Sunday, May 25, 2008

Race Unification

A great Formula 1 race at Monte Carlo has just ended. A race run on those narrow streets by the world's greatest automobiles is wild in the best of conditions but today's race started in a downpour and ended in bright sunshine. Teams were switching from rain tires to wet track tires to dry tires-- at least they were doing that when they weren't busy putting new noses or back wings on the cars that were spending all day running into each other. The winner, Lewis Hamilton, ran out of serious trouble for the most part to get a well-deserved win.

Next the greatest race day of the year moves to Indianapolis. This is the first Indy 500 since the unification of America's two open wheel racing leagues. I was a CART or Champ Car fan and hated the Indy Racing League from its formation. Open wheel racing was too fragile a sport to break into two groups, of course, and Champ Cars had the best drivers, best engineering and my favorite courses-- Laguna Seca and Long Beach. But IRL had the brickyard. That track in Indianapolis gave them the edge and over the years Penske defected, Ganassi moved over and Michael Andretti left Mario behind and built a powerful team at IRL. I felt like the guy still using Betamax telling everybody that my tapes were better than their VHS jokes. Time rolls along, everybody's gone digital, the Beta/VHS wars are a distant memory and now so is CART/Champ Car. So, today, it's done. Unification is here and the Indy 500 is back in our annual sports rituals. As much as I'd like to pick one of Chip Ganassi's favorites today I gotta go with Tony Kanaan in the #11 driving for Andretti-Green.

The last of the big three races today will be in our backyard at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. Tonight the guys who have fenders on their cars will be bangin' into each other for 600 miles.

I'll stay away from the massive favorite, Jr. in the 88 Amp car, and take Carl Edwards.

If the Indy500 and Coca-Cola 600 live up to the standards set in Monaco this morning it should be a great day of racing in America.

(pictured are Tony Kanaan and teammate Danica Patrick... above, local Indy color.)

UPDATE: If you watched the Indy 500 you know that my pick, Tony Kanaan, was leading comfortably when he was knocked out of the race by his teammate (and the son of the car owner) Marco Andretti. At the Charlotte race my pick Carl Edwards finished higher than he probably should have. With no chance of winning he gambled by not pitting for fuel in the final 12 laps. It looked like that strategy was going to get him a top 3 finish until his tank went dry on the final lap. All in it was a great day of motorsports across the globe.