'07 is the new '06

Posted by Iannucci | 4/01/2007 | 6 comments »
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It's deja vu all over again. Again.

For the second time in as many races, the '06 winner led from nearly start to finish this year. Helio Castroneves led for 95 of 100 laps at Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg, tying last week's winner (that would be Danny "White Shades" Wheldon) for second on the all-time ICS win list with 12.

The Good
Scott Dixon logged his second straight runner-up performance, which now puts him atop the ICS standings.

Sam Hornish Jr finished 7th, remaining in contention for much of the day. What are the odds he finishes this high in a Busch series race this year?

Darren Manning was running between third and fifth for much of the day before a late spin. In a world dominated by Penske, TCGR and AGR, Foyt Racing and Danger Mouse were riding the "Underdog" vibe.

Brienne Pedigo performed well in interviewing the usually fuming AJ Foyt after the spin. This may well have been the team's lone shot at a podium all year, and yet the rookie was given the task of interviewing Super Tex. Despite the fact that AJ didn't start cursing, it may have been the bravest move of the day.

Speaking of cursing, Kosuke Matsuura dropped a heavily accented F-bomb on (but not at) Vince Welsh right after giving some hand-gestures to Jeff Simmons. Sukiyaki had every reason to be upset, and showing it live gave an emotional connection to a usually non-descript driver.

The Bad
Oh sure, the non-ovary laden AGR team members all finished in the Top 5, but there's no excuse for the first lap collision between Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti. Quit acting like Champ Car drivers, guys.

Speaking of teammates, Ed Carpenter and AJ Foyt IV got tangled up as well in a wreck that sent ECG up, up, and away and out for the day.

Danica Patrick was unable to capitalize on the Power of AGR, finishing in 8th. And not a close 8th, I might add.

Due to accidents that weren't necessarily their fault, the Panther drivers finished 16th and 17th. Yuck.

Either Wheldon had a bad car, sore hands, a new distraction, or who knows what, but he just wasn't the same guy he was last week. Helio may have punted him on a restart, and it may have even been intentional, but Dan wasn't dominating anyone with anything other than pit stops.

The Ugly
My greatest concern with any road/street course is that I'm going to nod off to sleep. When no one is passing - or even threatening to pass - I totally become disinterested. If the cars aren't passing each other then it's not a race.

And although Castroneves and Dixon were nose to tail for much of the race, that's pretty much where they stayed. All day long. Nose. To. Tail. (Dare I say "lockstep?")

On an oval this would have been fantastic racing, but today both drivers were good enough and the track was tight enough that there was nowhere for Iceman to get around Spiderman. So around, and around, and...around...and...a...round...zzz.

I see waves, sail boats, dolphins...Kosuke, wake me when we're in Japan.


  1. Anonymous // April 01, 2007 10:59 PM  

    Must disagree, while I can see how some would see it boring, when compared to last weeks race this race pulse poundingly exciting! Much better than watching DW simply lap three fourths of the field and pull away from everybody. And I love the scenic backdrop.

    Of course for me to say this was exciting is really just and indictment of how miserably boring I found last week, but I must say even though I prefer ovals best I'm starting to like the diversity of tracks and think this could be key to growing the fan base. Although maybe I'm just a champ car fan and am in denial, who knows?

    IRL Fan Dan

  2. Anonymous // April 02, 2007 3:34 AM  

    Champ Car fever! Street races are an acquired taste. You learn to appreciate stuff other than who's in P1. For example, you KNOW someone is going to punt someone at some point, so you watch for that and enjoy the analysis of who was wrong. The strategy to get Dario back into the race was awesome. The drama of the Danger Mouse spinning dashing the hopes and dreams of us fans of the little guy. How will Hornish do? Will Danica finish in front of Buddy Rice when the two clearly are not fond of each other. I agree with IRL Fan Dan, this race was more interesting than the total bitchslap at Homestead.

  3. Iannucci // April 02, 2007 8:26 AM  

    Allow me to restate, which is to say I sacrificed clarity for brevity.

    I didn't find the entire race boring, but I started losing interest when nothing was happening the last 20 laps. I was waiting for a duel to the finish and it never really materialized.

    This isn't to say Castroneves and Dixon weren't locked in a ferocious battle, it's just that visually I couldn't sense the competition. I could only find about three spots on the track where any passing could occur, so much of the time it was just one car chasing the other.

    I wouldn't compare this to last week, which was a one-car runaway instead of two. I was just hoping for a payoff (read: exciting finish) this weekend and the type of track seemed to prevent it.

  4. Jennifer Coomer // April 02, 2007 8:28 AM  

    i was not sure if kosuke really dropped an f-bomb or not. i couldn't understand about 1/3 of what he was saying. honestly, it would kind of humorous to see kosuke so pissed off.

    being that i *heart* helio his winning seems less boring than if other red cars had won.

    and seeing darren manning in the mix was great fun.

  5. Jennifer Coomer // April 02, 2007 8:29 AM  

    I mean, "I found it kind of humorous..."

  6. pressdog // April 02, 2007 11:56 AM  

    Danger Mouse! Street Thug! Awesome drive.