Cheat Sheet: Richmond 2007

Posted by Iannucci | 6/30/2007 | 10 comments »
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The Indy Raining League came to Virginia yesterday, washing out qualifications for the SunTrust Indy Challenge and placing points leader Dario Franchitti on the pole. As if he needs more good luck.

It should be noted that as much good luck as Mr Judd has enjoyed this season, he's pretty much taken it from just about every pick the Cheat Sheet has had. It's time to face the facts: the Cheat Sheet has hit a prolonged slump of bad luck. I mean not only has it not had a "favorite" actually win a race, our oracle emeritus MoneyCJ has also been astoundingly winless for the past few weeks.

Having not picked a winner since the first race, the Cheat Sheet (and it's picks) have been suffering a Cubs-like streak of bad luck. There has been a tremendous amount going around, especially for preseason Championship favorite Helio Castroneves. Snapped wing at Milwaukee, hit by a tire at Texas, spun on hard tires TWICE at Iowa - once exiting the pits and again behind the Danica Sandwich, taking out Kosuke Matsuura during the latter. He is snakebit, and so are we.

Things have gotten so bad our dark horse picks like Vitor Meira and Tomas Scheckter are also getting taken out in incidents not of their own doing. Quite simply - we are afraid we are jinxing drivers. We don't even have superstitions around here - we just not the coincidence.

So we are staring into the bloodshot eyes of truth and taking a week off to collect ourselves. For starters, we are going to look deeper into the reasons why neither of us is picking Dario Franchitti despite winning several races and leading the championship by a large margin.

We are going to see if Vitor Meira is poised to make another second half surge. We are contemplating if Ed Carpenter and Darren Manning are actually possible contenders in races. We are worrying that Sam Hornish Jr is getting surly. We are still staring into but have not consumed the Danica Patrick Kool-Aid. We need to decide if Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon are no longer lacking on short tracks.

We are even thinking that now may be the time to jump back on the Marco Andretti bandwagon.

At any rate, I would have finally taken Dario and Money would have courageously chosen Helio. But I will instead settle on my couch and observe the events at Richmond, where Penske has been so successful. Meanwhile Money will be partying somewhere at Richmond International Raceway, yelling obscenities at the Venezuelan government.

Enjoy the show!

Meira's suspension of disbelief

Posted by Iannucci | 6/29/2007 | 0 comments »
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As you can see in this footage from today's practice session at Richmond, something is up with Vitor Meira's ride. You gotta think that whatever the part was in the left front suspension that broke last week in Iowa just got replaced...and then broke again today. Either they have a defective set of parts or they modified/installed them in a consistently bad way.

I imagine the IHJ will be journeying over to the Panther pit shortly.

The weirdest part is that it's breaking in the left and not the right front, where all the load is on the turns. How bizarre - our man Money should start snooping around.

Foyt cleared of charges

Posted by Iannucci | 6/29/2007 | 1 comments »
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Remember how back in March we found a story about how AJ Foyt IV had been busted for a DWI in North Carolina? Yeah, well, nevermind.

Foyt has been cleared of a driving-under-the-influence charge stemming from a Dec. 10 traffic violation in Mecklenburg County, N.C. (That's the whole story from the Indy Star.)
Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

Oh, and Mr Lawyer - Al Unser Jr on line one for you.

Welcome to Richmond

Posted by Iannucci | 6/29/2007 | 0 comments »
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A blogger per race - that's all we ask.

Just as Pressdog was live from the Iowa Speedway last week, our buddy MoneyCJ is in the house at Richmond International Raceway for this weekend's festivities.

Word is he may ask Danica! if there is any truth to allegation that she in fact "really really REALLY wants to win". I am not making that up.

Danica wants to relieve herself

Posted by Iannucci | 6/28/2007 | 0 comments »
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I think Mrs Hospenthal's response below is code for "Stop asking me stupid questions about how I will feel when I finally win!"

"It's going to be nice to do it. It's probably going to come when everyone least expects it, including myself, but it's time," she said. "It's time to just do it and get it over with, and I can't tell you that I'm going to be over-the-moon ecstatic. I'm going to be relieved." (MORE from
Cheer up, girl. You're #95 on Forbes Celebrity 100 and #2 on the list of "America's Favorite Female Sports Stars".

Winning will only get you a bad haircut.

Knights of the Oval Table

Posted by Iannucci | 6/28/2007 | 0 comments »
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Slow IndyCar news day? That must mean it's time for another round of self-indulgence with the boys.

Money and I almost came to fisticuffs...digitally speaking. Read all about it at Pressdog's place.

Quote of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 6/28/2007 | 3 comments »
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From a Q&A with AJ Foyt in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Q: How do an Englishman (driver Darren Manning) and a Texan communicate?

A: I always got along with foreign people. And even though I went over there and raced, I just don't like the way they eat and the food they eat. And wearing a necktie at breakfast, that just ain't A.J. Foyt. It might be Mario Andretti, but it ain't me. I'm just A.J. If I want to eat breakfast, I want to wear a T-shirt. I might have a hot dog, I might have eggs. I don't believe in tuxedos and ties. It's just like putting me in jail when I have one on.
He eats hot dogs for breakfast, he gets along with "foreign people", and he refers to himself in the third person. We may have to start a "Foyt in '08" Presidential campaign soon.

How Vitor keeps his winless streak intact

Posted by Iannucci | 6/27/2007 | 2 comments »
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The intrepid Curt Cavin has finally addressed something no other mainstream “journalist” covering the IRL has: what happened to Vitor Meira at Texas Motor Speedway.

Question: I asked after the Texas race about Panther's claim that Meira and Kosuke had been treated wrong by not being put on the lead after leading going into a caution. You didn't give a response, but I see in your grading of Panther you say Vitor lost a lap because of a "scoring error" in Texas. Scoring error on who's part? Should Vitor have actually won Texas? (Kurt, Chicago)

Answer: First of all, I'm sorry if I didn't answer your question; the volume of them prohibits me from answering all of them. It appears Vitor should have been a lap ahead of the field at Texas due to a mistake made by the IRL, but league officials have yet to come forward with that admission.

If you were not aware – and quite frankly who could have been given all of the NON SIDE-BY-SIDE COMMERCIALS during the tape-delayed broadcast of the Bombardier Learjet 550 – Vitor was leading at lap 49 when a yellow flag occurred. While most of the front-runners had already made a pit stop at that point, Meira had not and was a lap up on the field when he chose to pit under yellow. Unfortunately for Meira and Panther Racing, while he was pitting a number of other drivers roared past the pace car (allegedly despite much yelling by the Iron Hand of Justice) and pretty much gave themselves their lap back.

From the Panther Racing recap:

During the first yellow flag period on Lap 47, Vitor was leading the race and completed his first pit stop. At the same time, several cars passed the pace car under yellow, which led to serious confusion on the part of IndyCar Series officials. Instead of retaining the lead of the race, Meira was shuffled behind several cars, many of which had to make two pit stops under the yellow. The team was never given a proper explanation for the mix-up.

