Daytona, maybe

Posted by Iannucci | 7/31/2007 | 6 comments »
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There's usually not much enthusiasm at My Name Is IRL for more road courses, but this one would be a little different.

By GODWIN KELLY
MOTORSPORTS EDITOR

DAYTONA BEACH -- Daytona International Speedway is tweaking its road course apparently to satisfy the needs and requests of various sanctioning bodies, including the Indy Racing League, which use the track for testing and racing.

Speedway spokesman David Talley said the improvements and upgrades were being made to satisfy all of Daytona's road-course customers, a roster that includes Grand-Am and American Motorcycle Association.

As for the IRL, Talley said, "They are going to let us know by Sept. 1 what their plans are. We hope they come back. We had a great time with them the first time. We won't know that until September." (MORE from Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Speed. I am Speed.

Posted by Iannucci | 7/31/2007 | 6 comments »
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Anyone wanna get this guy an IndyCar?

Scott Speed, the only American driver in Formula One, was dropped by the Toro Rosso team Tuesday and replaced by Germany's Sebastian Vettel.

Speed and fellow Toro Rosso driver Vitantonio Liuzzi are among seven drivers without a single point after the first 10 of this season's 17 races. The 24-year-old Speed, from Manteca, Calif., has failed to score a point by finishing in the top eight of any race in his two seasons in F1. (MORE from ESPN.com)

She's finally arrived

Posted by Iannucci | 7/31/2007 | 1 comments »
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Back in April were reports that Leilani Munter (still can't find that umlaut on the keyboard) was seeking a ride in the Indy Pro series, and now several months later it appears Danica!'s fellow Hostess Diva will get her chance.

Leilani Münter will make her Indy Pro Series debut Aug. 11 at the Kentucky Speedway in the No. 57 SMART Papers/Lucas Oil car prepared by Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Münter, who passed her rookie test at Kentucky in May, also will compete in the season finale at the Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 9.

"Racing in the Indy Pro Series is a big step in my career," said Münter, who began racing stock cars in 2001. "I am deeply appreciative to Sam Schmidt for giving me the chance to drive for a championship team and to SMART Papers for becoming my primary sponsor in the series."
Very nice, especially considering the Schmidt car should give her a shot at second place behind teammate Alex Lloyd. IndyCar.com has pics of her and the car - both looking quite SMART. Har har.

In case the seats look empty

Posted by Iannucci | 7/31/2007 | 2 comments »
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This seemed like a harmless story from Suburban Chicago News about the two drivers leading the race for the series championship right until the final paragraphs - where they explain while there may be so few people at Chicagoland.

(Scott) Dixon is a former series champion, but is not considered one of the big names in IRL. (Dario) Franchitti has raced in CART and IRL for 11 seasons, but he's still best known as the husband of actress Ashley Judd.

That is not exactly star power to compete against the opening of the NFL season. While the Bears aren't at home that day, their 3:15 p.m. start Sept. 9 will mean kickoff will be at approximately the same time as the drop of the green flag.

Also, the PGA Tour comes to Cog Hill in Lemont that weekend. With high school and college football in full swing by then, it remains to be seen just how much interest there will be in a race at a track that had empty seats for its NASCAR event.
Yikes! Nothing like taking on the NFL and the PGA in the same weekend. Is it too late to push this back a week? Maybe bump the event to Saturday? Anything? Anyone?

Knights of the Oval Table

Posted by Iannucci | 7/30/2007 | 0 comments »
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We're bored, and we're shooting the breeze. Here we are the three most, uh, I dunno, three most IndyCar-ish bloggers...? Oh yeha, THAT'S impressive. Whatever we are, we are at it again.

This time I called Roger Penske a robot, MoneyCJ said Danica "deserves to win", and Pressdog referred to Uncle Sam as "Me So Hornish". You decide which is worse.

Read it all at Pressdog.com.

Down Time

Posted by Iannucci | 7/30/2007 | 9 comments »
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This weekend presented a challenge for fans like me, since it was one the few holidays for the Indy Racing League. I could have planned a mini-vacation myself, took the kids somewhere, done some work around the house.

Did I do any of that? Naaaaah. Instead, I plopped myself in front of the TV on Sunday and tried to watch racing from some other series.

First, it should be noted I woke up at like 5am to go golfing. That’s the crazy thing about Arizona – you tee off at dawn in the summer because you either fry during the middle of the day or get caught in a monsoon in the afternoon. No fun there. Anyhow I may have to make like Bobby Rahal and fire my own driver, since Mr Callaway was all over the course on Sunday. Suffice it to say it was less than fun and his ride in the bag in no longer safe.

So I get home in time to watch the Brickyard 400, which now has a sponsorship from Allstate but that doesn’t mean I have to call it that. Like this O’Reilly name for Indianapolis Raceway Park, I refuse to conform. I’m a rebel, a loner. Anyhow, at the start of the race they announce there will be “Competition Yellows at laps 15 and 40”. That’s right race fans, scheduled yellow flags! Supposedly this had something to do with the track being “green from rain”, but I think NAPCAR has really caved in to sponsorship concerns if their scheduling these things.

Anyhow, after several laps I nodded off. The “Competition Yellows” were not necessary as there were like 40 yellow flag laps in the first half of the race. Not to mention the cars were averaging 170 MPH around the track at full speed. That’s not exactly slow, but compared to IndyCars it’s…OK, it’s slow. I perked up when they asked which former Indy 500 participant had the best chance to win, with the choices being Robbie Gordon, Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, and JJ Yeley. I also snapped awake whenever they went “down to Jamie in the pits”.

No offense to Brienne Pedigo, but I really miss Big Jamie Little. Sadness.

When it was all said and done former IndyCar driver Tony Stewart had won, and as you may know he know likes to climb the fence Spiderman-style. This time, he got his ENTIRE TEAM to climb the fence. Way to kill an already tenuous celebration routine. This is now becoming as elaborate as the Icky Shuffle.

Meanwhile in second was 2000 Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, which is no small feat since Pablo is driving a Dodge – the pig of NAPCAR. Pablo has now raced at IMS in an event by IndyCar, Formula One and NASCAR. Can Motorcycles be far behind, Pablo?

To be honest, I was kinda hoping that Pablo would win since Uncle Sam has mentioned he wants to be the first driver to win both The 500 and The 400. That would be one less thing for Sam to worry about. Am I selfish? Yes. So sue me.

One crazy note: I SWEAR I heard Rusty Wallace say this late in the race about Montoya “…he’s been really impressive for a guy who never in his life has raced here before.” I was nodding off, but I’m telling you Old Number Two said that. Maybe he just was trying to wake people up – people like me.

So once The Brickyard deal was over there was a conveniently scheduled Champ Car race in San Jose being aired. I think this would be the fourth CCWS race I’ve seen all year, and there has been a wreck on the first lap in EVERY ONE of them. IndyCar drivers must have more patience, because other than Mid Ohio they save their collisions on road or street courses for later laps.

Meanwhile, I know Pressdog has been observing this all year but races in that series have become “Festivals of Nose Cones”. Like half the drivers lose nose cones from running into each other during the races. You look at them wrong and the front wings fall off. Unbelievable. One driver lost his nose cone on the course, got a tow in from the safety truck, returned to the track, and ended up winning the race. I am totally not making that up.

So at the end of the day (literally) I had watched a whole bunch of racing and decided I really don’t like this off-weekend stuff. I know it’s hard on the race teams to go every week, but it’s none too easy on fans to get excited for a race every Saturday or Sunday and then be left to fend for a racing jones during the vacation weekends. Just saying that this condensed schedule is rather addicting for the fans.

Come on, Michigan!

Paying attention to The Captain

Posted by Iannucci | 7/27/2007 | 1 comments »
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USA Today: Sam Hornish Jr. won his third IndyCar championship and his first Indy 500 title last year. Along with his IndyCar Series duties for Penske Racing, he's run seven Busch Series races for you along with some ARCA events, leading some to believe you're about to expand to three cars. Are there any firm plans for expansion?

Roger Penske: I don't think it's something we have to do. I think we are going to do it at our cadence and not anybody else's. It's based on having sponsors to support the costs (of a third car). There's lots of talk about whether Sam will go or won't go. We haven't made that decision. Within the next 60 days, we will be clear on what we want to do. We have the capability. It's a matter of wanting to take the Busch program and make it a Cup program next year.

