Invasion of the ride-snatchers

Posted by Iannucci | 2/18/2008 | 9 comments »
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The Daytona 500 represents a bitersweet day, and not because of presence of former open-wheel drivers who've gone on to greener (and slower) pastures. No, it's because it's our national "Opening Day" of racing, and it reminds me that there is still over a month to go before the IndyCars fire up.

For those who did not peek in on Sunday's festivities here's a summary: two hours of napping and yardwork, one hour of racing, one hour of yellow flags, five minutes of excitement. That's just me - your mileage may vary.

Since this is of course an IndyCar site we will note only "open-wheel invaders". Ahem. First up is Sam Hornish Jr who had a relatively good day by staying up near the front and finishing 15th. Only in the N-Word can one use "good day" and "finishing 15th" in the same sentence. Roger Penske said Sam drove a "masterful race", so you can only imagine the praise he heaped upon Sam's teammates who finished first and second.

Dario Franchitti had a decidely different day, finishing 33rd. This doesn't mean the week was entirely forgetable, because not only did his wife cause a stir with her wardrobe (complete with enormous hat) but Dario's mentor - the esteemed Jackie Stewart - revealed that years ago he tried to get Dario to change his name to "Jock McBain". What?!?

Speaking of name changes, "Jack" Villeneuve failed to qualify for Sunday's race and now will also not be participating for the next Whatever Cup race in California. Some invaders are less invasive than others.

Villeneuve's countryman Patrick Carpentier was in the Top 25 in qualifying speed but also failed to make the race due to those funky rules they have. Fortunately for Carpentier his team has committed him to the AJ Allmendinger plan of a full-season of qualifying attempts with several actual races scattered hither and yon.

Oh yeah, Allmendinger didn't qualify either.


  1. pressdog // February 18, 2008 12:00 PM  

    OMG. I tried to watch some of it. What's the record for most commercials during a car race? 182,098, and the N-word holds it. I swear, it was two minutes of racing, five minutes of commercials. INSANE. Not only should you skip the pre-race frothing, but skip the first three hours of the actual race, because it's like a pre-race in itself. This is what DVRs were invented for.

  2. Anonymous // February 18, 2008 12:44 PM  

    well, the gopher cam was pretty cute.

  3. Fred Hurley // February 18, 2008 1:08 PM  

    Hey, here's a good gambling idea. Let's have a pool to determine when, should a merger of some sort happen, Allmendinger ends up back in open-wheel racing. My guess is mid-way through 2009. :-)

  4. Jennifer Coomer // February 18, 2008 3:21 PM  

    I'll admit, I tried to watch some of it. But it was just boring.

    The most exciting parts came with the mention of my birthplace, Owensboro, KY, (hometown of The Waltrips and Jeremy Mayfield).

    I was pretty proud of our boy, Sam.

    Found it ironic that Dario finished *33* when we all know the significance of that number.

    But mostly...they go soooo s l o w and pack-up and it's like a whole latta waiting for someting to happen. And it never does.

  5. Anonymous // February 18, 2008 4:22 PM  

    Whenever I watch NASCAR, I'm struck by the fact that I can't see the difference in speed when the green flag drops at the start of a race - and yesterday was no exception. In contrast, that's one of the best moments in an IRL race.

    I am embarrassed to admit that I felt a tad bit nostalgic when I saw that Ashley's floppy hats are alive and well.

  6. pressdog // February 18, 2008 4:41 PM  

    LOL. Dario has to get used to backmarkerdom. I hope some of the stars are cursing him out for not getting out of the way. Turn about, Dario. But at least some things never change -- he still has to answer questions about his wife and The Hat. Agreed, Sammy drove well. He was the only thing that kept me watching, seeing if he could top 10 it. Great observation, Erika. When the field went green I was like, "OK, do they see the green flag, because they ain't going any faster."

  7. Doug // February 18, 2008 6:17 PM  

    The Daytona was painful to watch. The COT is a automotive equivalent of homo-neanderthal. Its a relic of old and dated technologies cobbled together to mitigate driver talent in an effort to produce artificially close racing.

    Boring as watching paint dry is another way of putting it.

    I wish Sam and Dario the best, but I just cannot watch another race like that. I'll probably watch the Glen and Infineon races, but that's it.

  8. John in Speedway // February 18, 2008 7:42 PM  

    Yes, those bumper boats are waaayyy inferior. Look at Indy for example. They go 40 to 50 mph SLOWER than IndyCars, and they still have to slow down in the turns. IndyCars take all 4 turns flat out (unless you're driving one of the Ilmors, and then you go too fast in the straightaways and end up missing the race).

  9. Jennifer Coomer // February 19, 2008 8:45 AM  

    I just want to say that I have really enjoyed everyone's comments on this post. Good observations and humor. And then there are the hats. Ash, you're not at The Derby. But, at least she doesn't wear them to UK games...not yet, at least.