LiveBlog: St Petersburg 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 4/06/2008 | 14 comments »
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Welcome! It appears we've had some rain and are starting on rain tires. I missed the pre-race prayer but I hope it included a plea to The Almighty that we make it through the first lap without incedent. Or at least the first turn.

I'll be on AIM, but please be judicious with the messages. Note also that unless you say so I may add your comments to the LiveBlog, because it's all about sharing.

0: Rooster tails on the warm ups. Sliding will soon ensue. I Gar-ron-tee. I do not envy these drivers today, driving blind at a hundred and whatever.

1: Marty Reid just said we have a two hour time limit, hence the yellow start. This sucks, but if they'd had a similar yellow start at Michigan two years ago and we might have actually seen the race. So it's a minor amount of suck.

1: Yay! Marco on Race Control! Hide the women and children.

2: Apparently the rain has fried the radios, so boardmen may be used. Welcome to the 21st century.

5: Still yellow. TOTAL parade, evidently because there are puddles. This is a street course, they have grooved tires, but we're still without a race. I'm sure the folks at the track are thrilled to death about this.

6: This is embarrassing. I'm going to go make myself a quesadilla.

7: I'm back. Did I miss anything?

8: It would appear Tony Kanaan is telling Brian Barnhart when we can and can't race. That 30-minute penalty now makes complete sense. Hey, at least someone is in charge.

10: We FINALLY go green, and The Hunter immediately spins around and loses a bunch of positions.

12: The Cajun Sheff has gone past Ricky Bobby for second, and now Ed Carpenter has replicated Hunter-Reay's move.

13: The Danica Shuffle!

14: Marco is spun around, Moraes is in some tires, and so we're back under yellow. Kanaan, Wilson, Castroneves, Power, Briscoe lead the sliders.

15: Sadly, the Race Control thingy is not giving me audio of Marco, so my viewing is less than enhanced.

16: We've already had puff pieces on Graham Rahal and Oriol Servia. Thank you ESPN! We appreciate the introductions.

17: Kanaan and others who are not at the front pitting. Now T&S is showing Wilson, Kanaan, Power, Castroneves, Briscoe. Is that right?

20: It's not - Kanaan is back to 11th. Race restarts and Ricky Bobby promptly shakes and bakes backwards a few spots.

21: The Danica Shuffle again - and there's the hand puppet show. Hang on, replay shows she got sideswiped by Moraes. Eminem shows no love for the Princess.

22: Dixon and Wheldon are battling for 6th. Big Chip needs an antacid sponsor.

23: Something happened to Castroneves so now the leaders are Wilson, Briscoe, Servia, Power, Rahal. What this still an IndyCar race?

27: Buddy Rice has spun. Danica is on the lead lap by about 30 feet as Justin Wilson in the Clown Car is closing in.

28: My Race Control thingy has locked up. Grrrr!

32: Yellow for debris, so Danica gets a virtual Lucky thought I was gonna say it, didn't you? Meanwhile the Son of 'Stache has charged up to third. Wilson, Briscoe, Rahal, Servia, Power. The 37 race streak for The Big Three is definitely in jeopardy.

33: Everybody pits. Now it's Wilson, Rahal, Dixon, Power, Servia...Viso?

34: Correction - not everyone pitted. Briscoe, Wheldon and Perera are shown as leaders as we go back to green.

35: Rahal and Power went for the same spot and that didn't work out. Power punts Graham around and now he's 22nd.

40: Wheldon is struggling, so now it's Briscoe, Perera, Kanaan, Castroneves, Wheldon. Wait, Fronkensteen is in second?

42: Marco and Danica pull in to get slicks instead of the grooved tires...and Marco has snapped a half-shaft! Thanks to HD we can actually see the broken part. Striking. Shades of 2006 for Marco.

44: My Race Control thingy is back up. Briscoe, Bernoldi, Meira lead. I am totally lost in the randomness.

46: Both Penske cars come in to change to slicks. There's still water all over the place but why not. Will Power and Graham Rahal also switch tires as well.

47: It sounds like Ernesto Viso is now being called "EJ". Whatever. He just passed Enrique Bernoldi for the lead. Viso, Bernoldi, Meira, Manning, Howard. My head will now explode.

53: autosportscrew22: manning has blisters on his hands... that's too easy to make a joke.

55: No lead changes. T & S shows that nearly every driver just ran his/her best lap. It also shows Junky in the pits for 12 laps, but let's not trouble Marty and Scott with that.

58: Yellow for Briscoe as he clips the wall with his left side then slams past the turn with his right side. I got to watch this live on the Race Control thingy thanks to the 30-second latency. Ouch! He's out and OK, bu that's two DNFs to start the season for the new Penske driver.

60: This will will be declared OVER in 30 minutes, even though we have 40 laps to go.

