Brain Dump: Texas 2018

Confession time: Your humble host is not a believer in karma. It sounds good in principle, some form of equitable cosmic justice in the universe, but for every bad deed that goes “karmically” punished it seems there at least 100 that don’t. Besides, if there were such a thing as karma then how do you explain the career of William Hung?

Nevertheless, if you are believer in karma than you should very much be satisfied at the Scott Dixon victory at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Last year’s race was filled with many crashes, including one where Takuma Sato tried an ambitious pass under Scott Dixon late in the race. Most fans who saw the race probably recall that Sato’s front wheel touched grass, which is a bad thing, causing Sato to lose control and crash out both himself and Dixon, which is doubly bad. They may also recall that being one of many, many crashes. They certainly recall James Hinchclife’s immortal words “That’s adorable.”

But what fans might not recall was that Scott Dixon was going to win that race. While he could never actually get around race leader and eventual winner Will Power, Dixon was able to pull alongside Power and nose slightly ahead of him each time they crossed the finish line. This was going to be one of those closest finishes ever, until Dixon got Sato’d.

The race in 2018 was very different from last year, largely because it wasn’t such a crashfest. Only mistakes by Ed Carpenter and Will Power, and whatever it was that caused Mattheus Leist Car-B-Que moment, brought out cautions on Saturday night. Which begs the question: if you had to pick two drivers to cause issues on an oval, how far down your list would Carpenter and Power be?

Dixon wasn’t the strongest car at the beginning, but he definitely wasn’t going to be caught at the end of the race. He seemed to cruise to victory, setting him alone in third place on the all-time Indycar win list, and then inexplicably donned sunglasses in Victory Lane. I know it’s bright with all of the flames going on around the winner, but come on man.

Otherwise the story of the race was blistered tires, which kinda turned out to not be a story at all. Firestone said it wouldn’t be a problem and to their credit no driver appeared to crash as a result of tire degradation. But if you saw the tires, looking like they had been fired upon by shotguns, you can forgive the racing teams if they were a little dubious about the claims. Still, “blistered tires” made for an compelling storyline, if not an interesting drinking term.

(“If that was your drinking term, you’re already dead.” – The Spotter)

Honorable mentions include:

Zach Veach, who for the first 90 or so laps looked as fast as anyone. He moved up over 10 spots to fourth before he kissed the wall and had to pit for repairs.

Robert Wickens, who seems to be up front everywhere. Had he not had the incident with Carpenter “Bobby Wicky” might well have finished with another podium.

Simon Pagenaud, who score his first podium finish of the year. He might need like six more of those to save his job.

Graham Rahal, for signing a 5-year deal with his dad and then backing it up with a run from 20th to 6th. If he could qualify better…well, where would be the fun in that?

AJ Foyt Racing, for all the wrong reason. Leist, because of the aforementioned fire, and Tony Kanaan, because of an incident similar to Veach’s, were the first two cars to retire in Super Tex’s home state.

Final Lap: I can’t wait to see Fernando Alonso raising on this bonkers circuit next year.

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