IndyCar had its doubleheader in Houston this weekend, and it was….interesting…..to say the least.
There was a standing start for Race 1, and on the first attempt of two, the start was aborted because Charlie Kimball stalled his car. He had to start from the back for the second attempt. On the second attempt, James Hinchcliffe stalled and Ed Carpenter ended up clipping him, which ended Hinchcliffe’s day early. Carpenter’s team was able to fix the car enough for him to continue. On lap 20, Tony Kanaan had to bring his car in for repairs because of a brake problem and two laps later, Helio Castroneves had to pit for shifting problems. He eventually got his car fixed and rejoined the race nine laps later. On lap 39, Dario Franchitti spun and then stalled in turn 3, and out came the yellow. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car developed a shifting problem, which forced him to leave the race early. On lap 64, there was a yellow because Oriol Servia was stopped at the exit of turn 3. The yellow was brought back out on lap 73 because Takuma Sato made contact with the wall in turn 3 and Helio Castroneves stopped in the runoff by Turn 3 soon after. The last yellow of the day came on lap 88 when Mike Conway hit the barriers in turn 9 and came to a stop. Scott Dixon won, with Simona de Silvestro in 2nd (her first podium in IndyCar) and Justin Wilson in 3rd.
In Race 2, the fans were treated to another standing start. The grid, however, wasn’t set by qualifying. Heavy rain hit the track that morning, so qualifying was cancelled and the grid was set by entrant points with Helio in pole and Dixon in 2nd. Like the first race, the first attempt was aborted when Takuma Sato and Dario Franchitti stalled. Both had to start from the back of the field. The standing start was a go on the second attempt, and Marco Andretti was given a penalty for jumping the start. On lap 3, the race went yellow when Graham Rahal hit the wall in turn 8. And on lap 7, Simona de Silvestro was assessed a drive through for avoidable contact. Helio Castroneves started slowing and eventually stopped between turns 7 and 8 on lap 12, which brought out the yellow and got him towed back to pit lane for major repairs. Luca Fillipi hit the tire barrier on lap 29 and the yellow was brought out again. On lap 34, there was a caution when Tony Kanaan stopped between turns 7 and 8. Helio Castroneves was able to return to the race on lap 47. Ed Carpenter stopped in the runoff in turn 3 on lap 62. The yellow came back out twelve laps later on lap 74 when Marco Andretti spun and stalled at the exit of turn 6. At the very end of the race, Takuma Sato collided with Dario Franchitti in turn 5, and Franchitti’s car got up into the catch fence. EJ Viso connected with Sato shortly after. Viso and Sato climbed from the cars with some assistance, but Franchitti needed some serious help getting out of the car. He currently has a concussion, a fractured spine, and a fractured ankle. He had a surgery on the ankle on the night of the accident but will need a second surgery when he returns to Indianapolis.
I’m so happy that Simona de Silvestro did as well as she did in the first race. As a girl who’s been waist-deep in racing since 2010, that’s the kind of drive I want to see from a female driver like Simona. I’ve been gaining a lot of respect for her since her IndyCar 36 episode, where she basically said, “I want to earn respect like the guys, not have it handed to me just because I’m a girl.” Plus, she goes out and encourages students to become interested in STEM. That’s exactly the kind of woman I think we need more of in this sport. So I’m glad she finally got her first podium in IndyCar.
I’m seriously beginning to think there’s some sort of championship curse on Penske Racing or something. Will Power JUST missed it in 2010, 2011, and 2012. This year, Helio Castroneves was ahead by 49 points going into Houston. Then the mechanical issue demon struck and he’s now 25 points behind Dixon. It’s literally a repeat for the Penske guys from previous years, and it absolutely has to suck for them. Awesome for Dixon and his team, but awful for the Penske guys. Here’s hoping they can make a comeback during the Fontana race.
GET BETTER SOON, DARIO!