Motor City madness

Posted by Iannucci | 9/03/2007 | 7 comments »
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Sorry for the delay, as your humble host had made a trip this weekend from the oppressive 110s (still!) down in the valley to the cooler confines of the mile-high elevations to the North. With my full grid in tow (P1 through P4), we were all relaxing in the wonderful weather yesterday.

There were similar temperatures in Michigan for the Detroit Indy Grand Prix this weekend, but no such mellowness would be found after an accident filled race left tempers high for all but a handful of drivers. It is said "Familiarity breeds contempt", so perhaps because nearly all of the drivers participating have had multiple seasons in the IndyCar series there was plenty of post-race contempt to be had by all.

To summarize: Sarah Fisher and Sam Hornish Jr are not so pleased with each other, and Vitor Meira is probably miffed at both of them. Helio Castroneves and Tomas Scheckter exchanged paint, then words (with Tomas getting the best of it by saying "Maybe he should focus less on dancing and more on driving." ZING!) Scott Sharp is none too happy at Danica Patrick. And of course the Franchitti team is furious with the Dixon team.

And with respect to Michael Andretti's complaint that Dixon lifted off the brake while sliding backwards in an attempt to block or wreck Dario: I watched the replay repeatedly as Dixon slid back and to the left...back and to the - whoops, I used that reference last week. Anyhow, it's possible Dixon was as malicious as Michael suggested, but if the Iceman was cognisant enough to locate Mr Judd and make this maneuver after sliding sideways and attempting to correct his car, well, if he did this then we should just admit that Scott Dixon is the most incredibly gifted driver in the history of ever. It would be dirty, but it would be unbelievably impressive as well.

The Good

Not only did Tony Kanaan squeeze hit short-filled tank to to Victory Lane, but he also managed to have a sense of humor about last week's Block Party. After being called out by none other than Rick Mears, Nariz dedicated his win this week to the four-time Indy 500 winner. Tongue in cheek, of course.

"I have a lot of respect for Rick Mears. As he said, he lost a lot of respect from me. I did not lose respect for him...No hard feelings at all. Rick Mears is a great race car driver. Hopefully I have plenty of years to try to earn his respect again."
Oh snap! Check out TrackSide Online for the full quote.

The British are coming, and they're finishing third and fourth. Congratulations to Dan Wheldon and Darren Manning for their solid efforts in staying clear of the madness. I am now enjoying a delicious Bass Ale in their honor.

When life gives you lemons you make lemonade, and Danica Patrick took an otherwise disastrous race and made it her finest finish ever. Despite being collected in L'affaire de Fisher et Hornish and then later punting Scott Sharp, Danica! lived up to her exclamation point by saving the car from damage both times. Good heavens, if the race hadn't been cut short by time constraints and Kanaan had run out of fuel...well, we'll worry about that when it happens.

It showed up as a 9th place finish, but had he not run out of fuel AJ Foyt IV would have shocked us all with a Top 5 finish on Sunday. There has been much discussion regarding the improvements of younger drivers like Andretti and Patrick this year, but Quattro has taken a backmarker ride into the Top 10 in three of the last four races. Solid.

Street races are often parades and for the most part this race was no exception, but it did have two things going for it. First, the event appeared Top Notch as both the crowd and the scenery looked fantastic. Second, despite minimal passing the race was largely decided on the course and not in the pits. That's a heck of a lot better then the passing-free snooze fest that comprised most of the last race at Infineon.

The Bad

I'm guessing ESPN wasn't going allow the broadcast to go long for any reason, so because of that we were treated to a time-shortened race. Granted, we only lost one lap, but the idea of a timed race is just amateurish. There's another series that runs timed races because they have to pay for their broadcast - please don't go this route. Ever.

And four cars finishing on the lead lap? What the...?

Whoever made the early call to delay pitting and keep Castroneves out extra laps BEHIND SLOWER TRAFFIC should be beaten like a red-headed stepchild. That strategy (if you can call it that) destroyed any chance of Helio winning, and I'm not just saying that because I picked him to win. That was egregious buffoonery.

And speaking of buffoons...I don't mind having fun and hyping Spiderman's upcoming Dance party show, but it crossed the line Sunday. After limping about following the incident with Scheckter, Brienne Pedigo asked Helio about his leg injury. He said it was just a bruise and he'd be fine, whereby she reassured us that he would be fine for "Dancing with the Stars". Umm, WHAT? How about saying he would be fine for racing next week, since THAT is his job, Bree? Hello!?!

The Ugly

Rage. Lots of rage. Clearly the black flags are hidden in storage. Buckle up and gird yourself for the next week's finale at Chicagoland.


  1. MoneyCJ // September 03, 2007 4:40 PM  

    Nice post...I agree w your analysis of the Dixon situation. I had a similar thought--would have had to be pretty much superhuman to deliberately take Dario out in that split-second-mayhem situation. A lot of my readers disagree, but that's my take.

    F Sheckter.

    And hear me now: Dancing with the Stars is GAY. Even with Helio. Made me mental that they would not shut up about it during the broadcast. By the way, you think Tony Stewart would do that shit? Dale Jr? Jussayin....jussayin. IRL may need to MAN UP a bit heading into '08....Bye.

  2. Andy Marquis // September 03, 2007 5:45 PM  

    Great run for Danica!

    Great racing all in the 2nd half, would've loved to see if TK's fuel would've help up.

    1 race to go and a 3 point spread, it's going to the wire!

  3. Dale Nixon & Ms. Kitty Killy // September 03, 2007 8:48 PM  

    I hearby nominate one Ted Nugent for the new role of IHJ.

    Also, Dixon would have to be superhuman AND omniscient to be rolling backwards, trying to prevent the car from stalling, avoiding Buddy who ran out of fuel AND all at the same time deliberately take out Dario all the while knowing the whine and cheese fest it would set off from Mikey, all the while allowing his teammate to slip by and claim third place.

  4. Johnny // September 04, 2007 4:43 AM  

    Best moneycj post yet. I'm definitely for instituting a "would Tony Stewart do this shit" rule for all over motorsports and related marketing.

  5. john c // September 04, 2007 5:13 AM  

    i, too, agree with moneycj and johnny.. a "what would tony stewart do?" test would be great... and a little "butching-up" for 2008, too.

    mostly, props to Quattro for being solid.

  6. The American Mutt // September 04, 2007 6:47 AM  

    So, while rolling backwards, seeing exactly which direction Dario is coming from, letting off the break and turning the wheel to the right is difficult for these drivers? Maybe I should watch another series. They were going, what fifty mph at the time? They can make split second desicions at two hundred miles an hour but not fifty?

  7. erika // September 04, 2007 8:12 PM  

    I've only been an IRL fan for a few years and up until Sunday I never fully understood the dislike that many long-time race fans have for the Andretti family. But Michael's whine-fest after the race was the tipping point for me. I've been rooting for Dario to win the championship just because he's never won it before, but after Michael's latest "I'm the victim" rant, I can't help but start pulling for Dixon.