On Sunday at Detroit, the IndyCar Series found out how dreadful a two-hour delay to patch potholes can be.
The race was run on the street course on Belle Isle, and like many city streets and even older tracks, parts of the surface had been sealed or patched because of wear. And because of the high speeds and downforce generated by the the cars, small bits of the surface and sealant were being dislocated from the track throughout the race.
As the race progressed, mirrors, front wings, (and even helmets, in the case of Tony Kanaan), bore the signs of the flying debris. And then, so did the cars of James Hinchcliffe and Takuma Sato.
As you can tell from the audio, Hinchcliffe was not thrilled. In fact, in one area of the track, track workers were able to pull up the entire rectangular section of patch in one piece, and fairly easily, to boot.
The race was officially red-flagged on lap 45 for two hours, while track workers made repairs. (Roger Penske, who was the race promoter, said that the circuit had used some tips and tricks from Daytona's pavement escapades. However, it's doubtful that Tide was utilized.)
The delay meant that the race was shortened from its original 90 lap scheduled distance to 60 laps. The frantic scheduled 13 lap green flag sprint to the finish also began as some raindrops began to fall on the course, leading to some carnage as Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Ed Carpenter and others spun around. Scott Dixon easily pulled away from teammate Dario Franchitti over the final six laps.
In all honesty, while there wasn't any action during the delay, the race before that wasn't much of a barnburner. Passing throughout the entire course was very difficult and Dixon, the pole sitter, wasn't passed on track for the lead all day. To put it nicely, this wasn't what the series was looking for as a follow-up to a thrilling Indianapolis 500 and as a distraction to the controversy surrounding its owners and CEO.
Will we see thrilling action Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway? That's the first race for the series since last October on a high-banked intermediate track.
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- James Hinchcliffe