no images were foundSo here it is Monday morning and I am still conflicted as many other members of the INDYCAR Nation are with what exactly happened on Saturday night. I tried to sleep on it…then let all the other races finish before writing and I am still as conflicted over it as I was before. The idea was simple and yet has caused much debate about the future formatting of the event. The first round was typical Texas to a point. The cars ran qualifying and the most skilled and best set cars earned the top spots. It was different in the fact that not many pushed overly hard in fear of wrecking and moving to the back up machine. Dario Franchitti destroyed the field and while the margin of victory would not indicate it, those watching seen the pure rocket speed the Ganassi champion had. Race two introduced the lottery system that is now the subject of praise by some or heavy scrutinizing by others. Championship leader Will Power drew 3rd and his Ganassi rival Franchitti started 28th. Dario of course made it back to the top 10 but fell short as Will Power went on to win his first oval race and extended his lead in the driver’s title. Franchitti voiced his irritation with the event and went as far as to say he was “pissed off” and would be even more if he loses the title by as many points or less. Lets look at the good and bad that this ‘spectacle’ produced. This analysis will be from halftime on as again, the first race was pretty typical Texas.
The most important aspect of the halftime draw was driver face time. Nobody can argue that point. The IZOD IndyCar Sereis has a lot of great stories and just good people driving those machines. The problem is that unless you are Penske or Ganassi, you are not getting a whole lot of exposure. Yes, Danica gets a ton and Simona has really come on as a crowd favorite, but everyone else is really a nobody to the casual fan. You must highlight your talent and show them to the world. The blind draw offered that exposure if only for a couple minutes. Some exposure is better than no exposure. The lottery system was also very interesting and enjoyable for the fans because it offered a level of unpredictability. That started to leave as the lower teams picked lower starting positions but returned when both Ganassi cars drew their terrible starting spots. The drivers did a great job for the most part trying to get the crowd into the blind draw and that was very good to see. Newman/Haas driver James Hinchcliffe was really the first to bring the live crowd into the drawing and continued to show why he is a rockstar for his team and the series at large. The signing of the tires to be auctioned off for charity was really special I thought and a great idea.
As far as the racing was concerned, we had some great racing during race two. There were no real close calls that came about in regards to slower cars starting closer to the front. I was surprised that all in all, everyone was well behaved. Even EJ Viso kept his nose clean and secured good finishes in both races. I will admit that I was really surprised at the way the drivers performed on track and was served a piece of humble pie no doubt.
Now time for the bad. There is really only one bad aspect to this that I can think of, and it wasn’t even me who thought of it! I only realized after Dario had mentioned, why did we just run a blind lottery for a championship points paying race? The idea in that context is just stupid. Why would you jeopardize someone’s title run by having them qualify by picking a random tire? Many on Twitter were supercritical of Dario’s comments but love him or hate him, he has a very valid point. If we look at the title and how it has been decided in the recent past, these points are more than enough to lose him the championship over something he had no control of. It is not a reflection of his skill as it is his inability to pick a random number. Is that how we are going to decide titles now? These teams spend millions on trying to win championships and you have just taken it out of there skill and pockets by making it random. By that definition, the event was a joke.
The problem is this, the fans enjoyed the event and that is something the IICS needs badly right now. The event can be positive in pulling in casual race fans. The problem is that it was on Versus and not a wide range of people were aware or probably viewed it. The track attendance was pretty good though. Regardless, the only bad thing that I seen through this gimmick was the fact that you cannot be taken serious if you leave your championship on a potential lotto. While some will accuse me of being a Dario sympathizer (guilty), this would be an issue if the roles were reversed and Power was on the receiving end. A serious championship and a serious that wants to be taken serious in the public eye cannot ruin their championship with something like this. If anything make the first race points paying and let the second represent something close to the NASCAR All-Star event.
I am not going to sit and try to create wways to improve the event and I am not even sure that a simple inversion of the field will work (sandbagging). Let us know what you think a good solution is and let us know what you the fans thought of the Twin 275s. Regardless, given teh caliber of the Formula 1 race in Canada and the 24 hours of Le Mans, this event will be viewed as a let down and a joke by many who continue to search for a reason to criticize Randy Bernard and the series.