Final Thoughts from Sonoma
Let me start off by saying I can’t believe the season is over so soon. It’s still the dog days of summer and IndyCar has started to fade into the sports background. As a die hard fan, the only news we have to look forward to between now and the start of 2016 are a few test dates, the last MRTI race and the 2016 schedule. I don’t know how the Series can be relevant between now and March. The casual fan will forget all about this season within the next couple weeks. Let’s hope the Series starts earlier than late March and races into early October next year.
I’m going to disagree with quite a few in my twitter timeline but there is a reason Sonoma is nicknamed Snorenoma. It was a boring race in many ways. Let me explain before you throw a tomato at your computer screen. Will Power took off and left everyone at the beginning of the race. In fact, the top 8-10 positions were playing follow the leader. Then race control throws a caution for Filippi. I had to rub my eyes as I thought I had changed channels and was watching a NASCAR race. That other series repeatedly throws phantom cautions to bunch the field back up to make it interesting for a lap or two. That’s how I felt with this caution. Filippi was still under power and would easily make it back to the pits. I wonder if race control started to fall asleep and decided to bunch things up to manufacture some excitement. I’ll give them credit because that’s exactly what happened. Montoya throws his championship away on the restart by punting his own teammate. The cardinal rule in racing is to never take your teammate out. I saw it as poetic justice, you make that bonehead move and you deserve to lose the championship.
After some cars on different strategy made their pit stops, Dixon became the dominant figure. No one ever challenged him, just like Power at the start Dixie took off and left the field. The others in the top 5 began playing follow the leader. The only excitement the race produced was whether Montoya could move his way up to 5th and win the championship. Towards the end, it looked like it was going to happen. I saw some on twitter start talking about conspiracy theories. Bourdais is one of the best drivers out there with multiple championships and he makes a rookie mistake by punting Graham Rahal. This moves Montoya up another position. Once again race control, which earlier in the race did not give a drive thru penalty to Montoya for punting Power, decides to not wait until Wednesday to deliver the slap on the wrist, but gives Bourdais the drive thru moving Montoya up to 6th. I know race control will say that Montoya had to come into the pits to change the front wing so he basically penalized himself. I don’t care, he should still have to come in for a drive thru penalty for avoidable contact.
Thankfully, Briscoe was able to hold Montoya off. I know Sonoma is wine country but Montoya must own the most stock the way he was crying in the press conference. Be a man and take responsibility for blowing the championship. Many would say he’s been coasting the last half of the year or playing it safe. Whether that’s true or not, Dixon and Rahal had been on overdrive and maybe Montoya felt the pressure. The fact is Montoya made a driving mistake and paid for it. Double points didn’t lose it for you, Dixon didn’t cheat to win it. Dixon did what he had to do, which was win the race. If he won, you had to finish 5th and you didn’t. Give Dixon credit, learn from the season and move on. No one doubted that Dixon had the race won and that’s why I thought it was rather boring. How many on track passes for the lead? How many of the top 5 passed for position on track?
It was a fantastic season and IndyCar is undoubtedly the most exciting series in racing, but Sonoma left me wanting more for a season finale. RHR seems to have figured out the Honda setup and it’s good to see him up front again. The tributes to Justin Wilson were well done. The sport truly lost an honorable man, one that could have worked in the front office when his career was done. I think Briscoe earned a ride in the series next year. He filled in admirably for Hinchcliffe. I would like to see him at Andretti as it would seem like a win-win situation. I also feel for Newgarden who once again had pit issues that cost him another good finish. Was this his last race at CFH? Honda will play a pivotal role in where he lands. If they court him, it would be great to see him at RLL. Otherwise he’ll stay in the Chevy fold, most likely with CFH. I have to give a big shoutout to Aleshin, a top 10 after being out all year due to circumstances out of his control. I hope he’s back full-time in 2016. Rahal has nothing to be ashamed of. The last two races didn’t go his way but man did he make it exciting this year.
Finally, congrats Scott Dixon. I’m glad I have had the privilege of watching a legend. Let me know what you think.