June 2, 2014
After a week’s hiatus due to racemas – Black Flag is back. What is Racemas? Why it’s the best weekend of the year, the one in which the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, the IndyCar Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Coke 600 all happen one-after-the-other in an epic day of classic racing.
From those three races, there were no black flags, only green flags. Or to put it the regular way – there were no losers, motorsport was the winner – as were Nico Rosberg, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jimmie Johnson. An honourable mention from that weekend goes out also to Kurt Busch, who nearly did the Indy 500 and the entire Coke 600 – 1,100 miles of racing – but was thwarted by a blown engine in the NASCAR event.
Dishonourable mention to Lewis Hamilton, who squealed like a stuck pig over Rosberg’s off in qualifying that triggered a local yellow and prevented Hamilton pushing for a pole position. They’re buddies again now though – or so they say.
From there, we move on to this weekend, resplendent with more IndyCar, some more NASCAR and MotoGP.
IndyCar had a double-header in Detroit, and at a race run by Roger Penske his cars swept both races. Will Power claimed Saturday’s race and Helio Castroneves claimed Sunday’s – climbing the fence afterwards in his signature style. Both races were intriguing, action-packed and fun to watch, with a bucket-load of slipping and sliding in hard-to-drive beasts on a street circuit that perfectly replicates the rest of Detroit with its broken-up, rocky, poorly maintained surface.
In NASCAR Jimmie Johnson won his second straight race, firmly cementing his position in the season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup. The Chase is NASCAR’s version of the playoffs, only without the Maple Leafs… oh wait. That’s the regular playoffs.
Kyle Busch had claimed victory in the two lower tier races, taking out both the Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide race. You can think of those categories as the development series for NASCAR, so Kyle taking his funding level and his experience down to beat up on the up-and-comers is less than impressive. Maybe he should learn from his brother Kurt, and try mixing it up with someone his own size. Kyle for the 2015 Indy 500? I’d like to see that.
MotoGP was once again taken out by Marc Marquez, his sixth-straight pole and win. This time though, Jorge Lorenzo was in proper form, and on the tricky Mugello track looked like a genuine chance to win until the very last lap. His thrilling cut-and-thrust with Marquez turned Mugello into an instant classic – that race will go down as one of the greats. Too early to call? Maybe, but Mugello might be the best MotoGP race of the season – if only because it gave hope that Marquez might be beatable. Faint hope, but hope nonetheless.
So, who gets Autos.ca’s coveted flags this week?
Jorge Lorenzo, for never saying die, for not letting this season turn into a Marc Marquez walkover and for finding his feet once again on the 2015 Yamaha MotoGP bike. We award this week’s Green Flag to Lorenzo. His struggle was ultimately futile, but at least the resistance is alive. Honourable mention to Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi, who scored a podium in his 300th MotoGP race.
Eddie Cheever is a divisive figure among motorsport fans. His on-air banter with Canadian Scott Goodyear is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Cheever went a step too far when we was asked by Goodyear, “Have you ever raced at Le Mans?”.
“Yes,” replied Cheever. “I have won it”.
Only problem is, he kind of didn’t. Well, he did.
Sort of. But not really.
To be fair, Cheever, is referencing 1981, when his Lancia finished second in the Group 5 class. In that year, Cheever’s car was less than 2,000 cc, so he was the first GR5 car under 2,000 cc to cross the line. Problem is, none of the regular Le Mans resources call that a win, with only one site listing a “Division” split for >2,000 cc and <2,000cc in that year. Even if the class was split into two divisions, claiming a “win” at Le Mans is a very long bow to draw, and didn’t help Cheever’s fading credibility.
As an Aussie, and as a fan, I pretty much adore Will Power. So it pains me to say that his racing this season has been rough at best. From restart silliness to less-than-clean passes Power has done it all in 2014. He chopped Simon Pagenaud in Saturday’s race, putting the Frenchman in the fence – his second time crashing out his former friend this season. Then immediately ahead of Sunday’s race, Power said “I’m sick of him hitting me.”
Before we’d even gotten our heads around that logic Power was again in the wars, this time causing a three-car crash on lap one and this time earning a drive-through penalty. It was an ambitious dive that saw the Aussie careen off the inside curb and bounce in to Josef Newgarden (the unluckiest man in IndyCar). Newgarden hit the wall and was then hit by Graham Rahal who was hit by Justin Wilson. Power, to his credit, bounced back from the drive-through to finish second.
Please though, for the love of all your fans, clean it up Will. Please.