Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is now a driver coach and consultant to the Indy Racing League, and took time out to give his mid-season report for the IndyCar Series.
We are ten races into the IndyCar Series season, you've seen most of the races in person. How would you assess the championship to this point in the season?
Al Unser Jr:
I think it's very competitive. We've had some great races this season. We've had some not-so-good races this season. Quite honestly I feel the most recent ones with Dale Coyne winning his first race at the Glen is something very, very special, and a real feel-good win that he had for his team. He's been trying for 25 years, so it's great that he finally got his.
Up in Toronto, we've entered into a new market up there. There was a lot of passing for the lead. Everybody's just very super close. You know, you had some high drama with Tomas Scheckter throwing his gloves at Alex Tagliani. It reminded me of the good old days with our racing that we had up there in the '80s and '90s when the single-seat open-wheel series was at its peak. I'm looking forward to the second half of the season.
Who have been some of your big surprises of the year?
Al Unser Jr:
I guess one of the biggest surprises this year is, of course, Dale Coyne winning, Justin Wilson driving for Dale Coyne. They've gotten great performance out of their car. Another one of the big surprises that's not such a good surprise is seeing where AGR is, Andretti Green Racing. You know, they've been struggling most of the season. You've been seeing them qualifying, you know, kind of in the back half of the field, which is very, very surprising for Andretti Green.
It's just, again, that shows how competitive the racing has got. You know, these cars are super close. If you're off just a tiny bit, then you're going to start at the back of the pack. The cars are definitely equal.
Again, that's also kind of been one of the causes for our not-so-good races on some of our ovals, is that they're so close that they're hard to pass. You know, what the IRL is really looking to do, and they're working with the teams and the drivers and everybody is working together vigorously to return back to the side-by-side racing that the IRL is so well-known for. They're making changes immediately. So when we get to Kentucky, I feel that we're gonna be back to side-by-side racing, so....
Let's look at the assessment of some of the individual drivers in the IndyCar Series this year. Your thoughts on our points leader going into Edmonton, Dario Franchitti?
Al Unser Jr:
Dario's had a very good season, you know, coming back from NASCAR racing. He was at the top of his game when he left. I think he's the 2007 IRL champ. He went to NASCAR for 2008. He's come back in 2009. He's leading points, driving for Chip Ganassi. He's doing a super job.
And Dario's teammate Scott Dixon is only two points back in second place.
Al Unser Jr:
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