IndyCar – Homestead Review

The last race of the season was did not offer too much in the way of surprises. Like all of the 1.5 mile ovals this season, it was the Ganassi and Penske show. Right at the beginning of the race, Dario and Dixon provided some great side-by-side action as each of the TCGR drivers fought for lead. There wasn’t much change until Dario had to lift just a bit on Lap 10 which allowed Briscoe to take the position. Dario’s strategy then was one of fuel conservation. Dixon and Briscoe went on to battle for the lead for most of the rest of the race while Dario remained a few seconds behind. The trio seemed to be the only ones on track with any speed as they ended up lapping the entire field. Yes, the top three lapped THE ENTIRE FIELD. So much for parity, eh? Actually, I’m not one to bash on the league for that. There were plenty of battles throughout the grid that made for some exciting viewing, even if they didn’t battle for the lead it was still good racing. The big difference maker in the outcome of the race ended up being fuel strategy. Dario cruising comfortably in third, rather than scrapping with the Dixon and Briscoe, was able to conserve fuel and run a couple of laps longer during each stint. In the end, this meant one less stop for Dario as the other two had to come in for a splash-n-go on laps 192 and 193. Dario crossed the finish line with four seconds between him and Briscoe in 2nd, and with just enough fuel to cut a few donuts. …not quite enough to make it to victory lane, however.

Dario, Dixon, and Briscoe on the podium at Homestead. -- Photo courtesy of Dan Helrigel, Indy Racing League
Dario, Dixon, and Briscoe on the podium at Homestead. -- Photo courtesy of Dan Helrigel, Indy Racing League
The race win for Dario also earned him the series championship with Dixon coming in second in points, and Briscoe in third. I can’t imagine how long the winter will be for Briscoe who dashed his championship aspirations all over the inside pit wall at Motegi. That’s the type of thing people from which people wake up with a start in the middle of the night drenched in a cold sweat. It will be easy for many to look at this final race and claim that Dario simply got lucky on fuel strategy, but keep in mind that Dario set the pole, and at the beginning of the race he was battling hard with his teammate for the lead. His team’s chosen strategy was to run just fast enough to keep contact with the two leaders while saving enough fuel to run a couple laps longer each stint hoping for the exact type of scenario they got at the end of the race.

As for the rest of the grid, Ed Carpenter who showed so much speed during qualifying, seemed to box full of reverse gears as he plummeted from his P4 starting position to end up P12. It was shaping up to be a decent day for AGR until Marco retired with a pile of molten metal where his brake rotors used to be. Marco was running very well and had moved up to fourth before the brake issues cause him to park his car for the remainder of the season. Danica was also have a very good race until the Panther crew chief released Dan Wheldon directly in front of her. Dan went when his team said go, and ran right into the right rear of Danica as she was entering her pit stall. The contact was strong enough to force the retirement of both cars. Its a shame, because Dan was having a decent run as well. The surviving members of the AGR team definitely get the vote for Most Improved during the race. Kaanan started in P15 to finish in P4, and Mutoh started in P19 and finished in P6. Alex Lloyd did well in his first outing for NHL, and it was stated during the broadcast that he would be in that seat full-time in 2010! Having heard nothing about this from any other source, you’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical. I’d love for it to be true, but I’ll not believe it until I see the press release from NHL. Sarah Fisher had a very frustrating day. Her car was quick during practice, but they lost the car before qualifying and never found it again. Sarah languished in the back of the pack all day, but the good news is that she brought the new chassis home in one piece and ready to go for 2010. She’ll even have a teammate for 2010, Jay Howard! I always thought Jay got a raw deal from Marty Roth in 2008, and I’m glad to see him get a chance to rejoin the series with a much more reputable organization.

Well, that’s pretty much a wrap of the Homestead race. We’ll have reviews and recaps of the 2009 season during the long dark off-season, so be sure to check back often. Think I left something important out? Let us know in the comment section below. Lastly, here’s the complete rundown of the finishing order.

1 Dario Franchitti
2 Ryan Briscoe
3 Scott Dixon
4 Tony Kanaan
5 Helio Castroneves
6 Hideki Mutoh
7 Mario Moraes
8 Alex Lloyd
9 Tomas Scheckter
10 Justin Wilson
11 Graham Rahal
12 Ed Carpenter
13 Ryan Hunter-Reay
14 Raphael Matos
15 Mike Conway
16 E.J. Viso
17 Milka Duno
18 Sarah Fisher
19 Danica Patrick
20 Robert Doornbos
21 Dan Wheldon
22 Marco Andretti
23 Jaques Lazier

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One Thought to “IndyCar – Homestead Review

  1. ATB73

    I’m just glad this one is over and in the books. forget it ever happened. Hopefully all the oval races are as good as they were towards the end of the season, in 2010. I thought it was a good race at Homestead. Once it became a strategy, it still was a good show,, I thought they might charge down dario as he nursed it.

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