Vitor Meira: "We're still trying to figure out what in the world happened during the first yellow flag. I was in the lead during the caution, did my pit stop, and ended out behind several cars that had to make two stops. The Delphi car still should have been leading the race. What an absolute mess. I wasn't one of the cars that passed the pace car, and somehow we end up near the end of the line? I was the only one to respect the pace car, and I was the one that was the most penalized. It might not have changed the final result at the end of the day, but I thought the Panther team was lucky and instead we were penalized. We still don't have an answer."
The summary is this: Vitor was one of six cars to finish on the lead lap, but those other 5 supposedly passed the pace car and got their lap back. They basically all gave themselves NAPCAR Lucky Dogs and knocked Meira off the lead. Consequenlty, the Mirror Man remains winless in 67 IndyCar events.

Everyone makes mistakes so we aren’t going to condemn the Iron Hand of Justice lest he smite down our very existence. But it must be said that in this era where there are multiple video cameras at events and electronic sensors exist in both the cars and the tracks it seems extremely unusual that this would happen at all. How is it between lap 49 and 228 none of Barnhart’s minions had a chance to review the video and tell drivers X, Y and Z that they are now minus one lap for passing the pace car? Isn’t this the kind of thing (and at the same track, no less) that got USAC scorers booted from the IRL ten years prior? Just askin’.

Then again, this is what has become of Vitor’s ICS career: finishing no better than second whatever the circumstances.

The irony of course is that Sam Hornish Jr – who recently called out Vitor as “desperate" to win in Iowa – was the direct beneficiary of the T&S mess in Texas. There is unparalleled respect for Sam at My Name Is IRL, but he should probably be giving Vitor some sympathy instead of grief. Or at least a thank you card.

Shave and a haircut

Posted by Iannucci | 6/27/2007 | 4 comments »
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Not quite the same, dude.

IndyCar® Series star Danica Patrick with a shaved head? While she's not a fan of the look made famous by Demi Moore in G.I. Jane or more recently, Britney Spears, if it is up to her, she'd much prefer to keep the hair on her head.

But her teammates at Andretti Green Racing-Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti- have other ideas. Much to her chagrin, her teammates have vowed to shave her head once she captures her first series win....Now Richmond International Raceway president Doug Fritz is getting into the act to show his support for Patrick. Fritz plans to join Patrick in celebrating her first win if she takes the checkered Saturday, June 30 at Richmond International Raceway in the SunTrust Indy Challenge Presented by XM (see photo of what Fritz might look like with a shaved head).

"We're going to start a craze," Patrick said. "Forget Britney (Spears)." (MORE)
As amusing as this might seem to be, this bald thing is getting out of control. How about if Danica or Sarah or Vitor or Ed or whoever gets their first win we just do the Snoopy Dance and be done with it?

Better yet - if Milka Duno wins how about her buddy Hugo celebrates by drinking a bottle of Citgo Supergard? That'll do.

Chat Alert: Scott Dixon

Posted by Iannucci | 6/27/2007 | 1 comments »
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Watkins Glen International will host its next LIVE driver chat on the WGI Fan Talk Forum on Wednesday, June 27th and will welcome a series and Glen champion. 2003 IndyCar Series and 2-time defending Watkins Glen Grand Prix champion Scott Dixon will be the featured guest and will be available for fans questions from 7:30 PM - 8:00 PM. He will be the second and final IndyCar Series driver to participate in the WGI Live Driver Chat leading up to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix, July 6-8.

This is the second of two 30-minute live chats that feature drivers from the IndyCar Series. The live chat will be open to any and all race fans that go to the WGI Fan Talk Forum or the WGI homepage ( A link to the live chat will become available to all visitors at about 7:20 PM and will be active for the entire chat. (MORE from the Watkins Glen site)
Suggested topics for tonights discussion with the Iceman include:
• Are there really Hobbits in New Zealand?
• Dan or Danica - who wins the big throwdown?
• How come you don't go back to your old hairstyle?

If you haven't read Dixon's Q&A with the Indy Star last month, then you may not realize how funny this guy is. For example.

Q: Your teammate, Dan Wheldon, has suggested in fun that maybe married drivers like Tony Kanaan don't go as fast as the single drivers.

A: "I think it actually gives you incentive. The wives spend more money so you've got to make more money so it speeds you up. That's what happened to T.K. She's starting to spend all the cash, so he's got to pick it up a gear. Same with Helio (Castroneves)."

Quote of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 6/26/2007 | 9 comments »
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So who was at fault for "the Big One" in Iowa? Danica? Ed? Quattro?

Uncle Sam says blame Vitor. From

"The 4 car [Meira] sped up and slowed down and jacked a bunch of people up," said the Team Penske driver. "You've got people who haven't won out here who are desperate, and it's unfortunate when they take out championship contenders."

UPDATE: MoneyCJ is wondering what's up with Uncle Sam. Read HERE.

British commentators sound smart

Posted by Iannucci | 6/26/2007 | 4 comments »
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Judging from this footage from a broadcast by Sky News or some such UK signal it would seem that during yellow flags in IndyCar racing they actually go back to the studio and have the pointy heads break down the action. What satellite do I have to install to get that instead of even more commercials with Carl Edwards and his massive teeth?

An alternate solution would just be to have ESPN allow Joe and Patrick from the TSO Podcasts to host from a trackside studio. Those two sound EXACTLY like these blokes. Almost. Kinda. But without the British accents.

Seriously though, what’s interesting is how the commentator suggests the problems this weekend were due to the staggered banking of the Iowa Speedway. Interesting theory, although I don’t recall hearing any of the drivers note this as an issue.

Still, enjoy the British accents. Makes me wish Jackie Stewart could climb back into the booth (I know, he’s Scottish – close enough).

Simmons keeps his tongue moving

Posted by Iannucci | 6/26/2007 | 6 comments »
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When I see a headline like "KISS rocker Simmons keeps his tongue moving at Newton", it's like finding a gold nugget in a pan full of pyrite. I have found an article either worth reading or requiring me to take shower to wash off the filth. Or both.

In any case, as long as Tony George is going to allow Simmons to showcase himself as representative of the Indy Racing League, the mockery shall continue of The Tongue. So check out the quotes from this story, where The Tongue is basically flaunting the fact that he's got a Playboy model at home with their kids while he drags around a couple of blondes in Iowa.

KISS rocker Gene Simmons, flanked by two attractive, tan, blond women, created a stir everywhere he walked on the Iowa Speedway infield.

"Women spend all this time putting on makeup and perfume to look like this. The least we can do is pay them attention," Simmons said..."It's like flowers on the table. Why wouldn't you want to have more flowers than just one?"

This guy's a regular greeting card, eh? Come on, the only time he uses the word "flower" is when it's included in "de-flower".

"I think Iowa gets a bum rap. Whether it's the water or the corn out here, you make beautiful women - and there's nothing wrong with that. God comes here, too."
Anyone else find it odd Simmons is talking about God? Were random lightening strikes reported in Iowa this weekend? Was the traffic jam really a manifestation of a plague?

"Shannon (Tweed) is back with the kids," said Simmons, framed with a knowing grin. "As you know, I'm not married and there are many beautiful women in the world - and you should be nice to everybody."
You wanna be nice to everyone? Then take your freakshow mouth and JUST GO AWAY! Or at least pony up some cash and help start a team. Then go away! Please.

Step outta the car, son

Posted by Iannucci | 6/25/2007 | 6 comments »
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I bet those NAPCAR “Drive for Diversity” folks are feeling really proud today.

