The good stuff came at the end of the Sprint Cup race and at the start of the IndyCar race. One defending NASCAR champion was denied while a multi-champion open wheel driver had his way. A possible new star was anointed in NASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500, although Trevor Bayne has been more like a meteorite since. A possible new star, if not a crowd favorite, was minted in the IndyCar opener, and it'll be interesting to see how she handles this trial by fire.
First up, how did some of NASCAR's best fair after a wild weekend at Fontana.
Dario Franchitti's impressive St. Petersburg win leads the week in IndyCar:
Double-file restarts were a hot topic, considering the rapid acceleration of the cars, but the reduction of the acceleration zone on the initial start to 200 feet was the prime agitator, enabling a pileup that began when Helio Castroneves divebombed the first corner, sent Marco Andretti over Scott Dixon's wheel and onto his roof. Five cars with a reasonable expectation of victory -- and two drivers that had won the race before -- were eliminated.
Ah, forget all that nonsense, Dario. The overnight television ratings came in at 1.4, a number league CEO Randy Bernard said he was "very excited to see." That and a "double-digit" increase in ticket sales at St. Petersburg over 2010 had Bernard convinced the league has begun to provide what fans want. "I am a firm believer that IndyCar listened to its fans and the fans liked what they saw," he told
Bernard attached one in an e-mail: "What a great start of the season. I was at Fontana for the NASCAR race but everybody up and down the paddock was talking about the [IndyCar] racing. Congratulations. I know you guys are working really hard behind the scenes and a lot of people are noticing! Keep up the good work! See you in Long beach"
The Sunday overnight was the best non-Indianapolis 500 rating since 2007 at Mid-Ohio with a lead-in from a British Open playoff between Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia. Buckle up, the people, apparently, have spoken. "Have at it" just lost its fenders.
Kanaan held on to third, with excessive effort, he admitted, but de Silvestro won the crowd. They lined the grandstands long after the race to applaud as she whirred off on a scooter. They lined her paddock area for a glimpse as mechanics packed up her transporter. Self-effacing but confident, she will certainly soon be besieged with "next Danica-this, next-Danica-that" questions, but engineer Brent Harvey said she will handle that, too, just fine.
"She'll enjoy it and be happy and smiling," Harvey said. "She's real kind and has a big heart for everybody and everything. It won't change her one bit. It'll probably make her even stronger and she probably wants it about 100 times worse more now than when she started."