Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday Morning Quarterback

Monday Morning Quarterback

We finally got to see what our Champcar guys, what is left of them, had for the IRL regulars on a more level playing field – a street course; the bread and butter track of the now defunct Champcar World Series. And let me tell you, things could not have gone better outside of sweeping the podium. Here’s how they fared:

  1. Graham Rahal

4. Ernesto Viso

5. Enrique Bernoldi

7. Oriol Servia

8. Will Power

9. Justin Wilson

16. Mario Moraes

20. Franck Perera

24. Bruno Junqueira

This contest had changing conditions throughout; rain at the start, a very wet track, and the added variable of when to change to the faster racing slicks from treaded rain tires. It was evident with Justin Wilsons’ early domination and Graham Rahal’s eventual race win, that Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing work like mad men to gain as much knowledge as possible. KV Racing had a similar showing with Oriol Servia and Will Power consistently in the top 10 throughout the race.

But the biggest surprises of the afternoon had to be HVM’s Racing, Ernest Viso(Hard Charger Award Winner) and Conquest’s Enrique Bernoldi finishing fourth and fifth respectively. While not household names these guys are no strangers to racing. Viso has won two British F3 (B) championships, raced in GP2, and was involved in F1. Bernoldi raced in F3000 and also had a taste in F1 as a test driver. Neither driver looked out of place on the grid, never really putting a wheel wrong.

It’s obvious that Dale Coyne Racing has still got a lot of work to do, but if anyone can find a way to make lemons out of lemonade, it’s this guy.

Other notable takeaways from St. Petersburg:

  1. As promising as the street course results were, don’t look for quite the same results in the next oval event. Those teams have not had the testing and telemetry hours necessary to be up to speed with the IRL requlars.
  2. After getting a lot of their clocks cleaned by the newcomers, some IRL regulars don’t want it to be an ‘us against them’.
  3. Danica is not that good (never was). It’s even more obvious with the influx of more talent.
  4. Sponsorship is up and the IRL has a much better marketing group than Champcar ever had. Expect good things.
  5. Graham Rahal is the real deal with an exceptional team. He will be in the hunt.

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