First, congratulations to former Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, who recorded his first Cup victory yesterday at Sonoma. Yes, I know, a former Formula One driver won on a road course – shocker! But being just about the only “ferriner” in the series and the only one who is not pigmentally challenged (unless of course Bill Lester happens to get a ride), Pablo is likely to get a whole lot of play out of this. LOOK – the tin tops have DI-VER-SI-TY! Soon they may have (gasp!) women driving as well. Not.

Wait, it gets better. The poster boy for “Drive for Diversity” has become Aric Almirola, a 23-year-old from Tampa of Cuban descent. Almirola has several Top 10 finishes in about 10 races this year in the Busch Series, and this weekend he was given a chance to compete at a race at THE Milwaukee Mile when teammate Denny Hamlin was delayed because he couldn’t find a helipad to land near the track. I hate when that happens.

So Almirola goes out, won the pole, and led 43 of 57 laps...until the team told Aric to pull over and let the tardy Hamlin drive the car. It’s true – the sponsor (Rockwell Automation) apparently wanted Hamlin in the car. So Hamlin went on to win, but he received no credit or cash for the victory. He also didn’t receive congratulations from Almirola, who left the track in a huff and hasn’t spoken to team officials since.

And they wonder why that series has such a redneck image.

This isn't Hell, it's Iowa

Posted by Iannucci | 6/24/2007 | 5 comments »
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The inagural Iowa Corn Indy 250 is done and I don't think anyone would color this event a screaming success. Oh sure, the stands were packed and there were no raindrops, tornadoes or flying monkeys on Sunday, but the carnage...oh, the carnage. Oh, the humanity!

Before I start acting like My Name Is IRL Hater, I want to congratulate Dario Franchitti on surviving the ordeal. At the end of the race he had the best car and he took it to Victory Lane.

But just as putting a microphone in front of Ashley Judd's face is largely a bad idea ("Oh is he doing a Zanardi?") something seems to have gone sideways with all the hype of flat-out, three-wide racing that was promised. Instead, it was demolition derby on a Sunday afternoon that ended with a parade.

Maybe it was the tires, which were so hard the winner raced around a hundred miles on the same set. Maybe it was the newness of the track, and drivers were still figuring out where there were four grooves and where there were two. Maybe they were all ticked off they didn't get down to Knoxville.

Or maybe a couple of Vision teammates made a joke about a "Danica sandwich" that went to far. I dunno. Whatever the reason, the Rusty Wallace Extravaganza was a horrifying display of what Indy Racing is generally NOT. The marquee names we crashing early and often, the side-by-side racing wasn't promoting much passing, and when it was all said and done we were left with two teammates who were clearly not going to pass each other.

Come on, you didn't think Marco was going to try to overtake the points leader, did ya?

The Good

Hey Marco - 2nd place! Look at the good things that happen when you stay on the track. Now you know how Dario felt following you around the last few laps at Sonoma last year.

Scott Sharp stayed clear and finished in third, although that was largely due to the Block Parties he was throwing for Ed Carpenter and others. It occurred to me this is likely why Patron tequila is his sponsor. Synergy.

The Mirror Man was looking very strong - until someone broke out the voodoo doll on his suspension. What was that? Is Kosuke behind this?

At least it was a good day for Foyt Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. When was the last time there were post race interviews with Buddy Rice, Darren Manning and Sarah Fisher? I bet folks almost forgot they actually spoke.

The Bad

OK - raise your hand if you want to see 10 cars racing at the end. Anyone? I mean other than you Foyt and D&R folks.

Apparently the weatherman and the Firestone people were not on the same page, as the participants all had tires ready for the heat while the forecast turned substantially less than heat-filled. Evidently they are not familiar with that saying about weather in the Midwest - if you don't like it stick around a few hours and it'll change.

From the best I can tell you'd have to go back to the '05 Indy 500 to find a race on an oval that no Penske or Ganassi car finished higher than Helio's 8th. Normally watching so many others compete with and surpass the standard bearers is good, but with two wrecks, a mechanical problem and a stalled car sidelining the red and white brigade...not so much.

Milka quietly pulled off after completing only 60 laps. How ironic it is that with all of the carnage she was neither the victim nor the cause of any wreckage. She might have broken the Top 10 if she could have managed some speed and hung around. Pity for Hugo.

The Ugly

I'll leave this to Pressdog, who truly needs your sympathy. Someone give this fine fella some tix to Chicagoland as compensation, please.

I left my house at 9:30 and got to the track at 1 p.m. It takes 45 minutes to drive to the track. Sat in a stop and start line of traffic for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Mad props to the Iowa Speedway for such an effective traffic plan. Really. What you want to do is charge fans $50 a seat, talk up how super neat the racing facility is, then make them sit and wait for two and a half hours to get in.

Also, thanks for making me look like a total asshole for highly recommending everyone I know go to the race. I got to my seat on lap 89, but only after I walked by a few thousand totally pissed fans. The biggest professional sporting event ever held in Iowa was apparently too big for the Iowa Speedway.

Cheat Sheet: Iowa 2007

Posted by Iannucci | 6/23/2007 | 2 comments »
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Earlier this week I was at Amazing Jake’s celebrating P2’s sixth birthday, and once his Tony Stewart cake (flavor vanilla, taste bittersweet) was consumed the adults and our shortys all headed straight to the indoor go-kart track. The track is more circle than oval – like one constant left turn at 15 mph or whatever – and after 10 minutes of this constant cranking to the left I noticed my hands were getting rather sore.

Yes, I felt like a wuss, but that’s not the point. I was still able to pass the teenage Scott Sharps who were holding several block parties, although that’s not the point either.

The point would be this weekend’s inaugural Iowa Corn Indy 250 at the brand spanking new Iowa Speedway presents the IndyCar series version of this go-kart track, although about 170 MPH faster and a smidge longer. The 7/8ths of a mile track will be used like a humongous 218 mile left turn, with the back straightaway being the only section of the track providing about 3 or 4 seconds of straight travel.

So mostly it's an afternoon of constantly cranking left, leaving me to conclude there will be many achy drivers come Sunday night. You know, based on my scientific personal experience. At an indoor playland. In an orange go-kart.

(BTW – if you find yourself at Amazing Jake’s: the Orange cart is way loose, the Blue one has a lot of grip, and the Yellow and Black ones are total pigs. To no one’s surprise the Red one with the “10” on it is hooked up. Just sayin’.)

Since Iowa Speedway is a new track, I’m using strictly the results from the 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway as a gauge for determining favorites. I’ll give some weight to the results from THE Milwaukee Mile since it’s only a mile in length (hence the name, duh!), but it’s a different type of course being flatter and with longer straightaways. Iowa, like RIR, is as close to making a constant left turn as you will find, although unlike RIR it appears to have more racing lanes.

And if you are traveling to the trace, be sure be sure to read (or re-read) the Pressdog Guide to Iowa. It’s classic.

Also it would seem that based on the impressive displays from both car and driver, many are looking to this race as Danica!’s best chance for a win. Our buddy Pressdog is even anticipating her personally confronting him in Victory Lane. Although she has performed like she CAN win a race, I’m not going to predict a winless driver WILL win one – especially on a brand new track. I can’t drink that much of the Danic-Aid.

In fact, if I was picking a first-time winner I might pick a different driver.

Castroneves – Top 3 for three straight years before tire problems cost him a shot at Richmond last year, and he was “driving with his knees” towards victory in Milwaukee before discovering his new retractable rear wing. Penske has had a few weeks to resolve that issue, and Spiderman is already scoping out a spot on the fence to climb.

