Inside Racing (cont.)
Apologizing To The Fans For A Sorry Race
Scott Dixon was able to win the race in the pits, and that was enough to win an IndyCar race that truly was the pits.
When Dixon beat Target/Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti off pit lane with 161 laps left, he was able to cruise to victory in Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond.
The race featured just three lead changes among three drivers with Dixon's pass coming out of the pits the decisive move of the race.
"It was definitely tough to pass, so it was a definitely at a premium to stay up front and make sure you had some good tires underneath you," Dixon said. "It was a bit of a procession, unfortunately. It was very tough to pass because of the track. I think it's just the last couple of years we've really slipped into a car that is not enabling a whole lot of passing.
The big moment occurred on lap 138 when rookie driver Mike Conway of England crashed in the fourth turn while Franchitti was about to pit. Because the pits were closed, Franchitti got just a splash of fuel and had to return to pit lane once the pits were opened.
Because of that ill-timed chain of events, Dixon wound up in the lead. The top three cars driven by Dixon, Franchitti and Graham Rahal all pitted on lap 140 with Dixon getting out of the pits with the lead.
And that was pretty much what decided the 300-lap parade -- uh, race.
"I have to apologize to the fans because that was an awful, awful race," Franchitti said. "There's nothing the drivers can do about it. We're trying as hard as we can. It was a terrible race but the bright spot is a 1-2 for Team Target."
Hulman George Family Feud Continues
Tony George's future could be determined when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation holds another board meeting Tuesday.
This meeting may help clarify what Tony George's role will be with the family holdings. A board meeting held on May 26 after the Indianapolis 500 led to speculation and reports that George had lost his role as IMS CEO while maintaining his position as the CEO of the Indy Racing League.
That forced Mari Hulman George to issue a statement saying her son was still in charge of both IMS and the IRL, but the family wanted him to "devise a plan for management of Hulman & Company, the Indy Racing League, Clabber Girl and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that would allow him to focus on the business which requires the greatest attention."
While George maintained the title of CEO, it appears that some of his power has been stripped. Another board meeting two weeks ago had IMS president Joie Chitwood, III, and IndyCar Series presidents Terry Angstadt and Brian Barnhart appear in front of the board to update them on the financial status of each entity they are in charge of.
George now has unified support of the IndyCar Series team owners, who signed a letter of support and sent that to Mari Hulman George at the end of May, asking her to keep George in power of both the Speedway and the IRL.
The family-controlled board includes George's mother, Mari Hulman George as the Chairman of the Board. Her three daughters, Nancy, Josie and Kathi Conforti, Tony George and Indianapolis attorney Jack Snyder are the other members of the board.
After last fall's financial collapse led to an economic downturn in the United States, the three sisters voiced displeasure over how much money has been spent to support the Indy Racing League since it began its first season of competition in 1996.
The worst-case scenario is that George is no longer able to use Speedway money to financially support the IndyCar Series, making it succeed or fail on its own financial merits. And in today's economic conditions, it could stunt the growth of the sport just at a time when it was recovering from a 13-year split with CART/Champ Car that came to an end with last year's unification.