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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Cooldown Lap: Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

(Ed's note: This feature used to be called "Morning After," but due to events out of my control, I couldn't exactly get it out in time yesterday. As such, instead of taking responsibility, I will simply change the name of the column to "The Cooldown Lap" and give myself two days from now on. I love being my own boss.)

A collection of thoughts sparked by Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Alabama:

GOOD TO SEE: Marco Andretti contend for a victory. The series needs some strong American drivers, and with Ryan Hunter-Reay looking for sponsorship to run full-time, Graham Rahal looking for a job, and Danica Patrick suffering from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Syndrome, it looks like the youngest Andretti may have to be the one to step up. He hasn't been the same since that Indy 500 flip, that's for sure, but he's gotten more consistent over the years.

DISAPPOINTED NOT TO SEE: More variation in the top six. Besides Andretti, who fell to fifth after pitting, the rest of the top six cars were all owned by Chip Ganassi or Roger Penske. We're reverting to the domination of years past. That's bad.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Did Mike Conway really beat Will Power out of the pits at one point? Kudos to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for that. They've taken some quantum leaps forward this year. Honorable mentions: No cars crashing out of the race, Marco's lap 15 pass on Helio, pit strategy screwing Will Power as much as it did.

LEAST SHOCKING: Takuma Sato finishing last. To be fair, though, this time he didn't have an accident, and that's a start. One of these days he'll start getting the hang of it. Honorable mentions: The "Park Milka" trend on Twitter, almost no passing, Danica Patrick at the back of the pack.

THE SIMONA REPORT: After being featured in an IndyCar video on YouTube that showed her drawing the track blindfolded, Simona de Silvestro finished 21st at Barber after being spun with five laps to go. She now ranks 20th in points. For the record, Simona's blindfold trick is cool but not totally unique - if you've ever watched DTM broadcasts on the Speed Channel, often times they will show a driver in the series analyzing the track with a blindfold. To her credit, though, Simona's one of the most accurate I've ever seen.

NEXT YEAR'S RACE: ...needs to feature a lot more passing, especially up front. I don't care how beautiful Barber Motorsports Park is - I think we've all gotten over that. We don't want a Formula 1 event every year.

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