Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – CONCORD, NC – In a departure from the normal format, this week’s edition of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly takes a look at three positives to be taken from each of the famous Memorial Day races. The Monaco GP, The Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600.
Though Sunday was a great day of racing and entertainment, we reflect on the sacrifices made by those who gave their all to this country. Let’s look at the Memorial Day triple.
Watching Daniel Ricciardo hold off Sebastian Vettel at Monaco early on Sunday morning, it became very obvious that Formula One still has many things going for it after the divisive HALO’s introduction. The precise driving by Ricciardo, in a car stricken with engine woes for almost 50 of the scheduled 78 laps was not just impressive, but darn near awe inspiring.
Ricciardo was approximately 25 horsepower down on the prancing horse piloted by Vettel. Yet through pit stops, and the lack of power on the tight twisting circuit seemed only to inspire Ricciardo to drive deeper into corners and use his disadvantage as a strength. It was a real display of one’s will to win.
This 102 year old event had more story lines than can be written about in any one article, let alone try to pick just one. I’ll try to anyway. The biggest positive I can take away from this month of May in Indiana, was just how safe the entire month was. Leading up to the 500 there were only two on track incidents total. Race day however, proved to be hot and slick.
With ambient temperatures reaching the 90 degree mark and the track surface itself reaching 123 degrees, it was apparent the day was going to be filled with stress as the drivers attempted to pilot newly re designed race cars around the toughest track on the IndyCar schedule, in conditions they have rarely seen over the history of the longest running auto racing event in history.
The fact no one was seriously hurt in any of the accidents, or all month long for that matter, is a testament to what IndyCar has been working on since 2011 when Dan Wheldon began testing the DW12.
Coca Cola 600
Though many fans will complain about the total dominance of Kyle Busch leading over 550 miles of the 600 mile event, I maintain the most impressive thing was the racing behind the dominant driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Camry. The competition behind Busch was fierce all evening long and though we want battles for the lead every lap of every race, that’s just impossible in any series.
The battles throughout the field seemed almost as if they were still in the All Star Race aero package. Slicing and dicing off every restart and segment break brought breathtaking moments of skill and precision as the drivers not only battled each other, but battled mental and physical fatigue. For a vast majority, the grip application to the upper grooves came in very handy all night long as passing was very easily done if you changed your line and found the grip.
Fans managed to find still photos and screen captures of yet another winning car with a big dent in the rear windshield. This can’t be a continuing thing for the series going forward, but as of now, I say that was the least likely reason out of all the reasons one could give as to why Kyle Busch dominated NASCAR’s longest race. Sometimes a guy and his team just get it right.