So now we know. This is far and away the most insightful paragraph about Sam Hornish Jr's venture into NAPCAR yet, because now it's appears this isn’t about Sam’s personal goals or challenges or whatever. A lot - if not all - of this “thinking” of late is based on a cash money sponsorship.

If Penske isn’t bouncing out one of his cup drivers and stuffing Uncle Sam into a tin top featuring Miller Lite or Alltel then that means he needs a third sponsor for a third car. So if you’re a super successful guy like Roger and you don’t have a sponsorship locked down, you start saying things like “I think we are going to do it at our own cadence” or “I don’t think it’s something we have to do”. A man’s gotta appear above all this silly money stuff.

It sounds like Sam has already made up his mind, and if not this year then next year could potentially provide the opportunity (read: money) for him to jump into another form of racing. Sixty more days of waiting may be unbearable, but from the quote above it may be another year before Hornish can actually attempt a Nextel/Sprint Cup jump. Like the saying goes: No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

Although...if Sam REALLY wants to raise some funding himself, he can always go back to selling Uniden phones.

MoneyCJ, the motion picture

Posted by Iannucci | 7/26/2007 | 8 comments »
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"Where do you go when you are already on the edge?"

(...to the Indy Racing Experience, of course. Duh!)

Helio, swerving and serving

Posted by Iannucci | 7/26/2007 | 2 comments »
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The Detroit Free Press has a nice video from Helio Castroneve's recent testing at Belle Isle. Judging from the accompanying article Spiderman - who first climbed a fence at this circuit - seems quite pleased. Also, turn up your speakers for the first few seconds so you can wake up all of your co-workers.

Speaking of Helio, he decided to make a day of it in Motor City and take on Detroit News reporter Angelique Chengelis in a friendly game of tennis. Yes friends, while Sam Hornish Jr continues to think...think...think about NAPCAR, his Penske Racing teammate is swatting around a fuzzy yellow ball.

Night and day, those two.

The new guy shows some personality

Posted by Iannucci | 7/24/2007 | 13 comments »
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No offense to the "insiders" who glance over this humble site, but most of us don't know much about Ryan Hunter-Reay other than (1) he once drove Champ Cars, (2) he now drives the Ethanol #17 for Rahal Letterman Racing, and (3) he's very tall. Thanks to the Cleveland Plain Dealer though, we now know he's also kinda witty.

So Ryan, what's it like taking over another driver's ride?

"You feel like you're with someone else's girlfriend...for a second."
Thank you. Having some personality is good.

By the way, if you read the whole article you can read quotes from Sam Hornish Jr about how he wants to drive 400 MPH and set land speed records. Huh? Sounds like maybe we've gotten this NAPCAR thing wrong all year and Uncle Sam really wants to join the NHRA.

Castroneves testing in Detroit today

Posted by Iannucci | 7/24/2007 | 1 comments »
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According to the Detroit Free Press, Spiderman will be practicing his qualification runs at the newly refined course at Belle Isle. We are told this course has been redesigned not just aesthetically but also functionally, as 6 of 14 turns have been repaved to promote race conditions. That alone offers some encouraging prospects for racing at this formerly passing-free circuit.

BACK TO BELLE ISLE: Helio Castroneves, who finished third to Dixon over the weekend, will be in Detroit today to run his Team Penske car around the Raceway at Belle Isle.

The first on-track activity on the island in six years, Castroneves' compatibility test will be conducted on the new 2.1-mile circuit, which the Brazilian driver and two-time Indy 500 champion will compete on during the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on Sept. 2.

The test is closed to the public.
The Detroit Indy Grand Prix is scheduled for September 2nd. Since it's also on Labor Day weekend, much consumption of hot dogs and beer is also scheduled.

"Is that a man? Yeah, you damn right it is!"

Posted by Iannucci | 7/24/2007 | 3 comments »
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My Name Is IRL holds high regard for anyone who dares to strap themselves into a fenderless machine and race around with others at speeds well in excess of 200 MPH, and we have trememdous admiration for those who are able to succeed against their peers at such high rates of speed.

But there is another category of respect reserved for those who are successful are even more frighteningly dangerous acts involving even higher speeds.

This year your humble correspondent will be attending only a handful of IndyCar races, but one of these events is the Motorola Indy 300 at Infineon Raceway. And now comes word that the Grand Marshal of this event is none other than Chuck Yeager. Excuse me while I gasp in awe.

For those who do not know or haven't read or seen "The Right Stuff", Chuck Yeager is a World War II ace who went on to become the first test pilot to break the speed of sound. Seriously, just rent the movie and watch the first 15 minutes. "There was a demon that lived in the air..."

As a member of the US Air Force, Yeager - now a retired Brigadier General - received the following awards:

  • Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
  • Silver Star, for shooting down five Me-109s in one day, with one oak leaf cluster
  • Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster
  • Distinguished Flying Cross, for an Me-262 kill, with two oak leaf clusters, including first to break the sound barrier
  • Bronze Star Medal, for helping rescue a fellow airman from Occupied France, with “V” device
  • Purple Heart
  • Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters
  • Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster
  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
  • Air Force Commendation Medal
  • American Defense Service Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (8 battle stars)
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Congressional Silver Medal
Oh yeah. THAT is a Grand Marshal!

Quotes of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 7/23/2007 | 1 comments »
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"I have to stop myself and think everything happens for a reason. I don't know what it is yet."
That's from Danica Patrick, on the carnage at the start of Sunday's Honda 200 at Mid Ohio. The Bucyrus Telegraph has many more interesting quotes regarding the disasterous start of the race, although the most amusing may be from Scott Dixon.

"I could tell with Helio being on the pole that he was just going to start the lap before it started. He always goes so early," Dixon joked. "I think he kind of screwed Danica there..."

Maybe we're related, distantly

Posted by Iannucci | 7/23/2007 | 2 comments »
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The Indy Pro series also raced at Mid Ohio this weekend, but I was unable to view it online (I’ll wait for the rebroadcast whatever afternoon this week.) You can check out the definitive recap at IndyProRacer.com, although after reading the results of the race I probably should have paid more attention.

Why? It’s not every day a driver with anything close to a similar surname as my own makes headlines, but Richard Antinucci did when he managed to record his first career IPS win at this weekend’s event. Antinucci is driving for his uncle’s IPS team – and that uncle would be Eddie Cheever.

Yes friends, Old Man Cheever is still around in IndyCars, although his team has a limited budget and has made the decision to have Richard run only in the non-oval events for maximum success. The plan seems to be working as he has scored 5 straight Top 10s.

One oddity: Antinucci was born in Rome (Italy, not Georgia), so he has both American and Italian flags on the belt of his firesuit. I suppose “Congratulazioni!”s are in order.

And you thought Simmons had a bad week

Posted by Iannucci | 7/23/2007 | 4 comments »
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This was forwarded by our buddy Johnny at Live Fast. From Petersen Motorsports:

Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Releases Enge Effective Immediately
07/21/07

Team Takes Top-Five Finish at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio, July 21, 2007 – Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has announced the immediate dismissal of driver Tomas Enge (a native of the Czech Republic now living in Monaco) following today’s Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In accordance with the two-time American Le Mans Series GT2 Driver Championship-winning team’s written policy on driver expectations and conduct, Enge was released approximately 45-minutes into the two hour and 45-minute event. Enge was assessed a penalty by IMSA Stewards/Officials for causing damage to a car while on probation. In accordance with a written agreement regarding the driver’s probation, Team Manager/Entrant Dale White (Bozeman, MT) followed team policy and protocol and released Enge immediately.


The Michael Petersen (Las Vegas, Nev.) owned team soldiered home with a top-five GT2 class finish today despite a damaged race car. Dirk Müller (a German now living in Monaco) will continue with the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winners. The second driver for the No. 31 MMPIE/PAWS/Petersen Holdings/Michelin Ferrari F430 GT is under consideration and will be announced prior to the August 11th round at Road America. Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing is the defending GT2 class race winners at Road America and has won three of the last four seasons at the Elkhart Lake, Wisc. facility.
That's right friends - Tomas Enge was was canned from his ALMS ride IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RACE. Now that's cold.

