Don't let's start

Posted by Iannucci | 5/31/2008 | 4 comments »
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Stick a fork in Marty Roth's weekend.

Roth Racing Withdraws #25 Car At Milwaukee‏.

It was a tough first practice session for Roth Racing in preparation for Sunday’s ABC Supply Co, A.J. Foyt 225, at the famed Milwaukee Mile, as both John Andretti and Marty Roth made contact, in separate incidents, with the turn 2 wall.

For Andretti the damage wasn't that significant, unfortunately the same couldn''t be said about Roth's #25 car.

Late during the morning practice session team owner Marty Roth got loose exiting corner 2 and, despite trying to save it, did a half spin and hit the outside wall with the left side of the car.

MARTY ROTH (#25, Roth Racing)

"We lost the right rear shock, it was fading the entire session and then went completely south in the last outing. We can't fix the car for this race. Our focus has to turn to Texas."
This will be the second "Did Not Start" (DNS) for Roth this year. In fact, Roth's entire season has been, well, very very bad.

Homestead: 53 laps (handling)
St Petersburg: 0 laps (DNS)
Motegi: 44 laps (Contact)
Kansas: 41 laps (Handling)
Indianapolis: 59 laps (Contact)
Milwaukee: 0 laps (DNS)

How he hasn't run out of chassis we'll never know, and remember for this he gets $1.3M in TEAM program funding. Good gracious.

Cheat Sheet: Milwaukee 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 5/31/2008 | 2 comments »
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Welcome to Milwaukee, where beer and brats abound. And probably acute heart conditions as well, due not just to the diet but to the constant threat of danger as drivers race over 160 mph around this famed one-mile track. It is in fact the "oldest continually operated" track in the country, hosting races since 1903.

Friends, that's why they call it THE Milwaukee Mile.

There's no rest for the weary, as most teams have headed North from Indianapolis and put their glory or anguish or in some cases both aside for an event that features more lifting and braking - commonly referred to as "driving" - than just about any other oval all year.

Favorite: Tony Kanaan, owner of two straight wins at this event and four straight Top 5s. It probably has something to do with channelling the rage immediately following yet another Indy 500 disappointment.

Contender: Dan Wheldon. The Target Twins have been comparatively mortal on short tracks like Milwaukee, but Wheldon has led 95 laps here in the last three races, finishing in the Top 5 twice. Of course, as this is being written he's P18 on the early practice charts.

Longshot: Justin Wilson. In his Champ Car days at this track, Wilson finished 4th in 2005 and 2nd in 2006. Different cars but the same track. Incidentally only Wilson, Will Power, Oriol Servia, Mario Dominguez and Bruno Junquiera remain at this level from the 2006 CCWS event at Milwaukee. Whither Charles Zwolsman?

Driver to Watch: Ryan Briscoe. At the Carb Night Burger Bash Curt Cavin said he thinks Ryan Briscoe is probably allowed two crashes for the rest of the year. I don't know if the pit lane mishap at Indy counts but the facts are the Briscoe Inferno is driving for Team Penske and he's 19th(!) in the standings. Un-dah-Presh-ah.

Danica Threat Level: DanCon Two. Danica! looked strong here last year but ultimately she hasn't exactly had a lot success here, having encountered her share of wheel-banging. Remember, if someone takes you out of the race this week, please exit the track and remove your helmet before exchanging pleasantries.

Stat of the Race: In four ICS races at Milwaukee Helio Castroneves has led three of them for a total 183 laps, and he's never finished higher than 12th. He's got the reverse karma here from Indy that Kanaan has.

Drinking Term: "Mutoh". Yes, Mutoh. Godzilla spun in the second turn of the first lap in the Indy Pro Lights race here last year, but so far this weekend he's looked solid and very fast in practice. If he redeems himself by keeping it clean he might well sneak onto the podium. (I mean "sneak" legitimately, not just to go congratulate Kanaan.)

Pressdog says: "Ready? Danica. Dude, I know. That one's from the gut. She'll need to focus the rage from Indy and last year's Mile. Look for her to get the special sauce from AGR at Milwaukee."

I think he's talking about oil there. Motor oil. At any rate, enjoy the show!

You can sit but you can't hide

Posted by Iannucci | 5/30/2008 | 3 comments »
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The principles involved are saying it's time to turn the page, but how are we supposed to forget when stuff like this comes out on Cavin's Q & A?

Question: What is your policy/philosophy on reporting what is heard on radios (via scanners) between drivers and crew chiefs during a race? I know those conversations are not "on the record" in some ways, but even The Star prints the scanner frequencies. I ask because we could hear some interesting stuff during the Danica vs. Briscoe clash. You could hear someone telling Briscoe "she's walking down to the car. Stay in the car and lower your visor." We also heard Briscoe being told to stay in the car and he would be pushed all the way back to the garage area. Just curious. (Fred, Simpsonville, S.C.)

Answer: I think in most cases we'd ask the participants about what we heard on the scanner. And we did in this case.
"Stay in the car and lower your visor"? Good grief, Team Penske. Briscoe's a grown man so he could probably handle a little conflict now and then. I mean the girl's got a temper but she only weighs a buck and change.

Her sponsors wouldn't approve and it would border on wrestling-level entertainment, but what I wouldn't give to see Danica! sporting a firesuit that looks like this on Sunday.

Stick around, John

Posted by Iannucci | 5/30/2008 | 9 comments »
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Jay Howard's sabbatical just got extended.

Roth Racing is pleased to announce that veteran John Andretti will remain with the team as the driver of the #24 car for two more races beginning with this weekend's race in Milwaukee. He will also be behind the wheel next Saturday night in Texas.

Although Andretti has never raced at Milwaukee in an IRL sanctioned event, he has competed in 4 CART races at the track, and has 3 top 10's, including a 2nd place in 1991 when he finished behind his cousin Michael and ahead of his uncle Mario in an all Andretti podium.