Hornish – Two wins at Richmond, a victory in 2005 at Milwaukee, plus he’s coming off a victory in Texas. So yes, the Penske cars will be favored heavily in Iowa, although Helio gets the nod because he tested here before Sam.

Franchitti – Mr Judd was the runner-up at Milwaukee this year with podium finishes at Richmond the last two years. Looks like he’s got a knack for the short track.

Kanaan – He owns Milwaukee, but he has never finished better than 5th at Richmond. Should he be concerned? Naaah. He’s raced well at every track this year, so go ahead and throw the history out the window.

Dixon – Until the wreck (wrexas?) in Texas, Iceman had finished 2nd or 4th in every race this year. There’s plenty of room to move around on this track, but it’s been a long period of short-track misery since that win in Richmond in ’03. Then again, he's tested here before and his pole victory shows it.

Wheldon – Since 2004, TCGR has been under performing on the short tracks. The looked improved at Milwaukee in recording P3 and P4 finishes, but they still appear behind Penske and AGR on these circuits.

Meira – Mirror Man has finished second at Richmond twice, and has also performed well the last few weeks. You haven’t seen much about this, but Panther Racing expressed concern over a scoring issue where Meira supposedly lost a lap at Texas that would have given him his first victory. How dark is this horse?

Patrick – Her best finish on a short track was 4th at Milwaukee – in 2006. Sure she would have fared better had she not had a touching incident with Wheldon, but that doesn’t mean she would have won the race.

Andretti, Carpenter, Foyt, Manning, Scheckter, Sharp, Simmons - It may appear I'm getting lazy here, but this is a new track and the qualification times from the pole sitter (Dixon) to P15 (Manning) is .17 of a second. This race figures to be tighter than Danica!'s...well let's just say it should be close, and it might well be won by any of THESE drives because of fuel strategy or pit stops.

Fisher, Matsuura, Rice - Black cats, broken mirrors, waling under laddrs - whatever the reasons these three have been struggling to get near the front all season long for various reasons. They need to find some speed and take advantage of the close competition.

Duno - As in we DO KNOW she will be at the back.

Money Says: "Helio. Admittedly, I have been a little out of whack on my last few picks. If Spiderman does not climb that goddamn fence out there in Cornholesville or wherever they are, there shall be no more picks from MoneyCJ."

Well, I think the last time we agreed was on Homestead when we both picked Wheldon, so I'm certain Helio will be EVEN MORE fired up on Sunday at his impending victory. Ahem.

Lloyd wins, Guthrie injured, Klein extremely lucky

Posted by Iannucci | 6/23/2007 | 4 comments »
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If you watched the Iowa 100 online today then you learned at least one thing about the new Iowa Speedway: Beware of Turn Four.

From the start of the race several drivers had incidents of either going too wide or getting too dicey with others in the final turn on the sub-mile track that left all those fans in the front straightaway with a lovely view of sliding or slamming vehicles. As Pressdog would say, it was a "festival of carbon fiber". Let's see how many ICS drivers lift or dive low in that turn tomorrow.

The race itself was a two-man battle between Alex Lloyd and Wade Cunningham. Wade did a fine job of blocking defending by going low in the turns and high elsewhere to use up all available lines, until with 12 laps to go he gave Alex room to go low and that was that.

Hideki Mutoh put together another solid effort, finishing third. For a guy who had never driven an oval, he's learning rather expeditiously. Mutoh battled the last half of the race with Sean Guthrie, who got high in (surprise!) turn four and crashed hard into the pit wall. Guthrie got out under his own power but was later reported to have a broken foot.

Meanwhile, a sincere "crap your pants" moment occurred when Jonathan Klein got caught up in (take a guess) turn four and slid down the track. At nearly 90 degrees. In traffic. All I could think of was "Alex Zanardi" before Andrew Prendeville incredibly dove down to the grass to avoid t-boning Klein. Missed him by thatmuch, thankfully.

Congratulations, Alex. That's six wins and two places in eight races. Sheesh! I hope you're getting excited about driving for Marty Roth in Chicago later this season.

Happy Birthday Dan Wheldon

Posted by Iannucci | 6/22/2007 | 3 comments »
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Somewhere deep in the heart of Iowa the British are celebrating right proper. Born June 22nd, 1978, Daniel Clive Wheldon won the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar series championship in 2005. This of course is totally lost in history because of some girl who won rookie of the year in both instances.

Let it be known that in 54 races since 2004 the Well Done one has an unparalleled 13 victories and has placed in the top 5 all of 37 times. Read that again: 37 out of 54, people! Make you wonder what he gets so uptight about, don't it?

Random Wikipedia citation: "He once admitted that he preferred socialising in America than Britain because 'it's easier to get laid'." Ahem.

At any rate Happy Birthday, Dan. For now we offer best wishes by sharing this clip of you with Mr Jack Arute, and we sincerely hope Jamie Little sent you a candygram.

Stop reading this site

Posted by Iannucci | 6/22/2007 | 0 comments »
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Go over to our buddy Pressdog for updates thoughout the day from Iowa Speedway.

Find out about Wheldon's shoes, women's prisons, and who got pulled over for a speeding ticket in Iowa. Click HERE.

But does it pump at 24 cents a gallon?

Posted by Iannucci | 6/22/2007 | 2 comments »
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This note and photo from the intrepid folks at TrackSide Online:

The trophy for this race is pretty interesting. The winner of the Iowa Corn 250 will get about a four foot tall replica of an old fashioned gas pump. It is of course painted green. Not sure where you'd put it in the trophy case, but it is pretty cool.
What - you expected a giant stalk of corn? Come on, that thing is sweet. And if it actually pumps liquids I think MoneyCJ might invite himself to the victory banquet.

Meanwhile, get yourself a TSO subscription.

Shear madness

Posted by Iannucci | 6/21/2007 | 3 comments »
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The clearly bored folks at (this image is THEIR handiwork) have taken Tony Kanaan's comment about shaving Danica!'s head a bit further - which is to say they've broken out the Photoshop.

Notice that the bald option is "The Kanaan".

Can we add the "Bow Wow Wow" as a choice? That's like partially shaved and partially still intact. Mr Hospenthal would be thrilled, no?

What the Sam Hornish Jr is going on

Posted by Iannucci | 6/21/2007 | 6 comments »
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I’m a few days behind on some of my reading, so today I cam across this article from the Des Moines Register about Sam Hornish Jr and his goals. For much of this season, we have all concluded that Sam was just going through the motions in between racing every kind of fendered vehicle he could get Roger Penske to prep for him. We have assumed that our dear Uncle Sam was gone at the end of this season, much like Tony Stewart packed up budding IndyCar career and headed for the greener pastures (as in paved with cash) of NAPCAR.

Well, we may be off a bit in our predictions. If reporter Rob Gray is to be believed, then there’s a glimmer of hope for those of us that would like to see Uncle Sam stick around in the ICS for a while longer.

Ambition, not dollar signs, feeds Hornish's desire to dabble in NASCAR, and possibly do more down the road...His long-range goals dwell in the rarefied air of the unprecedented.

No. 1: He yearns for the chance to become the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400.

