Pit Road to Perdition

Posted by Iannucci | 4/28/2008 | 5 comments »
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As drivers furiously race hundreds of miles towards the checkered flag there awaits for them an evil so unspeakable, so undefiniable, it can turn the greatest of racers into sobbing, f-bomb throwing messes. Beware... (Jack Arute voice) the pits!

What in the world is it about the pit road that makes it THE place where recent races at Kansas Speedway have been determined? Last year Tony Kanaan was taken out of contention after getting clipped by a teammate in the pits, as was Scott Dixon who suffered a drive-through penalty after entering the pits too late. This year, as a our buddy pressdog would say, they may as well have set up the circus there, cued the music, and let the clowns run wild.

At any rate, just as last year the beneficiary was Dan Wheldon, who bookends 16 winless events with a couple of Kansas victories. And with that we now have a different winner for each of the five IndyCar events this season. If that doesn’t get you excited then I don’t know what will.

Also, a HUGE word of thanks to the intrepid pressdog, who deserves some sort of award for his epic reporting on Saturday and Sunday. Dare I say his reporting was even more enjoyable than is world-famous race recap.

The Good

With his Dixon ahead of him most of the day, Wheldon goes green, saves fuel, and wins his first race in a year. Dan said after the race he was trying to conserve, and that conservation allowed him to benefit from Buddy Rice’s misfortune while his teammate was forced to pit. It’s great to see Dan the Dental Plan return to Victory Lane, especially in the first race after Danica! scored a “W”. Please re-fire this rivalry immediately no matter how artificial it may seem.

Last year Marco Andretti had to park it. This year he scores fifth, showing a strong oval performance just as he did at Homestead. I don't care if he does like pressdog better, I'm happy for him.

Ed Carpenter’s quest for the podium ended when he showed up at home and found EJ Viso parked in his driveway. Be not disparaged Hammer, as your car was just as spectacular as your post-race F-Bomb. We’re not fans of boorish behavior, but just as when the similarly dull Kosuke Matsuura busted out the Sofa King disappointment we will embrace your similar outburst of personality. Keep it up, just keep it cleaner most of the time.

A fourth place finish keeps Helio Castroneves in the lead for the ICS championship. He has no wins, but he’s finished fourth or better every week. I have no dancing analogy for this, and even if I did I wouldn't use it.

Hideki Mutoh finished in sixth for the second time in three races. Godzilla is now just 10 points back of Will Power for Rookie of the Year, and with this being the first of six straight ovals you can expect Godzilla to stomp quickly past Power and Graham Rahal for the lead in that category.

He’s not a rookie but could someone please give a round of applause to Oriol Servia? El Matador has finished no worse than 12th in any race, something only Helio, Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan can claim. That’s a nice group to be in no matter what the stat.

The Bad

Only in the upside-down, flying monkey land of Kansas can we have Dan Wheldon win a race largely because he played a fuel strategy. I still won’t disparage any victories, but if this is what the rest of the year looks like then right about now would be a good time to rip the knob off and go back to the single fuel setting.

Not only did Tomas Scheckter’s day end when EJ Viso slid up into him, but then we were treated to this kinder gentler Scheckter who said not a discouraging word about the Venezuelan. Last year we got glove throwing at Marco and “he should spend less time dancing and more time driving” towards Helio. You see how driving for a Penske suppresses one’s personality, even with an excitable guy like Tomas Scheckter?

Speaking of, do you remember that line of folks in the movie “Airplane!” waiting to punch the hysterical woman? I’m guessing there’s a similar line forming outside of Viso’s motorcoach. Despite being nearly up to speed with the leaders, Darkslide was grinding all over the track and in the pits. She may not have know who he was before the race but I’m guessing Danica! knows who Viso is now.

There’s snakebit and then there’s this run of luck for Panther Racing and Vitor Meria. If anyone had predicted him in 21st(!) at this point in the season please raise your hand. Still looking…still looking…exactly.

Marty Roth – WTF? I mean, really. W. T. F?

The Ugly

How much of a nightmare was it on pit road at Kansas? Let’s summarize.

In what could have been a completely horrific event, Marty Roth ran into one of Tomas Scheckter’s tire changers. Fortunately the crew member was not only relatively unhurt but also managed to crawl out from under the car and go retrieve a tire. Simon Morley – the guy in question – will soon be joining the cast of “Heroes”.

Adding insult to injury, Roth then ran over the foot of a different Luczo Dragon team member who was trying to help Roth back up. The crew member then struck Roth’s helmet, thus invoking the first head-slap since Danica Patrick went upside Jacques Lazier’s noggin several years ago. Insert your own AJ Foyt punchline here.

Ed Carpenter’s dash to the front was stopped when EJ Viso decided to park in his pit. I guess Viso had felt a sudden urge to save big money at Menards. Meanwhile one can only wonder if Carpenter instinctively felt for a horn button on his steering wheel.

Danica Patrick’s day ended when her right-rear wheel changer noticed something unseemly involving studs, nuts and shearing. OUCH! No confirmation to the rumor that after his wife’s 24/7 media tour this week the culprit was Husbandthal.

Vitor Meira struck a tire exiting the pits, ended yet another good run. For a guy who has been historically cool-headed, every post-race interview shows Meria that much closer to becoming unhinged. Panther Racing may have to keep him from sharp objects this month.

Scott Dixon’s race effectively ended when he was caught in the pits as Buddy Rice’s car went “Oh Snap!” out on the track. If there is any consolation for Dixon it is that he is leading so many laps that he could bust out a five race winning streak and it would surprise exactly no one.

Jay Howard reportedly got a drive through penalty for making contact in the pits. We didn’t see it because Jay has discovered he has invisibility on the telecasts and will also be joining the cast of “Heroes”.

And lastly, Milka Duno found herself sideways in the pits. The telecast didn’t show how it happened, showing only the boys a-running towards her once Milka parked it. She has that effect with many men.


  1. Johnny // April 28, 2008 5:24 PM  

    Wilson had another solid oval finish as well.

  2. Anonymous // April 28, 2008 6:38 PM  

    I guess Viso had felt a sudden urge to save big money at Menards.

    I busted out laughing on that one.

  3. The American Mutt // April 28, 2008 8:57 PM  

    In interviews I really like the guy, so I hate to say this but...Roth belongs in THE UGLY for this weekend...not just THE BAD.

  4. Anonymous // April 29, 2008 6:03 AM  


    First off, welcome back.

    Secondly, a couple of thoughts about the Kansas race:

    Ed Carpenter: Unsaid in all the talk about him f-bombing Viso (And I'd do it too, if I pulled into the pits and found another car in my stall), note that for the second race in a row, he had to pit with five laps or less to go. This concerns me because it seems like Vision Racing has some problems calculating fuel burn. Either that or they are running the old "Menard" Buick V6 engines in The Hammer's Dallara as part of the sponsorship agreement. The "official" line from Motegi was a broken header causing the excess fuel burn. Wonder what the line will be this week?

    Among other unnoticed drivers: Give a shout out to that soft-spoken lad from Hockley, TX, A.J. Foyt IV. Quattro put in another top ten finish in eighth. That's his best finish so far this season.

    Scott Goodyear: Irregardless is not a word. Throw that out in front of Eddie Cheever and be prepared for a grammar lesson during the Indy 500.

    And now, on to May!

  5. The American Mutt // April 29, 2008 6:10 AM  

    For those concerned with the matter, PDVSA=Citgo