Umm, wasn't 1991 like SEVENTEEN years ago? No offense to John who drove well at Indy this year, but let's give some sympathy to the poor PR person who had to spin the "he ran well here 17 years ago" angle. That's the biggest reach since David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII.

In all likelihood this announcement will introduce another round of "Marty needs to replace himself" comments here and elsewhere, which although obvious are futile. As noted previously Marty probably got into racing to become a driver and not an owner, so presuming that to be the case the larger question is if he would even bother to remain an owner were he not one of the drivers for Roth Racing.

So would you rather have Roth employ himself and some other able driver or would it be better for the league if he simply took his two Dallara toys and went home?

Strange days indeed

Posted by Iannucci | 5/30/2008 | 3 comments »
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A year ago, which of these recent announcements seemed most unbelievable?

A. IndyCar series at Long Beach through 2013

B. IndyCar series at Edmonton through 2010

C. Video proof of aliens to be released

There are no wrong answers.

Scott Dixon versus a legend

Posted by Iannucci | 5/30/2008 | 4 comments »
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Last weekend at Indy was tremendous for me since I had the chance to finally meet many of you in person. Here’s a hearty thanks to Karl, Jennifer, John, Andy, David, Erica, Eric, Dr Indy, and even the infamous “mmack” as well as Mrs “mmack”. I even got to chat briefly with both Cavin and Oreo, who coincidentally shared the same idol as young racing fans: Rick Mears.

I wasn’t taking any kind of notes, but my small sample of asking folks their favorite driver from when they were growing up indicated over half of you were Mears fans, which is a bit surprising considering how low-key he was. Mears wasn’t all over advertisements, wasn’t showing up at red-carpet events, and wasn’t exactly known for doing or saying attention-grabbing things. Even after his career ended he hasn’t been out in the spotlight the way people with names like Andretti and Foyt and Unser have been over the years. No, all Rick did was win Indy four times, finish in the Top 3 on three other occasions, and quietly build a name that stands on it’s own among the legends in racing.

Which got me thinking about the similarities between Mears and the guy that won this year.

Even before Scott Dixon was chugging milk last Sunday the similarities in personality – the calm demeanor, the patience on the track, the skill on any kind of course, and of course lots of wins for a dominant team – begged a comparison of these two drivers. So off to that statistics went your humble host, finding surprising similarities in several key categories between the two drivers.

In full disclosure I admit to only using Dixon’s IndyCar stats for this comparison, purposefully excluding those from the years when he was driving as a teenager in Champ CART. Call it cherry-picking if you must, but since Mears actually began his IndyCar career at a later age than Dixon it actually makes the comparison a bit more relevant. I fully admit that comparing a current driver in the middle of his career to one of the greatest of all time is a dicey proposition at best, but at least examine the numbers for yourself and decide whether we’re witnessing in Dixon a guy on a hot streak or a legend in the making.

Let’s start with Indianapolis, the rock upon which Mears has built his reputation. Check this out: At age 27, Mears started on the pole for the first time and won his first Indy 500 on his third attempt. Also at age 27 (yes, he’s that young) Dixon started on the pole for the first time and won his first Indy 500 on his sixth attempt. Eerie, and it gets better.

Extrapolating out that entire season from the first Indy 500 win, Mears in 1979 claimed the pole position twice and won 3 of 14 races. This year Dixon has already claimed 3 pole positions and won 2 of 5 races. That’s just one season showing Dixon may be peaking earlier than Mears, but let’s broaden things out to career numbers.

I can’t find the stats for pre-CART races in 1978, but from 1979 through 1992 Mears participated in 179 CART races. Here are Rick's stats for that period.
Wins: 26 (14.52%)
Races led: 75 races (42%)
Avg championship standings: 4.79
Avg finishing position: 7.52
Avg pct of laps led: 12.55%

Since he started racing at this level at a much earlier age, Dixon has already accumulated 84 starts in the Indy Racing League. You may say that his dominance so far has come against lesser competition than Mears, but I think the fact that he was doing it while in his early 20s has to count for something to offset that. Here are Scott's stats through last weekend.
Wins: 12 wins (14.26%)
Races led: 42 races (50%)
Avg championship standings: 5.17
Avg finish of race: 8.20
Avg pct of laps led: 11.66%

Just a tad similar, eh?

Now there are a few other drivers who have somewhat comparable numbers and a few more wins in the series. The important thing to note about them is that Dixon is having success at a younger age than guys like Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, and Dan Wheldon, all of whom have more IndyCar wins but (after Wheldon’s birthday in a few weeks) are also on the backside of age 30. With a little math you can see with still over two years of prime racing before he hits 30 Dixon is already within one or two wins of both Tony and Dan. Helio stands at the top of the bunch right now with 18 wins (combined CART/IRL) age 33, but to match that Dixon needs only 6 more wins in the next 5 season.

The point being that Dixon shouldn’t be measured solely against his contemporaries, because right now the Iceman is beginning to make a name for himself as not just one of the top drivers of his day but perhaps one the best ever. Granted, he probably needs to win the Indianapolis 500 a time or two more before comparisons to a guy like Mears become legitimate, but with his win at Indianapolis Dixon has the building blocks for an historic career already in place.

Now we just have to wait about 20 years to see how many youngsters grow up and say way back when Scott Dixon was their guy.

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 5/29/2008 | 1 comments »
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"When we first came up here about eight years ago it was always a dream that one day Scott would win the 500," he said. "Those emotions just burst out; it was incredible. People ask, 'How do you feel?' I don't really know. You go numb, and then you start yahooing and yelling." - Ron Dixon, father of Scott Dixon, who also served as a spotter at Indy...for John Andretti.

"Up until the last 10 laps, I sort of listened to what was happening but I was concentrating 100 percent on John," he said. "I have to be honest that each time John disappeared down that front straight I started looking for Scott and it was sort of starting to happen at just the right time - Scott was coming into Turn 3 and John was in Turn 1.