No. 2: Winning the Daytona 500 would be nice as well, as only A.J. Foyt, a grand marshal at Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250, has won both the Indy and Daytona 500s.
If these are really the items at top of Sam’s “to do” list, the thing to keep in mind is that BOTH of these goals could be met even if Sam remained on a full schedule of ICS events. The Daytona 500 is run in early February prior to the start of the IndyCar season, and the Brickyard 400 is always held at IMS during an off week in the ICS schedule.

This isn’t an entirely unreasonable proposition, since joining Foyt (and the egregiously omitted Mario Andretti, Rob) in any motorsport accomplishment is an worthwhile pursuit. In fact, considering all Sam has accomplished it’s probably a good thing that he’s setting such ambitious goals and not remaining complacent. Modern day racing could benefit well from a successful cross-series competitor, and realistically Tony Stewart is the closest we’ve gotten to that in a while.

This just in: Tony Stewart is quite popular.

Now, it’s true the best way to accomplish Sam’s goals is committing to all tin tops all the time, but Hornish appears to making a go of it (at least this year) by racing in Busch or ARCA or whatever during only the free weekends he and Roger Penske have. And if this “part-time” course of action can be shown improve his performance and put himself in a position to be competitive, then who’s to say he won’t do this again next year.

This may be a pollyanna point of view, but if Mr Gray is right then either Sam’s ambitions have been grossly overstated or The Captain has helped him focus on what exactly it is that Hornish wants. In other words, he may not be so gone after all.

Chat Alert: Buddy Rice

Posted by Iannucci | 6/20/2007 | 1 comments »
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Watkins Glen International will resume the LIVE driver chats on the WGI Fan Talk Forum on Wednesday, June 20th and will welcome a winner of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing". 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice will be this week's featured guest and will be available for fans questions from 7:30 PM - 8:00 PM. This marks the return of the Live Driver Chats that were met with great success leading up to the 26th Running of the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

This is the first of two 30-minute live chats that will feature drivers from the IndyCar Series. Both live chats will feature a different driver from the IndyCar Series leading up to Watkins Glen Grand Prix, July 6-8.

Both of these live chats are open to any and all race fans that go to the WGI Fan Talk Forum or the WGI homepage A link to the live chat will become available to all visitors at about 7:20 PM and will be active for the entire chat. (MORE)
Suggested topics for tonights discussion include:
• Do you miss the Phoenix heat during the summer?
• Sarah or Danica - who has the better hair?
• Don't you wanna curve the bill one of those hats just once?
• Ever get tired of seeing footage of the flip in Chicago?

I don't normally link to clips of crashes, but I did in this case because I'm still impressed at how the Delphi Safety Team was on Rice's car before it came to a stop. Those folks rock. Period.

Knights of the Oval Table

Posted by Iannucci | 6/19/2007 | 1 comments »
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For your reading pleasure we now offer more witty and brilliant self-indulgence from three slappy IndyCar fans you graciously indulge - strictly for your amusement of course. This time we all gathered at Money's place on FastMachines.

Never before has Tomas Scheckter gotten so much discussion. Enjoy!

Iron Chef Scheckter

Posted by Iannucci | 6/19/2007 | 5 comments »
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In a recent promotional event for the upcoming race at Watkins Glen, Tomas Scheckter bested Scott Dixon in an IndyCar version of Iron Chef. (This pretty means they took two drivers and asked them to cook some dinner.) Not too sure what the “secret ingredient” was for the contest, but judging from the food they produced it was not “donuts”.

According to, Scheckter’s winning meal consisted of grilled flank steak with cream of mushroom sauce, grilled asparagus marinated in soy sauce, grilled shrimp accented with lemon juice, boiled and fried new potatoes seasoned with rosemary and garlic, and chocolate-covered strawberries with powdered sugar.

Hmm. Looks like he didn't cook Marco Andretti's goose. Curious.

The victory must have tasted sweet (sorry) as it was The Wrecker’s first win of any kind since 2005. Said Scheckter after the victory, “Chairman-san, I came here with one goal: To humiliate Iceman in a large stadium. I believe I've done that.”

OK, he didn’t really say that. But he should have.

Why Roger Penske has white hair

Posted by Iannucci | 6/19/2007 | 1 comments »
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Hey Sam, on your left. Comin' through. Excuseme!

Alex Lloyd has a losing streak

Posted by Iannucci | 6/18/2007 | 2 comments »
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I wonder if after this weekend Alex Lloyd would concur with Marco Andretti’s assessment that “Second place is nothing.”

Bobby Wilson was the beneficiary of the wacky inverted lineup for the second leg of the Indy Pro series Liberty Challenge at IMS. With the top 8 starters being inverted in order of finish in the first leg, 7th place Wilson got to sit on the front row with Ryan Justice. Wilson made the most of the opportunity by taking the lead on the first lap and never relinquishing it, thank you very much.

Conversely, this meant that Hideki Mutoh and Alex Lloyd were set to start 8th and 7th respectively for the 18-lap road race, but they both managed to move up to the podium before the conclusion. So the previously unbeaten (well, this year at least) Lloyd finishes 2nd in both races on the IMS road course, while Mutoh continues to impress with Top 5 finishes in 6 of 7 Indy Pro races. Somewhere, Kosuke Matsuura is updating his resume.

After the Indy Pro races, the United States Grand Prix was won by 22-year-old Lewis Hamilton, who had reached the podium in EVERY ONE OF HIS FIRST SEVEN Formula One races. Brilliant! If you would like to read about one fan’s experiences at the races at IMS this past weekend, check out the LiveFast feature by one of My Name Is IRL's regular readers.

Go Go Godzilla!

Posted by Iannucci | 6/16/2007 | 0 comments »
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The man they call "Godzilla" has broken the streak! Call Arni and claim the $6 to buy yourself some Asahi, young man!

Hideki Mutoh continued his domination of the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After leading practice and winning the SWE Pole Award on June 15, Mutoh led all 18 laps of Race 1 of the Liberty Challenge on June 16 to claim his first Indy Pro Series victory.

The win was the first for Panther Racing since 2003 when the team won the championship with Mark Taylor.

The victory on the 13-turn, 2.605-mile circuit snapped the record five-race winning streak of Alex Lloyd. Lloyd, who started second in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems/SSM car, finished second, 6.273 seconds behind. (MORE from

Raider of the lost ARCA

Posted by Iannucci | 6/16/2007 | 1 comments »
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Well, it's good to know that if this IndyCar gig falls apart, and if this Busch series venture doesn't work out, Uncle Sam should be safe making a career out of ARCA racing.

Friday night Sam Hornish Jr started from the pole, encountered some fueling problems somewhat reminiscent of Indy 2006, and worked his way back up to finishing second in the Michigan 200. Sam was runner up to Erik Darnell, who happened to win a reality TV show called Roush Racing Driver X last year. (Shameful confession: I watched this show. Hey, it was October - what else was I gonna do?)

Anyhow, congratulations Sam...If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad.

What's wrong with this picture?

Posted by Iannucci | 6/15/2007 | 0 comments »
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The IndyStar is reporting Ed Carpenter was fined for dropping an f-bomb on live IMS radio this past weekend, but something about the online version of the story seems not quite right.

What in the world is up with the online editors this week?

Descending further into the depths

Posted by Iannucci | 6/15/2007 | 3 comments »
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As if Busch racing hasn't been frustrating enough for Sam Hornish Jr, this weekend he will drop down a peg or two on the competition chart and compete in his first ARCA RE/MAX series race at Michigan International Speedway. Race fans can only ponder: Can World of Outlaws be far behind?

