Monday, May 6, 2013

GoDaddy On The Move – In IndyCar

The new face of IndyCar -- and GoDaddy
At least one of the racing teams is on the move this year.  And in some ways, the plight of the two GoDaddy teams is a reflection of the series they compete in.

While NASCAR was staging its semi-annual crashfest at Talladega on Sunday, those who rose early to watch the IndyCar event – from Brazil of all places –  and could find it on television (NBC Sports Channel, No. 220 on DirecTV), were treated to one of the best road course races in recent memory and perhaps the best street race – ever.

And there was the GoDaddy car out front at the end, James Hinchcliffe making a stirring pass on the last turn of the last lap.  It was the second win for Hinchcliffe in four races to start the IndyCar season and the Canadian looks to be one of the favorites as the series moves to Indianapolis.

Hinchcliffe, who moved into the GoDaddy-sponsored Indy car at Andretti Autosport last year when Danica Patrick took her GoDaddy sponsorship to NASCAR, quickly became a fan favorite with his light-hearted attitude and social media skills approaching those of Brad Keselowski.  With his skills on the track paying further dividends this year, he has become one of the drivers IndyCar is banking on to help restore the series.

Meanwhile Patrick, who NASCAR has been counting on to help with its revitalization, has a few bright moments to show for her first full Sprint Cup season – topped by a pole position at the Daytona 500 and a strong run at Martinsville – but for the most part she has struggled. 

The IndyCar race certainly had its share of crashing and bashing, with a race-record seven caution flags.  But the final 20 laps were run caution free, with as many as five cars fighting for the win.  The series, which at times has tried to enforce no blocking rules, also seems to have shifted to a new “boys have at it” policy.  Leader Takuma Sato, winner at Long Beach two weeks, put on his best Carl Edwards impersonation, attempting to block everyone making a move for the lead, with only slightly better results.  

Hinchcliffe, however, patiently set Sato up for the last turn pass.  Afterwards everyone seemed happy and patted each other on the back.  Of course it might have been different if Sato had held on for the win.  No one showed patience at Talladega and Patrick was left defending a move by boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse, that started the Big One.  Or maybe it was the second or third Big One.  I lost track.

And while the grandstands were packed in Brazil, a testament to the number of Brazilian drivers in IndyCar and the country’s love of motor racing, there were wide swatches of empty grandstands at Talladega.  Certainly the weather accounted to some of those empty seats.  But not all, as many seats were covered with advertising long before race weekend. 

Or maybe fans are just getting smart.  If forced to choose between watching the final 20 laps of the IndyCar race in Brazil or the final 20 laps at Talladega this past Sunday, I’d pick the IndyCar race ever time. 

I'm pretty sure GoDaddy would too.

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