"But it was hard. I called John until the bitter end; you have to because it's a job."

R.I.P. Miles Nelson

Posted by Iannucci | 5/28/2008 | 5 comments »
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This appeared today on the forum at Miles Nelson's Ovalicious site.

"Hi Everyone, I am Michael, Miles's oldest son. It is my sad duty to inform all his great friends that Miles passed away. I don't have any details yet as to what happened. This sad news is a shock to all of us and he will be missed by many. He told me a while ago, when one of his friends passed "I've lived a great life, don't feel sorry for me when it is my time." I'm glad the Lord let him see one more Indy 500 and witness the promising future of his beloved sport.

I will post more information when I find out, Please let others know.
Thanks everyone for your friendship with my Dad. Michael."

If you never ventured over to his site which was like the third "blog" type site linked in the sidebar here, Miles was kind of a blogger/reporter/photographer who tried to attend every Indy Racing League event, especially the oval ones. You can read his entries for yourself and notice what made him different was how he covered stories with a little more technical angle than most. He's yet another example of this wonderful digital medium that gives voice to someone who might otherwise not be heard.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Miles in person, but I did discuss issues with him at the forum on his site and also via email. He was probably one of the most passionate fans I've come across, debating whatever from the pertinent to the inconsequential. As an example, he posted a bunch of photos of the shattered rear wings off the Penske cars at Milwaukee last year's race, trying in vain to convince Brian Barnhart that the wings connectors were illegal. Stuff like that just fueled his fire.

But there's one less dedicated IndyCar fan out there tonight, one with a voice that will definitely be missed. Say a prayer if you are so inclined.

The pit and the petulant

Posted by Iannucci | 5/28/2008 | 8 comments »
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Judging from all of the links folks have forwarded to the Inbox it seems a lot of you are still rather upset at the latest display of off-the-road rage by Danica Patrick. I’m only bringing this up because the footage is being readied for numerous slo-mo replays throughout the race at THE Milwaukee Mile this weekend. Heck, Eddie Gossage is probably making WWE-style banners for his race at Texas the week after that.

As mentioned earlier, your humble host has no problem with a driver having a tantrum here and there. Some drivers run a little hotter than others (we’re talking temperament here, not swimsuits) and Mrs Hospenthal is one of them. Her march towards Ryan Briscoe’s pit was entertaining stuff, and had it been another driver it might not have been such a big to-do.

I mean that with all sincerity because most of the articles I’ve seen juxtapose Danicker’s emotional display with that of Sarah Fisher’s, which seems like a non-sequitur to me since Fisher’s was a different emotion for a different circumstance. I’ve seen plenty of men get angry and a few others cry so it’s apples and oranges. Besides, for her efforts this month Fisher is a story deserving coverage in articles that don’t mention include That Girl.

But we’re not talking about Fisher; we’re talking about Patrick and her quick about face from these words earlier this month.

"I realize, over time now, how unproductive being angry all the time is and how it doesn't really do any good for my driving. I think that being positive does."

"But I'm trying to grow up. I'm trying to be better all-around for all kinds of reasons: for myself, for the people around me and for the people I don't know who are around me."

Uh, or not. Really, if you think her competitors have it bad try to imagine what it’s like for poor Mr Paul. “Honey, did you remember to dry clean my firesuit?...What?...You didn’t @#$%ing clean my @!##$#$%@ing suit? What kind of a @!##ing $%!@#$% are you!” (I’m hypothesizing here. They may be really schmoopie all the time for all I know.)

Anyhow, if Patrick wants to stomp around and behave in an entertaining but childish fashion than to me that seems an issue between her and her sponsors. We can watch and laugh and scream at her, and honestly in this age of emotionally guarded drivers I’ll take the few emotional outbursts when I can get them. Say what you want but Jack Arute never has to ask her to “describe her feeling” because they’re pretty obvious. I’m not condoning her losing her cool, but so long as she’s not doing something stupid like challenging someone to throw down I’m not going to condemn her either.

One of the consequences of all of this televised rage is, as pressdog points out, the further growth in an already significant anti-Danica base. Oh sure, lots of folks still love her, but a goodly portion of hatred is proving her popularity has really hit the big time. Successful drivers like Earnhart, Gordon, and Schumacher all had a hater crowd, and in IndyCars there are many Penske haters and Andretti haters. Haters all around. A budding entrepreneur might even put together something with a red circle and clash and a number “7” and sell a few t-shirts at upcoming events. Just sayin’.

Even if you wouldn’t buy the shirts a lot of you are still embarrassed at Danicker’s behavior. As I said, this wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were, say, Marco marching down to Helio’s box at the end of the race. It’s because it’s an over-exposed woman named “Danica” that we have all of this fuss. No, to me the only cause for concern is that despite all of these outbursts she still hasn’t learned to conduct her confrontations within the unwritten rules of disagreements, which are:

1. Get off the track. Or in this case, get back over the wall. Don’t go stalking someone anywhere cars are still running. As Danicker herself may have noticed, walking around in a pit box other than your own can lead to unintended medical expenses. Confront your adversary in the garage or in a run-off area where you can have a nice thorough conversation without the discourteous threat of disrupting the race for the remaining entrants.

2. Take off your freaking helmet. Say what you want about Paul Tracy (another solid hater base) but the guy at least gets into scuffles with his hat off. Maybe it's me but walking around while wearing the helmet makes a driver look like a bobblehead. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what we need as a giveaway: a Danicker bobblehead featuring her helmeted dome with fists clenched and a button that says things like “Learn to (bleep)-ing drive, Ryan Briscoe”, “Stay in your (bleep)-ing lane, Dan Wheldon” and “Use your (bleep)-ing head, Jaques Lazier”. That I would buy.

