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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Cooldown Lap: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

A collection of thoughts sparked by Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach:

GOOD TO SEE: Ryan Hunter-Reay score a victory and bring Andretti Autosport back to the top step of the podium. Everybody deserves a little job security - the ability to run the full season - and maybe this win will either A) bring in the necessary corporate sponsorship, or B) convince team owner Michael Andretti to fund RHR out of pocket.

DISAPPOINTED NOT TO SEE: More passing. I love Long Beach. It's one of my favorite tracks on the IndyCar schedule. But for Will Power to basically give the win away because he hit the pit road speed limiter was kind of sour.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Mario Moraes finishing sixth and picking up where he left off at the end of last year. I predicted that he'd have a breakout season this year... and so far I've been wrong until now.

LEAST SHOCKING: Jimmy Vasser, Moraes' team owner, winning the Pro/Celebrity Race. I mean, come on, the dude's actually won the open-wheel race before, he knows what he's doing.

THE ESTROGEN REPORT: Long Beach was not a good weekend for the ladies of IndyCar; Danica Patrick finished an abysmal 16th, racing Simona de Silvestro for the last two spots on the lead lap. Sarah Fisher lost a car to an accident. And let's be brutally honest, Milka Duno hasn't done anything all season to merit her inclusion in the series. They had all better hope for a better race at Kansas.

UNDER THE RADAR: Raphael Matos is ninth in points. He's less than 20 points off of the lowest Team Penske car, beating two Andretti Autosport drivers, and is ahead of former series champions Dan Wheldon and Panther Racing. But because Matos' de Ferran Luczo Dragon Motorsports team is one of the series' smaller outfits, we hear very little about Rafa. So here's a shout out to the little team that could... though it certainly helps that a former Indy 500 winner (Gil de Ferran) and Roger Penske's son (Jay) are involved.

IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS: I'd have run Paul Tracy at Long Beach. Hey, four wins and a second place (and an Indy Lights win in 1990) seem to suggest that he knows the place better than, oh, I don't know, Milka.

NEXT YEAR'S RACE: ...will be just as beautiful, highly attended, and obsessed over by the fantastic Long Beach crowds. But I'd like to see less than a five second gap for the win next time.An

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