For the first time in six years, open-wheel racing made its return to the Bayou City this past weekend, as the IZOD IndyCar Series hosted a two-race weekend at Reliant Park.
The timing couldn't have been better for the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Race fans saw -- or should I say didn't see -- the points leader lose his spot at the top. They saw a female finish in the top 3 on Saturday, and a driver finish last on the first race day, then third the next afternoon.
Here are 5 things Hair Balls noticed from the day at the races at Reliant Park.
5. Franchitti hospitalized
It's certainly not the finish that IndyCar wanted when they brought the series back to Houston. On the final lap of race 2, Dario Franchitti bumped with Takuma Sato, and was sent crashing into the wall just past turn 5. Franchitti was awake and alert, but was rushed to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center to be evaluated for a concussion, and a pair of fractures to his spine and right ankle.
The crew at the track, dubbed as the MD Anderson Cancer Center Speedway added small bumps on the course to give it some extra quirks. Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe had a sneaky suspicion about those quirky bumps.
"It's not really what you want to see; you know how fast that part of the track is," Hinchcliffe said. "It's bumpy... you do it, I do it, everyone's done it; we come completely sideways over some of those bumps there. I don't want to say it was a matter of time before somebody got it wrong, especially when you got two guys racing side-by-side there."
As is seen often during nasty crashes at race events, debris from Franchitti's no. 10 T-Mobile car made it Grand Stand 4, injuring several. Along with Franchitti, an IndyCar official and 2 fans were also admitted to Memorial Hermann for further evaluation. 11 others were evaluated by medical staff on the scene.
3. Will Power-ed through the second half
Will Power was in full beast mode on race 2. Starting the day in the ninth position, Power slowly climbed his way up the board. On the 40th lap, he went around Scott Dixon and took control of the lead. From then on, he never saw another set of taillights.
The win bumped Power's Team Penske Chevrolet up to 7th place in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings; but with one final race in Fontana, it appears the win was a little too late.
2. Dixon the real winner
The real winner of the weekend was Scott Dixon. He was in second place behind Helio Castroneves coming into the weekend - down 49 points. With a win on Saturday and a second place finish on Sunday, Dixon saw himself all alone in first place in the standings.
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"Another win would have been nice," Dixon said, "but a decent weekend and a good turnaround for us in terms of points. It's still going to be a tough weekend at Fontana. 25 points, it can go anybody's way."
1. Say it ain't so, Helio?
Castroneves never had a chance in the Bayou City. Mechanical problems with his car kept him sidelined for most of the Grand Prix.
"We've had great luck for most of the season. Now, in a weekend, everybody's dream has become an interesting scenario," said Castroneves, who had a streak of 12 consecutive top-10 finishes end in Race 1. "I will tell you one thing, this team is a testament to never giving up and I have faith in these guys that they are going to do everything they can to make it happen in Fontana."