3. Don’t look for a fistfight with someone of the opposite sex. If it must be go time, dude v dude is acceptable, as is a chick fight. But little miss 100-lbs of Fury has to know that if she goes down there to discuss anything with the Briscoe Inferno she’s going to do so without too much unwanted physical contact. Stranger danger, no touching allowed. Instead, try some finger-pointing, crazy hand gesturing, or if you’re really savvy you can use hand clapping or maybe even Vitor Meira’s patented sarcastic backslap toward the instigator. I think we all appreciate a nice animated discussion during long yellow flag delays.

Them’s the rules of foul play. Now the scene changes to Milwaukee, site of last year’s infamous Dan v Danica incident. You couldn’t plan this any better, could you? Ladies and gentlemen, start your tempers.

2008 Indy 500 notes as scribbled

Posted by Iannucci | 5/27/2008 | 14 comments »
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Sorry for the day away, but there is no internet access at Uncle Dwight’s place in Centerpoint, Indiana, and there are no cell phone towers either. It’s not Amish, but let's just say they party like it’s 1979.

And for fans of “The Office”, no, Dwight doesn’t have a beet farm.

Here are the notes your humble host scribbled dutifully from our spot in the Southwest Vista between Turns One and Two.

Pre-race: On the way to the track we held an informal “first out” contest. P1 took Marty Roth, P2 took Milka Duno, and yours truly took Jamie Camara. Each of us is feeling confident.

Shortly after arriving in our seats some above us breaks out the obligatory beach ball. The ball comes near us, so I smack it behind us and inadvertently smack a drunken fans two rows behind us in the face. Hey, dude was standing up. And eating peanuts. See, peanuts really are bad luck at this track.

Julianne Hough may be the cutest thing at the track, but good gracious can she just SING the freaking Star-Spangled Banner without yodeling? People, it’s the national anthem and not chance to show off your vocal style.

Also, on the warm-up laps I noticed that for having no primary sponsor, The Fisher Queen has A LOT of associate type sponsors on her car. You should know that energy drink is all over the models of her car and some of her apparel as well. I smell a lawsuit involving the words like “restitution” and “compensation”.

And now, we are GREEN!

1: Fearing the worst, the drivers quickly fall into single file. And I thought I missed the parade this weekend.

8: Our first Mirror Yellow of the day for Junky. Maybe we should take the mirrors off the technical monkey-around list.

14: Fisher spins on the other side of the track. This obnoxious drunk next to me starts saying Sarah should get off the track. Feel the love.

30: Amazing still no crashes on this slick track, but Mario Moraes keep getting REALLY close to the wall in front of us.

32: Hideki Mutoh fell back after a pit mishap, but in the last 15 laps Godzilla has stormed back from 23-15. Also, Foyt drivers Darren Manning and Jeff Simmons both seem to be moving up well.

36: Before the race a friend of mine who picked Dario last year messaged me to say he’s going with Graham Rahal. Graham goes into the wall, so after picking the guy who won last year my friend just followed that up with 33rd.

39: Fire! It’s Quattro! He’s ON FIRE, for the second time this month no less. This is really a lost opportunity for a Tobasco sponsorship. Or Kingsford. OK, I’lls stop there.

45: I just checked the scoreboard and Ed Carpenter is 7th and Darren Manning is 6th. What?

47: EJ Viso just went down on the grass to get past Milkalicious. This reminds me on autograph day Viso’s posse all had pink shirts. Don’t ask – I don’t know. Andy Granitelli also had pink shirt on that day, but I’m pretty sure he’s not hanging with Viso.

61: Roth meets wall. Can’t say that’s a surprise. P1 wins the pool.

65: Mutoh has now moved up to 7th, so maybe those AGR cars are pretty good. Poor Danger Mouse needs to drop back and get a new nose, but John Andretti is up to 10th and Viso is now up to 16th.

79: Camara hits the wall hard just past us, throws sparks all the way down until he goes straight into the wall. Time to recall how Jaques Lazier almost had this ride this month.

83: Conquest owner Eric Bachelart is being interviewed about Camara’s crash on IMS Radio, but I have no idea what he’s saying. Can anyone here translate Frenglish?

85: After pitting, Viso is up to 11th. I think I keep noticing his position because part of me keeps thinking that’s Scott Sharp’s car from last year.

93: The crowd goes bezerk as Kanaan takes the lead. He’s HUGE.

105: And just like that Kanaan meets the wall, then Fisher. The drunk next to me breaks into his “get Fisher off the track” routine, then goes silent after seeing it wasn’t her fault. I ask him if maybe Kanaan should get off the track.

Note: I was told afterwards she wasn’t interviewed on TV and Nariz spoke of her crying in the ambulance. At the track we saw an interview where she looked fine but said “this has been a great month for character building.”

107: Marco is now 2nd. On autograph day he was the only driver I saw driving his own car. Regardless, this lifelong Andretti fan is feeling pensive.

113: P1 is still stoked at meeting Jeff Simmons yesterday. He said “gimme five!” so she gave him the full windup. “Ow, I gotta drive with that!” Anyhow, Simmons seems to be wiggling coming through Turn One tha last few laps but she still asks “What if Simmons wins?” Not 60 seconds later he wrecks so that jinx is totally on her.

121: Marco takes the lead and the crowd rises to cheer again. Reader Jennifer texts me “how about your boy Marco?” to which I quickly respond “don’t say anything!”

132: Justin Wilson impolitely touches the wall and spins in front of us. After most of the leaders pit Mario Moraes inherits the lead. You have GOT to be kidding. I thought he was like 3 laps back by now. Anyhow, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Oriol Servia have gone stealth up to 6th and 8th respectively.

141: Moraes is going N-Word speed on the restart and drops back 10 places in one lap. He’s off the Christmas Card lists.

144: Right in front of us Ed Carpenter nearly rear-ends Enrique Bernoldi. In the car, not in the prison-sense of the phrase.

148: Dixon, Marco, Scheckter, Vitor and Helio are pulling away. Scheckter is having a great day.

