2013 TrackChaser Report #53--Pocono Superspeedway, PA (Day 1)
On Saturday Pam and I made the ten minute or so drive to Pocono, as the Indy Cars returned for the first time since 1989. On the Saturday schedule was the qualifying for the Indy Cars, but also a race for the Indy Lights Series.
I haven't been to actual races on the Pocono superspeedway that many times in my life. I was at a couple of the Indy Car races in the 1980's, a couple NASCAR Cup races when I was young and stupid, and a few of the Race of Champions Modified races when that event was at Pocono and when it was on the big track. Since 1990, my only race on the superspeedway was when I took Pam to see an ARCA crashfest one time. My lack of many races on that track is not real surprising, since they no longer raced Indy Cars or Modifieds on the track, and I have so little interest in anything NASCAR.
All seats were general admission and were $25, which I thought was way overpriced for a single support division 40 laps race plus time trials for both classes. The fan turnout was OK, but my personal opinion is that they should have made the admission $10 to try to get more fans out to see the facility and drum up interest, rather than try to squeeze every last buck out of the real Indy Car fans and have more than 50,000 empty seats. The event program was OK, but left a lot to be desired for $7.
The Indy Car time trials were first up at 1:15. Actually, the Indy Lights qualifying was first up, but we were not there for that. There were two incidents in Indy Car qualifying, and Marco Andretti was fastest, just as he had been in every practice session.
The reason that I wanted to see the Indy Lights race is that I work with the father and uncle of one of the drivers. Sage Karam finished third at Indy, then won the next two races and took the point lead into the Pocono race. His father and uncle both are phys ed teachers in the school district where I work. The uncle is at the same school as me, the father at the other city high school where I used to teach. Both are good guys.
Indy Lights is the rung on the ladder that is just one step away from the Indy Cars, but it is one hurtin' series. For a series point race on a 2.5 mile track, they gridded just eight cars. What an embarrassment. Pathetic.
The race was scheduled for 4:00. When they came for the initial start they were not lined up very good, and the starter did not throw the green. Yet they still counted the lap. That really annoys me. It's "no start", yet the race lap counts? That defies logic. And then the announcer has the audacity to tell the fans they must count the lap, "in the interest of time". They were there all morning and all afternoon. The 40-lap race took 32 freakin' minutes. You mean to tell me that Indy Car cares so little about their top developmental series that they didn't have time to let them race on more lap so they could race their full 40? That would take about a minute. They certainly could care less about the people that paid $25 to see just 40 laps of racing when they count a lap before the race even starts. In the interest of time? That's bullshit. Liars.
When they came around for lap two, the race actually started. Carlos Munoz, who finished second in the Indy 500, ran away with this one, having qualified fastest at 188 mph and then leading every lap. No one was even close to the Andretti Autosport car.
Sage qualified second and dropped to fourth on the start. He soon moved up to third. Sage and Sam Schmidt teammate Gabby Chaves had a spirited race, and switched positions a couple of times in the second half of the race. Sage got the upper hand at the end and finished second, but lost the points lead to Munoz.
Sage, only 18 years old, has moved through the Indy Car ladder system from FF2000 to Star Mazda to Indy Lights. This was his 11th oval race in the three series, and he has been on the podium in every one of the races. That's quite a streak he has going. Unfortunately for Sage, the series returns to street and road courses for the rest of the year until the last race at Fontana. We will see how he fares this weekend at Toronto. At Long Beach he only qualified 10th, but finished the race in third.
As I said, the race only took 32 minutes. All eight cars finished on the lead lap. If you look at the box score, it says there were no caution flags for 0 laps. If I were them, I would be ashamed of counting that first lap before the start and try to hide it too. Actually, if I were in charge, counting a lap before the start would never have happened in the first place.
With the small crowd on hand for the race, we drove right out of the parking lot and were already home less than an hour from when the race started.
Guy & Pam Smith 2013 Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 35 / Pam 22
2013 Events-- Guy 51 / Pam 27
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 52 / Pam 28
2013 Additional new Non TC Tracks--Guy 4 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,512 / Pam 859
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