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“I only wish we could have fought at the end, really fought hard. I would have liked to have given that a shot. But it was the race we were running. Auto racing has been like that for many years. It’s all part of fuel.”

Strategy often becomes the determiner in road and street races, and it can be difficult for television to keep track of all the scenarios. Passing can be particularly difficult on street circuits, where there are few good places to make an attempt.

Will Power, who probably had the best car, found himself mired in traffic after making an early fuel stop from the lead. The strategy backfired because the race had only three total cautions, and Power was stuck in the middle of the field the rest of the day.

“It was impossible to pass,” Power said. “Even when I was trying to pass a Lotus that was considerably slower, it was just so hard to get by anyone. Really frustrating because that was probably the fastest car I’ve had in my life.”

Faced with those racing conditions, ABC must then focus on storylines and even that can be difficult. Unlike oval tracks, where one camera is dedicated to the leader and a second camera is searching for the best battles, street circuits don’t have a camera that can see all the way around the course. So it becomes a constant switch from various cameras, and sometimes things are missed, such as Sebastien Bourdais falling out of the race while running seventh.

The bottom line is that this style of racing is an acquired taste and might not be an easy sell to new fans. With only five ovals on the schedule this season, the bulk of IndyCar’s product could look a lot like Sunday. Further hurting IndyCar’s attempt to broaden its audience is that Saturday’s qualifying, which was probably the most exciting part of the weekend, was not broadcast.

For now, the lasting image of the opener is Castroneves‘ emotional post-race celebration in which he stopped his car in Turn 10, recently renamed Dan Wheldon Way, and paid tribute to the fallen driver by climbing the fence to pat the street sign. But now it’s on to Alabama for Sunday’s road course race at Barber Motorsports Park, and television coverage shifts to cable with rebranded NBC Sports Network making its season debut.

It’s impossible to predict how the race might develop or how it will look on TV. The only thing that’s certain is that IndyCar can’t afford a repeat of St. Pete and expect to hold the excitement and energy surrounding this new season.