151: I swear Moraes has pit at least 10 times already. Dude, there is no “show me how to magically drive at this speedway” adjustment.

156: Scheckter is no longer having a nice day as he is done in the pits. Dental Plan Dan is out really late so he’s toast. Meanwhile Carpenter doesn’t pit so he’s leading. Tony George is 44 laps from giving himself the Borg-Warner.

159: On the restart Vitor goes from third to first and more cheering breaks out. Vitor. Panther. Leading. Wow.

168: Milka + grass = spinout.

172: From our vantage point we see the end of the Danica/Briscoe affair. Have you ever heard 400,000 people groan at once before?

174: Mrs IRL texts “Danica is going to b***h-slap Briscoe!”

Note: Monday on the radio I heard lots of yahoos chastising Danica for this, saying she’s going to hit him and he can’t hit her back and blah-blah-blah. You and I know she’s not hitting anyone, she’s just going down there to chew him out, and it all makes for a great show. This isn’t the N-Word where they throw down or throw helmets at cars. Really people, let me know when stupid know-it-all radio hosts want to talk about Scheckter v Helio at Detroit, Scheckter v Marco at Texas or Helio v Vitor at Michigan last year.

175: Dixon back around Vitor after the pit stop. Servia is hanging in at 10th as the highest transition-refugee-expansion driver. All Servia does is finish races (that’s a compliment).

178: On Marco’s radio he’s complaining about Helio’s blocking. One driver’s blocking is another driver’s defending. I give Scott Goddyear full permission to use this phrase as much as “traveling the length of a football field in a second”. Anyhow, Kim Green (I think) responds “They’re warning him, Marco”.

185: Milka is still out there. Joy.

189: Marco around Helio for third. (Little did I know this would be the final pass of the day).

195: Dixon’s going to win this thing. He was the only driver to appear at Curt Cavin’s Burger Bash. This is being directed this to the 32 drivers who didn't win.

200: Dixon has won to the surprise of no one. In Victory Circle Jack Arute calls him “The Milkman”. Umm, no. Seriously, there are lots of implications with that nickname that aren’t really suitable for family discussion.

Final quote from Dixon: “I can’t put it into words right now. Maybe after a few beers and meeting a few people it’ll start to sink in.”

Open Thread: Indianapolis 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 5/25/2008 | 7 comments »
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If you are watching at home today please feel free to add some useful comments for the half million of us who are at the speedway. We don't have internet access or Jack Arute moments, but we're still enjoying the sunshine.

"Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!"

Cheat Sheet: Indianapolis 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 5/25/2008 | 0 comments »
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This is Indy. The big one. The Queen Mother of all Queen Mothers. Legends are both built and destroyed at this two and a half mile cathedral of speed, where 33 drivers entrust in their engineers and pit crews the lifetime dream of one day finding their name and face etched into the most honored trophy in racing. And though four men in this 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 have already achieved this, they will gladly join with the 29 others racers in another quest for victory and the famed bottle of milk awaiting the winner.

They all will race, here, men and women, from six different continents, at speeds approaching 230 miles per hour...(Jack Arute voice) and they do it all today.

Favorite: Scott Dixon. In speaking with many people around the speedway this weekend there hasn’t been one person who didn’t think Dixon had a shot at making this a very boring race. A win at The 500 is the only thing missing from his IndyCar resume, which is no longer filed under “road course specialist”.

Contender: Helio Castroneves. You can’t go against the guy who has already won twice, who’s driving for an owner who has won this race 14 times. Wait, why isn’t this guy the favorite?

Longshot Hideki Mutoh. Tomas Scheckter is the popular pick here, and Vitor Meira looks his year might be turning around, but Mutoh will be driving with the same team and number that won last year. He’s not Dario Franchitti, but with a little luck he may not need to be.

Driver to Watch Graham Rahal. Yesterday at driver introductions the cheering for Rahal rivaled that of anyone but Danica!. More than Wheldon or Dixon and up there in the neighborhood of Marco, Sarah Fisher and Tony Kanaan. Something is up with this kid who nearly cracked the Top 11, like he might actually be a better driver than his father.

Danica Threat Level: DanCon One. Someone mentioned to me the over/under in Las Vegas for cars finishing the race is 15. Limited practice is sunshine this month and 11 rookies are a likely recipe for carnage, and if there’s one thing Mrs Hospenthal does effectively it’s bring the equipment home. Oh, and she’s been pretty fast here as well, and not just with autographs when exiting the ladies room.

Stat of the race: Tony Kanaan has led 202 laps here, including laps in all six of his previous Indy 500s, and still hasn’t won. Maybe Michael Andretti keeps him around so they can commiserate.

Drinking term: “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Here here!

pressdog says: The ‘dog didn’t make the journey to Indy, and I forgot to ask him. My bad, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t say Iceman. He’d just say it a little more creatively, like “Break out the cans of whoop-ass as Iceman leads all 200 laps!” Then again, maybe not.

Footnote: How the heck did I get through this entire post without mentioning Dental Plan Dan? That can't be right.

Time to head out of the Brazil Coffee Company and off to the SouthWest Vista. Wherever you are today, enjoy the show!

Wet wet wet

Posted by Iannucci | 5/23/2008 | 11 comments »
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As any weather report will tell you, for the umteenth time this month the heavens opened up and dripped a slow steady leak today washing out nearly everything except the Stone Temple Pilots. Unlike IndyCar racing, bands are relatively waterproof.

If you had the benefit of being there, much of this will be familiar. If not, well if you were hoping to be here here's what your to-do list would have looked like.

Note: Do not feel obligated to arrive at Indianapolis via Charlotte, North Carolina, where you would exit the airplane and be greeted by the "official restaurant of stock car racing" and lots of Soda Pop 600 signage. This is totally unnecessary.

Here's the Carb Day worksheet.

