What we learned: Bahrain, Texas and St. Petersburg

Well, who would have thought I’d be 2-for-2 on picking anything? Much less Formula One of all things?

Just goes to prove what I said before: fast is the key in F1.

As I predicted, Felipe Massa, who had the fastest time in practice and was the defending winner, came from second on the starting grid to win the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Stateside, I did not fare well at all. Carl Edwards ran away with the Sprint Cup Samsung 500 and Kyle Busch, who has led the most Nationwide laps this season, finally led the one that counted to win the Nationwide O’Reilly 300.

I had picked Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick, respectively. Each started on the pole but faded, with Harvick having mechanical problems in Saturday’s race and Junior fighting a squirrelly car on Sunday.

To prove my luck with open-wheelers is limited to the whine and cheesers of F1, my choice for the IndyCar race in St. Petersburg, Dan Wheldon, finished well down the charts.

That race instead was won by former-Champ Car driver Graham Rahal.

So, what did we learn?

1. Champ Car fans, enjoy it now. Rahal proved what everyone thought: that the ex-Champsters would be most competitive on the street courses. Ernesto Viso, another Champster, finished fourth.

It’s good that a Champster won, keeping the fans’ excitement up about the unification, but once the series gets back to ovals, the old-time IRL drivers will again dominate in a big way.

Whether you like her or not, Danica Patrick can drive. She locked her brakes and skidded off the course early in the race, dropping to dead last, but fought her way back to finish 10th. Not a bad piece of driving.

One other thought, I don’t like the fact that the Champsters all have “R” by their names, designating they are rookies. Yes, I know it’s their first year in IndyCar, but it seems to be a bit of salt in the wound … like saying, “your series folded into ours, not the other way around.”

For the record, I don’t approve of Major League Baseball labeling long-time Japanese players like Ichiro Suzuki or Hideki Matsui as rookies, either.

2. No one wants to come to work at Chip Ganassi’s today. Ganassi lambasted his Sprint Cup teams when Dario Franchitti failed to qualify on time for Sunday’s race.

Of course, Franchitti is in the position of having to qualify on time because he hasn’t been lighting up the circuit, but Ganassi doesn’t think it’s the driver.

And although Reed Sorenson finished 24th on Sunday, Ganassi can’t consider that much of an improvement over Sorenson’s string of sub-30 finishes.

Juan Pablo Montoya’s sophomore slump continues, he was 19th on Sunday, but did you see Edwards impatiently bump him out of the way? I bet Ganassi will love watching that replay.

On the IndyCar side, Wheldon finished 12th in St. Petes and Scott Dixon was 22nd for the Target-Ganassi team.

No, I wouldn’t want to be working at Chip’s today.

3. Does Jeff Gordon have the fire anymore? Gordon had handling problems all day long, and recorded just the second last-place finish of his 516-race career.

But how did his car get to be so bad? I know qualifying trim is different from race trim, and the track changed with the weather, but c’mon … he qualified 18th.

And teammates Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt finished 2nd and 12th, respectively, with Casey Mears 22nd. Junior won the pole, too.

How is it possible one of the four Hendrick Motorsports cars could be that far out of whack?

I wonder if becoming a father has in any way dampened the fire in Gordon? Or did he enjoy the red-carpet circuit a little bit more this past year, and decide maybe that’s the life for him?

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