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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?!

Deep Throttle

Copyright 1997 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

 
 
2008 Thoughts
Long Beach

2007 Thoughts
Preseason Las Vegas Long Beach Houston
Portland Cleveland Mont Tremblant Toronto
Edmonton San Jose Road America Belgium
Holland Surfers Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2006 Thoughts
Preseason Long Beach Houston Monterrey
Milwaukee Portland Cleveland Toronto
Edmonton San Jose Denver Montreal
Road America Surfer's Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2005 Thoughts
Preseason Long Beach Monterrey Milwaukee
Portland Cleveland Toronto Edmonton
San Jose Denver Montreal Las Vegas
Surfer's Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2004 Thoughts
Preseason Long Beach Monterrey Milwaukee
Portland Cleveland Toronto Vancouver
Road America Denver Montreal Laguna Seca
Las Vegas Surfer's Paradise Mexico City Postseason

2003 Thoughts
Preseason St. Petersburg Monterrey Long Beach
Brands Hatch Germany Milwaukee Laguna Seca
Portland Cleveland Toronto Vancouver
Road America Mid-Ohio Montreal Denver
Miami Mexico City Surfer's Paradise Postseason

2002 Thoughts
Preseason Monterrey Long Beach Japan
Milwaukee Laguna Seca Portland Chicago
Toronto Cleveland Vancouver Mid-Ohio
Road America Montreal Denver
England Miami Surfer's Paradise
Fontana Mexico City Postseason

2001 Thoughts
Preseason Mexico Long Beach Nazareth
Japan Milwaukee Detroit Portland
Cleveland Toronto Michigan Chicago
Mid-Ohio Road America Vancouver German
England Houston Laguna Seca
Surfer's Paradise Fontana Postseason

2000 Thoughts
Preseason Miami Long Beach Brazil
Japan Nazareth Milwaukee Detroit
Portland Cleveland Toronto Michigan
Chicago Mid-Ohio Road America Vancouver
Laguna Seca Gateway USGP Houston
Surfer's Paradise Fontana Postseason

1999 Thoughts
Preseason Miami Japan Long Beach
Nazareth Brazil Gateway Milwaukee
Portland Cleveland Road America Toronto
U.S. 500 Detroit Mid-Ohio Chicago
Vancouver Laguna Seca Houston
Surfer's Paradise Fontana Postseason

1998 Thoughts
Preseason Miami Japan Long Beach
Nazareth Brazil Gateway Milwaukee
Detroit Portland Cleveland Toronto
U.S. 500 Mid-Ohio Road America Vancouver
Laguna Seca Houston Surfer's Paradise Fontana

1997 Thoughts
Miami Surfer's Paradise Long Beach Nazareth
Brazil Gateway Milwaukee Detroit
Portland Cleveland Toronto
U.S. 500 Mid-Ohio Road America
Vancouver Laguna Seca Fontana
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