Detroit 2018 Review: Honda Rules in Chevy Town
Let’s start off talking about what pissed darn nearly everyone off this weekend. Charlie Kimball’s piss poor excuse for an apology. It was clear from the replay Charlie clipped Santino Ferrucci causing the rookie to spin across an active track nearly missing both Matheus Leist and Zach Veach. Two laps later (with just nine laps to go in the race) Kimball was given a “stop and go” for unavoidable contact. He then later tweeted out he should have given the rookie the benefit of the doubt. That is a backhanded way of saying “sorry not sorry kid” and is completely unsportsmanlike conduct. However, Race Control seems to not care what Kimball does. They should have fined him heavily for such conduct on the track, and I probably would have slapped a fine on him after the race (which you can do per 184.108.40.206. just incase someone from Race Control ever reads this) for his tweet. A stop and go on lap 61 when he was in no position to win the race is a slap on the wrist.
I’m actually a bit tired of Race Control’s nonability to hand out consistent and fair penalties for things that they deem violations of the rules. Look at the start of the second race in Detroit, most specifically the first start of the second race. Given the accident with the pace car, the field got bunched up and everyone was shutting down their engines. The safety team had to come in and restart all the cars and have them go through the accident scene one at a time. Rene Binder in the Juncos racing car had an issue restarting the car, so it had to get towed back to pit lane and worked on to get restarted. Per the official box score the car was penalized for “unapproved work under red” and had to give up two laps. Here’s the problem with that (1) the race had not even started yet and (2) even if it had the red flag was caused by not a single real driver but instead a GMC official who apparently can’t handle the cars his company makes.
These are the things that drive an attorney absolutely mad. It was not a red flag condition because the race hadn’t even started. I know this because I sit with the Verizon app which lets me listen to the in-car communication and while all the cars, except the 27 because Rossi just drove on through, were sitting waiting to get restarted and moved to Pit Lane, everyone asked “had the race started” and the unequivocal answer was “no”. How do you red flag something that hasn’t started? Furthermore, this wasn’t a red flag caused by the field, the guy driving the pace car messed it all up. So if Race Control was so insistent on penalizing Juncos, putting them two laps down was way too harsh. This wasn’t any sort of safety violation (the pace car was the safety violation) and quite honestly they wouldn’t have had the problem restarting the car if the Pace Car hadn’t messed up. I can’t offer advice because the event happened in Detroit…but I sure hope Ricardo Juncos has a very impassioned discussion with multiple people on what just happened to his driver. Shame on your Race Control.
Oh Alexander Rossi, what happened this weekend? The first race was another show of just how good Rossi is as a driver. We saw him faint out Wickens to pass him, and it was quite a tight pass! Then after complaining that Marco Andretti was holding him up (also congrats Marco for getting the pole for Race 1 - looked really good all weekend actually), he played a game of chicken with Marco, and Rossi won coming in third at that race. He then killed it during a soggy qualification for the second race (anyone else love when they use the phrase “throwing the car around”?) to win the pole and looked really great 3/4ths of that race. Then he and Ryan Hunter-Reay got into cat and mouse, and Rossi lost. He locked up those tires at least twice and that final time the tire said “nope”. I suppose we’ll see how many bandwagon Rossi fans jump off this week…only to hop back on after Texas next week. He’s still my forever pick this year, and quite honestly I still look to him winning the championship still.
It was the veteran drivers that showed up this weekend to win. Scott Dixon winning the first race and moving himself up the “overall wins” now tied with Michael Andretti with 42 race wins. A.J. Foyt sits atop that chart with approximately 62 wins, and as I teased my father on Saturday…Dixon could beat that. He shows no sign of stopping. Then another veteran, and sometimes overlooked unless you want to buy a turkey, RHR clutched the second race. Then jumped in a fountain. It broke a streak for RHR that extended to 2014 at Pocono. Veterans decided to remind the rookies that they still have game.
Though not a veteran, and really not a rookie, Robert Wickens still is serving up a clinic on driving in the rain. That first win is coming soon for him.
Eight races in and the statistics are proving that the 2018 season is just going to be wild. We have an engine split right now with both Honda and Chevy with 4 wins each. Three different teams (Penske and Andretti Autosport each pulling in multiple wins). Six different drivers (both Power and Newgarden have repeat wins). Texas is up next and as the past two races have shown – anything and everything will happen.