible for future races. The drivers showed a lot of respect to one another, TK and Will Power’s even aside. The cars were very unstable which reintroduced lifting the throttle through the entry to the corner. That was truly refreshing as anytime you can reintroduce drivers actually driving the cars, it usually results in a damn good show. The balance caught out young drivers like Charlie Kimball all the way up to speedway masters like Scott Dixon who crashed after dominating most of the event. I though Graham Rahal drove an awesome race and really put himself in a position to win, before removing himself from said position. The thing I respect about Graham is that he is truly showing that he can drive on any discipline. That is a true mark of a champion and something that really earned him some brownie points. Dario missed the mark again on the setup and that will be yet another performance he will choose to forget this year. Obviously I was super excited to see Justin Wilson win. Who would have pictured Coyne Racing winning on an oval with Justin Wilson at the wheel? Well after they re-signed Bill Pappas, I guess we shouldn’t be.
Major props go out to Beaux Barfield and Will Phillips for doing a great job inside race control. Beaux has been the guy that has really brought back credibility to the sport. He has been very clear on his penalties and has lived up to the transparency that was promised at the start of the season. The call to black flag Will Power for the block on TK really set an example and proved that no matter who you are, you will be served notice for on track infractions. I really don’t think Brian Barnhardt would have pulled the trigger on Power for that move in fear of having his face punched in after the race. I really can’t say enough about him or Randy Bernard so far this season as they have both been very professional and added that much needed credibility factor to the series.
We know head to Milwaukee for what promises to be another test for the series. Fans cried for Milwaukee to be added to the championship just a year ago. It was added and the fan turnout was laughable. We now go back to Milwaukee again and Michael Andretti has been hard at work promoting this event. The on track product is great as we saw last year, so it will now be up to the series and Michael Andretti to prove they have done the leg work to elevate this event to what it once was. Fans want ovals, but they need butts in seats to justify some of these events existence. Milwaukee needs a strong turnout and the wave of momentum that is the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series may just do the trick!