Raise your hand if you were aware there was a non-points race Down Under, this weekend. Now that that's out of the way, something tells me those of you who didn't raise your hand, or those of you that didn't tune in, want to know about the action.
Although it was a nice win for Australian native Ryan Briscoe, who held off a charging Scott Dixon over the last ten laps, the story of the race was yet another year of disappointment for hometown favorite Will Power.
Power, who is from Toowoomba, Australia, has suffered three straight years of setbacks. In 2006, Power blamed Sebastian Bourdais for collecting him in a wreck, and in 2007, he collided with another driver to finish out of the race. This year, Power managed to take himself out of the race on lap 17, after bending his suspension following a run-in with the wall in Turn 6.
Following the exit of Will Power, the race was up for grabs, with Briscoe coming out ahead of Dixon following a round of pit stops at lap 43. Throughout the final laps of the race, Dixon made a hard charge for the lead, with Briscoe running more conservative due to fuel conservation. Dixon, at one point, ran up to the rear wing of Briscoe, however, he could not make the pass in traffic.
Surfers Paradise also marked the debut of Vitor Miera and Dan Wheldon with their respective new teams, and the return of Dario Franchitti. Wheldon was the top finisher, completing the race in 11th and leading one lap, followed by Miera in 14th, and Franchitti in 16th.
Despite the highly competitive racing found during this year's race, likely caused by the fact that no points were at stake, thus meaning drivers could make moves they likely would not in other circumstances, Surfers Paradise is currently not on the schedule for 2009. Many drivers and fans hope that the IndyCar series can work out a deal, getting the Australian race back on the schedule, even as a non-points, exhibition style race.
The track drew 250,000+ fans over the four-day race weekend, showing the true dedication of Australian race fans. In addition, hometown heroes such as Power, Briscoe, and even Kiwi Scott Dixon, further help to draw fans.
In a final note, Danica Patrick, known for her temper tantrums, finished 18th after stalling her car. She appeared irate while waiting for her engine to be restarted, however, she had no comment after the race.
Other notable finishers: Dixon (2), Hunter-Reay (3), Viso (6), Castroneves (7), Mutoh (8), Rahal (9), Patrick (18)