High speeds, high drama at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Our lives didn't flash before our eyes, but just about everything else did.
So many things happened so fast. Two races, two winners and only one caution all night in the Firestone Twin 275s. And a halftime draw that resembled a prime-time game show.
One ecstatic winner in Will Power, who earned his first oval-track victory in the nightcap and kept his season points lead. And one furious winner in Dario Franchitti, who fears the unusual format Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway may cost him the championship.
In the end, the drivers didn't like it because it was "random." Drawing for starting spots in the second race brought too much luck into the picture in the eyes of the competitors.
Unusual doesn't begin to describe it. Scott Dixon can say he finished second twice in one night. And two runner-up finishes did not make him a happy guy.
Danica Patrick was unhappy most of the night. Racing at one of her best tracks, her car had handling problems and she wasn't a factor in two tries at it.
But you've never seen a race winner as angry as Franchitti was at the end. He started the night with a victory, but had no chance at doubling up when he drew the 28th starting spot for the nightcap.
"Racing is about skill," Franchitti said. "For the second race, it was just a lottery [a random draw for starting spots] rather than invert the field. You saw the results were a worst-case scenario for us. Will drives off through pure luck of pulling that number."
Power started third in Race 2 in a fortunate turn of a wheel. After a relatively dull first race, the halftime draw got the crowd fired up. The only thing missing was Howie Mandel and his "Deal or No Deal" girls.
The stage had 30 tires with a number on the back of each. Each driver got his chance to pick a tire. Some of the drivers hammed it up and asked the crowd (an optimistically announced crowd of 73,000) to help them make a pick.
It was a hit with the fans, but fairness didn't play into it. Most of the drivers wanted an inverted field for Race 2 so all the best finishers from Race 1 would start together at the back.
Under that scenario, Power would have started 28th, right in front of Franchitti. Instead, Power started 25 spots ahead of Franchitti, the man he's battling for the top of the points standings.
Power had a seven-point advantage over Franchitti after Race 1. He left TMS with a 21-point lead, even though Franchitti moved up 18 spots on the track in the second race.
"We got hosed tonight," Franchitti told a Versus reporter. "And I hope we don't get hosed for the championship by these points or I'll be pissed."
"We should have never been in that position. To have the IndyCar Series race be started on a draw is a joke. It's a shame. There are enough variables without just throwing dice."
Dixon was calmer, as is his nature, but he didn't like it. He picked the No. 18 tire in the second race.
We got hosed tonight. And I hope we don't get hosed for the championship by these points or I'll be pissed.” -- Dario Franchitti
"They at least should have given us bonus points for all the cars we had to pass," Dixon said. "I think [a doubleheader] is a good concept, but it needs to be tweaked a little. It's a little gimmicky for a championship race."
Even Power couldn't argue the point.
"I think it was definitely unfair for Dario and Scott," Power said. "The draw was fun for the fans, but you just can't have that."
It's history now, and it worked for the most part. But the random draw probably won't happen again.
The surprise of the night was the lack of cautions. One came late in the first race from a two-car accident. The second race was green all the way.
TMS has seen its share of scary crashes in IndyCar events, so it was odd that two short races didn't produce any mayhem.
Were the drivers surprised?
"Hell yeah," Franchitti said. "I'm sure somebody lost a lot of money on that. Some of it was luck."
Too much of it was luck as far as most of the drivers were concerned.
"Had we inverted the field [for Race 2], the fans also would have seen a better show," Franchitti said. "We all would have been going to the front. It's entertainment, but it's also a sport. And there would have been plenty of entertainment to invert the field."
Despite the long green-flag runs that spread out the field in both races, it was an entertaining night that kept people guessing.
The drivers felt cheated. The fans? Fair or unfair as a format, I'd say they got their money's worth.
Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He is the author of "The Blount Report: NASCAR's Most Overrated and Underrated Drivers, Cars, Teams, and Tracks." He can be reached at email@example.com.