Monday, August 9, 2010

Dario Continues Ganassi Roll at Mid Ohio

If you've ever been to the picturesque Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, I'm sure you can appreciate my disappointment at not being able to make it there this weekend to shoot the IZOD Indycar Series and American LeMans Series races. The track is a racing photographer's dream with rolling hills and combinations of fast and slow corners to make vantage points pletiful and interesting. I am happy however, that Dario Franchitti picked up his first Mid Ohio win and continued the Ganassi hot streak of late. For the weekend, Ganassi cars also won in the Sprint Cup at Watkins Glen with former Indy 500 winner Juan Pable Montoya at the wheel - that should salve some of his recent disappointments at the Brickyard and Pocono. On the same bill at the Glen, Ganassi's Telmex sponsored Rolex Grand Am sports car duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas also won. Adding these victories to Jamie Mac's Brickyard 400 win gives Chip some extra pocket change to play with, I'm sure. And the morale at the team shops must be sky high. Well done gentlemen.

Looks like the Target boys are going to give Will Power's Penske Indycar team a run for their money for the season championship after all, with the final road race of the season at Sonoma in two weeks followed by four oval races to wrap up 2010. I've held off writing lately to digest all that has happened in the IZOD Indycar Series over the last few weeks. The series announced its new car spec for 2012 in mid-July, with the tubs to be supplied by Dallara and other pieces and parts open to other manufacturers. Dallara's new plant will be located within shouting distance of Turn One at Indianapolis which should be a boon for teams and the Town of Speedway. Honda just announced it would build a twin turbo V6 for 2012 so they have thrown down the gauntlet for other engine suppliers that may follow, with a relatively open engine spec now on the table to encourage more diversity and competition among powerplants. While there has been some grumbling about a lack of definition in the rules, more will surely be revealed as the season winds down and manufacturers are able to nail down costs so the teams can budget for the future.

On the race track, the Canada swing was more like UFC as the competitors banged off each other and the walls with regularity on the streets of Toronto, and Helio went ballistic after a win in Edmonton was taken away over a blocking call on the final race restart. At first the blocking call seemed ludicrous, but I knew once Helio puts his hands on Indycar officials, he was in deep doo-doo. With the media coverage of Helio's meltdown also came an explanation of the current blocking rule, so it has become clear that Helio was in the wrong place on the race track at Edmonton and paid the price for not understanding the rules. Too bad for Helio, but not necessarily a bad thing for Indycars, as any publicity right now for the series could be regarded as good publicity.

This kind of lead up to Mid Ohio was one of the reasons I was so excited to get to the racetrack this past weekend, but unfortunately circumstances beyond my control intervened so I had to watch Versus while my photog friends were sweating it out over hill and dale for the weekend. I am still hopeful of making the Chicagoland and Kentucky oval races but I am not optimistic right now, as these are usually two of the best oval races all season. Three-wide racing for lap after lap at Chicagoland is not unusual and Kentucky had a photo finish last year after the series modified the rules to allow teams to use different aero bits to improve the show. That was certainly the result and I hope I can get back there to shoot both events and report from their media centers. It is rumored that next year's schedule is supposed to be announced soon, so as this year's championship winds down to another grand finale at Miami, it will be good to start planning for next year.

With another couple of blog posts, I will have completed 200 of these as a true labor of love - for writing, photography and racing. I always hope someone is reading these but I'm just a Hoosier with cameras and an opinion or ten, so if you see something that bugs you, then let me know. Just don't go all "Helio" on me the next time you see me at a racetrack! Wherever the ethanol fumes waft through the air and earplugs are essential, that's where I want to be, with my left eye on the viewfinder and the motordrives humming in my Canons.

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