9:30am. Arrive at the Speedway and hear the siren song of jet dryers circling the track.

9:45am. Walk past Eddie Cheever. P1 asks "Is he famous?" Well, uhh...look, there's Johnny Rutherford!

10:00am. Run into Oreo, start talking about racing until...

10:10am. Justin Wilson walks by. He's nearly eight feet tall. Wilson kindly poses for snapshot with P1 and P2.

10:45am. Stop by and say "Hi" to Indy Lights drivers while everyone is waiting for the IndyCar drivers to shake down their cars in a test session. Were they not wearing firesuits no one would know who they were. Pity.

11:15am. Delayed by rain, practice starts. Engines fire up, hot laps are turned in the 220s, and all is right with the world.

11:30am. Rain returns. All is back to no longer right with the world. Such is life.

11:45am. A most critical moment in history. For real. Walk near the entrance of Gasoline Alley and notice Danica! going into a Women's room up some stairs. Hmm. Ponder stalker ramifications. Make snap judgement to place P1 at base of stairwell with the Sharpie and program. Stand back, snap pictures as the stars finally align. Resist urge to ask Danicker if she washed her hands.

12:15pm. Consume the official meal of The 500, which is a huge-ass tenderloin sandwich with a side order of awesome track fries. Mmmm. Seriously. With some Cholula sauce this is as good as bad food gets.

1:00pm. Rain is continuing and track drying activity has ceased, so stop and say hello to Jennifer and John, a.k.a. two of the six My Name Is IRL readers who do not post as "Anonymous". Notice Buddy Rice's signage is fading away in the rain. Entertain the possibility that someone's kid may one day ask if he's famous.

1:45pm. See this year's stupidest shirt. It reads "you're all whores".

2:15pm. Car jones is kicking in. Time to check out the historic vehicles near Turn Two. Stand behind an Offy someone fired up and feel your eyes and throat burn from the fuel. Ponder a moment of respect for all of those Row 11 starters.

2:45pm. More rain. More pity for Indy Lights drivers who won't get to race.

3:00pm. Swing by the gift shop. Notice something sinister about the box of Danicker posters.

3:30pm. Notice the line 20 deep to get to the port-a-potties near the Stone Temple Pilots show that's about to kick off. Make decision to walk back under a tunnel to a less busy restroom.

4:00pm. Observe that no matter where you go it's a festival of beer containers. Not crushed and thrown on the ground, but just left on any ledge in sight. Maybe Miller should open a brewery in the infield. Then again, maybe not.

4:30pm. Still raining. Ain't gonna be no track activity. Time to go dry off and get ready for Curt Cavin's Burger Bash. Peace out.

Time to go to Indy

Posted by Iannucci | 5/22/2008 | 8 comments »
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Today your humble host, along with P1 and P2, are leaving on a jet plane for some genuine IndyCar excitement. Although we'll be assuming our seats in the Southwest Vista on race day, Carb Day will be spent walking all over the place.

If you want to say "Hi" I'm the guy in the yellow shirt (no whistle) bearing this logo, which obviously breaks more than a few trademark laws.

See you at The Speedway, or the Burger Bash.

Carb Night Burger Bash update

Posted by Iannucci | 5/21/2008 | 0 comments »
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As if the Carb Night Burger Bash at 96th Street Steakburgers (details here) isn’t going to be enough fun, Curt Cavin has now added an auction to benefit both St. Joseph's Institute for the Deaf and Mooresville Christian Academy. Among the items up for bid at 7:30pm:

Autographed Tony Kanaan uniform from his second-place finish last month at Kansas Speedway, IndyCar Series helmet signed by many of the drivers (including Danica Patrick), framed Dancing With the Stars poster signed by Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough; two Indy Racing League two-seater rides (sold separately), autographed race car parts and autographed Scott Dixon helmet visor.

Also, I should have some race car parts that have been involved in crashes this month -- autographed, of course.

Which make me wonder – how much you think a AJ Foyt IV autographed buckeye cover would go for? Hmm.

As I said before, your humble host will definitely be there attempting to eat a fine steakburger at this shindig, although I’m guessing there’s going to be more than a few people waiting in line to do the same this Friday.

“ must understand that when the CNBB first became a discussion item, I didn't think 20 people would show up. Even now, I'll be surprised if there are more than 100 people.”

100? Pffft. IndyCar fans can do better than that. Be there, and be sure to walk up to Cavin and shout “SURPRISE!” when you show up for the festivities.


Posted by Iannucci | 5/21/2008 | 4 comments »
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Yikes! It seems lately Sarah Fisher has been tanning at the same nuclear reactor as Jack Arute.

WESTON, FL – TAG Heuer Eyewear is proud to continue support for IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher, the first female owner/driver in IndyCar Series history. Fisher, a TAG Heuer brand ambassador since 2002, brings together sport and glamour while promoting TAG Heuer’s cutting-edge chronographs and timekeeping technology – as well as the motorsport-inspired TAG Heuer “Avant Garde” Eyewear worn internationally by racecar drivers.

“Sarah Fisher has the determination to move mountains,” said Guillaume Pottecher, president of TAG Heuer Eyewear. “She stands out from the crowd, just like TAG Heuer Eyewear. We wish her great luck this weekend, and we are behind her all the way.”
Kinda looks like she's prepping to play Storm in the next X-Men flick.

You don’t mess with the Helio

Posted by Iannucci | 5/21/2008 | 11 comments »
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Why oh why must some we be subjected to this kind of hackery mere days before the biggest event in open-wheel racing?

Indy champ Helio Castroneves ponders move to NASCAR

Now before you all go looking for some strong rope and a chair to put yourself out of this N-Word misery, take a moment and forget whatever this muckraking reporter says in the rest of this article and focus solely on Helio’s words as quoted.

"I won't deny that I'm thinking about it…"

"It would be great to one day try the [stock] cars. But at this point I'm focusing on Indy cars and winning the Indianapolis 500 again."

