Ryan Briscoe Wins Firestone 550K

The Indianapolis 500 has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean there’s not still reason to pay attention to the IZOD IndyCar Series.  Those who caught Saturdays nights action in the Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway can attest to that.

Always one of the most popular events on the IndyCar schedule, the Firestone 550k drew over 80,000 people to TMS, and they were not disappointed.  To go along with constant three-wide racing, and even the occasional (and extremely dangerous) four-wide, Indy race fans witnessed a fiery crash involving a popluar rookie, a near-win for a popular veteran, and a former Indianapolis 500 winner angrily confronting another driver.  And did I mention non-stop three-wide racing?  Versus should have put a disclaimer before the start of the race warning people with heart conditions to consult a doctor before watching the following action.  Pretty thrilling stuff.

Highlights of 2010 Firestone 550K at Texas Motor Speedway

A week after crashing out in the Indy 500, Ryan Briscoe won from the pole position, quieting whispers that he could be on the outs with Roger Penske.  It was a dominant performance for Briscoe as he led 102 of 228 laps, but with eight remaining, he found himself in second after surrendering the lead to Danica Patrick.  Patrick, who had systematically picked her way through the field, capitalized when Briscoe was slowed coming out of pits, passing him on Lap 192.

The crowd went nuts when she made the move, a pretty good indication she’s back in fans good graces after sticking her foot in her mouth on Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  It looked for a moment like she might be able to hold Briscoe off, but the Australian was just too strong.  He overtook her several laps later, and cruised to his first victory of the season.  Patrick, who had what Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star called “the best drive of her IndyCar career,” held on for second, and Marco Andretti finished third for the second consecutive race, giving team owner Michael Andretti his best day at the track at this season.   
As always, the Texas heat brought with it tempers nearly as hot.  I was in the stands in 1997 (chk) when A.J. Foyt punched out Arie Luyendyk over a scoring dispute, so I’ve seen what people are capable of at TMS when things don’t go their way.  There wasn’t anything that dramatic this year, but it did get a little heated between Helio Castroneves and Mario Moraes.  Moraes, known as much for his questionable decision-making skills as he is for his unquestionable speed, drifted up the track and right into a charging Castroneves, forcing the Indy champ hard into the wall, and ending the day for both.  Castroneves was none too pleased about Moraes’ mistake, and angrily confronted the young Brazillian while still on the track.

Helio Castroneves discusses crash with Mario Moraes

The scariest moment of the day involved Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Simona de Silvestro.  The Swedish Sensation’s car caught fire after hitting the wall, and slow responding safety crew members and a faulty water hose nearly resulted in a horrific, and possibly tragic, accident.  Thankfully a burned hand was all she came away with.

Simona de Silvestro’s fiery crash at Texas Motor Speedway

All-in-all, it was another successful race down in the heart of Texas, thrilling fans, and carrying on the momentum gained from the Indianapolis 500.  If only A.J. would have punched somebody out.

Final Results for Firestone 550K at Texas Motor Speedway:

1.  Ryan Briscoe — Team Penske
2.  Danica Patrick — Andretti Autosport
3.  Marco Andretti — Andretti Autosport
4.  Scott DixonTarget Chip Ganassi Racing
5.  Dario Franchitti — Target Chip Ganassi Racing
6.  Tony Kanaan — Andretti Autosport
7.  Ryan Hunter-Reay — Andretti Autosport
8.  Alex Lloyd — Dale Coyne Racing
9.  Dan Wheldon — Panther Racing
10.  Vitor Meira — A.J. Foyt Enterprises
11.  E.J. Viso — KV Racing Technology
12.  Hideki Mutoh — Newman/Haas Racing
13.  Tomas Scheckter — Dreyer and Reinbold Racing
14.  Will Power — Team Penske
15.  Sarah Fisher — Sarah Fisher Racing
16.  Raphael Matos — de Ferran Dragon Racing
17.  Mario Romancini — Conquest Racing
18.  Alex Tagliani — FAZZT Race Team
19.  Justin Wilson — Dreyer and Reinbold Racing
20.  Helio Castroneves — Team Penske
21.  Mario Moraes — KV Racing Technology
22.  Bertrand Baguette — Conquest Racing
23.  Milka Duno — Dale Coyne Racing
24.  Simona De Silvestro — Team Stargate Worlds/HVM
25.  Takuma Sato — KV Racing Technology
26.  Jay Howard — Sarah Fisher Racing

Updated Points Standing in the IZOD IndyCar Series

1.  Dario Franchitti
2.  Will Power (-3)
3.  Scott Dixon (-11)
4.  Helio Castroneves (-35)
5.  Ryan Briscoe (-38)
6.  Ryan Hunter-Reay (-45)
7.  Justin Wilson (-67)
8.  Tony Kanaan (-67)
9.  Marco Andretti (-77)
10.  Dan Wheldon (-82)