Dull race won’t help open wheel
Sorry, Dario. But all America noticed was that, when you bust a cloudburst over the head of a Hollywood type, she looks pretty much as drowned as anyone else.
What an image to take away from the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, Ashley Judd running through the rain in her bare feet, soaked to the skin. What a lousy day for open-wheel racing – which, if luck were groceries, would be the gallon of milk you accidentally left on the counter to spoil.
A year ago, the Spectacle gives us a spectacle, the single greatest finish in 90 Indianapolis 500s, a momentary bump for a marvelous sport that needs every bump it can get. And how do the fates react?
By saying, “Not so fast, bub.”
By giving us maybe the worst show ever, a race with 11 yellows in 166 laps, a race where people ran into each other more often than stunt doubles in an Allstate ad. A race with a three-hour hole in it. A race with rain at the beginning, and rain in the middle and rain at the end, destroying the natural buildup of tension that makes the 500 what it is and murdering what was shaping up to be another dazzling finish.
“I can’t remember having such a crazy race in terms of weather,” said Al Unser Jr., who’s seen 19 of them.
“It rains, it dries, it rains again. We go around 40 mph aquaplaning. I never thought I’d see that in my life,” Darren Manning said.
“It’s one of those days where you feel you haven’t even raced, sort of like being on the freeway and watching people smash into each other,” Scott Dixon said.
And then, at the end of all that, we get … Dario Franchitti.
Not Danica, who ran as high as second and for a brief, breathless moment, looked as if she might finally break through at the one place where breaking through would have lifted her entire sport. Not Marco Andretti, who led for a while and was up front all day and then, as the skies grew dark again, got upside down in a scary crash that left him looking small and lost.
Not the dashing Englishman, Dan Wheldon. Not Helio Castroneves, the effervescent Brazilian. Not even Tony Kanaan, another fan favorite who dominated all day.
Instead, we get Franchitti, the Flying-Beneath-The-Radar Scot, the least assuming member of the Andretti Green stable. The last person you want to see slamming the milk in Victory Lane if you’re an open-wheel fan because as good a guy and skilled a racer as he is, there is no bounce to him, no Q rating, nothing that moves the needle for the American racing fan at large. More at Fort Wayne Journal Gazette