A combination of pit strategy, good driving and an unbeatable car gave Ryan Briscoe the win in Saturday night’s Firestone 550K at the Texas Motor Speedway. The Team Penske driver started from the pole and appeared to have a dominant car all night long, running at or near the front of the pack throughout the race. Andretti Autosport also had a great run, with drivers Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti showing that they can still be competitive when given a properly set up race car. Patrick finished second and actually challenged Briscoe for the lead in the closing laps, but her car was clearly going away faster than that of her Penske rival Briscoe. Patrick drove a near flawless race (except for her slam-the-door-chop on teammate Tony Kanaan) and actually looked like she wanted to win for the first time in nearly two seasons. Marco Andretti was also quick and took home a season best third place finish.
More below, including footage of Simona De Silvestro’s crash.
The only real drama of the night came on lap 99, when Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro hit the wall in Turn 2. The impact itself wasn’t that bad, but her car burst into flames as it slid down the track to the infield. It took safety crews an astonishingly long time to reach her car, and by the time they did her right side pod was fully engulfed in flames. De Silvestro struggled to get out of her burning car, and rescue workers again failed to produce properly charged firefighting equipment. By the time a rescue worker finally pulled her free, De Silvestro had suffered second degree burns on her right hand, and her car appeared to be a near total loss. For a major racing series, it was disappointing to see how poorly prepared rescue crews were to fight an oil based fire. Like the Lamborghini cash in Brno, I expect better performance from the safety teams of a major racing series.