Seen at Indy – Race Day

Race day dawned beautiful, but it turned out to be warmer today than it has been since the teams arrived. However, there was no wind to speak of, which helps the drivers immensely here……..The usual pre-race festivities were great and Jim Nabors singing Back Home in Indiana still sends chills up your spine. The tradition is so thick you can cut it with a knife……..Heat or no heat, the Ganassi and Penske cars still had the measure of everyone else on Sunday…………Attendance appeared to be down from last year's with a lot of empty seats in the north chute between turns 3 and 4, the start of pitlane on the inside, and in the lower seats along both sides of the main straight. Last year's seated attendance was estimated at 180,000 but we think this year's attendance was a bit smaller despite the larger infield crowd…….Fan interest in the Delta Wing car that was on display was very mixed, if not on the side of negative. Some called it a piece of Sh%$ but others thought it looked cool. Word in the garage area is that they cannot hit the weight numbers they quoted – 1,030 lbs with driver – less than a Formula Ford (1,091 pounds with the driver) – and that will be the downfall of the car because as the weight goes up, you need more HP, hence a heavier engine, stronger and heavy uprights, etc. it just snowballs from there………….John Andretti was driving like an idiot all race blocking everyone in sight. Eventually the IRL black flagged him for blocking and later he lost the car and hit the outside turn 4 wall. Justice had been served. There is a reason other NASCAR drivers would put him in the wall all the time……Graham Rahal was also black flagged for blocking Dan Wheldon and served his penalty on lap 82…….Raphael Matos lost a wheel exiting his pit during the Andretti caution and spun and hit the pit lane wall. Soon thereafter he crashed and a broken right rear upright was suspect. Too bad because he was running as high as third……Through the first half of the race Dario Franchitti appeared to have the measure of everyone, having taken the lead right from the start from polesitter Helio Castroneves. He was still ahead at lap 100 – the halfway point and at the 3/4 mark. The only driver who appeared capable of running with him was Will Power who managed to push past him at one point, only to see Franchitti pass him back soon thereafter. With that said we think the Penske cars were holding a little extra in reserve at that point, which they always do………Bernice Haas, Carl's wife, is running the show at Newman/Haas these days, because Carl is getting pretty feeble and is generally out of it. The team is in dire need of additional sponsorship………The IZOD promotion at the track was phenomenal. Too bad they didn't come along 10 years ago……….Oriol Servia and other ex-Indy 500 drivers were spotted on Sunday roaming the pits and paddock…….Marco Andretti, quiet all month, ran fairly strong in the race, as did his teammate Tony Kanaan, both of whom worked their way up into the top 3 by the 3/4 mark……..Just past the halfway mark Tomas Scheckter led a few laps because of pit strategy (until Dario smoked him) but held his own in 2nd and 3rd despite not driving IndyCars much these days…….Ryan Briscoe crashed on lap 147 in Turn 4 right after his pitstop. It appeared something broke or cold tires just caught him out………Mike Conway's accident at the end of the race was frightening. Thankfully the car didn't clear the catch fence and end up in the grandstands, and only two fans were hit by shrapnel as it happened in front of a grandstand with few fans in it. Conway did break his leg, but it could have been a lot worse. Mark Cipolloni reporting from Indy

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