22 June 2009

Can Anyone Turn Left Properly?

The first half of the Iowa Corn Indy 250 was exciting to watch from some angles - how does Tomas Scheckter pass six cars in one lap, yet can't find a full-time ride (those answers may go hand-in-hand)? How many laps can Tony Kanaan run before needing to fuel? If Tony Kanaan didn't have bad luck, would he have any luck at all? How many different pit strategies will be employed during the race? And, how many people can forget to turn left?

As it turns out, seven cars of the 20 entrants wound up in accidents on the day, the last coming on Kanaan's crash on lap 109. Ironically, it was Kanaan who would have benefited the most from a yellow, as he would have gained the lap he had just lost on the field by staying out. Maybe he'll find his luck in Richmond, where he won last year.

Over the first 123 laps of the race, 48 were under yellow, creating a slow pace. However, the final 127 laps were contested under the green flag, allowing for some exciting side-by-side racing (though not nearly as exciting as earlier in the race, when Helio Castroneves clipped Scott Dixon's left rear, bringing out a yellow). Once Dario Franchitti got by Ryan Briscoe with 50 laps to go, it was all over, as the TomTom car pulled away to win by five seconds.

The good news for fans of the race is that Terry Angstadt confirmed that the Iowa race will be back on the 2010 schedule (an 18-race schedule, apparently, which is an increase of 1 race from 2009). The Newton, Iowa community does an excellent job filling the track and bringing in a road-racing type of atmosphere to the track, so rewarding them for their support of the IndyCar Series is a no-brainer.

Looking at the season points race, it is shaping up to be a four-driver fight, among the Penske and Ganassi stables. Briscoe leads Franchitti by three points, while Scott Dixon and Castroneves are 15 and 29 points behind, respectively. The crash at Iowa has all but ended Kanaan's attempt at a second IndyCar title (he's currently seventh, 79 points back), while Danica Patrick (fifth, 52 points back) and Dan Wheldon (sixth, 57 points back) theoretically could strike if the wheels fell off for the Penske and Ganassi cars (it might have to literally happen).

In any case, hats off to the folks of Iowa for putting on a good show, despite some tricky weather during the weekend.

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