I am in a loud minority, but for anyone who watched the Formula One race at Singapore, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series race at Chicagoland and the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sears Point, there was some lackluster races. Sunday racing is meant to be fun. I don’t know how it happened, but all three races managed to provide more follow the leader than actual side by side excitement. A lot of writers have stated that the entire pit stop racing was worth everything. It is hard to agree that pitting strategy makes a race.
The most exciting moment of the entire day may be the one that aired the earliest in the United States. The very start of the Formula One race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore had probably the most exciting part of the day. On the first turn, Sebastien Vettal and Kimi Raikkonen squeezed around Max Verstappen. The three ended up colliding; causing a huge wreck that also took out Fernando Alonso. As a result of the wreck, Lewis Hamilton took the lead from his starting position of fifth. After that, the race morphed into the ho-hum Hamilton-dominated race we have gotten used to. Even with two more safety car cautions, the race was non-competitive after the very first turn.
Then, as the morning turned to the afternoon, attention moved to the NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. The race, the first in the Round of 16 of the playoffs, was a show of follow-the-leader or get busted on pit road for something. The most exciting parts of the race involved watching driver after driver get busted for speeding, being over the wall too soon or having loose lug nuts and wheels. Despite constant pitfalls of Chase drivers, the follow-the-leader aspect was in full effect. Slower cars started falling off pace, going laps down. By the end, despite some spins, Stage 3 of the race turned into the Martin Truex, Jr. show. Nothing is more boring than watching someone dominate and knowing nothing is going to change short of a caution. As one would imagine, that never happened.
One would hope the road course at Sonoma and the IndyCar championship weekend would provide more action. Similar to Singapore, once the first lap passed, the race changed significantly. The first lap at Sonoma turned into a wreck session between Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe, among others. Debris sprayed all over the track. No caution flew, despite the off track Hinchcliffe and the debris. In fact, no caution ever flew on Sunday evening.
While most of the action came between Simon Paganeud and Josef Newgarden and their fueling strategies, once it was clear that Newgarden was not going to lose this championship, the race became boring. Tim Cindric keeps telling Newgarden that passing Paganeud was pointless and he should just ride in 2nd. What fun is there in watching some of the best drivers just make laps at Sonoma for fun and just finish it off? What kind of product is that producing for the fans? If Newgarden wants to win the race and the championship, let him.
From end to end in Singapore to Sears Point, watching all three races was a testimony in poor racing. It would be beating a dead horse if explaining all the circumstances that all three have created leading to this weekend. However, hopefully all three series use it as a look in the mirror and changing for the future. Heaven knows, Sundays are for racing.