It’s time for the IZOD IndyCar Series to go to a green-white-checkers finish.
The reason people were booing at the conclusion of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday was not (I don’t think) because Dario Franchitti won it for the third time but because, for the third consecutive year, the race ended under the yellow.
This used to be the way it was in NASCAR but they wised up after the fans became restless and demanded change. The result is very exciting: a flat-out dash for the cash over two laps, winner taking all. The fans like it and that’s what it’s about.
The purists will argue against it, of course, but the IndyCar brass should not listen to them. This is show business and it’s 2012 and it’s time for a change.
The fans want to see racing right to the end, so give it to them.
And now, the rest of the news:
This weekend, starting with the Detroit Grand Prix, the Indy cars will begin four consecutive weekends of racing. Following a weekend off, they'll then reconvene in Toronto for the Honda Indy July 6-8. The Detroit race, incidentally, will be televised by ABC and TSN2 at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Said Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe, who qualified second at Indy, finished sixth and who will be racing at Detroit's Belle Isle Park for the first time:
"The first four races (of the season) went very well for us. The Go Daddy car has been very competitive on road and street courses. Coming off the '500,' where we had the pace as a team but not the (race) results we wanted, we are very anxious to get back on track and get the Andretti Autosport cars back up front. This is my first time racing at Belle Isle so I'm looking forward to learning a new track. Being a hometown race for Team Chevy, it will be very important race for us and we'll all work hard to get a Bow Tie back in victory lane."
Did You Know: Hinchcliffe, who is tied for second in the standings, is the only driver to have finished every lap of every race in the first five IZOD IndyCar Series events. He is also the only driver to have qualified inside the Firestone Fast Six in each of the first four road and street circuit events this season.
Speaking of other Did You Know stuff from the Indy 500, the IndyCar media service sent these tidbits along this week: Dario Franchitti joined Helio Castroneves as three-time Indianapolis 500 winners in the fewest number of starts (nine). Louis Meyer won for the third time in his ninth start, but it was his 10th Indianapolis 500 because he drove as a relief driver in his rookie year. … Jean Alesi was the third driver in Indianapolis 500 history to start and finish 33rd in the race. Both Dempsey Wilson (1960) and Ronnie Duman (1966) started and finished 33rd. Duman was caught up in that huge crash on the main straight in ’66 that eliminated nearly a dozen cars. … The 500 on Sunday represented the eighth time that Castroneves completed the full 500-mile distance. He joined Ted Horn and A.J. Foyt as the only drivers to have completed the full 500 miles eight times without the aid of a relief driver. The use of relief drivers was a common practice at the Indianapolis 500 before World War II.
The winner of the first Indy 500, Ray Harroun (who was relieved for 35 laps mid-race by Cyrus Patschke) received $10,000 cash, which was a fortune in 1911. Dario Franchitti won $2.47 million last Sunday, which is good but not great in 2012.
Speaking of people named Hinchcliffe, James's father Jeremy did a great pre-500 interview on the CBC last Sunday morning. Care to listen? Go to www.cbc.ca/freshair and click on the Sun., May 27, show (on the main web page).
A big weekend is coming up at Toronto Motorsport Park. The Canadian Motorcycle Drag Racing Association will present the Eastern Nationals. Should be fun. And the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stock cars will be at Circuit ICAR (Mirabel Airport), north of Montreal.
Drag racer Ike Maier of Vaughan will be driving not one but two top fuel dragsters this season. He'll see action this coming weekend in the NHRA Full Throttle Toyota Supernationals at Englishtown, N.J., driving the Nitro Express dragster of John LaPorte Racing. That car was previously piloted by Antron Brown. At other NHRA meets this season, including the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis on Labour Day weekend, Maier will be strapping into the cockpit of the Paton Racing top fueler, a ride he's handled in previous seasons. "I have certainly got my hands full this year," said Maier, which is a bit of an understatement if you ask me.
Meantime, last weekend in Calgary, constantly changing weather conditions didn’t slow down reigning Canadian Rally Champions Antoine L’Estage of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and co-driver Nathalie Richard of Halifax who notched their second victory in the 2012 Canadian title championship with a resounding win at the Rocky Mountain Rally.
L’Estage and Richard wheeled their Yokohama-sponsored Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X through rain, snow, mud and dry conditions over the two-day event to post a decisive 1 minute 39-second victory, their third consecutive sweep of the event and the fifth time L’Estage has won that particular rally.
Teammates and championship rivals Patrick Richard of Squamish, B.C. and Alan Ockwell of Toronto finished second in their Subaru Rally Team Canada entry. Crazy Leo Urlichich of Toronto and his British co-driver Carl Williamson impressed with a solid third place, also in a Subaru.
L’Estage/Richard top the Canadian Rally Championship standings after two wins in the first two events of 2012. The pair won the snowy Rally Perce Neige in February to give them a commanding lead in the series with 44 points to the 31 tallied by Urlichich/Williamson.
Thanks to old friend Doug Mepham for that report.