1997 Portland Thoughts
THE COURSE: The greatest drag race in history. Oh wait, this was a road
course? Ah, who cares. It was only the drag strip that mattered.
THE RACE: Well, I'm not one of those who thought the whole race was
exciting because of the rain and the figure skating exhibition going on.
In fact, in some ways I thought the race was rapidly becoming a fiasco with
all the spins and long periods of full course yellows. Yet, the last half
hour salvaged the event in ways nobody could have predicted. Amazingly
enough, only 7 (or was it 6, see later reference) cars did not finish and all
12 point getters were on the lead lap. And then, there was the finish...
THE END: One word: Legendary. It will be a long time before an ending like
that is ever seen in open wheel racing. Now for the records. It was the
closest Indy car finish ever (.027 seconds), the closest top 3 finish ever
(.055), and the closest top 5 finish (1.106). However, it was not the closest
top 5 finish ever recorded in open wheel racing. It did beat the legendary
1981 Spanish GP (1.24) where 6 cars crossed the line in a pack, but it did not
beat the 1971 Italian GP (.61!). The average margin of victory in a CART race
this year is 1.647 seconds.
BLUNDELL: It is said you first must learn how to lose before you can win.
Mark Blundell learned the former lesson at Detroit, and basked in the glory
of the latter at Portland. A wonderful victory for a driver who suffered so
much in his tough transition to Indy cars last season.
PACWEST: And to complete the touchy-feely "feel-good" weekend, it was a joy
to see this team get their first win in their home region after such a
devastating lose in the previous race. It's been a long time coming, and a
perfect example of what hard work can produce in such a competitive environment
without having to resort to changing the rules or forming new series just to
give slackers a chance at winning.
DE FERRAN: Great moves in subtle blocking at the end, but he couldn't
control the rain tires from spinning, and could only hope that the finish
line came soon to ward off the slick shod Blundell. Gil lost the pole in the
last minute by .060 seconds and lost the race by an even slimmer margin.
UNSER: Desperate men do desperate things.
TRACY: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ... clunk ... clunk ... clunk ... clunk.
ANDRETTI: Great in-car footage. I thought I was watching a dirt track race.
Amazing car control.
FITTIPALDI: I still say he is the most overrated driver in CART, but the
performance he put in coming back from his broken leg and still using crutches
was amazing. It may have been the best drive of his career.
VASSER: Did he or didn't he? The official results list him with 74 laps
and "contact" under the reason for not finishing. He finished ahead of
some who are listed as "running." Some series list a driver who has completed
90% of the laps as a finisher even if he did not take the checkered flag. So,
did Vasser extend his record breaking finishing streak to 26, or is his feat
over at 25?
JOURDAIN: Don't look know, but Michel Jourdain, Jr. actually scored a point.
RAHAL: Based on his interview recently and on his attitude after pulling out
of Portland, I believe we are seeing Rahal's last year.
HOGAN: At first I thought his tirade on TV was uncalled for and immature.
Then, I started feeling for the guy. He loves racing, and all he really wants
is to be able to field a successful team. He put his emotions on his sleeve,
and I guess you can't fault a guy for that.
TEAM GREEN: It has to be asked. Raul Boesel is doing much better this year
than he did with Team Green last year. Parker Johnstone did much better last
year with a team that had limited resources and testing than he has done this
year with Team Green. Is it Team Green? Was Jacques Villenueve *that* good
that *he* was the one that carried this team in 1995?
SCHEDULE: A three week hiatus and then Cleveland. Usually this is the
best road race, and it has produced some of the greatest side by side
action ever seen. But, how is it going to top Portland?!
Copyright © 1997 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.