The Kids are Alright
First, a quick look at the rookies, who by and large had successful days. Here we go with their scorelines and some thoughts:
- Nothing spectacular here, which (in a race where this happened) can really be considered an accomplishment. Rossi, being a late addition to this season's lineup, has little experience with this car; but if his GP2 (and to a lesser extend F1) record is anything to go by, he can take an automobile around a road course with aplomb. I'm reserving judgement on him so far, but this was a check in the positive column for the young American.
- Daly finishes one spot behind Rossi in race classification, but with some notable upgrades in our scoring system (specifically all of them). He improved by one more position, from P20 on the grid to P13 at the end. He actually led laps (citation here), and while Dale Coyne: the Napoleon of Race Strategy (he won a race with Carlos Huertas) might have strategized Daly to the front, it was Conor who kept himself there. Keep watching that clip for evidence of him dueling aptly with Kanaan, Pagenaud, and Montoya. Of all the rookies, Daly has the most experience with this (or any) generation of indy cars. He's my pick for Rookie of the Year.
- I have to admit something. Chilton fascinates me. When he raced Formula One, I watched him intently, because I had a thing for Caterham (RIP) and he was running for Marussia, so "my" guys were always battling him to be just a little farther from the back. When he came over and ran Indy Lights for Carlin, I was fascinated to see how well he could do. When he picked up some podiums (and won an oval, at Iowa), I was intrigued; and I thought he might challenge for an Indy Lights title this year. But, Chilton jumped from Carlin to the fourth car at Ganassi in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Can't fault him for trying to run in the big leagues, but I'm not convinced that he's ready for it. Prove me wrong, Max.
Takuma Sato fascinates me also, because I just can't figure him out. I don't think I ever will, either, but he makes me feel all sorts of emotions. Knowing that Foyt cars have been good at St. Pete in recent years, I took Sato as one of my Fantasy Indycar picks for the official fantasy game. Frankly, I also took him because I took Pagenaud, Castroneves, and Hunter-Reay; and I needed someone who wouldn't put a big hit on my salary cap. So, you can imagine how gutted I was when I saw this on Lap 1.
But, Sato smartly maneuvered the rest of the race and wound up with a line on our scorecard that looks like this:
Yes, despite a running position worse than that of Max Chilton, (almost entirely due to that incident I linked to above), Sato brought it home in P6, improving four spots on his starting position. So, here's my thesis:
When Sato thinks he can win, he takes risks. Those risks (like this one), never seem to work out well. When he thinks he can't win (ala getting buried early at St. Pete) he drives a smart race, which he is fully capable of doing. It's almost the inverse of his famous saying "No Attack, No Chance." In this case if he thinks he has no chance, he makes no attack. And, in so doing he manages to pull off a good finish. It's worth noting that in Sato's lone IndyCar win (Long Beach, 2013), he took the lead in the pits, not on the track.
Take it easy Taku! (Unless it hands Dario Franchitti the 500, then do what you've been doing...)
Well, that's all the dives we'll do into the St. Petersburg. It's Good Friday, so I'm off to church for the rest of the day. (For those of you new to the blog, I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor.) A blessed Holy Week to you all if that's your thing. If not, have a great one anyway! See you next week to talk Phoenix!