24 May 2009


I suspected this year's Indianapolis 500 would play out very similarly to last year's race and, rather unfortunately, that's the way it turned out. Helio Castroneves ended up on the top of the pile at the end of the day largely as a result of having the cleanest day on pit road and pulled away in the final 15 laps to secure his third victory.

In a carbon copy of last year's race, there were a number of accidents, each spaced perfectly to coincide with a normal pit window. As such, there was very little strategy shuffling at play which combined with conditions making it very difficult to pass on the race track led to a very static and stultifying experience. Limited overtaking can be overlooked in road racing, but it makes for a rather dull oval race, especially when combined with a high number of caution periods.

The problem seems to derive from the current tire compound used by Firestone, which has the double jeopardy combination of not being very raceable and causing a large buildup of marbles out of the groove; the latter has been the primary cause of most accidents in the past three races.

The remainder of a quite surprising top five was rounded out by Dan Wheldon, Danica Patrick, Townsend Bell and Will Power, all of whom, like Castroneves, got there primarily by having a trouble-free day in the pits. Two cars who did not were the teammates of Chip Ganassi Racing, who ran one-two for most of the race but slipped back over the final two stops.