Race Day Diary: Indianapolis 2015

What a crazy race this was! Because I attended it, another chapter of Race Day Diary ensues! These posts are just meant to expand on all of the things I observed, did, and general thoughts on the day after attending a race. This most recent race was of course the 99th Indianapolis 500!

Pre-Race 

A bad night’s sleep and an early wake up call made for an interesting start! Once I got to the track, the first thing I did was go find our seats with my parents to see what vantage point we would have for another chapter in racing history. Our seats in the South Vista were once again stellar (sat there in 2012 too). I would recommend them to any and everyone.

After that, I scurried over to the TweetUp that was being hosted at the Pagoda Plaza! It was great to meet so many people! As memory serves me, people I met included Mathew (DAS STIG) and Nathan Gruenholz, James Alban, Sarah Hall, DJ and Jackie Jordan, David Bolton, Kyle Lewis, Gina Hess, Jake Neely, Johanna Husband, Sophie Hanson, Andy Loviscek, Sandy Lamparello, Charley Smith, Tyler Ross, Andy Manes, Aaryn Ryan, and Robert Zagorac. It was great to put some faces to names! We shared some great laughs and shared some stories. Got to talk about life, the Month of May, Fantasy Indycar, my 'special fans,' and much more!

It was flattering to have people introduce themselves to me and to compliment my website. It means a lot to me! Andy L. told me to keep up the great work and thanked me for the stuff I do. Took me back, I was very thankful to meet some great people in the Indycar world. I talked extensively (20-30 minutes) with The Stig (Mathew G.), Sarah, David, Jake, and Charley Smith

However, the best part was swapping Glenn Locke stories.

A couple things about pre-race (keep in mind, I haven’t watched the telecast yet): 1) Florence Henderson needs to retire 2) Straight No Chaser wasn’t that great, but it is hard to repalce Jim Nabors 3) The space station idea was a great idea but poorly executed and 4) The whole ‘Start your engines’ gaff was the most awkward yet hilariously awesome thing I’ve ever seen! But overall, it was a very unorganized pre-race. Then, they race began! I was again taken away by how beautiful Indycar’s are in person. They have a shine to them that you can’t see in person. The cars are beautiful.

Race

Of course, the first time I get to watch my bro Conor Daly, he’s out before the green even falls. I was furious. All you can do is keep your head up and move on to the next race.

Then, the race actually started! Once I saw the first four or so rows sort themselves out, my eyes wandered to the back of the field. There, I got to see one of the dumbest moves ever. Takuma Sato tried to go on the outside of Sage Karam when Sage had a car underneath him. Right as they touched, I’m pretty sure I yelled, ‘Sato you idiot!’ Fell bad for Sage and Conor, two young Americans taken out right away. Great crash avoidance shoutout goes to Townsend Bell, Pippa Mann, and Ryan Briscoe.

Simona de Silvestro then ran into Juan Pablo Montoya as they got ready to go back to green. It was a serious amateur hour moment for Simona. 12 laps of yellow before the green was thrown. Bob Jenkins said on the PA, ‘Montoya’s chances may be over.’ My dad and I were puzzled. 188 laps left and on the lead lap with a great car? We ascertained that there was no way Montoya was out.

Then, the race finally got going. Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, and Simon Pagenaud were the early front runners. Unlike the last couple of years, clear breakaways from one car to another were forming. In the past, most of the field stayed in one large group. I enjoyed this, as there were many battles to follow each lap. Montoya was carving his way through the field.

Indianapolis 500
Dixon leads Kanaan and Pagenaud (Photo: Jaime Squire / Getty Images North America)

Bryan Clauson then walled it. He didn’t do much for me this race or all of May. He looked out of sorts and not fast all month. Can’t tell you how many times he lifted in turn one. Two lackluster one-off programs for Indy makes me wonder if he has a future in Indycar. Doesn’t meant curtains on his chances though.

The next incident was between Oriol Servia and Ed Carpenter. Carpenter looked to make a late move with a defensive Servia, and Servia didn’t see that, leading to a hard crash. Carpenter hadn’t done squat up to this point, as the car or driver were not doing well. People often ask why I don’t like Ed, and what he said to the PA is a good example. Ed was asked what happened, and he said it was his and Oriol’s fault. Not a bad answer to be honest, but then he elaborated, and I went, ‘Yep, there’s the Ed Carpenter I hate.’ He said it was Oriol’s fault for blocking, saying that blocking is the dumbest thing in racing (because why would you ever knowingly defend your position…). Ed then said that it was his fault for not knowing who he was racing against. What a prick thing to say. A better answer would have been I shouldn’t have made a wild attempt right before entering turn one and a near impossible angle. Can’t stand Ed and there’s why.