Mid Summer Day's Nap

Posted by Iannucci | 7/22/2007 | 8 comments »
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There was so much on the line at Mid Ohio that the plot lines were at the ready. Could Scott Dixon continue his streak and track down Dario Franchitti? Could Helio Castroneves turn his luck around and get back in Victory Lane? Could Danica Patrick make a run at her first victory? Could Darren Manning shock us all with a win? Could Ryan Hunter-Reay succeed in his first IndyCar race?


Could the audience remain conscious watching a race at a track with no passing lanes?

Once it was said and done and Scott Dixon had locked up his third straight win, most folks probably left with a very clear indication that there are no team orders from AGR. Depending on your point a view, either Tony Kanaan was too close to his raven-haired teammate, or Danica Patrick just lost it on the first lap and started the whole mess.

As a consequence poor Marco Andretti got flipped again, and adding insult to injury (well, thankfully no injury) he got to watch his three teammates all score Top 5 finishes. Bet that next team meeting at Andretti Green should be a barrel of laughs, eh?

The Good

Scott Dixon has won three straight races and is doing everything under the sun to track down Dario Franchitti for the series championship. He's en fuego, and might I add so is his lovely bride to be.

Tony Kanaan may or may not have been at fault for sending Danica into the grass and Marco into another episode of The Upside-Down Show, but after going to the back of the field early on he drove an incredible race to get back to Fourth. This just in: he's pretty freaking good.

After sitting in third for much of the day Darren Manning finished in sixth, again showing he can get the lone Foyt Racing entry up to the front on these road racing deals. We are already looking forward to you shock the world in Sonoma, Danger Mouse.

Although early on someone suggested to me he should be nicknamed Ryan Hunter-Intheway, the new guy in the #17 finished in seventh. Nothing to sneeze at there, but let's see how he does in the high-speed madness in Michigan.

The Bad

While his teammate has been running away with everything lately, Dan Wheldon recorded a very modest 10th. Ugh. The road course are making Lord Wheldon look awfully mortal.

Vitor Meira's bad luck continued with part failure that ended his day and relegated him to 17th. I didn't catch what Jack Arute said went wrong, but when he held up some small item to the camera I swear I could hear Chris Economaki chirping about a 98-cent part.

What are the odds that two flips in the season are by the same driver? Can we be done seeing Marco Andretti skidding around on his lid? I don't need to see this anymore. Really. Please stop.

Repeat after me, Marty Reid. "Dah-Ree-Oh". M-kay? How about this exercise: "Mar-co", "Dar-ee-oh". Sounds the same with the "ar" part. Whatever it takes.

The Ugly

I know Honda was excited to host this race and there were a ton of people all over the track, but for pretty much the whole race there was NO passing. And no, I don't count lapped traffic letting drivers by as "passing".

I don't want to get carried away, but the only drama at the end of the race was who could have the most efficient pit stop. Folks, that's not racing - it's a Carb Day contest. Racing involves passing, and without passing there is only a high-speed parade.

Making matters worse is that the broadcast (which was bouncing around networks to accommodate golf and some outdoor bowling(!) thing) did a fantastic job of breaking away from any actual passing. Tony Kanaan was passing actually other drivers - no small feat on this circuit - but we didn't see any of them. No sir, we got to see Helio and Dixon go round and round and round just like in St Pete for however many laps.

Cheat Sheet: Mid Ohio 2007

Posted by Iannucci | 7/21/2007 | 4 comments »
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OK, let's all get frothy now. Helio has the pole for the umteenth time this year, but starting right next to him for the Honda 200 at Mid Ohio is Little Miss Sunshine herself. Ya think she's feeling close to that first win with all three of her AGR buddies starting directly behind her?

Now, to be fair to the cynical out there, yes it's VERY likely that the AGR team could realize this opportunity and have everyone throw a 4-car block party to anyone who tries to move up on Danica! at Mid Ohio, but I gotta tell ya - after watching the practice and qualifications, I don't think it's necessary. Quite simply, it doesn't appear that track has anywhere on it that IndyCars can pass each other.

Well, there is one place: the pits.

Since this is a new race I'm going to take the easy way out and just say we have not standard to judge who is most likely to win this weekend. However, since I have inexplicably channelling my inner Money and have incredibly managed to pick the winner of the last three races (it's true), I will go ahead and suggest the favorite is Scott Dixon, despite starting sixth in this race.

Iceman owns the road courses. He's perfect at The Glen (3 for 3) and he practically lapped the field at Infineon last year before his pit crew went wacky. (what? Ganassi pit foibles? who knew?)

Money says: "Wheldon. No, seriously - I'll call it for Marco and hope that the #17 car finds a wall early on."

Ahem. Money is SO off the Rahal Christmas Card list.

Anyhow, maybe I'm wrong and this race will be more racy like Watkins Glen instead of less racy like Sonoma. I'd hate to have the only passing be viewers passing out from boredom. Just in case, do yourself a favor this week and supplement your viewing experience with ESPN's RaceCast. At least you can see where you favorite driver is on the track.

Do me a favor and wake me if Danica wins, because for the record I'll admit that I would indeed like to see her win a race. I don't know if I want it as much as ABC/ESPN desires, because as long as she's near the front you can expect to see LOTS of coverage of her Batmobile. I'm telling ya, if you are not a Danica Maniac you will need the RaceCast.

So try to keep thos eyelids open, and enjoy the show!

Mutoh gets an IndyCar (in September)

Posted by Iannucci | 7/21/2007 | 3 comments »
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The big Panther Racing news was not that Kosuke Matsuura was given a pink slip (wrong again SpeedTV), but was as TrackSide Online had predicted in that IPS driver Hideki Mutoh will drive a third Panther Racing car.

However, since Mutoh is currently attempting to chase down Alex Lloyd for first place in the IPS that IndyCar ride (#60, in case you were wondering) will not happen until the season finale at Chicagoland. No matter - in his debut season in the IPS Mutoh has been nothing short of incredible.

Speaking of Lloyd, since he has the IPS pretty much locked up he will likely get a free ride offered by Marty Roth to race in Chicago as well. I'm not sure Lloyd will be looking to see if he can use that experience to try to work his way to something a little faster than Roth's typical entry but work is work.

Regardless, it's nice to FINALLY see some Indy Pro drivers getting the opportunity to move up to the IndyCar series. So far the only bona fide IPS graduates to get any serious looks have been Ed Carpenter and Jeff Simmons, and it would seem owners in the ICS are judging the other Indy Pro drivers by the lack of success those two drivers have had.

Jeff Simmons speaks

Posted by Iannucci | 7/21/2007 | 7 comments »
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Earlier today Jeff Simmons released the following statement.

I want to thank everyone involved in the Team Ethanol program for all of their support and friendship. I was honored to be a part of the program and to have the opportunity to carry on Paul Dana's vision.

I truly believe in ethanol's importance to the world's energy needs and environmental future. The demand for ethanol will continue to grow and prosper through the important work of the dedicated people at the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. They are tireless in their efforts and I will miss working with them.

Additionally, I want to thank Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and all of my friends at Rahal Letterman Racing -- not just for "the ride" but for the opportunity to be a part of something so ground-breaking. It was a real honor, and I wish them the very best.

As for me, I look forward to being back in the IndyCar Series soon.
Wow.

Say what you want about his driving ability, but Simmons definitely showed extraordinary maturity by being gracious about his unceremonious dumping.

He could have pointed out how RLR has turned into a revolving door of drivers, or how he pumped like a zillion gallons of promotional Ethanol, or how he should have been given the respect of being fired before he hauled his RV into Mid Ohio.

Instead Simmons simply did the thing we all would like to do but often don't when we get canned. Just. Be. Classy. Even to the point of talking up the former sponsor. Excuse me while I say "wow" yet again.

For further reading, Pressdog has a solid take on this statement.

Matsuura announcement on Saturday

Posted by Iannucci | 7/20/2007 | 2 comments »
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From the braintrust at TrackSide Online:

We just got a note that Super Aguri Panther Racing will have a driver announcement tomorrow at 2:20pm. We don’t have anything official, but believe that we hear Panther announce that Hideki Mutoh will run one of the final two races of 2007 (and perhaps both).

