Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gas, crashes and clowns

The Best Day of the Year for auto racing fans turned out to have plenty of action in the final laps.
We'll work our way from the latest to the earliest race of the day.
At Charlotte, after nearly 600 miles and almost 400 laps, it looked like Dale Earnhardt Jr. would earn (pun intended, sort of) his first win in nearly three years. Only to run out of gas and watch Kevin Harvick drive by for the win. Now, some will feel sorry for Junior, since it's been so long since he has won, 94 races to be exact. But really, there's no reason to feel bad for Junior. He's got all the money most people would ever want. He's on the best team in motorsports. Win or lose, he'll have all he needs the rest of his life, assuming he doesn't spend it away foolishly.

If there's somebody to feel bad for it's JR Hildebrand, the rookie who should've won the Indy 500. He had used patience and strategy to put himself in position to win at Indy. And he did have it won, until coming out of the final turn, when he made a pure driver's mistake and got too high and hit the wall. Now, you may ask, why should we feel bad for a guy whose own mistake cost him the race? Well, with the cruel history of Indy, it may well have been his best chance to win the famous race. Marco Andretti was a young driver who couldn't hang on in the final lap, only to lose to Sam Hornish in 2006. An Andretti still hasn't won at Indy since Mario did in 1969. Hildebrand handled the post-race interviews with maturity and class, and he deserves credit for that. And as a racer, he's got to think there will be other days for him at Indy. Because if he doesn't, then why keep going? Hildebrand may well go on and become a top star in Indy racing, including winning the 500. But there are no guarantees, and he knows it.

And in Monaco, the Formula One circus continues, especially with the clowns who make the rules. Whenever there is a red flag, it has long been the rule that no work is allowed to be done on cars. That's been true in NASCAR, IndyCar, and about every form of racing there is. But, of course, Sunday that wasn't true in Formula One. The race was shaping up to be a three-way battle for the win, between leader Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso in second and Jensen Button in third. The scenario had Button with new tires, Alonso with tires with some wear on them, and Vettel, desperate for new tires. So when the red flag waved due to an accident that left pieces of cars across the track, Formula One ruled that cars could undergo minor repairs and ... tire changes. So, it resulted in Vettel's fifth win of the year. Good for him, yet another bad decision by F1.

No comments:

Post a Comment