Smoking or Non-Smoking

Posted by Iannucci | 6/23/2006 | 0 comments »
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We've got Nicoderm on the side of the car and we're gonna try to beat those Phillip Morris people"
- Dan Wheldon on his car’s new paint scheme and sponsorship

There is a rivalry developing this season, if not already fully in bloom. The top four drivers are all either Penske or Ganassi drivers and all six races this season have been won by one of these four drivers. The castoffs from last season’s underpowered Toyota engines have become the dominant force (fource?) of the 2006 IRL season. To no ones surprise Spiderman and his three victories sit atop the standings with four wins, but most startling is that Well Done is in fourth place despite leading more laps than the other three.

I don’t want to say this is turning into a four car series, but it is. Despite improvement of Fernandez and Vision racing teams and the continued contention of Andretti Green, the only question for this season is Smoking or Non-Smoking.

It’s only fitting this weekend’s race is in Richmond, Virgina – home of Phillip Morris.


Posted by Iannucci | 6/16/2006 | 0 comments »
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Several days ago I referred to Marco Andretti as "Andretti 3.0" since, well, it's appropriate. His father ("Andretti 2.0") had a racing career that demonstrated much of the skill and success of his grandfather's, and Marco looks to be heading towards similar greatness.

Unlike less-famous offspring Anthony, nee AJ Foyt IV. Or Arie Luyendyk Jr. Or PJ Jones.

Well, the good folks at IMS (as in Indianapolis Motor Speedway) Productions have decided to capitalize on the newfound fame out the youngest driver in their series. The have created an 8-part series around Andretti 3.0 (that's two more episodes than IRL races for the young man) that will debut this weekend on ESPN2.

It's called "Andretti 3".

Coincidence? Maybe my little blog has fans in high places.

Time for a New Excuse

Posted by Iannucci | 6/12/2006 | 0 comments »
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Selected 2006 Bombardier Learjet 500 Results:
12. Danica Patrick
15. Jeff Simmons (hey, he finished a race!)
18. Buddy Rice

Now that all teams are running Dallaras, I guess it wasn't the Panoz chassis slowing down the Rahal Letterman Racing team after all.

As a side note, Jamie Little interviewed Danica! after the race in Texas and proudly announced that she (Ms. Patrick, not Ms. Little) was the only driver to complete every race this year. That's an interesting feat considering the entire Rahal Letterman Racing team didn't even start the first race in Homestead.

I'm just surprised it wasn't Jack Arute saying this.

Mr. Cheever Goes to Town

Posted by Iannucci | 6/08/2006 | 0 comments »
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After the events in Watkins Glen last weekend, Eddie Cheever Jr’s Christmas Card list got a bit shorter. Old Man Cheever was cited by not one but two drivers as taking them out, and the two drivers just happened to be wunderkinds Andretti 3.0 and Danica! Of course, it was only a matter of time before the Old Man responded.

Andretti 3.0 was pretty peeved since he had a shot at winning at the time of his accident. Considering the frustrating turn of events the previous week, even his father Andretti 2.0 was pretty upset.

A3: “If he says he didn’t know I was [alongside], he doesn’t belong in the series.”
A2: “(He’s) a complete idiot."
OMC: "To think I would intentionally take anyone out is just ludicrous. It's beyond words. It was a racing accident, pure and simple. There certainly wasn't any intent, so I find the accusations incomprehensible."

Me thinks the old fella doth protest too much. Meanwhile Danica! was a bit more diplomatic in here exchange.

D!: "It is unfortunate and it is silly. There was no point in doing something so desperate on a restart."
OMC: “She did that all by herself."

Whether he is right or wrong - the replays were inconclusive – Old Man Cheever will fall on the wrong side of public opinion on this issue. Maybe he knows he can’t afford a war of words with two popular drivers, which would explain this little dig.

OMC: "The last I looked, I earned the label of Indy 500 champion; those lobbing unfounded accusations at me have not."

Recent Indy 500 Champion Sam Hornish Jr can take heart in knowing he is now infallible.

Please Exit the Vehicle

Posted by Iannucci | 6/06/2006 | 0 comments »
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While all the vultures were picking over the remains of the late Paul Dana’s driving career, I noted that none of them had written beforehand about how hazardous a driver he allegedly was. I also pointed out that in four career IRL starts Dana had never wrecked his car.
It doesn’t take much sense to understand that at speeds exceeding 200 MPH a driving mistake can easily result in a fatality, and it doesn’t take much observation to realize ALL drivers make mistakes. The best simply make them a lot less often then the grid-fillers.

I mention this because even my six-year-old daughter can notice patterns. A pattern displays physical evidence, and there was no evidence – just Post-Mortem conjecture – that Paul Dana had no business being on the racetrack save the one incident that cost him his life.

But for vultures who would speak of unsafe drivers, a definitive pattern has emerged. Now would be a fantastic time to break out the morbid discussion of who should not be racing because Jeff Simmons, who replaced Dana in the Rahal Letterman #17 car, has now had an accident in all three of his races this year.

Three races, three accidents.

I don’t believe in superstition, but if I did I might be inclined to say the #17 has been cursed. Perhaps it has even been cursed by the irate ghost of Paul Dana himself. Then again, considering the Dana’s mishap in the car, the source of the curse might be of jilted driver Vitor Meira. Even Miera would seem to be cursed since he has been carrying the moniker of “best driver without a win” for several years. Wow, this could be deep.

But I have no such inclination towards the supernatural, so I will simply say what I have seen. Jeff Simmons wrecks every time he gets in the car. I have seen him drive on three different tracks for three different distances with one single result.

I can only speculate the reason for no “Simmons is unsafe” type of articles rests in the belief that since he got his ride the “old-fashioned way” he is somehow exempt from criticism. But facts are facts, and if someone is seriously hurt as a result of his next accident then perhaps the voices on high will look back and see the obvious trends.
It doesn’t matter how someone got into a car; it matters what they do IN the car. The good folks at Ethanol would be wise to keep RLR and Simmons on a short leash unless they want to be associated with even more carnage on the racetrack.