Right now, this appears to be an "in addition" situation and not an "instead" of Kosuke Matsuura deal. But, again, that isn’t confirmed.
In conflict with this report is one from SpeedTV saying Matsuura is indeed gone goodbye. That seems odd since he's practicing RIGHT NOW for Panther at Mid Ohio.

So either Kosuke has a new ICS teammate or he gets to hang out at Union Jack and watch races with Jeff Simmons. We shall see.

Milka may be done-o

Posted by Iannucci | 7/20/2007 | 5 comments »
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From AutoWeek:

IndyCar rookie Milka Duno might not be long for the series, as Indy Racing League officials review her progress.

SAMAX driver Duno qualified last in four of her five races. She crashed in a test at Nashville on the day before the event’s start. Brian Barnhart, the IRL’s competition boss, met with league driving consultants Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser and Rick Mears at Nashville. Barnhart intends to meet with SAMAX officials before Duno’s next scheduled race, Aug. 5 at Michigan International Speedway.
...dum dum dum, dum dee-dum, dum dee-dum...

UPDATE: Our buddy Bill points out that on Saturday morning Curt Cavin reported "IRL officials have cleared rookie Milka Duno to continue participating. She is not in this weekend's field but has four more races left this season." Looks like Ryan Hunter-Reay will have to be that much better if he hopes to win Bombardier Rookie of the Year.

A nearly serious piece about Jeff Simmons

Posted by Iannucci | 7/20/2007 | 5 comments »
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Reactions seem split on RLR’s recent decision to oh-so-suddenly replace Jeff Simmons. There is some sympathy for Rahal and even more excitement at what Ryan Hunter-Reay might be able to do in an IndyCar, but mostly there is outrage due largely to the timing. To change drivers for a fulltime ride in the middle of a season is mighty rare, and although Simmons has had trouble the last few races he hasn’t been the worst driver by any stretch.

And besides: fellow wreckmate Kosuke Matsuura still has a ride but Simmons doesn't? Go figure.

On the one hand, Simmons seemed to be a solid driver most of the time. He had a really good showing at Indy this year, and he did a fine job of claiming a position in the middle of the pack on any type of track with what was widely considered a middle of the pack car. You couldn’t put Tony Kanaan in that car and expect much better results…OK, maybe you could, but no one ever said Simmons was Kanaan.

On the other hand, Simmons was prone to mistakes in bunches. Most of his accidents came in consecutive races, and making mistakes in a league where most races feature only a handful of cautions will magnify the errors. This is probably what Bobby Rahal was focusing on, especially since there has never been anything written to indicate that The Bob was highly enthusiastic at employing Simmons in the first place.

Complicating all of this is the fact that driving the Ethanol-sponsored #17 is one of the most involved rides in all of motorsports, since the brief but significant legacy of Paul Dana is that the driver of that car needs to be able to help spread the word about Ethanol on behalf of an entire industry. Scott Sharp isn’t called upon to discuss the manufacturing process of Patron Tequila and Marco Andretti doesn’t have to express his opinions on stocks changing hands at the NYSE, but from the day he took the ride Simmons immersed himself to the point he could intelligibly discuss anything related to Ethanol production. For goodness sakes, he was even giving speeches on the subject!

But now all that has been lost, and Simmons is left to shop his reflexes, big brain and Vulcan-looking mug elsewhere. When he was in the IPS (22 Top 5s in 34 starts) he drove briefly for AJ Foyt, so maybe there’s an opportunity there. Heck, he may even find a ride next year in the merry-go-round of personnel that currently comprises Champ Car. Regardless of where he goes from here, it needed to be said that despite his inability to reach the Top 5 in 25 ICS races there’s still empathy here for a guy who took a tough job under dire circumstances and was then shown the door on bad terms.

If it’s at all possible, hopefully his next job will be just about the racing.

Hornish...still...thinking...

Posted by Iannucci | 7/20/2007 | 0 comments »
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It's goten to the point every interview with this guy is like Groundhog Day.

Q: "Decided to switch to tin tops, Sam?"

A: "...still thinking about that..."

Would you believe Uncle Sam insists he and Roger are going to wait until the end of the year to decide on a move to NAPCAR? Yeah, me neither.

"I'd say where I'm at right now, the scales are 50-50," said Hornish, of Defiance, Ohio. "I haven't made any decision; the team hasn't made a decision.

"We started off this year knowing we were going to run 11 to 14 stock car races (in the Busch series, ARCA and possibly a couple of Nextel Cup events) and run the full Indy car schedule. We aren't going to be close to making a decision until we are done with all of that for the year." (MORE from Columbus Dispatch)
No offense to Sam, but this is the time of year that EVERYONE makes their decisions for next season. One can only wonder if this isn't more of a wait-and-see on potential sponsorships than deep contemplative thought.

Right now on MSN.com

Posted by Iannucci | 7/19/2007 | 4 comments »
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You can see this.



...and clicking on it leads you to this.


Lovely. Juuuuuuust lovely.

Anyone have any ideas to help this poor girl channel her inner Rachel Ray?

UPDATE: Would you believe she's still upset about lapped traffic?

Meet Ryan Hunter-Reay

Posted by Iannucci | 7/19/2007 | 6 comments »
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Here's a Ryan Hunter-Reay crash course primer.

From IndyCar.com:

Hunter-Reay began his career by winning six national karting championships before moving onto the Skip Barber program, where he was Rookie of the Year in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2000. He moved to Toyota Atlantic competition in 2002, and led the series with three race wins and three poles. The performance caught the attention of Stefan Johansson, who hired Ryan to drive for his first-year CART team in 2003.

He became the first American rookie in 20 years to win a CART race with a victory in Australia in 2003, then set a series record by leading all 250 laps in a 2004 victory at The Milwaukee Mile. Hunter-Reay made 43 starts over three seasons with two wins, one pole and 18 top 10s. He has spent the past two seasons running part-time in the Rolex Grand American Series, where he co-drove with NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in this year's Rolex 24 At Daytona, as well as in A1GP competition.

From USA Today:

"I've missed open-wheel," said Hunter-Reay, a promising Champ Car driver who lost his ride after the 2005 season due to lack of sponsorship. "Ever since I turned 16, this is what I've wanted to do. These are my roots and I'm going to be with a great team."

Hunter-Reay, 26, won two Champ Car races, but spent most of the last year and half running stock and sports cars. He was slated to make his first NASCAR start with Robby Gordon Motorsports at Watkins Glen, N.Y., next month before talks with team owner Bobby Rahal heated up in the recent days.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

"It just wasn't working with Jeff, and rather than wait till the end of the year, I certainly hope that Ryan will do what we think he can do," Rahal said. "We've got six races left and I think Ryan can push the envelope for us, and I think raise the game for the whole team."

The status of the other driver at Rahal Letterman Racing, Scott Sharp, was not affected.

An finally, a YouTube segment from 2003:

Simmons replaced at RLR

Posted by Iannucci | 7/18/2007 | 14 comments »
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Looks like Silly Season is starting early this year.

The timing is confusing considering there is an article in today's Columbus Dispatch discussing how Bobby Rahal has challenged his drivers named Sharp and Simmons to perform better at Mid Ohio this weekend, but several folks have said a TV station in Ohio is reporting that RLR has bounced Jeff Simmons out of his ride.

A quick check of "sources" (and believe me, I'm always surprised to find out My Name Is IRL has sources) says this is in fact true, although who the replacement is and whether or not this is a permanent change have yet to be confirmed.

As reporters are apt to say, this is "developing"...


UPDATE: A second confirmation has been given from a different "source" (although again without the name of a replacement), but there are still no published reports. It would appear if you have experience driving IndyCars, then you might want to send your resume over to RLR this afternoon.


UPDATE 2: This isn't a news update, but it should be noted that ESPN.com beat reporter John Oreovicz mentioned this in an update a few days ago.

After at least four crashes this season, Simmons has reportedly been on shaky ground recently at Rahal Letterman Racing and the near-miss with Matsuura may be the last straw for Bobby Rahal and general manager Scott Roembke. Several drivers are under consideration, including Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron, Alex Gurney and Ryan Hunter-Reay.


