Before this past weekend's Indycar race at Texas, safety was a prime concern throughout the paddock and for good reason. The last race on a 1.5 mile oval ended in the worst possible way -- a driver lost his life as a result of a 15 car pile up which itself was a result of pack racing, which had been the norm of Indycar racing on 1.5 mile tracks. After the Firestone 550, the mood and tone seem to be much more relaxed. The race had virtually no pack racing, and it brought racing back into the drivers hands. As compared to the old Dallara IR-03, which was very easy to run flat out on the high banked ovals, the new car was nothing like that. The various aerodynamic changes that the sanctioning body put in place took away downforce, which made the cars more aero-sensitive and made the drivers actually drive the cars and caused them to lift going into the corners, which broke up the notorious packs of recent years. Another result of these changes making the drivers race each other which made the race more reminiscent of a race at Milwaukee rather than a superspeedway race. Case and Point: race winner Justin Wilson started 17th and moved up the field with a combination of patience and aggressiveness and put himself in position to win the race at the end.
Sure, once Scott Dixon got out in front, he was gone and led a race high 133 laps, but the racing behind him was interesting to watch, and when he got loose and crashed, it set up an interesting finish. Beaux Barfield also demonstrated competence during the race with the incident between Will Power and Tony Kannan. Power blocked Kannan and the two made contact which hurt Kannan's front wing. Power was then assessed a drive-thru penalty for blocking. Barfield set it well before the race, "You can be proactive, but you can't be reactive." Power's move was reactive, so he was penalized. He took his penalty in stride and admitted after the race that he made a mistake.
This race adds to the positive momentum that Indycar has this season, so if the owners and Randy Bernard can all get along, the series can go to a higher place.
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