Brain Dump: Road America 2017

First off, my sincerest apologies for the late notes. Perhaps all that needs to be said about this race has already been said. But don’t let that stop you from reading this post. Or let it; I’m not going to grovel. At any rate, thank you for reading this far.

(“You’re already in the marbles” – The Spotter)

OK, the race. On a weekend where Team Penske qualified in the Top 4 positions, Scott Dixon went around all of them to claim his first victory of the year in masterful form. I know this because Kevin Lee and Townsend Bell kept calling him “The Master” throughout the later stages of the race. I’m not sure if this is a new nickname or a title. Does he get a green jacket now? Or a gi with a black belt?

Dixon is now one win behind Michael Andretti for third on the career Indycar wins list. He’s 11 behind Mario Andretti for second. Dixon is just 36 years old, and he’s won at least two races per year since 2006. People, there’s a better than maybe chance he’s gonna catch Mario. He’s clearly one of the all-time greats of the sport. An yet, he doesn’t really seem like it, does it?

This is not a slight against Dixon, who hardly ever has a bad word said about his driving or his character. He seems like a genuinely nice guy. Just ask Lucy Heslin. And there’s no disputing his driving abilities, especially his otherworldly fuel-saving methods. It’s just that he’s so quiet and rather invisible for a guy who will one day be referred to as a legend of the sport.

Much of this has to do with the position of Indycar in the culture. Let’s be honest, it’s somewhere between horse racing and women’s golf. But there are still national advertising campaigns around other drivers. Ryan Hunter-Reay sells lunchmeat. Graham Rahal hawks gasoline. Dixon was once in a Target commercial and they didn’t even show his face!

It’s a shame the rest of the world doesn’t get to see how good he is. Maybe, to get some proper coverage, he should change his name to LeBron. Or a misspelled word. Or some unpronounceable symbol. I mean, on name alone Will Power is going to instantly pass Dixon in cultural visibility if he wins the Indy 500. Heck, he may have already.

At any rate, congratulations to Dixon as he marches towards his fifth series championship. He deserves to be more famous than he is, but then again this cat seems so centered he probably doesn’t even care about fame.

Notables:

Josef Newgarden, who if not for his tire strategy might have had his second win of the season. He certainly kept pace with Dixon throughout most of the race.

Helio Castroneves, who started on pole and fought his way to third. In the aftermath of the Texas race there have been some on social media who have said Tony Kanaan is too old to drive Indycars. To my knowledge, no one is saying this about the other over-40 Brazilian in the series.

Mikhail Aleshin, who missed practice because of passport issues, qualified 19th, and then raced to a Top 10 finish. Practice is totally overrated.

Robert Wickens, who practiced in the #7 for Aleshin while the Russian was delayed. Maybe we’ll get to see James Hinchcliffe’s Canadian mate in an actual Indycar race some day.

Final Lap: You know who else gets more airtime than Dixon? Jack. Freaking. Harvey!

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