THIS IS RADIO CLASH
Once the green flag waves, things go
quiet again. But the silence doesn’t last
long. The first hint that Castroneves’
championship hopes are headed for the
weeds comes on lap two, when a lot of
undecipherable radio squall is punctuated
by the words “front wing” and “understeer.”
He’s not alone in his misery. On Sunday
evening, Rahal would admit that his car
had been hard to drive right from the
start of the weekend; a problem that he’d
been able to mask to some extent in
qualifying with the use of new tires. But
now, just nine laps into the first stint, the
No. 15 begins to transmit the first of an
increasingly forlorn string of messages.
“The car feels average,” Rahal reports.
“It’s OK, just…average.” Three laps later:
“The vibration is building bad.”
Rahal started the race on stickered reds,
and two laps after reporting the vibration
he swung into the pits to get rid of them in
favor of one of the sets of new blacks that
he’d stashed away. But a stint on those
failed to provide much of a lift.
A time for words and
actions: the title
chatter in Sonoma
reflected the shifting
dynamics of the race.