Brain Dump: Barber 2017

With a little luck, specifically bad luck directed towards his teammate, Josef Newgarden has now notched his fourth Indycar series win. For what it’s worth he has now surpassed Max Papis and Tony Stewart, and has tied Bryan Herta and Mike Conway. Is there anyone who DOESN’T think Newgarden will surpass Herta and Conway this season? Come on, Josef’s going to be signing a lot of video cameras in the not-too-distant future.

Newgarden still trails fellow Team Penske driver Will Power by 25 wins on the all-time list, but that meant nothing as Power suffered a late tire puncture that forced to pit and to surrender position to most of the field. For pretty much the entire race Power had led, but fate flipped him off and called him a wanker for the third race in a row. Power missed the first race last season with concussion-like symptoms, but that seems like a dream season compared to 2017. It doesn’t matter how inspirational his name is, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to come back from the current points deficit to even surpass his teammates, much less the entire field.

While we are on the subject of misfortune in 2017, after three races the trend is definitely towards circumstances that cruelly punishing the driver who establishes the early lead. James Hinchcliffe was looking in command at St Pete before being shuffled to the middle by a full-course caution right before a scheduled pit stop. Ryan Hunter-Reay was untouchable at Long Beach before engine troubles ruined his day. And on Sunday we saw Power’s luck go wrong after his dominant performance. The races in 2017 are a bit like Midwestern weather: if you don’t like who’s leading, stick around a bit and it will change.

And speaking of changes, a little bit of congratulations are in order for celebrated teen author Zach Veach, who finished on the lead lap and kept his one-off with Ed Carpenter Racing in one piece. He wasn’t throwing down record laps, but he wasn’t exactly Milka Duno out there either. His lap times got faster as the weekend went along, and now he will moves to AJ Foyt Racing for The Month of May, where he’ll have the added bonus of being the first driver this season to pilot both a Chevrolet- and Honda-powered entry.

Fun fact: Scott Dixon has seven podium finishes in eight races at Baber. No wins. Something about Alabama turns him into Vitor Meira.

Another fun fact: three races into the season and the points leader is Sebastien Bourdais, of Dale Coyne Racing. Bourdais has had a long journey from McDonald’s to Sonny’s BBQ, but he’s still “Royale with Cheese”. . .Wait, that’s Burger King. “A Big Mac’s a Big Mac“, right? Never mind.

Perhaps the biggest story of the weekend, at least from the perpetual news cycle, was that Fernando Alonso was on the grounds a Barber Gorgeous Facility. Alonso was doing plenty of interviews, and smiling a lot, which is something Formula One drivers rarely do. But we have to wonder: how troubling must it have been for him to see Marco Andretti, who looked fantastic in practice all weekend, have his car get stuck in first gear before the race even started? Should it be concerning that this comes right after ALL of the Andretti cars had mechanical issues at Long Beach? And moreover, do these rhetorical questions reflect a clumsy writing style?

(“PIT THIS LAP! PIT THIS LAP! – The Spotter)

Final Lap: Charlie Kimball completed the first lap without incident. Indeed, he finished the entire race without incident, although, do we have forensic proof that whatever punctured Power’s tire did NOT come from Charlie’s car?

Anyhow, here’s another brutal racing contest from days gone by, between Power(and Hinchcliffe) and Kimball(and Newgarden).

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