UPDATE 3: The braintrust at TrackSide Online (and proud sponsors of My Name Is IRL) are reporting the following:

Persistent rumors say that Jeff Simmons will be replaced in the Rahal Letterman Racing ride by Ryan Hunter-Reay at Mid-Ohio. We haven't gotten this 100% confirmed and the team isn't saying. But, if this is gonna happen, the announcement would have to happen soon, practice starts on Friday, so expect something official early Thursday morning. (MORE from TrackSide Online)


UPDATE 4: Finally, the press release from RLR.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY JOINS RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING INDYCAR PROGRAM

HILLIARD, Ohio (July 19, 2007) – Rahal Letterman Racing today announces that American open-wheel and sportscar racewinner Ryan Hunter-Reay will take over as the driver of the team’s #17 Ethanol-sponsored car in the IndyCar Series, effective immediately.

“We have made important strides in our IndyCar program this year and we feel like this is something that we needed to do to maintain that pattern of improvement and growth,” said RLR co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Jeff stepped into a difficult situation last season and did a lot for our team and our sponsors, but we feel at this time, that this is the right move for the long-term future of Rahal Letterman Racing.”

Money to drive at IMS today

Posted by Iannucci | 7/18/2007 | 0 comments »
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Our buddy MoneyCJ has plopped down the cash and is scheduled to drive a Dallara around The Brickyard courtesy of the Indy Racing Experience. There's a silly season rumor that he's actually testing for a third Ganassi ride next year, but don't put too much stock in that.

Money plans to document the event at his spot on FastMachines, so hopefully there will be some pix of him kissing bricks or climbing the fence. Maybe he'll just be shaking in his firesuit after soiling himself. Maybe not.

Of course, true to form for "the experience" he may have to wait out some rain. We are keeping a close eye on The Weather in the hopes he gets to go green-green-green.

The best-laid plans of Milka and men go oft awry

Posted by Iannucci | 7/18/2007 | 2 comments »
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Sherman, set the WABAC machine to March 2007 for a Milka Duno refresher.

Duno will drive the No. 23 CITGO Racing/SAMAX Motorsport Dallara/Honda/Firestone in ten IndyCar Series events this season, including the 91st Indianapolis 500. She also plans to compete at Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Watkins Glen, Nashville, Mid Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Chicago.
At the time this was announced we were all scratching our various hairlines at why in the world a road series driver like Duno was leaving out one road course (Sonoma) and both street courses (St Petersburg and Detroit). Common sense – if there was any to be found in this grand Venezuelan experiment – said those should be the FIRST courses she should try in an IndyCar, if for no other reason than she had zero high-speed oval experience. Besides, as hard as road courses are on the equipment the odds of engine or chassis destruction are much lower.

But enough about common sense. Now it appears her next schedule race will be at Michigan and not at Mid Ohio this week, meaning Milkalicious will have driven on nothing but ovals for the handful of races comprising her debut season. Keep this mind: her entry in Michigan is presuming the Iron Hand of Justice doesn’t pull her license for the remainder of the season, which would be a tad awkward considering she’s probably got the Bombardier Learjet ICS Rookie of the Year award in the bag.

Still Sharp

Posted by Iannucci | 7/17/2007 | 5 comments »
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I need to give some credit to the old guy here, if for no other reason than I am a similarly-aged old guy myself.

When Scott Sharp ended last season he had not only lost his longtime Delphi sponsorship but also saw his Fernandez Racing team completely evaporate. No one was sure who was throwing the lifeline to whom when it was announced that he had hooked up with Rahal Letterman Racing, but as the season has progressed The Immortal has CLEARLY demonstrated that he’s been the most consistent performer not on one of the Big 3 teams.

Even more amazing is that all year he has hosted well over a hundred little YouTube racing vignettes for his Patron Racing team, and friends these look an awful lot like auditions to do racing commentary some day. Check out your mirror, Scott Goodyear.

We may needle him for his on-track block parties, but no matter what the outcome of his 140 career starts Sharp always seems to have a smile on his face. Of course, being about five grand short of 10 MEEELLION dollars in winnings would put me in a good mood as well. Anyhow check out the old man talking about, well, being the old man of the series.

de Ferran quits F1 job

Posted by Iannucci | 7/17/2007 | 2 comments »
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Gil de Ferran, a.k.a. the guy who won the Indy 500 four years ago (it seems longer) has stepped down from his job as Sporting Director of of Honda's F1 operations. Effective immediately. No nasty quotes were readily available.

This may (or may not) have implications in the short (or long) term for Formula One aspirations of Young Marco Andretti. Every time there was a recent story of Andretti testing for Honda it seemed de Ferran was around saying encouraging words. Then again, maybe this is like second place at Indy - nothing.

On a related note, the front page of IndyCar.com is featuring a poll to bring back de Ferran in some capacity to Honda's IRL operations. Curious.

Camara thinks he'll be driving an IndyCar

Posted by Iannucci | 7/17/2007 | 2 comments »
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This may or may not be related to the possible departure of Dario Franchitti from AGR at season's end, but if that domino falls this one might be lined up behind it. From the wonderfully-named Crash.net:

Indy Pro Series front runner Jamie Camara claims he will step up to the IndyCar Series next season, although he refused to divulge as to who it will be.

“Everything is kind of happening right now for next year. We already have something that we are working on for next year. Right now I can't and I'm not going to give any details about it. But I can say that things are looking good for next year, and I think I'm going to be driving an IndyCar next year.

“I'm in the position that I have to wait for an opportunity, so if something comes up at Andretti Green, I'll be happy to take it, and if something comes up on a different team, I have to take it. I can't choose right now where to go. I wish I could do that, but I can't. I'm not in a position to do that. Any opportunity that would come up, I would take it for sure.”
One has to wonder how reliable this report can be since they misspelled his name (it's Jaime, not Jamie), but after a series record 37 starts Camara really doesn't have much left to prove in the IPS. He hasn't exactly dominated, but then again maybe he's just getting bored or frustrated at not being "developed" in a timely fashion.

UPDATE: There's a pretty good story on Camara in the Mount Vernon News today. Tony Kanaan is pretty much talking up his friend as much as he can.

“I mean, I could brag about that in Iowa and Homestead and some other races, he came from the back to the front like I used to do, and I could say I taught him. But no, I just try to tell him what to do, and Michael Andretti is always with him, as well,” said Kanaan. “The guy is getting better every day, although the results don’t show. He’s a great teammate to have on the IndyCar side. He does all the tests for us, and we benefit from it many times. And he kept doing that this year, and we’re definitely making progress on our setup because of him.” (MORE)

Nasvhille...or Trashville?

Posted by Iannucci | 7/17/2007 | 3 comments »
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Now that checkered flag (and rain) has fallen on another, umm, interesting race at Nashville, a couple of My Name Is IRL regulars have weighed in with their opinions of the events. While they had different experiences (one of the two was not present on Sunday) they both agree on the smoke-filled bathrooms, leaky bleachers, and LOTS of drunken fools.

Jennifer of Dog. Yarn. Knit seemed to enjoy what she could:

I picked a patch of concrete floor and cinder block wall and settled in. Then I discovered that I had picked the wrong location to quietly wait out the rain. To my right were two ladies from Indianapolis, we’ll call them “Terry” and “Pat”, who were quite the talkers! I got the impression that they attend as many IRL races as possible. And I quickly realized they felt as if they knew more about it all than I did. Or the whole room combined, for that matter. I just listened for the most part. I learned that "Pat" has a fascination with team owner and former/sometimes driver, Eddie Cheever, Jr., and she buys him Rachel’s potato chips whenever possible. I think I even heard her blame him for her Red Bull habit (Red Bull is a former Cheever Racing sponsor). (MORE)

Johnny at LiveFast was not so thrilled:

Nashville Speedway is basically just one, huge grandstand that faces the front stretch of the track and for some curious reason they built up instead of around the facility which meant that we got to climb 67 rows into the sky on tiny aisles that seemed better suited as kill chutes in a slaughterhouse rather than foot traffic lanes in a large facility like this. Finally we did reach our seats, with afforded a decent view of the entire track and were treated to the usual intros, anthem, invocation and then fly over. During the fly over I noticed that the planes themselves were very, very low, even for an Amerigasm fly over type event, and soon I knew why that was because pretty much as soon as the jet wash had passed, huge, ice cold water pellets began to fall from the sky. (MORE)
Many thanks to these two for reporting from the Eye of the Storm.

