Congratulations to Scott Dixon for winning the greatest race in the world. This was no shocker. Dixon was picked by nearly everyone to win the race. He took full advantage of a relatively inexperienced field and wet May conditions that left little time for the other teams to close the gap. To put it simply: Best driver + best car = victory. Dixon was money all last season finishing second in the 500 and in the IRL points championship to Dario Franchitti. It was his time.
Sure, we are disappointed that Marco Andretti could not seal the deal. We also wouldn’t have minded seeing a bigger name like Helio or Danica take the prize. Only two of the past ten winners have been American, which like it or not, hurts the sport’s domestic popularity. But when you look past the minor negatives there was a lot to like:
1.) Dixon isn’t going anywhere. This is good because developing and retaining talent is open-wheel’s first big challenge after unification.
2.) A (young and talented) Andretti led 15 laps. He can win this race. I’ll be watching year after year just to see the look on Mario’s face when he does.
3.) The Tony Kanaan curse has become a genuine phenomenon. Talk about snake-bit. He has led each of the past seven 500s only to come up empty each time. Classy guy with a winning personality. His interview after his crash was solid drama. His anger at Andretti and concern for Sarah Fisher was the moment of the race for me, on or off the track.
4.) The unification rookies have officially been seasoned. They’ll come to Indy next year with a greater respect for what it takes to complete 200 laps, let alone win the thing. Hopefully they’ll avoid stupid little mistakes like slowing down way too early heading into pit lane.
5.) Who said there was no attrition and no passing? Well, my dad for one. Buddy Lazier improved 15 spots to finish 17th. Ryan Hunter-Reay earned top-rookie status by impressively moving up 14 spots to finish sixth. As for attrition, only the top 18 cars were still running at the end of the race. A nice number of crashes, but still plenty of green-flag racing.
6.) Danica offered a little trumped-up drama by storming down pit lane. Very nice.
7.) Vitor Meira continued his amazing stretch of 80 races without a victory. He has been runner-up at Indy twice in that span. Talk about painful.
8.) Milka Duno didn’t get anyone killed. In fact, she finished 19th despite her embarrasing spin at the end. In other news, AJ Foyt IV didn’t get anyone killed.
9.) Roger Penske didn’t get his vile Daytona/Indy back-to-back.
10.) No need to tell Mr. F1 himself, Graham Rahal that Indy ain’t as easy as it looks. He fell deep into the pack before crashing out and finishing dead last.