Please remove the tin foil hats

Posted by Iannucci | 4/21/2008 | 10 comments »
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“She passed me fair and square. I didn't have enough fuel even if I wanted to fight with her, and today I guess it's part of history again." - Helio Castroneves from the Penske Racing race recap

Now that that is settled, let's relive the excitement with some local flavor. Either this guy has consumed way too many energy drinks or Paul Page has learned to speak fluent Japanese.


  1. The American Mutt // April 21, 2008 9:50 AM  

    So saturday, with that little screen on the computer instead of a decent TV, I'm watching the race and that last stop with Ed and Helio and Danica struck me as brilliant. I immediately assumed one would be the winner if there were no yellows. I watched as she fell back and back really seems like she's doing that on purpose. Ed and Helio are way too racey if they want to get this done in one stint. So I'm just watching the last fifty laps of the race (waiting for a yellow to fuck it up) and when there wasn't one I knew it was coming. Point is YES take off the tin foil hats. She ran smart, did exactly as Moyer told her, and won fair and square. Be bitter all you want, hate the coverage she's about to get EVERY race (I know I will), but don't call her win a fake. No one did it when Graham won on fuel strategy.

  2. mmack // April 21, 2008 10:15 AM  

    Let's spin this story the other way:

    It's the closing laps of the 2005 Indianapolis 500. Danica Patrick is leading the race but gambling on having enough fuel to finish. IRL race control via The Iron Hand of Justice (TM) calls down to the Rahal-Letterman pit and tells them to tell their driver to back off so Michael Andretti can get his first Indianapolis 500 win, even though it will be as an owner, not a driver. Danica eases off, Dan "Choppers" Wheldon goes on to win and Michael Andretti shares a bottle of milk with him in Victory Circle.

    Sound plausible? :^/

    Funny, but nobody on the other side of the racing world is coming up with all sorts of "staged finish" stories in light of one Jimmie Johnson stretching his fuel mileage last weekend to win at Phoenix. Maybe NASCAR told Junior and Mark Martin to pull in to the pits for fuel so the defending Cell-Phone Cup Champion could get his first win of 2008 and quiet all those people asking "What's wrong with Hendrick Motorsports? Why aren't they winning?"

    I'll admit fuel economy races like this, St. Pete, and the Phoenix N-Word race aren't the most exciting way to decide races. Personally I'd like to see every race with plenty of passing for the lead and the result in doubt until the checkered flag falls. I'm also an adult and a veteran racing fan and I know that's not always going to be the case. But the last time I checked, the goal of racing was to win by finishing all the laps in first place. If you can do it by stretching your fuel and your other competitors can't, it's not exciting, but that's one way to win. In ball and stick sports there are wins gained by scoring right at the buzzer and there are blowouts. Is every win by a huge margin by a professional ball and stick team now suspect? Maybe the Cubs beat the Pirates this weekend with scores of 13-1 and 13-6 because the Pirates were paid to take a dive so the Cubs could be in 1st place in the NL Central. Or, Occam's Razor, maybe the Pirates really stink. (at least when it comes to playing the Cubs)

    A win is a win is a win. Would her first win count any less if Helio lost his engine with one lap to go? As another columnist stated, they pay the same for winning on mileage as they do finishing one inch ahead of second place at the line.

    That said, I told my wife Danica! has another type of pressure to deal with now: Winning other races to prove to her critics this was no fluke.

  3. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // April 21, 2008 11:10 AM  

    "...or Paul Page has learned to speak fluent Japanese."
    Oh, I laughed so hard it kind of hurt.

    We all know, if we're honest with ourselves, that fuel strategy is part of the whole deal. And I'm done with it.

  4. SandWedge // April 21, 2008 11:31 AM  

    can anyone name a race that fuel strategy isn't part of.... if no one ever did that no one would ever pit on yellow laps and instead just wait to an empty tank...

  5. pressdog // April 21, 2008 11:49 AM  

    Here's hoping Roger Penske and Tony George spent a couple hours barking at their race strategists for being idiots. Why on God's green earth were Ed and Helio fighting up front with cars that had to pit, burning off their fuel in the process? Why? These are supposed to be professionals. OF COURSE you go to fuel P2 or 3, back it down to about 190 mph, hang back with Danica, stay on the lead lap and fight it out when everyone in front of you pits. Duh. I was incredulous about the strategy at the time and I ain't that smart. Give Kyle Moyer mad props for making the right call (and Danica for listening to him) and the Penske and Vision dudes F minuses for being dumb. (Unless it was the drivers who refused to listen to them, in which case yell at the drivers.)

  6. mmack // April 21, 2008 12:29 PM  

    Well, if Robin Miller is to be believed:

    According to ESPN’s Jack Arute, who flew back to help cover Long Beach, the Team Penske boys were yelling at the current IRL point leader to back off or he wasn’t going to make it to the end. Hence, his laps went from 191 to 179 mph in the final laps.

    From his latest SpeedTV column.

  7. Tabernerus // April 21, 2008 12:40 PM  

    Not to toot my own horn, but I actually said early in that last caution (I was also live-blogging the race) something to the effect of, "You know, if this caution runs five or six laps, I think I bring my driver in for a splash and go right before we go green, and then try to eek it out." Hah! Yeah, it was a boring way to win, but it was also the correct strategy, and executed correctly. Too often, at least one part of that isn't the case.

  8. Anonymous // April 21, 2008 10:19 PM  

    No one did it when Graham won on it because TV time limit shorted the race of 17 laps

  9. The American Mutt // April 22, 2008 6:31 AM  


    He still won because he had one less pitstop than the two guys behind him. One or two less yellows on that final stint of his and he may have had to back down like Helio at Motegi.

  10. Anonymous // April 22, 2008 11:25 PM  

    again Graham Rahals win was cheapened by the loss of 17 laps now ithe the Japan 300 lost 17 laps ...