Goodbye, Michigan

Posted by Iannucci | 7/16/2007 | 4 comments »
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Well, this sucks.

Racing fans will flock to the Michigan International Speedway for two weekends in 2008. But there is no IndyCar Series race scheduled in Brooklyn next year.

“Since its inaugural running in 2002, Michigan International Speedway, the state of Michigan, city of Jackson and other local communities made a major commitment to growing the IndyCar Series event,” MIS president Roger Curtis said in a statement.

“I had hoped that we’d be able to reach an agreement with the IRL for 2008 given our historical investment in open-wheel racing that dates back four decades. We will focus all of our efforts on elevating our remaining marquee events, including providing our fans with a first-class and memorable race day experience," he said. (MORE from the Detroit Free Press)

UPDATE: Curt Cavin is confirming that MIS is off the schedule for next year, and TrackSide Online is confirming that it sucks.

Franchitti to Penske?

Posted by Iannucci | 7/16/2007 | 5 comments »
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Two things to note before you read this: First off Mr Judd is the top dog in the points standings (you knew that), and second Dario always signs one-year contracts - meaning he's a free agent.

Those two items together make him the obvious subject of this article, although it seems to have more than "rumor" status. Take it away Curt Cavin:

Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti has emerged as a possible replacement for Sam Hornish Jr. at Penske Racing if Hornish moves to NASCAR next season.

Penske officials are mum on the subject, insisting a decision on Hornish has yet to be made. But Franchitti did little at Nashville Superspeedway to squelch the speculation. (MORE from IndyStar)

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.

Not so dry humor

Posted by Iannucci | 7/14/2007 | 4 comments »
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From the official T&S commentary of today's race that will hopefully be tomorrow's race.

2007-07-14 19:07:12
Pre-race ceremonies are going on now.

2007-07-14 19:31:39
We are on hold as there is moisture at the track.

2007-07-14 19:47:05
It is raining hard at the track.

2007-07-14 19:51:43
Cars are being moved back to the garages.

2007-07-14 20:12:54
The rain has lightened significantly.

2007-07-14 20:17:09
The track drying efforts have begun as the rain has stopped.

2007-07-14 21:09:27
It is raining hard again.

2007-07-14 21:35:11
The rain has let up significantly.

2007-07-14 21:42:18
The vehicles are out drying the track again.

2007-07-14 22:08:29
It is raining hard once again. The hits just keep coming.

2007-07-14 22:22:40
The race will be run July 15 at 1 p.m. (EDT).


So there ya go - hopefully The Weather Channel forecast of dry skies until 6pm holds up. If not, we can always pass the time by asking Darren Manning a single question (if you saw the broadcast then you may have noticed the bloke can chat it up a bit).


Also, in case you missed it there was an Indy Pro race today in Nashville that was unaffected by rain. IPS series dominator Alex Lloyd was leading with about 10 laps to go when Brad Jaeger's car slid up track, hit the wall, burst into flames and disintegrated into about a million pieces. Jaeger climbed out of what was left of his car, but Lloyd ran over one (or two, or three) of those pieces and damaged his front wing. Like bent and broken and in need of Cialis sponsorship.

As a result Lloyd was instructed but league officials to enter the pits for repair with but three laps to go, thus surrendering the lead and finishing in 11th - his first non-podium finish of the season.

Meanwhile, the driver who won the Sunbelt Rentals 100 was IPS rookie Robbie Pecorari who drives for Team KMA. That would be the teamed sponsored by Cabo Wabo Tequila and co-owned by rocker Sammy Hagar. Yes, Pecorari got one of those awesome guitar trophies just like the big boys. Sammy must be VERY proud.

Cheat Sheet: Nashville 2007

Posted by Iannucci | 7/14/2007 | 5 comments »
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Welcome to Nashville, where the only thing more grating than listening to some yodeling wannabe trying land a record contract is the uneven concrete surface at the Nashville Superspeedway. Tires will be chewed and drivers will be shaken, and all the while you and I will look on in amazement from the cameras atop the competitors Dallaras.

Speaking of being jostled around, when the dust settled on qualification for Saturday's Firestone Indy 200 the two points leaders (Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti) found themselves in the front row, while the recent helmeted gum-flappers (Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr) landed next to each other in the second row.

Guess we'll find out quickly how sorry Nariz really is.

OK, on to list for "Most likely to claim that awesome guitar trophy".

Dixon - He won here last year, he won at the Glen last week, and he's starting from the pole position. All he needs to do is drive like he's trying to escape that giant pink bunny.

Franchitti - Won this race two years ago, leading the points this year, and starting right next to Dixon. It's his new hometown, so maybe a whole bunch of Judd women will show up in giant hats to cheer on My Husband.

Kanaan - He's won here before and he's finished in the Top 10 every time he's raced here, so yet again he will factor into the decision.

Hornish - Would you believe this is an oval in which he's never visited Victory Lane? It's true, despite leading 195 laps - more than anyone ever. Watch your sidepods, Tony.

Wheldon - Top 5 in 3 of four tries but like Hornish he has no awesome guitar in the trophy case. He needs to find Dr Evil and get his Mojo back soon, baby.

Patrick - 7th in '05 and 4th last year, plus she was second or third in practice times this week. If she wins the awesome guitar, do you think she'll jam out to "Back In Black" or "Cult of Personality"?

Andretti - He finished 8th here in his rookie season and is looking a lot better lately. Maybe he kept those gloves Scheckter threw at him back in Texas for good luck.

Sharp - One of two drivers (along with Uncle Sam) to participate in all six races in Nashville, and like Hornish he's got a big donut in the win column. I wonder if pouring Patron in the tank would make the #8 go faster.

Meira - In four races The Mirror Man has led 114 laps but has managed only one Top 10 finish. Poor Vitor should be sponsored by Kleenex for all the tear-inducing heartbreak his fans suffer through.

Carpenter - Ed's a capable driver, but in 58 career starts ECG has ONE Top 5 finish. Don't take this the wrong way Ed, but maybe you should consider talking your stepdad into letting you run the team so Wade Cunningham or Alex Lloyd can get into that car.

Scheckter - Five starts, never better than 10th. What? Come on, he's gotta be better than that, right?

Simmons - He started 15th last year but worked his way up to 7th, although the way things looked in practice for RLR he's gonna need a lot of luck to repeat that feat.

Foyt - Well, he's finished every race here. No better than 12th, but brought it home every time. A Sunday drive on a Saturday night, I suppose.

Rice - In four starts he's made the Top 10 once. Yuck. The bar is low, Buddy.

Matsuura - Three races, one running at finish. Since we're talking about music and guitars it should be noted that he may soon be singing "I can't drive (number) 55". Har-dee-dar.

Manning - Man, if he thought last week was physically exhausting wait until Danger Mouse gets a load of this bump-fest. Hold on to your hollyhocks, lad.

Fisher - Three starts, 145 of 600 laps completed, no running at finish. Close your eyes and cross your fingers, FishHeads.

Castroneves - You were thinking he'd be higher after his recent spell of bad luck? Sorry. One word, Helio: Exorcism.


Money Says: Money is not yet saying, as he is en route somewhere along the East Coast. If he pops up with a pick we'll let you know.

Enjoy the show!

Her fate is in your hands

Posted by Iannucci | 7/13/2007 | 4 comments »
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Today is the big day for our beloved Princess of the Pavement. Danica! has got her big matchup in the ESPN Who's Now competition, where she faces off against New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush.

I've heard when told of the competition she said she really REALLY wanted to win, so it's up to you. Only you can save her from, umm, not winning.

Incidentally, I just wasted several minutes of my life watching the sad excuse of analysis of this matchup by a bunch of ESPN football guys. I'll never get those minutes back, friends. They're gone. Forever.

UPDATE: Apparently Danica's big day way YESTERDAY, although that wouldn't explain why when I looked at it this morning there she was. Like I needed one more reason to hate ESPN.com's site. Oh, she lost by nearly a 3-1 margin.

