Brain Dump: Detroit 2017

So, Graham Rahal had a good weekend, eh? It would appear the Detroit Free Press summed up this weekend best with their headline “Graham Prix” – and that was only after Saturday’s race!

Yes, Rahal’s dominance was noteworthy not because it’s so rare to win two races on the same weekend in today’s Indycar era of spec cars, but because he was driving for a team other than the Big Two or Big Three or whatever Big value you’d prefer. In fact, Rahal hadn’t really looked very competitive for much of the year, but somehow they magically rolled off the truck in Detroit with the most dialed in car there was. Good on RLL for finally hitting the setup. Question: does Oriol Servia have anything to do with this?

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Yes, Rahal is a fine driver, and at 27 he’s entering into his prime. But when Robin Miller starts saying this is a Graham Rahal era it’s like saying we’re all going to be driving Teslas next year. Yeah, it’s possible Graham starts rolling off wins in the foreseeable future, but it’s just as possible that your humble host hits a late-40s growth spurt and finally reaches six feet in height. I mean. . .come on, man.

(“I think your writing skills just hit the rev limiter” – The Spotter)

Going into the first race at Belle Isle, the series had seen six different winners in six races this season. After Saturday, it was seven-for-seven. NO ONE is going to be dominant for very long, certainly not long enough to have an era or whatever. And this is a good thing, unless you like watching the same handful of drivers win every race. (In which case I’d like to introduce you to Formula One.) No offense to Rahal or Miller, but it’s very very very (and why not, one more ) very doubtful we’re at the dawning of a Rahal Era. We’re still in the Scott Dixon Era. Or the Will Power Era. Or maybe, based on the last two seasons, were in the Simon Pagenaud Era. Or heck, maybe we’re entering the Josef Newgarden Era, who finished 4th and 2nd respectively this weekend.

Random fact: we are 8 wins into the season, and Chip Ganassi Racing has zero wins. This is the team that employs Dixon and Tony Kanaan. In fact, they have the same four drivers they had last season. And they switched to Honda, which is proving to be the dominant motor of 2017.

Speaking of Dixon – he’s not human. Not in any sense that we would normally consider humans. I joke on occasion that he’s a soulless cyborg sent from the future to destroy us all. And yet he goes through that “wild ride” last Sunday, walks out of the car, then later apparently realizes that he has an injured left foot, then gets fitted for a “boot”, then goes out and finishes 2nd and 6th on arguably the most physically demanding course of the season. He’s unstoppable.

Another Random Fact: Dixon and Helio Castroneves are currently 1st and 2nd in the point standings, and neither has won a race this season. What’s going on here?

Lastly, as for that whole red flag near the end of Sunday’s race, that was TOTALLY the right call. Is it contrived? No. And by no, I mean maybe, but really, you can’t seriously be against that, right? People pay good money to see racing, so the least a series can do is give them the ability to see as much racing as they can. If a cleanup is going to take a significant amount of time then there is nothing wrong with throwing a red flag more often. This was something I suggested should have been done at the beginning of the race in Phoenix, so I’m totally sailing away with the red flag ship.

And if it’s at the end of a race, well, so be it. That’s not contrived. Not like, say, adding extra laps to a race laps to insure a green flag finish.

Final Lap: From Trackside Online (subscription required), Rahal had a chuckle about telling everyone he was going to dominate before the race on Saturday.

“Will Power liked my comment,” Rahal said. “Power said to me today, ‘Hey, mate, give Newgarden some (crap). (so) I was at the autograph session and said, ‘Hey, Newgarden, I’m going to dominate today. You watch!’

“He’s like, ‘Oh, come on, man, nobody dominates.’ He got all bent out of shape.

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