Two of the Dale Coyne Racing cars (Tristan Vautier and James Davison) were knocked out on a pit misshap I never caught a replay of both pit misshaps on the day (the other was Gabby Chaves) but thankfully no one was seriously hurt.

Another stint, and Montoya was back up to the front. It still was a Ganassi vs Penske show. Coming out of the pits, Tony Kanaan crashed. Such a shame cause he had a great car. Everytime he took the lead, the place went nuts. It’s easy to see that he’s the fan favorite in Indycar. The best part about that? He’s not an American. Stick that up your damn pipe and smoke it Robin Miller.

After a debris caution, the race started to get wild. Brave passing and some odd moments shuffled in meant that something crazy was about to happen. Heading out of turn two, Pagenaud was off the pace by a mile. I don’t know if he was about to lose it mid corner and lifted big time or what, but he was enveloped by six or so cars. Marco Andretti was also in the thick of it, but he got stuck. His onboard cam was pretty thrilling to watch. Turn three was another near wreck, and then in turn four, Jack Hawksworth hit Sebastian Saavedra, spinning both. Stefano Coletti was a victim, as he nailed Saavedra, lifting Coletti’s front two wheels off the ground. Thankfully, everyone was okay, especially Coletti, who I thought took the hardest hit. Saavedra came out the worst, with an apparent ankle injury. A long caution set upa shootout to the finish.

Unfortunately, Pagenaud, who was running strong all day, had front wing damage and was forced to the back of the field. His chances went out the window.

This meant that in all likeliehood, the winner was going to be Montoya, Dixon, Will Power, or Charlie Kimball. All four had run in the top-seven for the second half of the race. Some brave passing ensued, but ultimately, it was Montoya who mad e the right move at the right time. Two reasons I was happy: 1) I picked him in #FantasyIndycar and 2) He’s changed since coming back to Indycar for the better. He’s made a lot of new fans and for good reasons. It’s mind-blowing to think how much of an Indycar legend he would be if he hadn’t gone to F1 and NASCAR. Multiple championships, Indy 500s, and more than likely 30+ wins would have followed had he stuck around.

Indianapolis 500
Montoya edges out Power (Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America)

Random Thoughts

Will Power ran one hell of a race. Mad props to him.

Charlie Kimball opened many eyes this weekend. Though, I s ay again, he will never be a great driver in my eyes if he does this type of performance once every seven races. He needs to be a consistent threat at every race and not just one or two a season.

JR Hildebrand rose through the field, then fell back. Then rose again, then fell back. The guy meshes well with CFH Racing. Hope they expand to three cars in the next one to two years.

James Jakes had a moment where he had his front right tire squarely in the grass after being pushed down. I didn’t catch who put him there, but he hardly even wiggled, and saved the car without losing too much speed. Great effort by him.

Dale Coyne Racing needs to get their shit together on pit road.

Carlos Munoz was the best Honda in the race, but getting caught out by a yellow and failed fuel strategy meant he finished a non-reflective 20th place.

James Davison did a great job prior to being knocked out. He was vastly outpacing Tristan Vautier and was hanging with some bigger guys in the middle of the field.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simona de Silvestro both didn’t do much for me.

I don't like Ed Carpenter.

Watching Conor Daly for two pace laps was nice, but damn, this one will sting for a while.

Pippa Mann struggled to get a handle with her car, but she could have easily been caughten up in someone elses mess. The lap one fiasco and the big hit with Colleti and others saw Pippa expertly navigate through the mess.

Ryan Briscoe did a fantastic job subbing for James Hinchcliffe. Kept a clean nose and was pretty quick. Hoping for a couple of one-offs for him in the future.

Graham Rahal once again paced the Hondas, though might be a stretch to say he was the most competitive Honda. Still, P5 is might impressive from the little team that could.

Both rookies, Chaves and Coletti, were impressive. Coletti’s car control was incredible. He almost spun several times coming out of one but saved it every time. Good run for him up until the wreck.

Josef Newgarden finally had a good run at Indy. He’s struggled at Indy throughout his career, but today was different. One hairy moment for Josef was when Graham Rahal climbed up the track out of turn one even though Josef was there. Josef had to lift to avoid an accident (I call it a block by Rahal, but that’s none of my business), and then he was inhaled by two or three others.

Takuma Sato is a clown. Only fitting he made it out of the crash and finished 13th while Karam went home.

Overall, it was a great race at Indianapolis! I am so thankful to have witnessed another great race and to meet so many great people. Thanks to all who made it a special weekend! Till we meet again.

Indianapolis 500
Photo: Jaime Squire / Getty Images North America

Stay tuned for more articles this week!

-Matthew Hickey