Pink Nightmare

Posted by Iannucci | 7/13/2007 | 7 comments »
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Looks like we may soon need to eliminate the phrase "bleeding the brakes" from our motorsports vocabulary. From TrackSideOnline:

When watching the race, don't forget that Scott Dixon's car is dark blue this weekend as he carries Energizer colors. The business pages are reporting that Engergizer will purchase Playtex in the near future. We're sure the Target Ganassi folks will exploit there new connection for access to new product lines and associate sponsors for the race teams. Can't wait to see the special paint jobs next year.

Knights of the Oval Table

Posted by Iannucci | 7/13/2007 | 5 comments »
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Pressdog considers auditioning as Italian muscle, Money explains the difference between "gelling" and "jelling", and I think of a good use for Ashley Judd's enormous hat.


Here we go again.


Pressdog: What up, homeys?
MyNameIsIRL: still waiting on Money
MyNameIsIRL: forgive me if I'm a little off - i'm just now starting on my first cup of coffee
MoneyCJ: I'm going to do my best today. I stopped smoking 3 days ago and am still a little batty!
MoneyCJ: Can I start off by pointing out something highly ironic?
MoneyCJ: I received the latest issue of 'IndyCar' mag a few days ago...
MoneyCJ: In it, there is an interview with Dario and his Dad, George...
MoneyCJ: Done right after the 500 win...
MoneyCJ: One of Dario's quotes about his Dad went like this:
MoneyCJ: "I know a lot of Dads who, even at this level, cannot let go. He did"
Pressdog: Savor that irony. Congrats on kicking the cigs, Money. Huge Ups for that.
MyNameIsIRL: He should get together with Iceman's dad, who also seems on the chill side
MyNameIsIRL: Meanwhile, the American Dad's like Sam Sr and TJ have a totally different image now
Pressdog: Let me turn my hat backwards for a second and get my wife beater tank top on.
MoneyCJ: Let me drop trou
MyNameIsIRL: you're applying for that job, aren't you
Pressdog: I'm on the plane!
MyNameIsIRL: cheetos?
MoneyCJ: check
Pressdog: WTF? Snack time on the Gulf Stream.
MyNameIsIRL: I wonder if those came with the flight
MoneyCJ: Shit's BIZarre
MyNameIsIRL: OK, so I guess we're going straight to the fight. Money - your opinion?
MoneyCJ: Well, I'm on record as pretty clearly thinking it was a total joke
MoneyCJ: I also take TK's side
MoneyCJ: Who would, incidentally, beat the living CRAP out of Sam.
Pressdog: All the extra playah's needed to step off on that deal. Sam Sr., stay behind the wall. Anthony, simmer.
Pressdog: Let Sam Jr. and Tony talk about it. I don't think anyone was going to rumble, as Tony said, until these extra dudes got involved.
MoneyCJ: Exactly.
MyNameIsIRL: The worst part of the conflict was the glory footage didn't involve the drivers
MyNameIsIRL: The drivers were bickering WITH THEIR HELMETS ON
MyNameIsIRL: That's what made the Danica/Dan footage so primo
MoneyCJ: You see Wheldon egging TK on from the sidelines?
MyNameIsIRL: Wheldon also still wearing his helmet
Pressdog: Did you see on indycar.com? The Root had about three seconds with AJ Foyt asking him what he thought.
MoneyCJ: 'Yeah, yeah....kick eez arse, mate!"
Pressdog: Super Tex says "I noticed they kept their helmets on" or something like that.
Pressdog: LOL
MyNameIsIRL: He did, and Arute said "maybe they're smart"
MyNameIsIRL: And Foyt says "...or stupid"
MoneyCJ: would have been great had they just gotten it on with some
helmet-butting.
Pressdog: AJ's all like, "What's the big deal?"
MoneyCJ: "I'll kick all their asses"
Pressdog: Gave ABC some awesome footage to play over and over and over and over and over.
MyNameIsIRL: Yeah - they had about 30 minutes of airtime to fill
Pressdog: You'll see it about seven times in the run up to Nashville Opening montage.
MoneyCJ: Ugh

MyNameIsIRL: Here's a questions for you guys: is finishing these races early a problem?
MyNameIsIRL: It seems with so few accidents the races are over in like 90 minutes
MoneyCJ: Well, I suppose I'll take that over more accidents!
Pressdog: I heard some bitching here at Iowa from people who said 89 minutes wasn't a long enough race for $50.
MyNameIsIRL: Especially if you only saw half the race
Pressdog: If they have less accidents, then add more laps.
MoneyCJ: Ouch
Pressdog: No shit. I waited in traffic about twice as long as the actual race.
MoneyCJ: Jeff, did you HAVE to go there?
Pressdog: Of which I saw about 2/3rds.
MoneyCJ: hahaha
MyNameIsIRL: Sorry. It's like picking at a scab, I know.
MoneyCJ: Jeezussss
Pressdog: The track is putting down gravel and making a big deal out of some improvements they're making, so maybe there is hope.
MyNameIsIRL: The only problem with more laps is a greater likelihood of driver fatigue
MyNameIsIRL: Danger Mouse is already getting winded
Pressdog: Har. Better to have more laps than phantom yellows.
MyNameIsIRL: Danica's gonna end up with Popeye forearms
Pressdog: She's got the guns. Milka's got the guns. Why doesn't Milka do road races?
MyNameIsIRL: Maybe that's the answer - two debris yellow minimum per race
Pressdog: Call them Beer Yellows.
MoneyCJ: $$$
MyNameIsIRL: I like that - sponsorship opportunity
MoneyCJ: This beer yellow brought to you by Miller Lite!
MoneyCJ: Go get your drink on!!
Pressdog: Absolutely. Even put a Lite logo on the yellow flag as they did with the ethanol logo on the green flag.
MoneyCJ: BAAHAAAA!
MoneyCJ: Genuis, man
MyNameIsIRL: Tony George, HIRE THIS MAN
MoneyCJ: NOW
Pressdog: I wouldn't last long working for Tony. I'd say someting was "stupid-ass" and I'd be gone.
Pressdog: Besides, Tony has Gene. (Couldn't resist.)
MyNameIsIRL: don't go there

MyNameIsIRL: moving along now...
MyNameIsIRL: Dog, you are tight with the D&R crew. Buddy Rice is looking top shelf all of a sudden. explain.
Pressdog: I think Buddy and his engineer are "gelling." Or is it "jelling"? And, I think Buddy gets noticible cash to drive so he gets first dibs on all the good parts, etc.
MoneyCJ: Gelling is coherency. Jelling involves bongs.
MyNameIsIRL: which is it?
Pressdog: Plus he has more experience than Sarah.
Pressdog: I suspect the team has enough money to put one super-tweaked car on the track plus one semi-tweaked.
MoneyCJ: p-dog, you'll be happy to know...
MoneyCJ: that there is a pic of Buddy in the new IndyCar Mag where the bill of his cap is s-l-i-g-h-t-l-y curved!!
MyNameIsIRL: that's an altered image, Money
MoneyCJ: heh
MyNameIsIRL: hang on - Sarah seems to have more sponsorship than him, right?
Pressdog: Wildman! Yeah, Sarah has more sponsorship than Buddy, but Buddy has the Indy 500 ring.
Pressdog: Us Sarah fans think the sponsorship meal ticket should get some of the first fruits, but ...
Pressdog: Again, I'm just talking out of my ass about what I THINK is going on. DRR ain't going to talk to me about any internal issues.
MyNameIsIRL: OK, but do you think they are pleased so far this season?
MoneyCJ: The sure as hell should be!
Pressdog: Oh yeah. DRR has gotten more air this season than the last eight combined. Buddy is doing well. I think they are pretty happy.
MyNameIsIRL: I would think the last few races would make them feel
encouraged
MoneyCJ: And Sarah's a star
MoneyCJ: s'all good
Pressdog: If Sarah would start finishing on the lead lap, that would make everyone giddy.
MoneyCJ: It'll happen.
MyNameIsIRL: She needs some more yellows. Those 2/10ths of a second per lap kill ya without the yellows
MoneyCJ: Beer Yellow to the rescue!
Pressdog: I don't see a loser with Beer Yellows.
MoneyCJ: You are really onto something with that one. Like, really really.
MyNameIsIRL: Should there be different shades of yellow flag. Lager Yellow, Ale Yellow, etc?
MoneyCJ: Depends on the sponsor, I suppose...
Pressdog: Don't overthink it, Jeffy.
MyNameIsIRL: OK - sorry

