101st Indianapolis 500

There was a time when Indy Cars were just as exciting and interesting as Formula One. The cars were actually faster and innovative designs making breakthroughs in mechanical and aerodynamic grip dominated. Indy has also been much more open to female drivers, Pippa Mann this year.

The problem is that now it’s Turn Left Bumper Car Racing with open wheels.

I suppose you can say it’s “competitive” meaning that the cars are so standardized and the rules so jiggered and the accidents so frequent that anyone can win.

Remind me why I bother to watch anything except the last 5 minutes of an NBA game. Oh, that’s right- I don’t because I’m not any more enthralled by the athleticism of a LeBron slam dunk than I am by figure skating or a nil to naught Football game. Give me high scoring Senior League Baseball with oodles of strategy and steals.

It will be a surprise for some to learn that Fernando Alonso is not the only former Formula One driver appearing in today’s 101st 500, Takuma Sato drove for Jordan, BAR, and Super Aguri before switching to Indy cars in 2010. He started in 4th position, 1 ahead of Alonso.

In keeping with my contention that it is Turn Left Bumper Cars there were 11 Yellow Flags and 15 different race leaders. It started on the 53rd Lap when Pole sitter Scott Dixon launched off of Jay Howard into the catch fence (they call it that for a reason). That brought out a Red Flag and the race was stopped for track repairs (Alonso was leading at the time). After the restart there were about 30 Laps of intermittent Yellows as the field go sorted out with Helio Castroneves coming back from a drive through that pushed him out of the top 20 to lead the race.

It finished in a 5 car pile up with 11 Laps to go that collected James Davison, Oriol Servia, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, and James Hinchcliffe. Only 18 of 33 starters finished the race.

The day’s other story was the spectacular failures of Honda engines. They went through no less than 9 of them between various teams and eventually they ended Alonso’s bid (he was leading again) with only 20 Laps to go. On the other hand they were much stronger (while they lasted) than the Chevy plants. Sato, who was using one, blew past Castroneves (Chevy) with 5 Laps to go and never looked back.

So Honda is redeemed, sort of, and Takuma Sato is the first ever Japanese winner at Indy.

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