“It depends on the opportunity.”

"It's all about the timing and I'm not sure if the timing is right."

"We're going to talk after Indy."

"A good driver is going to be a good driver."

"I think it would be a good reception."

We all know there are two bona fide celebrities in the IndyCar series right now and Castroneves is one of them. Losing him to any other form of racing at this pivotal time in the sports history would be catastrophic, and since he owns a stock car team in Brazil it’s not implausible to think he might be interested in driving them here in North America. Helio’s a bright enough guy to know that if the right offer comes along in any form of racing it has to be considered, but he also sees how difficult any transition would be.

You may see something different in this, but I don’t see anything beyond a guy keeping his options open. There’s no enthusiastic talk of more races or being on TV more or of needing a new challenge. No, all I see is a driver trying to give short but polite answers to a reporter, and a reporter trying to write a story that doesn’t yet exist.

Judging from the short quotes, I’m guessing the actual transcript looks something like this.

Peltz: “Hey Helio, got a moment?”

Helio: “Sure, Jim.”

Peltz: “How’s the new teammate compared to Sam?”

Helio: “Ryan? Oh, he’s great. He keeps crashing and making me look good, haha! Wait, don’t print that.”

Peltz: “No problem. You think Sam is going to be OK racing stock cars?”

Helio: “Oh sure. Sam’s a good guy and he’s going to do fine no matter what he’s racing. A good driver is going to be a good driver."

Peltz: “So what’s the latest on your plans for the N-Word?”

Helio: “Uh, haha, you’re a funny guy.”

Peltz: “Well you’ve thought about driving stock cars, right?”

Helio: “Well I won't deny that I'm thinking about it. I mean, it would be great to one day try the big ugly cars, haha. But at this point I'm focusing on Indy cars and winning the Indianapolis 500 again. And I’m still trying to win my first series championship as well.”

Peltz: “Have you talked to Roger Penske about a plan similar to Sam’s?”

Helio: “Uh, well I talk to Roger all the time. I mean, it’s come up but you know I’m still racing IndyCars. We’ve talked about it in the past and I’m sure we're going to talk after Indy, but right now we’re focused on Indy."

Peltz: “But your contract is up this year right? What if Rick Hendrick or Joe Gibbs called you?”

Helio: “Yeah, right! I suppose it depends on the opportunity. I mean those are great teams, but I’d really like to win the series for Roger before I think about going anywhere else. It’s the one thing I haven’t done yet. After that if I make any move, well, it's all about the timing and I'm not sure if the timing is right."

Peltz: “You think you’d be accepted in stock cars?”

Helio: “What’s with all the stock car questions, Jim? Yeah, I think it would be a good reception. Look, I gotta run. Don’t forget to watch the Indy 500 this weekend. It’s fun-tastic!”

Peltz: “Sure thing, Helio. Thanks!”

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, Helio is just as shocked as we are.

"It's kind of strange to print a statement like that," said Castroneves, who will start fourth in Sunday's 92nd running of the Indy 500. "I did not understand much. I found my English is apparently getting worst. [They] definitely took it out of context."

"They asked me questions about thinking about NASCAR," the 33-year-old Castroneves said. "Every driver [is] thinking about NASCAR or new challenges, let's put it this way. But it depends on the opportunity, and my opportunity right now is great being here in IndyCar, especially with the merger."

"The future, I don't know what's going to happen. But, right now, the only thing I can say is I'm very much committed to my team. I love where I'm at and, hopefully, we can continue."

(MORE from

Who do you love?

Posted by Iannucci | 5/20/2008 | 22 comments »
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It’s that time of year for everyone to make their picks for who’s going to be the winner at Indy, and as you are probably aware there will be a Cheat Sheet showing my picks soon enough. For what it's worth my TSO Fantasy team for the race includes Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Alex Lloyd, Danica Patrick, and Tomas Scheckter.

(Note: After a solid 2nd place performance at Kansas the My Name Is IRL team is in 27th of 267 teams overall. Is It May Yet? is 76th and pressdog is 184th – not that there’s any kind of competition going on here.)

While who will actually win is anyone’s guess, one thing we know for sure is who we will be cheering come Sunday. Since we’re all fans now is the best of weeks to say who you’ll be pulling for and why. I’ll go first.

Once again for the 30-something-eth year I’ll be rooting for the Andretti, or in this case Andrettis. John doesn’t really have a huge chance, but for the third straight year Young Marco has got the goods to once and for all break this freaking curse. And I’m saying this as a guy who in no way believes in curses, but when the Andretti family has gone 0-53 since Mario’s win in 1969 you just have to think there’s something going on here.

Come one, these are ANDRETTIS – they’ve won championships everywhere except this place! Zero for fifty three? Yes, since I was but a few months old Mario (0-24), Michael (0-16), John (0-8), Jeff (0-3 with a horrific injury), and Marco (0-2) have all gone milk-free despite leading somewhere in the neighborhood of a combined 1000 laps. Talk about lactose intolerance.

Looking back I think my fandom started when I saw a name that ended in the same vowel as mine, so if I were a bit younger my guy might have been Teo Fabi. Yikes! Regardless, I’m now so invested in cheering for them at this race that I’m one of the few people who empathized with Marco’s now infamous “second place is nothing” comment. If this means I’m being held hostage by my own folly then so be it, but if when one of them finally wins – and I don’t care if it’s one of Marco’s yet-unborn children – whatever happens to me will involve an injured vocal chord.

So how about you – who’s your driver this year?

