The drivers, teams and assorted others who impressed and embarrassed in equal measure at the Milwaukee Mile.
Sebastian Bourdais – the Frenchman wound the clock back a decade or so and dominated. Back to his best, it was like watching ‘Sea-Bass’ back in his prime with Newman-Haas in Champ Car. It was the kind of performance Sebastian and KVSH Racing have been threatening to do for a few seasons. This was embarrassing and somewhat head-scratching for the rest of the field given how easy he made it look. It would be even more exciting if this could be the foundation for similar performances going forward.
Jimmy Vasser – used his experience from winning at Milwaukee to great effect with a strategy that seemed to defy physics. I – along with many others I’m sure – was at a loss as to how Vasser and Bourdais had conjured a scenario where they were running flat out and full rich when the rest of the field were guarding tires and fuel. Again, very exciting if Vasser and Bourdais can translate this on to other circuits.
Helio Castroneves – if his team had not messed up in qualifying, the pace the Brazilian demonstrated in fighting back through the field could have put him on a par with eventual winner Bourdais. An almost perfect back to front race which gives him a slightly better shot at the title than he had coming in to Milwaukee.
Juan Montoya – the drive of a champion on Sunday. Not in contention for the win and off the ultimate pace, the Indy 500 winner kept his nose clean through the always tricky Milwaukee traffic. A valuable fourth place has cemented his lead in the point standings and is all the more impressive considering his penalty for pit lane speeding. Montoya will likely now start turning his attention away from his Penske team-mates and focus firmly on the late-season charger Scott Dixon.
Scott Dixon – as above for Montoya. The Kiwi is now Montoya’s main challenger for the title. Despite the sizeable points gap, with his habit of closing out seasons very strongly he is definitely in contention.
The fans – a big round of applause to those who attended the weekend at Milwaukee. These are the people that are keeping ovals on the IndyCar schedule.
All the fans who used to go the Mile – despite the Fontana race being watched by a paltry crowd and a questionable TV audience, the coverage garnered by Ryan Briscoe’s stomach-churning accident left American’s in no doubt that IndyCar is alive, kicking and offering some spectacular entertainment. That this did not translate in to a bigger crowd, allied to the work of Michael Andretti’s team in Milwaukee and great weather, is shameful.
For those commentators and fans that continue to bemoan the lack of ovals on the IndyCar schedule, quit complaining and start getting friends and family back to the oval races that are on the calendar. Otherwise in the very near future Indianapolis could be the only oval IndyCar visits, and that would be a travesty.
Ed Carpenter – whilst his young team-mate continues to have the season of his life, Carpenter is mired in a serious slump. For an oval-specialist, running plum last in the opening laps and hindering your team-mate/employee’s progress in first place is pretty tough to accept. CFH Racing clearly have the engineers and the talent to do well with their Chevrolet package. You have to wonder if/hope that Carpenter is starting to think about focusing on team management fully and giving another driver – particularly a young American – a shot.
Team Penske – what a mess in qualifying for Castroneves? Failure to get the Brazilian’s car in to the qualifying line in time cost him a shot at winning the race. Victory would have been a long overdue shot in the arm to his fading championship chances. Such a mistake would be forgivable if it is was one of IndyCar’s smaller, less experienced teams but this is Team Penske. Credit due to the team for helping him work through traffic to salvage second but it could have been so much more.
Season schedule – only 4 races left 😦