Before the race Mike King of IMS radio called out the Scottish fellow as his pick to win this year's Indianapolis 500, and darned if Mr Judd and Mother Nature didn't make King look like a genius.
Maybe we should fire MoneyCJ and get King to give us the weekly picks...naaaah!
Despite the rain - or perhaps because of it - it was quite an exciting race. From our seats just pas Turn One we could see (and feel) every mishap of the race. Roberto Moreno, John Herb, and Phil Giebler all directly in front of us, and John Andretti lost the groove there as well before colliding with the wall in Turn Two.
No, we didn't bring magnets so you can't blame us for the wrecks. But considering that this was my first 500 since 1997 (which was delayed by two days of rain) I'm claiming full responsibility for the weather. It's all on me, the guy from the desert.
The most interesting of the accidents from our vantage was Milka Duno's, when she came rocketing off the groove - backwards. Never a good sign. When half a dozen men jumped out of the Delphi Safety vehicle to help here it looked like they we're all racing to get her autograph. Duno, who may be the most fan-friendly driver today, waved like she was royalty when helped from the car.
In all honesty, the first 40 or so laps were pretty boring. Total parade. Perhaps they were more exciting on TV, but other than the two Brazilians battling at the front it seemed no one wanted to venture to make a pass in the first two turns. After all the morning rain washed away much of the existing rubber on the track, caution seemed worthwhile.
Franchitti seemed to be the only car to get out by a substantial margin, which makes it rather ironic that he may be tagged with an invisible asterisk for winning in the rain. Sure Tony Kanaan led the most laps and looked to be the car to beat, but I got the impression that Dario's car was just as good. He just seemed content to run his race and not try to chase down his teammates.
On the other hand, Marco Andretti was driving like the world was about to end. I heard him on the scanner a few times, and he was occasionally babbling incoherently to his crew or saying "I don't know" when they asked what kind of adjustments he needed. I'm not really surprised he ended up in that horrendous wreck because he was clearly driving without a plan other than "see car, pass car".
As a side: I wasn't listening to Marco on the restart after John Andretti's wreck, but MoneyCJ was. He later told me the spotter told Marco (in 1st) that Kanaan (in 2nd) would make a move on the restart, and to let him go and chase him down later even though rain was impending. Marco obliged, but less than hap a lap in Phil Giebler wrecked and the rain started to fall. Money says Marco let out a nice long f-bomb.
The rain was annoying, but it gave me a chance to walk around and see the sights. Like drunken couples fighting, conglomerations of Japanese students gathering, as well as some dude in a shirt that said "I'm not Mr Right but I'll f*** you until he shows up." I am Mindy - HEY!
And if it wasn't for rain I'm pretty convinced Helio Castroneves would have won this race. Despite his early troubles his car was working at the end and he had done a commendable job of advancing. I like Helio, but Penske doesn't need a 15th win at Indy just yet.
The shocker of the day was Dan Wheldon, who I'm told had already been darn near intolerable this month. The TCGR greatness just wasn't there, although Scott Dixon did a fine job of hanging around into yet another second-place finish.
Extra kudos to Scott Sharp and Tomas Scheckter for remaining competitive with "the big boys" as well, although Scheckter was making some dicey passes. Wouldn't have been surprising to see him end up on the hook. Jaques Lazier was also driving exceptionally well before hitting the wall.
At the end I was left feeling bad for Kanaan, but Indy is about luck and it wasn't his day. This is what makes this track and this race so compelling - rain and all - and what makes a surprising win by a guy like Franchitti so satisfying. I'm not sure he was an underdog, but he was the closest we had.
I'll have more later, including some pics. But first P1 and I have to head back to Arizona. A special thanks to Link for hosting us and driving us around this weekend, and a safe and pleasant Memorial Day to all.
Indianapolis 500 Testing Photos -
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