There is nothing like an impending rain storm to liven up what began as a pretty dull race. The processional fuel saving start began to get intriguing when some cars began pitting around lap 51. The Coyne cars of Takuma Sato and David Malukas were among the early stoppers. Both had time leading. the race. As it turned out, Malukas was the eventual beneficiary of track position when the race resumed.
Forty laps of racing under the lights is nice for a sprint or midget feature. Indycar needs to seriously consider returning the non Indy ovals to night races. I don’t care if they can only be on Peacock. As I watched the Silver Crown cars Friday night under the lights, the feeling was bittersweet that Indycar would run in daylight the following day.
As Scott Mclaughlin mentioned after the race, the handling of the cars changes as the sun goes down and the track cools. This phenomenon is what makes night races more intriguing.
Outshining the Winner
The 2005 Indianapolis 500 saw Danica Patrick beco9me the first woman to lead the 500 . She eventually finished fourth. After the race race, and in the weeks following, if you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t knwo Dan wheldon actually won the race.
Saturday night was a bit like that. Second place David Malukas seemed to be the center of attention, while winner Josef Newgarden was the second biggest story. I am okay with this. Malukas has matured steadily throughout the season. he has been quick on ovals, and his road course game has improved tremendously.
To see him hunt down and pass Mclaughlin and nearly catch Newgarden was one of the highlights of the season.
Speculation has begun about where Malukas will race next year. Some say he will replace Alex Palou at Ganassi. I’m sure he got a call from Mclaren after the race.
Points Race Gets Even Tighter
I thought this race would shake up the points race, but only a couple positions switched and there are four drivers still with a realistic shot at the title.
Will Power holds a three point lead over Newgarden. His lead is basically the bonus points he earned for Saturday’s race. Scott Dixon is only 14 points behind. He has come back from farther than that to win with two races left.
I watched the first few laps of the race last night and I was surprised at the sparse grandstand crowd. Weather may have made some decide to stay home, but I wonder if the NASCAR race in June may have affected attendance as well. When tracks force people to decide which major event to attend, Indycar seems to take the hit. The promoters need to do a better job promoting all their bug events equally.
I have said this before, but I think it is time for Ed Carpenter to become an Indy only only driver for a couple more years. Carpenter has had a dismal season. His average finish in five races this season was 19.2 with a best of 13th. His third car could be the avenue for Paretta Autosport to have a full time entry in 2023.
The pits at night take on a kind of state fair atmosphere. It definitely has a different vibe after dark.
I watched the restart from a spot in the infield. I have never been as close to cars during a race as I was when the race resumed. The sound and the vibrations were overwhelming. Cars zipped by like I was using fast forward on my remote. I may have to be at this spot for the start next year.
Thanks for following my coverage this past weekend. Later this week, i will examine the points chase in more depth.