Juan Pablo Montoya
Another St. Petersburg race, another win by Juan Pablo Montoya. This is a statement win for Montoya, who is fresh off of a crushing loss in the championship last season. Montoya looks like he is primed for another championship caliber season.
Simon Pagenaud was on point this weekend, driving a smooth and methodical race on his way to a second place finish. This was a tone-setting race for Pagenaud, who did not have a good first season with Team Penske. Pagenaud is my pick not only to win the 2016 Indycar Championship, but also the 100th Indianapolis 500.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and his "pitiful" (they have stepped up their game despite what others think) Honda raced to a great finish of P3, including a marvelous overtake on Helio Castroneves in the late stages of the race for the last spot on the podium. RHR, who is coming off of a amazing finish to the season last year, is looking for a better first half of the season, instantly establishes himself as a championship contender.
The mad Russian is back. Mikhail Aleshin, who was up to his old aggressive ways with a run in with Sebastien Bourdais in a practice session, ran a brilliant race on his way to a P5 finish with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. A lot of people, including myself, are really happy to see Mikhail back, but I did not think he would be off and running this quickly. Well done Mikhail.
A nice race would have made for some good headlines for James Hinchcliffe, who was racing for the first time since his awful accident at Indianapolis. Instead, Hinch was hit in the first turn and left him with a punctured tire. It put him a lap down and it was pretty easy to see how pissed he was in the cockpit. He would later get caught up in that turn four mess. Not a good start to the season for Hinchcliffe, who has won at St. Petersburg before.
Marco Andretti had a happy birthday. Well, I mean, if you take away his awful race, it was probably another normal day for Marco. Marco made a daft attempt to follow a clean pass by Ryan Hunter-Reay on Luca Filippi even though he was miles off of Filippi. He made the pass attempt anyways, made contact, spun, and then stalled. My favorite part of this was on a live track five seconds after spinning, Marco was enraged that the Holmatro Safety Team was not there to restart him. Dude, chill, it’s been five seconds.
Someone remind Eddie Cheever that the Indianapolis 500 is in May, I think he forgot to mention that in the broadcast.
This guy is a tool. How have he and Scott Goodyear not been fired yet?
Not a good start to the 2016 Indycar Season at all for Josef Newgarden. Newgarden, who now drives solely for Ed Carpenter Racing, outbroke himself in turn one, lap one, ruining James Hinchcliffe’s day. Josef also had to pit for damage, but he stayed on the lead lap. Later on, electronic issues would force Josef to retire. Last place is a terrible start to the season for this championship hopeful.
Cone of Shame
Carlos Munoz did his best to enrage half of the field. After a restart heading into turn four, Munoz outbroke himself and smashed into Graham Rahal. Rahal spun and blocked a good portion of the track. Other cars weaved, stalled, or made contact with others, blocking turn four. It looked like about half of the field either stalled or made contact in this melee. Munoz instantly became an unliked guy. After the race, Rahal confronted Munoz, and, to Munoz’s defense, he did apologize and say it was his fault rather than making a stupid counter-argument. Also, Conor Daly, who was primed for a top-five before making an unscheduled pit stop for unknown reasons, later tweeted that it was Munoz who made contact with him, forcing the issue after exiting the pits. So, quite literally, Munoz had a hand in the misery of half of the field in Sunday’s race.
Let me know what you think!