In all seriousness, Uncle Sam actually managed to win the pole position in his first ARCA race, which with an average qualifying speed of over 186 MPH is rather commendable. But the quotes coming from Sam during the preparation for tonight’s ARCA 200 at MIS are even more interesting than his prospects tonight.

"The team didn't really have any plans to come and run this race. I started bugging them. They said, 'That's the only off week in about three and a half, four months. Are you sure you want to do that?' It's a race. I said, I'll go try it out." - from the Detroit Free Press
So this was all Sam's idea, right?

"Even before I won Indy and the Championship last year this is something we've talked about. We haven't had that big sit down talk yet about the future and what kind of racing we'll do. And really, that isn't my decision. That's the whole team's decision." - from All Headline News
Is it me or does this read like Sam is pushing for as much seat time in any tin top while “the team” is a tad less enthusiastic? Could it be that Roger Penske is less than thrilled with Sam’s Busch series runs and would prefer to keep Hornish in the ICS? Do we dare think that standard bearer of American Open Wheel is not just interested but actually lobbying his owner – to the point of running ARCA races – in his personal quest for NASCAR?

Sacre bleu!

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your recorders!

Posted by Iannucci | 6/14/2007 | 4 comments »
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Set your TiVo, DVR, VCR or just plain watch it this weekend. From IMS:

Racing fans can get an unprecedented look at the preparations leading up to the 91st Indianapolis 500 on May 27 through "24 Hours of Indy," a one-hour special that will air at 7 p.m. (ET) Saturday, June 16 on ESPN2.

The preparations for the world's largest one-day spectator sporting event are seen from a variety of perspectives in the ESPN Original Entertainment program. By following several characters for a 24-hour period, ESPN captures the intense, pressure-filled logistics required to stage such a large event and provides an understanding about the huge scale of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

These characters will be followed during the show:
•2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr.
•IMS Chairman of the Board Mari Hulman George
•IMS CEO and Vision Racing co-owner Tony George
•Actor and musician Ludacris
•IMS Director of Engineering & Construction Kevin Forbes
•Longtime Indy 500 fans Tom and Jim Hamilton and Glenn Harm
•IMS Safety Patrol members
•IMS Food and Beverage manager Denny Newman
•IMS Retail Services manager Jeremy Coffman
Maybe Jack Bauer will show up in time to save Marco Andretti by disarming his exploding car. Oh wait...wrong 24.

Wii may need to get this

Posted by Iannucci | 6/14/2007 | 1 comments »
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It’s been a few years since there has been a video game featuring Indy racing, but Destineer Studios will be having one out later this year. One catch – it won’t be current drivers and tracks. Oh no, my friends. Instead it’s gonna be IMS only and it will feature only cars and drivers from 1961 to 1971. That’s right - Novi versus Turbine, baby!

Indianapolis 500 Legends is being designed exclusively for Nintendo systems, which includes the Wii. For those of you who may not know much about video games, the Wii (pronounced, as Mr Judd says, “Wee”) is currently the hottest selling system on the market due largely to the Wii-mote, which is a more like a magic wand instead of a button mashing device. In other words, you won’t get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome using the thing.

Although you might get sore using the thing like a hammer to pound off the lugnuts during pitstops. I'm not joking, people - that's in the game.

But who cares about soreness when you get to race AJ, Mario and Parnelli around the Brickyard? Here’s a nearly 7-minute preview of the game, which is due to be released in October, which sounds like perfect timing to help us get through the winter absence of ICS racing.

Gene Simmons discusses the Mindy Song

Posted by Iannucci | 6/13/2007 | 7 comments »
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I’ve never met Gene, but I’ve heard he’s actually a really swell fella. But Gene, really - it’s time to say no to drugs.

The only people I’ve ever met who speak with this kind of detailed weirdness and these excessive hand gestures are people who are stoned out of their freaking gourds. If you’re going to be the poster boy for corporate rockstars then you might want to take a moment to clear your head before you start talking about nonsense like drivers choosing to drive in wind tunnels. (Say what!?!)

Then again, this does explain a lot about the Mindy Song. HEY!

Round on both sides and Hi in the middle

Posted by Iannucci | 6/13/2007 | 0 comments »
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"There's nothing wrong with Ohio
Except the snow and the rain
I really like Drew Carey and I'd love to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame"
- Ohio (Come Back to Texas) by Bowling for Soup
Today the wonderful world of IndyCar commences the Mid Ohio Open Test in preparation for the Honda 200 on July 22nd. You can proactively follow Timing and Scoring at or you can be lazy like me and let the braintrust at Trackside Online email you the skinny from the Sports Car Course.

So far in early testing Scott Dixon leads the T&S. Shocker.

Why you don't wave BEFORE the finish line

Posted by Iannucci | 6/12/2007 | 3 comments »
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This sure looks like clown car racing, so it should come as no surprise that at least one driver is a total clown. Enjoy!

Dewey defeats Truman

Posted by Iannucci | 6/12/2007 | 1 comments »
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Heads up to MoneyCJ for this catch.

This would explain why the editor is working in Nova Scotia.

My Name Is Mike Potekhen

Posted by Iannucci | 6/11/2007 | 0 comments »
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Recently Arni the Indy Insider started a supplemental pool for the first Indy Pro driver not named “Alex Lloyd” to win a race this year. Arni kicked in a dollar, got Lloyd himself to kick in a dollar, and the pot has reportedly risen to all of $6. That’s six – no zeroes there, sir.

With the two Liberty Challenge races on the road course at IMS this weekend, you can bet drivers will be setting Lloyd in their sights in hopes of claiming the $6 to celebrate with a nice cold six-pack of their favorite beverage. (Well, they would get prize money and trophies as well.)

One of the better bets to claim that $6 is Mike Potekhen of the upstart Apex Racing team. After achieving fair results for two of the first three races this year, the 25-year-old from Silverthorne, Colorado, asserted himself at the Freedom 100 in Indianapolis by not only qualifying 3rd but also finishing 6th after being forced to go to the back of the field due to a first lap incident with Wade Cunningham.

In Milwaukee last weekend, Potekhen continued to impress by qualifying 4th and finishing in 2nd – which is kinda like winning since Alex Lloyd is pretty much running away with every race this year. Keep in mind Potekhen is racing for a team that does not have an IndyCar affiliation, so his many of his competitors have the benefits of assistance from names like Ganassi, Panther, Rahal and Andretti/Green.

However, two races does not a season make, so the Apex team continues to prepare for the 11 races remaining on the schedule. Lucky for us Potekhen, who currently lives here in Arizona with his wife Nicole, took a moment to answer some My Name Is IRL questions about personal goals, racing strategy, and Boston Legal.

MNII: First question, since this is so critical in competitive sports: Do you have a nickname?

MP: Not really. My real name is Michael so I guess Mike is my nickname.

MNII: I’ve read that Apex Racing is planning for you to spend a year in the Indy Pro series before attempting to help you move up to the Indy Car series. Are those reports accurate and is teammate/team owner Ken Losch intending to move up as well?

MP: I have many personal goals one of them being to drive full time in the Indy Car Series next season. Another one of them being to win races in the Indy Pro Series. Ken has many personal goals as well and yes one of his goals is to drive in the Indy car series. As far as the team goes we will have to see where that ends up. We are growing very fast but moving up to the Indy Car Level is a huge step and commitment.

MNII: Have you been studying feverishly in preparation for answering LOTS of questions about Danica Patrick?

MP: Not really I just hope to race with all of the drivers in the Indy Car Series next year. I have a ton of respect for all of them anyone who can make it that far in racing has accomplished something great.

MNII: Since the IPS races are 100 miles or less without pit stops, have you found the strategy to be pretty much “mash the gas and avoid Wade Cunningham” or is there more to it?

MP: That is funny! I think that there is some strategy to it managing your tires for the entire race can be difficult at times. I have tried racing conservatively at the beginning of races so that I had something at the end I have also tried racing hard from the beginning. In reality there is not one way of doing lately it seams that with the inevitable yellow flag laps you have to treat these races like sprint races and go for broke every lap.

MNII: You raced for a few years in the Star Mazda series against many of your IPS contemporaries like Logan Gomez, Robbie Pecorari and Ryan Justice. Who’s the toughest driver you have battled against?

MP: Every driver in the series is tough to race against because of the stakes that we are all up against, being that if you do not succeed at this level your career may be over. It seems that once the helmets are on, every car on track is just another racer.

MNII: Other than racing, what else are you competitively skilled at? Bowling? Poker? Sudoku?

MP: I guess I enjoy working on my home as a hobby. I have a few rental properties that Nicole and I have acquired over the past few years that keep me busy when I am home. I also enjoy working out I spend about 15 hours a week in the gym. I also like to get out on my road bike for hours.

MNII: You’ve still got a lot of events ahead of you this summer, but do your off-season plans involving other forms or racing or will you be back in Zambia with TRACares?

MP: I would love to compete in some of the endurance races this off-season like the 24 hours of Daytona. At this point I have no plans though I do get out and run as many local Kart races as I can I feel that that is still the best training for the race season.

At this point it looks like I may have an opportunity to go back over to Africa with TRACares. Our trip in March was very quick we visited so much in such a short time so I would love to go back and spend a couple of weeks. Africa is an amazing place.

MNII: Very cool. Final question: Has anyone ever pointed out to you how much you resemble Boston Legal and Keen Eddie actor Mark Valley?

MP: I did have a lady at the gym the other day say that I look like him – funny you ask. My wife says that is a complement, that he is an attractive guy. I must say that Boston Legal is my favorite show. I TiVo it every week.

Solid driver, amazing charitable work, and he looks like an actor? Come on – someone get this man some sponsorship.

Best of luck to Mr Potekhen on chasing down Lloyd, and thanks to both Mike and Jason Peters for the interview. We will be watching the races, if not any possible appearances on Boston Legal. In the meantime, we will be working on a nickname for when you reach the ICS.

Quote of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 6/11/2007 | 2 comments »
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Courtesy of

"I told her, 'It's coming,' '' Kanaan said with a grin, referring to Danica Patrick's initial victory. "She knows exactly what I talked about. We all know it and we can't wait to shave her head."
What - did you think I was going to quote Ed Carpenter's F-bomb live on the IMS Radio Network? Naaah.

Days of Thunder

Posted by Iannucci | 6/10/2007 | 3 comments »
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For those of you who managed to stay up late (or at least record the race), the Bombardier Learjet 550 had everything a race fan could want - especially if you're a fan of the six-letter league.

There was the dramatic build-up between Dan and Danica, featuring Wheldon shadowboxing Jack Arute during an interview and tauntingly telling Jack "you flinched!"

There was the highlight-reel performance by Tomas Scheckter, who after being clipped by Marco Andretti marched back on to the track and threw his gloves at the boy wonder. Apparently Tomas decided he wanted to get into the stock car driver vibe as well.

There was "the big one", a pileup of Daytona-like proportions taking out many of the race leaders due to the close racing conditions. Fortunately no one was hurt, but AJ Foyt IV's errant tire took out one Brazilian (Castroneves) and nearly struck another (Kanaan). What in the name of Ayrton Senna is going on?

The Good

It's appropriate the guy with his eye on NASCAR (Sam Hornish Jr) won this race, although he clearly had the best car of the night. It was also nice of Scott Sharp to basically hand him the lead at the start. Sam makes the fifth driver in seven races to record a win this season, which is not too shabby considering only six total drivers won all season long last year.

Maybe he knows he has a baby on the way and he just learned how much all that formula is going to cost, but Nariz is driving as well as ever. That squeeze between Quattro and the bouncing tire was beyond incredible.

I have poured myself a tall glass and am staring deeply into the "Danica Patrick eminent victory Kool-Aid", because after watching her charge through traffic at the last three races it's obvious Danica! is driving as well as anyone...well, anyone except Kanaan.

With the single "full rich" setting continuing, Jeff Simmons and his RLR team seem to have found a way to stretch out some extra miles. They were pitting 5 or more laps behind some of the leaders, which may help Spock steal a win at some point this season. The Ethanol folks must be elated that THIS is the car demonstrating maximum fuel economy.

Is this Dario's year? I mean, really - he can do no wrong.

The Bad

Oh, Marco. How bad is it? In the three races she has participated, Milka Duno has completed 135 more laps (480 to 345) than Andretti 3.0 has. Oh, the humanity.

After tantalizing us in qualifying, Scott Sharp not only got scolded by Barnhart for trying to dog the start (and then apparently trying it a second time - to no avail), but he was wrestling with his car all day. Being out of position and a lap down, he also got caught up in his "Sir Blocks-A-Lot" persona by unnecessarily holding up Danica! late in the race.

The best part of "the crash" was that no one appeared to be injured. The worst part is that it took out half of the contenders, as Helio and the Target Twins were all caught up in the madness. As exciting as the finish was, it could have been that much more thrilling.

What happened to the "side-by-side" coverage? It wasn't so troublesome that there were commercials every 10 minutes (again, it was strangely NASCAR night), but with a dozen laps to go and Danica! in 3rd, Marty Reid announces she has the fastest car on the track...and then they go to commerical! Come on, people!

The Ugly

It would seem that this season - and this race specifically - has suffered an outbreak of "spotter" issues unlike any other. Early in the race the broadcast crew reported Wheldon was chastising his spotter for not being "proactive", while Spiderman said he went low like his spotter had instructed and still ended up wrecked.

I wasn't privy to scanner chatter, but I'm wondering if Young Marco is having the same problem. Was there a failure to notify him that Scheckter was still "inside" before he clipped him this week? A bit like the time he clipped Wheldon while Dan was "outside" at Indy, no?

This doesn't mean these incidents are due to the spotters, but it would seem some of these incidents could have been avoided. The mirrors are definitely getting larger, but at the same time they seem to be failing with unfathomable frequency. If their buddies upstairs can't help them out then their drivers will end up feeling more uncertain than Paris Hilton in the pokey.

No one likes to see wreckage like carnage on Saturday Night (no one SANE that is), so maybe the two weeks off can help everyone on the racing teams recharge their batteries - spotters included.

Cheat Sheet: Texas 2007

Posted by Iannucci | 6/09/2007 | 4 comments »
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Outside of Indianapolis, Texas is without a doubt the marquee event of the Indy Racing League. With high speeds and lots of room for passing, no other track is able to showcase the thrill of what makes IndyCars so exciting.

Expect to see lots of passing by Hornish and Scheckter on the high side, lots of grooves on the race track leading to four-wide racing, and lots of focus on that whole Dan/Danica discussion. Remember, this is the track where AJ Foyt smacked Arie Luyendyk upside the head. As Jack Arute might say, tensions here run higher than the racing lines.

They say everything is bigger in Texas, so that mus tinclude the racing, the hype, and unfortunately the start time. That's not a problem out West, but let's hope folks on the East Coast are able to toothpick their eyes their way all the way to the end.

In the meantime, here are your participants in order of likeliness to win.

Castroneves - Last year's winner, his second victory in the last three races. Put a little krazy glue on the wing pillar this week, will ya?

Kanaan - Won here three years ago, and is looking mighty solid right now. Were it not for the pit accident at Kansas and the rain at Indy, Nariz might have won at the last three ovals.

Hornish - He's won here before more than once, and his last three attempts have all been in the Top 4. He'll be there near the end.

Wheldon - Top 6 last three times here, and that last run was despite leading 171 freaking laps! Incredibly, TCGR has not yet won at TMS.

Sharp - Winning the pole is not a total fluke - he's been Top 5 at TMS the last two years with an inferior team. This track suits itself well to his, err, driving style.

Franchitti - At some point he's going to be picked to do well at a track, but it ain't here. Only once has he placed better than 8th, so Mr Judd likely doesn't like this track.

Meira - No worse than 9th here in his last five attempts, and has usually performed well at this track. Could Texas be the place to break the winless streak?

Dixon - Last year's 2nd was the first Top 5 he's had at Texas, but he's been 2nd or 4th in every race this year. He's in a backup car today after a practice incident.

Scheckter - Won here with Panther two years ago, and he was running well before last week. He's got lots of room for his daring passes at this track.

Patrick - Still seeking her first Top 10 at TMS, although if she stays clean she should get that this year.

Matsuura - 7th and 9th at Texas the last two years are about as good as it gets for him in that timeframe. He has finished two races in a row.

Simmons - He made a great save on the first day of qualifying to keep from wrecking the car, and hopefully he won't be lapped twice like last year.

Manning - Two uneventful runs here for Danger Mouse in his ICS career, this should be a third.

Carpenter - Last year was his first here without a wreck, and he managed a Top 10 finish. So he'll either be up there or in the garage.

Andretti - Please don't wreck. Please don't wreck. Please don't wreck.

Rice - Would you believe Rice hasn't finished higher than 15th here in his last four tries? Wow - not his track.

Fisher - Her strategy thusfar seems to be race clean and let the other crash around her. There are plenty of lanes to pass or be passed here.

Foyt - Everything is bigger in Texas - except Quattro. He's only finished above 18th once in five tries. Hells bells, young feller!

Herb - His only Top 10 finish was at TMS - in 2001! His run at Indy this year is his only other ICS start in 5 years, so let's be careful out there.

Duno - Hopefully her mechanics had inspirational dreams, because that car isn't nearly fast enough to not get pulled over.

Money Says: "I cannot envision anyone winning this race except for Dan. I know I'm not exactly going out on a limb here, but when he's pissed off, he dominates. Let us not be fooled by the niceties following the Barnhart talkin-to. He ain't over it and that will become clear when he 'drives enraged' (as p-dog would say) on Saturday Night."

As you can see, P2 agrees with Money's assesment - even though the Well Done one is starting 10th, two rows behind Danica "brake check" Patrick. Enjoy the show!

Sharp end of the pole

Posted by Iannucci | 6/08/2007 | 4 comments »
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Alright, who saw THIS coming?

The pole for tomorrow night's Bombardier Learjet 550 was won by...Scott Sharp? It's true. Not only is it The Immortal's first pole since August of 2001 (thanks to TSO), but it also gives me the opportunity to post this glorious pic from the Rahal Letterman Racing site of Scott's smokin' hot car.

“Wow, that sounds good. Polesitter,” Sharp said. “It's been a long time since someone has said that. I just can't say enough...I never thought we'd run that quick.”
Neither did we but good on ya, old feller! Now, make it count tomorrow.

Let's color things even more bizarre, shall we? TCGR qualifies 7th and 10th. Wheldon, 10th! At an oval! Two rows behind Danica! Oh, be still my overplayed dramatic heart.

Meanwhile Franchitti - who is no big fan of racing at TMS - is the fastest of the AGR group at 3rd. And Jon Herb - who hasn't raced this year save for Indy - will start 14th, ahead of Matsuura, Carpenter, Rice, Foyt, Fisher, and of course Duno.

Speaking of Milkalicious, she was well over 2 MPH slower than everyone, and nearly 8 MPH slower than Sharp. I suppose if she just keeps smiling, signing the autographs, and causing embarrassment for Citgo on the track then we can all be cool with this. Hmm.

The Delicate Hand of Peace

Posted by Iannucci | 6/08/2007 | 9 comments »
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Four days after their pit-road confrontation at Milwaukee, Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon were asked Thursday to make up and play nice.

The half-hour meeting at Texas Motor Speedway was called by Brian Barnhart, the chief steward of the IndyCar Series. The session apparently went a long way toward resolving the spat that was growing uglier by the day.

"I still don't think I was being raced fairly, and if he would have stood there and talked to me (on pit road), it would have looked a little more diplomatic," Patrick said after Thursday's meeting with Wheldon and Barnhart. "But I like Dan; I always have. I don't want things to be weird between us." (MORE from IndyStar)

Ice blue

Posted by Iannucci | 6/07/2007 | 1 comments »
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While Dan Wheldon will return his Green Geico Fujifilm colors for the traditional Target Red, Scott Dixon will have take his turn with a special paint scheme this weekend.

Excuse me for saying this, but SWEET! We need more blue cars out there.

Of drama and drama queens

Posted by Iannucci | 6/07/2007 | 1 comments »
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You gotta hand it to the happy couple - one of the best parts of this whole Dan/Danica thing is that both drivers are completely playing it up. To wit, here's what Wheldon said today in USA Today:

"When you tug at a guy in the pit lane, I think that is taking advantage of your gender, because it puts me in an awkward position," Wheldon said. "She was acting like a spoiled brat. I don't respect that. ... I tried to step away. She kept grabbing on me like a dog that wanted to bite my ankles."
Meanwhile, I happened to catch an interview on 1310 The Ticket SportsRadio yesterday (gotta love the internet broadcasts) where Danica had the following exchange with some sportstalk radio simpleton.

Hayseed: "You should have kicked his ass out there!"

Danica!: "I gotta tell you, I think I’d have had a shot."

OK then. TMS is reportedly billing this as "The Battlin' Brit vs. The Phoenix Firebird", so all we need now is Vince McMahon. It's On!

Parental Guidance suggested

Posted by Iannucci | 6/07/2007 | 0 comments »
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The ad reads:

Are you a die-hard fan of the IndyCar Series?
Are your children driving you nuts?

Super Nanny wants you for a special episode dedicated to fans of the IndyCar Series!
Does Michael Andretti qualify for this? (I'm kidding, Marco! You know there's a lot of for love you here, but there would be just a little more if you could find a way to actually link My Name Is IRL on your site.)

Seriously folks, if you want Dan Wheldon's cousin to watch your kids then go ahead and sign up. Personally, I'm not signup for any of this unless they offer "Mr Wheldon's Indy 101" again.