Thursday, April 24, 2008

Indy Racing League Winners

Indy Racing League

The Indy Racing League is now truly in the midst of its first season since the much-vaunted "unification" between itself and the Champ Car World Series. Five races into the season, we have already seen some significant results:

  • Grahm Rahal won the second race of the season, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. As his name might suggest, G. Rahal is the son of legendary open-wheel driver Bobby Rahal, who is frequently spoken about in the same conversations as Foyt and the Andrettis. Having a Rahal back in victory lane is a significant step towards recapturing the attention of old-school fans of the sport. As unfortunate as it is, the fact that he an an American certainly doesn't hurt either.
    Making the feat more significant is the fact that G. Rahal is one of the drivers who came over from the Champ Car World Series. While the airport/street course of St. Petersburg would seem to favor the Champ Car drivers, the race has always been on the IRL calendar. Rahal won in an unfamiliar car on an unfamiliar track, and in the rain. This left little doubt that when right turns are in the mix, Rahal is a threat.

  • Danica Patrick won the fourth race of the season, the Indy Japan 300. Anyone who has seen an IRL race in the past few years, as well as anyone with a Sports Illustrated subscription, is familiar with Danica Patrick. She is one of three women currently competing in major-league open-wheel racing, although her win is the first by a woman. Her win proves not only that Patrick herself is capable of the ultimate success, but that women in general are capable as well, something that has unfortunately been rather hotly debated. Patrick is an American as well, and again that has shown to help the ratings. In fact, Rahal and Patricks' wins are the first back-to-back wins by American drivers in recent memory.

The success of the former Champ Car drivers on ovals remains to be seen, but two drivers getting their first series win in only the first five races is a great sign that things are going to be interesting.