It’s hard to write about another race while in the midst of Indy-pression (though, this year I’m not as depressed because I’m looking forward to a lot more races in person). But unlike the drivers, I too can’t take a weekend off and so onward to the Motor City, the Dual in Detroit, Penske’s Playground, the Island of Controversy!
So will Will Power break the Indianapolis 500 Champion losing streak? In 2017 Takuma Sato nearly podiumed with a fourth-place finish in Race 2. You have to go back to 2012 to find the most recent tie when an Indy 500 champion podiumed at Belle Isle (it was Dario Franchitti). Here’s the thing, I like Will Power as a driver I think he’s a good driver. I have a very strong suspicion especially after interacting with him on media day, he’s an introvert, and the media tour in NYC and Dallas will be enough to drive him up a wall and he needs to recharge…which he basically was unable to do as he had events at Detroit today. So no, I don’t think Will’s going to do well this week.
Hinch had a restful week (too soon?) unless you count the time he allegedly spent wandering through campsites in a disguise as rest – which actually he seems like an extrovert so it probably was actually refreshing. Also, he took being bumped in stride, but he’s a competitor and he’s got something to prove. He’s going to come off of the hauler in race mode. Graham too, as defending weekend sweeper last year (Back-to-Back champion makes it seem like he won it two years in a row) will be strong. He finished okay at Indy, he just always seems to not do as well as he should have done. Of course I think Rossi’s going to do Rossi Things, make Rossi Moves and more people will start saying he’s a championship contender.
This is Roger Penske’s ‘home track’ so look for the remaining Penske Siblings (Josef and Simon) to vie for attention from the Captain. Team Penske is unique in that way. Sure all teams say they compete against each other, but Team Penske is more All for One and not One for All (as opposed to SPM who talk about ‘one team one dream’ or something else that belongs on a motivational poster).
Aside from the race itself, there’s been some brewing controversy brewing. Protesters are mad that there is an IndyCar race on Belle Isle. Organizers and most fans think the protesters can go hug trees and are forgetting the economic impact that the race creates for the city. As a capitalist, and a Hoosier, I know that tourism is vitally important for cities. If you can get people into your city, they will spend money and help the economy. We just had the biggest single-day sporting event, the economic impact that the IMS has on the city makes it one of the loudest voices if anything regarding tourism happens (anyone else remember how the Pylon was lit after RFRA?). However, the opposing side has some strong points to contend with. This park is converted into a street course for quite some time; I believe I read somewhere it’s one-hundred days for set up, which does include Memorial Day Weekend. Also, it’s a park and that is a large environmental impact and a disruption. We’re lucky here in Indy that the IMS is self-contained, but everyone knows race weekend not to go out anywhere downtown with the influx of visitors…and driving is a general shit show.
Not that anyone has asked [yet], but there’s a solution to this problem and to fatigue. Perhaps move it on the schedule. Keep that weekend after the Indy 500 free. You can have your champion do a few more days of media, and maybe even your second and third place finishers hit smaller markets. I’d suggest move the race the week prior to Mid-Ohio (and get a good contingent of Midwesterners to hit both races) or the weekend before Iowa…though that may conflict with the 4th of July.