Monday, April 18, 2016

Winners and Losers: Long Beach

Here are your winners, losers, and Cone of Shame winner following the 2016 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach:

Winners 

Team Penske 
Another dominant day from Team Penske, a team that looks poised to win a title. All four of their drivers look capable to win the championship. Simon Pagenaud won, Helio Castroneves controlled a portion of the race, and Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power were towards the front for a majority of the race. This team is scary good and has the potential to be one of the best driver-team combinations ever. Yes, ever.


Chip Ganassi Racing 
Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan had very good days, while Charlie Kimball showed pace in the race. Yes, a win from a Pagenaud penalty would have been nice for Dixon, but Dix is usually sluggish until midseason. The fact that he is off to such a hot start should be a concern for the rest of the field.


Takuma Sato 
Takuma Sato returns to the place where he’s won his only race and performed like a boss. Sato was the lead man for the Honda stable all day, a role that is usually reserved for an Andretti Autosport driver or Graham Rahal. Solid effort from Sato, who has to avoid crumbling in the middle part of the season like he seems to do every year.

James Hinchcliffe 
James Hinchcliffe was on the verge of being relegated to a backmarker before the season even started. Two poor showings so far in the season left me wondering how he would fair at Long Beach. To my relief, Hinch responded like a boss, performing in the top-ten all weekend. Good for Hinch, who can use this momentum to build more good results in the future.



Losers 

Andretti Autosport 
What a deplorable day for Andretti Autosport. Marco Andretti got off to a bad start with a throttle issue, Ryan Hunter-Reay had some issue towards the end that cost him his track position, and Carlos Munoz and Alexander Rossi were virtually nonexistent in the race. This team could be in for a long year if they can’t figure it out on the road courses.


Jack Hawksworth 
Jack Hawksworth continues to under-perform at AJ Foyt Enterprises, especially since his teammate finished in the top-five. Hawksworth may be on thin ice for the remaining portion of the season if he cannot pull it together.


Max Chilton 
Just what in the hell was Max Chilton doing yesterday in turn five? I’m pretty sure if Codemasters was judging his driving, he would have been DQ’d after the second cut (F1 game joke). He literally thought what he was doing is okay. What?? An overall pretty poor showing from Chilton, who was a bit off the pace compared to his teammates.

Honda 
Honda should be able to hang with the Chevrolets on street courses. Guess not.



Cone of Shame 



Indycar Officials..? 
There’s no bullshitting here: what Simon Pagenaud did yesterday was a violation of the rules. The Indycar Officials, who said they would not give out warnings this year, gave Pagenaud a warning. Pagenaud’s minor cut of the blend line gave him just the inch he needed to stay ahead of Scott Dixon. But was it enough to merit a drive through-penalty? Of course not. I would have at least have Simon give the position back to Dix, but people freaking out over a couple inches need to cool it. Yes he broke the rules, no he doesn’t deserve to have the book of punishments thrown at him. It is also worth pointing out that I saw at least two other driver (Helio Castroneves and Carlos Munoz) cut the blend line earlier. Just because the leader of the race does it doesn’t mean we have to selectively enforce it on him. So, my Cone of Shame is a bit confusing. Yes race control screwed the pooch with the call and their prior things they told the press (about not giving warnings), but no I am not salty about the result of the race. Pagenaud could have done a million worse things than barely cutting the blend line. Putting cones out there could make a difference in future years.


Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

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