While trying to sort through the chain of events that ensured none of us would ever forget the 2011 MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225, we take inventory of the day's big Winners and Losers:
Obviously, you have to start with the actual race winner. After Will Power and Takuma Sato had to pit, RHR kept his car in front until the very end. Ryan now has a win and two additional podiums in his last 4 races, which really helps compensate for his nightmarish first half of the year. He's looked more and more like the top driver we know he's capable of being. Not too shabby for a guy on probation!
Will Power's Popularity
Will Power has turned into one of IndyCar's most volatile and must-watch interview this year. After flipping the double-bird to Race Control, he trended on Twitter, was mentioned on multiple news outlets, and ensured his act would be used in countless Photoshop compositions for years to come. Oh, and it was ruled he finished P5, gaining a valuable 15 points on Dario Franchitti in the championship points battle. Perhaps Power shouldn't have lost his temper, but the fans seem to be supporting him in a major way.
This one might be controversial, as there was some talk that Orio Servia's pass at the end should have held. Still, on a day where so many contenders faltered, you have to admire a P2 and P4 finish for Newman/Haas, who continue to show why they are such an amazing, well-regarded team.
Speaking of Newman/Haas, don't forget about their rookie driver today! Hinch ran upfront all day, and closes on JR Hildebrand in the Rookie of the Year battle by 20 points. Hinch has his races where he looks like a cagey old veteran, and this was certainly one of those.
Will Power's Checkbook
The aforementioned double-bird that was flipped to Race Control, plus a few choice comments about the judgment and competency of certain Race Control officials, will likely result in a fine this week.
The Dude In The Outhouse TK Destroyed
If you watch the replay of TK's crash, one of the victims was a perfectly innocent port-a-potty. Someone went home with a large amount of blue dye on them and probably a phobia of portable restrooms to boot.
A spin after Franchitti led the first 119 laps shocked the audience and completely changed the composition of this race. Whether or not blame could be laid at the feet of Takuma Sato, it was a waste of a car that had seemed purely invincible up to this point.
Team Repair Budgets
The aborted last restart caused cars such as Ed Carpenter's, Danica Patrick, Takuma Sato, Will Power, and others to sustain damage. Add to that incidents from multiple other drivers, and it was a day the carbon fiber truly flew.
Not finishing is one thing. Seeing your nearest two competitors in the Rookie of the Year battle finish P4 and P9 is just insult to injury.
If you were anywhere around a social media network at any point after the last attempted restart, you saw fans, teams, and racing personalities all absolutely going crazy over the events that transpired. Most seemed to feel Race Control should not have attempted a green flag run with the moisture on the track. They heard it from Michael Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Newman/Haas Racing, and you know they heard it from Will Power. This would not be a week to be the one responsible for checking that inbox.
After being very fast in practice, a bobble in qualifying ensured Graham Rahal would again start towards the back. He then had a very early collision with Mike Conway, ending the day a dismal P26. Rahal and Conway handled in maturely, but the damage was already done. Graham's racing luck just couldn't be much worse.
Poor Pippa. She never did look comfortable in practice with multiple spins, and finally took a hard hit, ending the weekend prematurely for both herself and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. To her credit, through her struggles, she never blamed the team. She'll be back, but this was a (birthday!) weekend she'll want to forget.
Lost in all the confusion today was the fact that Tag's car caught fire today. Normally that would have been a main storyline, but not yesterday.
In addition to the winners and losers, there were plenty of drivers who fall into a gray area: Takuma Sato, who finished P7 but was a little more precipitation away from his first series win. Ed Carpenter, who jumped all the way up to P11 but cracked up his car on the last attempted restart. Danica Patrick, who finished P6, but also crashed on the last restart. James Jakes, who looked much improved this weekend before a late gearbox issue doomed his day. Tomas Scheckter, who thrilled viewers with a number of wild restart passes before his crash with Marco Andretti and Kanaan.
Farewell for now, New Hampshire. Please remind us to double up on our blood-pressure medication before we race there again.
Zachary Houghton runs www.indycaradvocate.com , which features regularly-updated INDYCAR, IZOD IndyCar Series, and Mazda Road to Indy interviews, commentary, and more. You can find him on Twitter at @indycaradvocate, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .