It's Deja Vu all over again

Posted by Iannucci | 7/15/2007 | 7 comments »
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After the first IndyCar Series postponement since 2000, Scott Dixon became the first two-time Guitar Hero by winning back-to-back races at Nashville. This comes after winning back-to-back-to-back races The Glen last week. It was also the second consecutive win for Dixon in the blue Energizer paint scheme.

All of a sudden it's Iceman's world and we just hold umbrellas.

The greatest irony of Dixon's dominant performance Sunday is that nearly the first half of the race was all Dario Franchitti. The first 88 laps saw Mr Judd pulling away while Dixon battled with his teammate for second, until slower traffic presented an opportunity for Dixon to pass both Wheldon and Franchitti in one move. After that it was "see ya, mates."

The Good

Sam Hornish was on a different pitting schedule than the rest, but at the end of the race he had the fastest car. If we take all of the traffic out of the way on that last restart with only lead lap participants at the front then I'm putting my money on Uncle Sam - and not just because that's the way they do it in NAPCAR.

Scott Sharp worked - worked I tell ya - his way up to fourth before some aggressive (defensive?) racing moves by others caused him to drop back. Right until the end, The Immortal may have driven the best race of the day. And I'm not just saying that because his car looks so snappy.

She was peeved at the end of the race, but third place is nothing to sneeze at for Danica Patrick. She probably didn't have the third fastest car on her own team, but she did a fine job of maximizing the position of her car. That's a good thing, Danica - go ahead and act like you enjoy driving well.

While ninth place isn't earth-shattering, Darren Manning found his way past oval veterans Vitor Meira and Tomas Scheckter and right behind Dan Wheldon at the conclusion of the race. Can you tell this guy is racing for a contract renewal?

The Bad

A few days ago Tony Kanaan was apologizing to Uncle Sam for his racing antics last week, and today he was apologizing to his team after wrecking a good car. Soon he will have his own line of Hallmark Cards. Karma alert: Kanaan wrecked right as ESPN was airing a piece where he was discussing how unlike Sam Hornish Jr he congratulates competitors when they win.

Oh goodness, the Ganassi Pit Circus finally returned as Dan Wheldon had not one but two different pit miscues. Maybe this is all part of some grand plan by Big Chip to break Dan of his uptight being, but I'm relatively confident the Well Done one right now throwing one of his many shoes across the hotel room.

Not only did Jeff Simmons lose his car on pit entry, but he slid out back onto the track about 100 MPH slower than everyone else. And of course he had to collect Kosuke Matsuura for the third time this year. Spock is SOOOOOO off Sukiyaki's Christmas Card list.

This was all just a bad dream for Dreyer & Reinbold. After sitting out the first dozen laps with radio problems Buddy Rice eventually got up to speed, but Sarah Fisher - I'd say at least she finished the race but that seems to be the most she's been doing lately.

The Ugly

Today's race was another example of how having a quick race with only few yellows can create lots of opportunities for lapping traffic, but this is Nashville Superspeedway where as Pressdog observed there appears to be about 1.5 lanes for driving in the turns. As a consequence, we had several drivers at the top of the scoring pylon complaining about other drivers who were a lap (or several laps) down.

Almost immediately after the race concluded I had received several messages from fans chastising Danica! for her bad-mouthing of Ed Carpenter. She spent her final laps trying to work her way around the Notorious ECG, but was unable to make a pass and attempt to close in on Mr Judd for second place. It should be noted Ed was 3 laps down at that point, so she had plenty of grounds to complain about his decision to get racy with her.

But...she needs to understand that he isn't just going to pull over for her. Carpenter kept the low line for much of what was telecast, and if she had the superior horsepower she should have gone around him. The problem is, no one seemed too excited to attempt a high-side pass, especially after Nariz got loose passing Sarah Fisher early on. Ed can't just wreck his car out of courtesy.

Also, Danica! seems to think she has one of two options when she's upset about another driver: (1) confront them immediately like she did with Dan Wheldon a few races back or (2) publicly call them out in the post-race interview. With all due respect for her, err, passion, she can try the third option: smile and wave.

Mr Judd was a complete gentleman (ahem, excuse me) in his post-race interview, and he had every right to be just as PO'd at Vitor Meria. Even more noteworthy was Scott Sharp's calm demeanor about discussing how he basically had 4th locked up until Uncle Sam cut him off and caused him to lift late.

In all honesty, Sharp could have called out Mrs Hospenthal for blocking him all over the place. You can fill in your own ironies from there.

7 comments

  1. erika // July 15, 2007 9:57 PM  

    Even though this has been addressed in weeks past, I think it needs to stay on The Ugly list until it is resolved - obviously Marty and Scott STILL haven't received the memo that "Dario" isn't pronounced like "stereo." Unbelievable! On a positive note, I think I am in love with Scott Dixon's parents. ESPN/ABC, let's see a little more Mr. and Mrs. Dixon and a little less Bev and TJ.

  2. Anonymous // July 15, 2007 10:15 PM  

    Would everyone agree here that Indycar needs to adopt the NASCAR rule to let the leaders all go towards the front on a yellow at the end and not have to deal with the lapped traffic. Such a rule could have made today's ordinary race a classic! That's one thing NASCAR does right to be sure.

  3. john clerk // July 16, 2007 8:10 AM  

    I wouldn't agree about any NASCAR rules...

    just sayin....

    And further, I'll say that I just don't buy the argument that someone 1,2, or even 3 laps should pack it up and go home, so to speak. I don't care if it's Danica, Sam, or Jigger Sirois, if you can't get around them, you can't.

    What do you think AJ used to do? He'd go around them. If he couldn't, well.... we won't go there. ;)

    P.S. Um, you do remember Jigger Sirois, don't you? I'm dating myself (I'm a cheap date).

    http://www.artemisimages.com/Big/cn00473.JPG

  4. Anonymous // July 16, 2007 10:46 AM  

    Hating NASCAR is in vogue among open wheel fans and tradition is wonderful but I agree with changing the lap traffic rule. The fact is that because of many reasons, including the Champ/IRL split, the two open wheel racing series are full of watered down talent that shouldn't even be out there. Because of that, I can sympathize with drivers who are crying about lapped traffic. Half those cars out there don't even belong in the race.

  5. The American Mutt // July 16, 2007 11:27 AM  

    I don't think it's right to say most of those drivers don't deserve to be there. Economics are a big role in every motor sport. Look at Sam Jr. in his last year with Panther vs. last year. I'll admit some drivers (especially those of the venezualan variety) probably shouldn't be there, but you put Tomas Scheckter in a Penske or AGR car and you'll see him win. Same could be said of many of the second tier team drivers, especially say someone like Vitor.

  6. john clerk // July 16, 2007 11:57 AM  

    Thomas Sheckter is a G-d when it comes to working traffic... just amazing and fun to watch.

    I don't hate NASCAR... I just don't like it. But I'll go to the Brickyard 400 (oops, Allstate 400) again this year just to make sure. ::wink::

    That'll make 37 Indy 500s and 2 Allstate 400s.

  7. The De Lombaerde Gang // July 16, 2007 7:51 PM  

    Danica called out Carpenter, but he wasn't slowing her down anywhere near as much as he did Wheldon, Marco and a few others about halfway through the race. He was clearly slower at that point.

    I would have enjoyed the flag man having a conniption waving the blue flag lap after lap had I not been pulling for Dan. One groove or not, if you're a lap or two down, you gotta suck it up and move over.

    I don't know about changing the restart rules. The good drivers will move up, just like Hornish did the last 50 laps.