Before, I get started here. An extra note. First of all, massive thanks to you all who read yesterday’s piece. It’s the most read of the 30 in 30 so far. If you enjoyed it, I HIGHLY recommend checking out a post from good friend Elizabeth Werth, who does a far better job hammering the points I made further. Yesterday’s post wasn’t about defending my masculinity, as a couple of rather ignorant comments pointed out, but more a case of reflection on my own behaviour, and what I can do to improve it.

Motorsport is a man’s world, and the women within it are under-represented, not equal, and often objectified and it’s mostly our fault as the men who run them, regarding the image it’s portrayed. So, as a man, heed some advice. Shut up and listen to Lizzie’s post, you may just learn something. And Lizzie, if you’re reading this, you’re an angel, and I’m proud to have you in my life. Love you loads.

What’s happening guys?! Dre here and for the first time ever, I’m reviewing IndyCar on top of everything else I normally do! Hooray for early season starts. 2017 kicked off as it traditionally does around the Streets of St. Petersburg in Florida, and while it wasn’t the most entertaining race in the world, it gave us a LOT of talking points…

Bourdais: Last To First

Sebastien Bourdais had started the race at the back of the field after binning his Honda on Saturday, but it was a classic case of Dale Coyne rolling the dice on strategy that brung him into play, with a dash of luck. The luck, being one of the first to stop before a race-changing caution in the middle period of the race between Tony Kanaan and Mikhail Aleshin getting a little too feisty into Turn 4.

With him and Simon Pagenaud pushed to the front of the queue, a better period of fuel management and weaving through traffic got Bourdais a hard earned, almost simple looking victory. It really didn’t feel like he’d gone from last to first, but that’s the double-edged sword that IndyCar gives you sometimes.

One hand giveth, the other taketh away, to James Hinchcliffe’s cost. His early pace was exceptional, at one point having a four second lead at the front from Dixon and Power, but given a lot of the leading pack had the rug pulled out from underneath them with the aforementioned caution, they lost track position, something rather critical on a circuit that only really has one effective place to pass, Turn 1.

Scott Dixon was very vocal about this post-race, calling the way Bourdais got to the front “fabricated”, and claiming that the small piece of debris shouldn’t have caused a caution. Now, I’m going to be honest here, I said the incident, but the cameras never cut to anything that suggested a FCY, like we had a couple of years ago when endplates were flying left, right and centre. So I’m not sure how much validity there is to Dixon’s claim, or whether it’s just another case of Dixie being salty… because that’s happened a LOT lately:

  • Claimed Pagenaud should have been punished for crossing the pit exit line, a line he himself cut earlier in the race without penalty.
  • Left Toronto in an angry huff after a similar caution dropped him out of contention, his wife tweeting then deleting her claims that the series was rigged, going FULL Ayesha Curry.
  • Gave good friend Ed Carpenter the Will Power “Double Bird” salute after they clashed at the Texas re-run.

Yeah… Dixon’s not been the luckiest of dudes lately. And to be fair, he has a point. Bourdais had ZERO chance without that caution, but that’s just what IndyCar is with a closed pitlane on caution. You want fresh fuel and tyres, you drop to the back as punishment. I’m adamant that there’s been many a time where Dixon has benefitted from that same scenario. But it’s an easy card to play when you’re the victim, I guess.

And on a personal note, can we please stop doing everything we can to belittle Sebastien Bourdais? I know a lot of US fans get snide with remarks about him because his four titles was during the “split”, but he’s now won races in the last four seasons, all of them with smaller teams with a lack of resources, won 36 races total, and continues to be one of the few who can win ANY given race on his day. And his tearful celebration was a wonderful thing to see. Throw in his Sport Car career and Seb for me, is one of the finest drivers of this era, pound-for-pound.

The “C” in Chevrolet is for “Complacent”?

What was also interesting to see, was that in the end, seven out of the top ten cars, were Honda. They were fast all weekend, to the point where we questioned whether Chevrolet were sandbagging practise. Turns out by the time we got to Quali, only two of the Fast Six were Chevy, and it took an outrageous lap from Power to take pole.

Conor Daly said post race, in his first time in a Chevy that they didn’t have the, ahem… “power”, to overtake Honda’s, only their own cars. An alarming thought, given the Daly fanbase has waited years for this moment, only to find, Honda might have turned the corner. Especially since getting back together with Chip Ganassi again, who won a title together in 2013.

The only three Chevy’s in the Top 10, were the Penske’s of Pagenaud, Helio and Newgarden. Remember, Penske won 10 out of the 16 races last season. We’ll see if this continues in Long Beach, but if Honda’s back on top, this could be a very different season to what the formbook suggested, even more so if Honda are still strong at the Super-Speedways.

Heavy Breaking Braking

One of the biggest talking points of the weekend was Brembo’s brakes. There was new parts for the 2017 season, and teams struggled to get used to them, especially in the case of Ryan Hunter-Reay, who suffered a HUGE crash in on warm-ups in Sunday morning, and poor Spencer Pigot, running a career high 5th before one of his discs exploded, popping his tyre, ending his race.

Apparently, Brembo have not been allowed to look at car telemetry since Road America last season, so if that’s true, that’s alarming, and surely counterproductive for the series. I hope this was only a one-off, with Long Beach in a fortnight’s time, an equally tough street circuit.

Dre’s “Other News” Roundup:

Big props to Ed Jones, a Top 10 finish on his debut, despite early wing damage. And did you know his race engineer is a woman? Cool shit, yo.

Amazingly, I don’t blame anyone for the Lap 1 incident between Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball. Rahal probably squeezed him out, Kimball probably should have yielded… You give and you take. Glad the stewards left that one alone, but it was a shame as it ended three drivers races before they had gotten started.

12th doesn’t really do Maximum Chilton justice, a great start to his Sophomore season, was running in the Top 10 for a good while, and had the pass of the race around the outside of TK into Turn 5. Impressive stuff all weekend from the lad.

Ryan Hunter-Reay salvaging 4th from a pretty miserable weekend is the best performance of the weekend that no-one will talk about. Big props to Takuma “Not Now” Sato for finishing in the Top 5 on his Andretti debut, I just hope it wasn’t one of Sato’s “flash in the pan” performances he has three or four times a year.

Being a James Hinchcliffe fan is literally taking years off my life.

Colton Herta won Indy Lights Race 2. He was born in the year 2000. Fuck me, I feel old.

Dre’s Race Rating: 6/10 (Decent): I’m going to be honest with you, IndyCar fans get a little too excited for St. Pete. It’s not a good circuit for the calendar outside of location, and it only produces great races when it gets ridiculously crazy. It’s IndyCar’s greatest strength and weakness. Great unpredictability can make a race more intriguing, but it can also dampen the nature of “earning” a win. Just ask the salt in Scott Dixon’s camp. But there was still a decent level of overtaking in the first half, even if the second half is largely forgettable.

World Superbikes from Thailand tomorrow. Till then, see you tomorrow!