Last night’s victory celebration was a joyous affair with a lot of humor, a record 16 million dollar purse, and a humble winner. The first post race banquet since 2019 drew what may have been a record crowd for the event. It was only my third time attending, so i can’t speak with certainty about the numbers. There were definitely more people there than in 2018 or 2019.
Jimmie Johnson won the Rookie of the Year Award. The decision did not set well with many fans on social media. I think David Malukas deserved it for his 16th place finish and his strong month in practice. I concede that the highest finishing rookie shouldn’t always receive the award, but it should at least go to someone who finishes the race.
As for the “on track performance” component of the selection criteria, I believe some consideration should be given to the strength of the driver’s team. Of course someone driving for Ganassi or Penske will look better in qualifying and the race.
Conor Daly’s time at the podium was spent attempting to solve the mystery of the orbeez in the hot tub. A video with “investigative reporter: James Hinchcliffe turned up no clues.
Daly had his career best finish, sixth, and thinks he is on the verge of getting to the top soon.
Tony Kanaan said he hopes to be back next year, but his future with Ganassi is uncertain. The crowd shouted their appreciation for TK.
Pato O’Ward was a gracious second place finisher who can’t imagine what it would be like to be the first Mexican driver to win the 500. He wants to find out next year.
A Humble Winner
Marcus Ericsson displayed humility and gratitude in a low key speech. He thanked his parents, team, and others who have helped and supported him. He apologized for his voice, which after just one day of several to come of non stop interviews was already giving out. At times I wondered if he thinks his win really happened.
The prizes for the one off teams don’t even come close to paying what it cost to run a team for the 500. While the purse is a record, the one off teams and thee xtra cars for established teams need to get more back. Waht is the incentive for entering otherwise?