Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In Other Racing News...

The Formula One Turkish Gran Prix was one of the real gems of the season, and it didn't even have to rain to make it good. Fernando Alonso, the reigning champion, and on his way to a third straight world championship, finished second to first time winner Filipe Massa. This is the second race in a row there was a first time Formula One winner--at the Hungarian Gran Prix three weeks ago, Jason Button got his first win.
Massa, the Brazilian driver for Team Ferrari, started from the pole, and managed to hold the lead for the entire 57 laps. There was, at the end of the race, some real racing going on behind him. Alonso, who was ten championship points ahead of Michael Schumacher going into the race, was running in second, while Schumacher was running in third. Kimi Reikkonen, who had won last year's Turkish Gran Prix, was out of the race, tire problems causing him to wreck. Schumacher had been running in second, when there was a foul-up in the Ferrari Pits, as the team had failed to communicate whether Massa or Schmacher was to pit first, and Schmumie had to pass through without pitting, losing over four seconds. He overcame the setback, and with three laps to go was on Alonso's tail. Schumie certainly had the faster car, but Alonso excels at protecting his position. Schumacher fell behind several times after having runs on Alonso which failed, as Alonso successfully blocked. The maneuvering the two cars were performing in the battle for second place was exciting to watch. Several times, through several turns, Schumacher persisted in trying different strategies through the corners, and Alonso persistantly held him off. At the end of the final lap, Schumie made his final charge, and was just passing Alonso at the finish line. Alonso beat him by just one-quarter of a car length.
Still the celeberation for Massa was genuine, and the second and third place finishers made sure to congratulate each other on a race well run. In a demonstration that crossed team boundaries, Alonso and Schumacher lifted the jubulant Massa high upon their shoulders.

Stateside, IRL rookie sensation and third generation driver Marco Andretti became the youngest Indycar driver ever to win an IRL race, as he led the field across the finish line at Sears Point (Sonoma, CA). Proving that the racing blood still runs strong in his famous family, he took the lead three-quarters through the race, and held it, winning on pit strategy and a fuel mileage gamble. I am happy that the IRL has included some road courses in its schedule, and it is certainly good racing.
A first time win in any series for any driver is a momentous time in any driver's life. Congratulations to both Filipe Massa, and Marco Andretti in their first victories in their respective classes.

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