MyNameIsIRL: Next up: A BIG APOLOGY
MoneyCJ: I forgive you.
MyNameIsIRL: Money - you want to say anything to Dario now?
MoneyCJ: Oh yeahh...heh.
MoneyCJ: Actually, I have nothing to apologize for...but I do give him MAD respek for doing what I suggested he needed to do--and that's win one
outright.
MoneyCJ: Was huge.
Pressdog: He's a right-sexy wee bastard for sure.
MyNameIsIRL: as if the other two wins were not "outright"
MoneyCJ: Dude, you know what I meant with that
MyNameIsIRL: I seriosuly think Ashely needs to beat you about the head with her giant hat
MoneyCJ: That would be kinda hot.
Pressdog: Dario would never get into any fights because he's a GENTLEMAN.
MyNameIsIRL: Maybe he would fight like a GENTLEMAN
MoneyCJ: Seriously, do I need to explain myself AGAIN as regards Dario?
Pressdog: No. Jeff is huffing paint or something.
MyNameIsIRL: I'm just giving you grief because you deserve it.
MoneyCJ: Blow me

MyNameIsIRL: Alright, we have 7 races left and it's pretty much a two driver race for the championship. Are you picking Mr Judd, Iceman, or someone else?
MoneyCJ: Ummmm....ask me after Nashville.
MyNameIsIRL: weeeeeeeeak
MoneyCJ: (heh)
Pressdog: I gotta say Dario is charmed this year, although my heart belongs to the Iceman.
Pressdog: I think Dario wins the title, though.
MoneyCJ: I don't see Scott making it, even though he is super awesome
MoneyCJ: Would be really exciting to see Dario do it...
Pressdog: If Dario starts getting top fives in road courses, it's over.
MoneyCJ: Still not convinced that's gonna happen though
MyNameIsIRL: Wanna guess when Iceman's last oval win was?
MoneyCJ: mmmmmm.......
Pressdog: No idea, King of Stats
MyNameIsIRL: last year at Nashville
MoneyCJ: Oh! Well, then....
MyNameIsIRL: wanna guess who won that race the year before?
MyNameIsIRL: Dario won the guitar in '05
Pressdog: Nashville. It's like a 1.5-grove track. Snorefest last year, seems to me.
MyNameIsIRL: Snorefest! Dixon and Wheldon were battling it out last year.
MoneyCJ: Dario's going to be very hard to beat this year
MoneyCJ: Home track, big Mo, etc...
Pressdog: How do you "battle it out" on a one-groove track. Follow each other closely?
MoneyCJ: Crowd's gonna be going batshit for him
MyNameIsIRL: I'm excited, if only because a likely Mid-Ohio snoozer is right after
MoneyCJ: Oh--can I throw something out here before we leave the subject of Nashville?
MyNameIsIRL: throw out but not up
MoneyCJ: It is unclear at this time whether I will be able to LiveBlog it or not. Will be on the road. Depends on wireless signals, etc.
MoneyCJ: Will do my best
MyNameIsIRL: bummer

MyNameIsIRL: Alright last topic: what the heck has happened to Wheldon and Castroneves?
Pressdog: WTF with Helio? Good question. He just lost it at Watkins Glen
MoneyCJ: Wheldon slumping a bit. Helio cursed.
MoneyCJ: Dan'll be back.
MoneyCJ: Helio may just have to write this year off.
Pressdog: Wheldon need to get his schwerve back on at Nashville. He's road-course challenged.
MyNameIsIRL: Do Brits have Schwerve?
Pressdog: Oh sure.
MyNameIsIRL: I thought they had Mojo
MoneyCJ: or is it juju?
Pressdog: Helio was on his way at Milwaukee than the tinker toy parts failed.
MyNameIsIRL: And the Texas Tire wasn't his fault either
Pressdog: He just lost it at WG.
MoneyCJ: That was truly one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen.
Pressdog: Spinning coming out of the pits at Iowa was a total brain lock. A serious WTF moment.
MyNameIsIRL: Penalized at Richmond for putting a cake inthe face of IHJ
Pressdog: Um, yeah, you stuff cake in the face of Darth Vader you also die.
MyNameIsIRL: this is not your typical year for Roger Penske
Pressdog: agreed
MoneyCJ: And I don't think that's a bad thing for the series
MoneyCJ: not at all
MyNameIsIRL: do you think Helio's bad year will have an affect on Sam's NAPCAR decision?
Pressdog: sam is gone.
MyNameIsIRL: like does he need TWO new drivers
MoneyCJ: no no no
MoneyCJ: big H wants another Indy win
MoneyCJ: bad bad bad
Pressdog: oh yeah. hockey scrum busts out for his seat.
Pressdog: Helio stays if he wants. This season is toast, though.
MoneyCJ: right.
Pressdog: He may console himself with a win or maybe two.
MoneyCJ: Would like to see that.
MyNameIsIRL: I think Belle Isle is his for the taking
MoneyCJ: Doesn't Roger decide who wins at Belle?
MyNameIsIRL: Exactly. It's his event
MoneyCJ: Well there ya go
Pressdog: I'm interested to see Belle Isle. I've heard it is a "shit hole" but I know Penske is pouring major Penske Bucks into it.
MyNameIsIRL: They're pouring major buck into decorations, not making the track any wider
MyNameIsIRL: Pole winner will win that race, barring airstrike
Pressdog: Most likely. Unless someone brain locks. Always a possibility on a street course.
MyNameIsIRL: true
Pressdog: There was actually a lot of passing at the last IRL road race. Cars were pretty unequal so we had some passing.
Pressdog: Never for the lead, that I recall, but still.
Pressdog: Then again I drifted in parts of it.
MoneyCJ: The Glen is all kind of a blur to me at this point
MyNameIsIRL: That's why the fight broke out. Just to wake you up

MyNameIsIRL: Alrighty then. Any final thoughts or are we done.
MoneyCJ: I'm headed to IMS Wednesday to drive the Dallara!
Pressdog: Get some photos for us. You Tube Video.
MoneyCJ: will look forward to posting about that experience
MoneyCJ: YouTube is ON. As are pics
MyNameIsIRL: Don't do a Roberto Guerrero and go into the wall warming up the tires
MoneyCJ: And Allan's covering it for Motorsport.com also
MoneyCJ: totally pumped
MoneyCJ: like all-time high pumped-ness
Pressdog: Huge. Yeah, Scott Sharp turn 1 lap 1 wallege
MyNameIsIRL: that would be bad as well
MoneyCJ: Yeah, I don't think that would go over all that well
MyNameIsIRL: Money's all pumped and we're disucssing SAFER barrier action
MoneyCJ: yeah. thanks.
MoneyCJ: for the vote of confidence!
MyNameIsIRL: keep it clean or you loose your ride
Pressdog: You'll do fine. Go for 167 mph!
MoneyCJ: totally.
MyNameIsIRL: do you get to see how fast you're going?
MoneyCJ: I'm thinking I'll come out of it with a ride....
MoneyCJ: yes
MoneyCJ: avg speeds, etc
Pressdog: Roger may need someone next year.
MoneyCJ: I will report and I will report honestly.
MyNameIsIRL: be sure to start a fight afterwards
MyNameIsIRL: and take the helmet OFF
MoneyCJ: Oh yeah--
Pressdog: Maybe J Lil can catch you right after and get a track-side interview.
MoneyCJ: gonna throw the gloves, shake the fist, all that...
MoneyCJ: Climb the fence
MyNameIsIRL: get him in a walk-along
Pressdog: We're down here with MoneyCJ, what did you think about the ride?
MyNameIsIRL: (censored)
MoneyCJ: I'll just let go with a Marco-on-radio style FUUU***&&&$$$KKKK!
Pressdog: Random screamed obscenities -- that's our Young Marco
MoneyCJ: The kid rules.
MyNameIsIRL: alrighty guys, we've run long.
MoneyCJ: Keep it real, boys.
MyNameIsIRL: best of luck and be safe, Money
Pressdog: Be sure and tip your waitress. Go Sarah!
MoneyCJ: Thanks--talk to ya soon
MyNameIsIRL: thanks guys. later.
MoneyCJ: cya
Pressdog: peace out.