62: Since he didn't pit, Ryan Hunter-Reay is now leading. It's like they're pulling race leader names out of hat. Meanwhile the Rahal driver is directly in front of the the Rahal son, who also will need to pit again.

64: We go green, Rahal passes for the lead, Helio passes Viso for third. No sooner does this happen then we go back to yellow since Carpenter has parked his car somehwere on the circuit.

66: Still yellow. Rahal, Hunter-Reay, Castroneves, Viso, Dixon.

70: Rahal is taking off, Castroneves is back in second, Hunter-Reay even further back in third. 15 minutes to checkers, so it appers that would be at 48 minutes after your hour.

73: Race Control thingy predicts Graham needs to pit in three laps. 11 minutes to race conclusion, so the drama is all about the clock. Meanwhile Dixon has pulled into the pits and is shutting it down. He was the last Race Control driver left, so that's the end of that.

75: Another yellow! Vitor and Bernoldi Perera collected each other, and then Townsend Bell comes wide in the turn and whacks Vitor's car. Carbon fiber everywhere but no one was hurt. Moments later Meria and Bernoldi Perera are now having an animated conversation. Not discussing tee times.

76: Six minutes to go, still Rahal in the lead. Pressdog may have picked the wrong driver but he's looking right about that Carl Haas cigar. Helio is right behind Rahal, ready to climb another fence.

78: Rahal looks like he took the green flag about three turns too soon but Helio is right on him. Just like Dixon was on Helio last year at this race.

79: Rahal has opened up a lead of over a second. Two laps to go as Kanaan noses past The Hunter for third.

82: White flag for Graham as Ed Carpenter spins somewhere again. If Rahal doesn't run out of fuel...

83: Graham Rahal has won! He missed Homestead so he wins in his first ever IndyCar series race. Wow. I mean, WOW!

Final results are Rahal, Castroneves, Kanaan, Viso, Bernoldi. I am stunned. This may have been the silliest race I've ever seen. Many yellows, much sliding, and a guy who spun earlier still managed to win. Unbelievable. Congratulations to Graham, and thank you very much - good night!


  1. Anonymous // April 06, 2008 12:29 PM  

    I had company come at 2:15 and they stayed until 3pm. I was afraid I would miss something. Apparently I didn't.

  2. Veronica // April 06, 2008 12:42 PM  

    i wish that caution hadn't come out.. stupid danica

  3. Anonymous // April 06, 2008 1:51 PM  

    That wasn't Bernoldi, it was Perera that hit Meira.

  4. Iannucci // April 06, 2008 1:55 PM  

    Thank you - corrected.

  5. Doug // April 06, 2008 4:34 PM  

    Great commentary as always, and congrats to Graham. On the twisty courses, it looks like we have good parity between the newcomers and the old guard. The competition this weekend was fantastic!

  6. Fred Hurley // April 06, 2008 5:50 PM  

    That was a fun race. I know some people just don't like road racing, but if you enjoy it all, that was entertaining! :-)

  7. Anonymous // April 06, 2008 6:20 PM  

    I'm new to IndyCar, but I love watching road racing. I missed most of the race and was hoping that either ESPN or Speed would re-broadcast. No such luck. :P

  8. John in Speedway // April 06, 2008 6:48 PM  

    Wow!!! Great race. I normally don't enjoy the street/road courses, but I'm starting to come around. That was fun!

  9. Doug // April 06, 2008 7:03 PM  

    Word has it that the race will be rebroadcast on ESPN Classic at 7am EDT on Monday, 4/7.

  10. Anonymous // April 06, 2008 7:40 PM  


    At least with the Meira - Perera - Bell wreck, P-dog can throw out the "Festival of Carbon Fiber" line. :^)

    Props to Rahal 2.0 on scoring his first victory in his rookie season. Like father, like son.

    BTW, Hopefully Dario got to watch the race on HDTV from his motorhome. Looks like he had plenty of free time Sunday afternoon. Maybe he invited AJ Allmendinger over to watch too.

  11. The American Mutt // April 06, 2008 8:09 PM  

    Anyone else notice them pushing Brunos car during the interview with Dixon? Nice of them to mention this.

  12. mikebdot // April 07, 2008 6:26 AM  

    AM: I noticed...

    Anyone else notice how Ed Carpenter spun around in turn 14 and was going backwards and somehow managed to not turn hard towards the wall to collect whoever was up there? Hmmm, am I to understand that Dixon couldn't have managed to do this at a certain critical time last year?

  13. Anonymous // April 07, 2008 8:32 AM  

    I think it was great how Danica had the smarts to keep spinning and stayed in front of the leader to get the most exposure for her sponsor

  14. Fred Hurley // April 07, 2008 8:35 AM  

    While Danica by no means drove a great race, she did have a nice stint staying in front of Wilson, working toward the inevitable caution. For someone who is not a road race ace, finishing tenth out of twenty-five was not a bad finish.Does she get way more attention than merited by her performance? Of course. Is she a bad driver? Nah.