How she rolls

Posted by Iannucci | 5/20/2008 | 5 comments »
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I drive around Phoenix, where I live now, in a silver Lamborghini Gallardo. I also have a Mercedes SUV, and I really love that car. Before I got the Mercedes, though, I had the Lamborghini for about a year and a half, so I'd have to go to the grocery store in it. It has no room for groceries, no room for anything. One time I had to pick up my sister at the airport and it was pretty funny. I get there and she had her dog and all her luggage and there was nowhere to put everything. We were kind of hanging on to everything. It was a little embarrassing.Danica Patrick, on why her Lamborghini sucks

As a fellow Phoenician, I’d like to let Mrs Hospenthal know that if she or any family member ever needs a ride to or from Sky Harbor airport your humble host would be more than willing to help. My Nissan truck has plenty of room in the bed for luggage and like 6 or 7 cup holders for all the bottled water you could possible drink.

Tell you what – we could just swap cars if that would work better for you.

Best news of the weekend

Posted by Iannucci | 5/19/2008 | 4 comments »
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Nearly two years after suffering serious head trauma from striking a deer during a practice run at Road America, Cristiano da Matta is racing again. And rather competitively at that.

Cristiano da Matta's plan was to finish strong and challenge if he could.

Consider that mission accomplished on Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as the 34-year-old Brazilian led 10 laps one-hour from the finish before used up tires and a sour stomach saw him fade to 15th in Daytona Prototype class and 32nd overall in the Grand Am Rolex Series

"Man, it felt like I had a cat in my stomach," said da Matta, who was wearing a cool suit for the first time in his career and didn't have a heat-related illness. "It started feeling bad right when I got in the car on that very first yellow, but just a little bit, a very little bit. Under green, it was fine, but with all of the yellows, my stomach just started feeling worse. It was very strange."

(MORE from the Sun-Sentinel)

Bump Hour

Posted by Iannucci | 5/18/2008 | 14 comments »
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Other than seeing AJ Foyt IV go out and easily qualify and later demonstrate his version of "Great Balls of Fire", Bump Day was a dud. Nothing at all happened worth noting until - as so often happens - Bump Day became Bump Hour.

(Well, nothing except Jack Arute establishing credit for Scott Dixon's "Iceman" nickname, as well as announcing his own nickname is "Scarecrow". We shall use this valuable information accordingly.)

Bump Hour though was quite the festival for all though as Roger Yasukawa, Marty Roth, Buddy Lazier and Mario Dominguez all took turns playing musical chairs for two spots. Unfortunately, Max Papis wasn't able to join the party due to a lingering gearbox affliction.

As you probably know, Lazier somehow found an extra mile-per-hour late to make his way into his 16th Indianapolis 500. Buddy joins Buddy Rice, Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon as four former winners in the race, which as I have been noting is kind of a big deal since they are no less in quantity than the four Indy 500 winners who started at the Daytona 500.

In this historic year we as fans didn't need that embarrassment of being outdone by the N-Word, and frankly I don't care if Lazier cheated and the folks at tech inspection looked the other way. Of course, that's one of many reasons why you don't ever want me in charge of Race Control.

Anyhow, here's a nod to Marty Roth for his "You can't get rid of me" attitude because it is inexplicably true. Seriously, after making it in another year by the skin of his teeth he's making a strong push to have his nickname changed to "Mr Bubble", so feel free to comment accordingly. We'll never know if Roth would have asserted himself in teammate John Andretti's ride should Mario Dominguez have bumped Marty in that final perilous run, but it wouldn't have been the first time such things would have happened.

And now that Lazier and Roth are both in The Show, now would be a great time to put something on those blank sidepods. Like say "Your Ad Here!"

ADDENDUM: After seeing the feedback in the comments section I’m calling a hastily assembled press conference outside of my cubicle this morning to announce the following:

It has come to my attention that the lazy use of the English language on my part has left many of you assuming I thought Buddy Lazier and/or Hemelgarn Racing had bent the rules in order to gain a starting position in this year’s running of the Indianapolis 500. That is certainly not the case, because the last thing I would want to do to a great driver like Buddy Lazier at a great moment like this is start some kind of malicious and false rumor.

Let me clearly and without sarcasm state: I DO NOT THINK THEY WERE CHEATING. I have neither proof nor reason to believe they or any other competitors were not fully within the rules of the day. In the sentence in question I was speaking hypothetically, although I can see how it could have been interpreted as being literal.

I sincerely apologize for any confusion this may have caused as well as any harm that as a result may have befallen Mr Lazier, Mr Hemelgarn, any employees of Hemelgarn Racing, or any small animals living in or around the premises.

Qualification scatterbrain

Posted by Iannucci | 5/17/2008 | 9 comments »
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Of all of the places I've lived without exception the locals have said "People around here just don't know how to drive in the rain". Well, today at IMS it looked like a case of people not knowing how drive with merely the threat of rain, what with all of the crashes. Looks like it should be a fun year with our seats in Turn One.

After getting like one lap in his Panoz (yes, a Panoz) Phil Giebler is now in the hospital with bruised lungs. His car looked irreparable, and most embarrassing was that despite seeing the Dephi Saftey Team helping him for many many minutes I have no idea who the sponsor on the sidepods was. That's like double-wasted money.

The fastest qualifier of the day was Townsend Bell. In a Dreyer & Reinbold car. Is there something about this in "Revelations"?

A 500 mile race is not a sprint, unless you're part of Quattro's crew trying to replace a gear box with 5 minutes left on qualification day. Then it's not exactly a marathon.

Of course, if the gun never actually goes off...

Speaking of AJ4, I hope one of the fine photographers was able to capture a picture of the usually calm and collected Foyt sitting down and looking off to the side with a "what in the world happened to me" look.

I don't know what the word for a marathon of sprinting is called but I'm sure it's not safe for the public airwaves and it's being said a lot tonight by the guys working on cars for Max Papis and Mario Dominguez.

The net result of today's festival of carbon fiber (copyright: pressdog) is that after getting all hyped up about a "real" bump day we're likely looking at Buddy Lazier, Marty Roth, Papis, Dominguez and Foyt fighting over two spots. And that's the BEST case scenario.

Noticing the disparity between John Andretti (221.550 mph) and teammate slash owner Marty Roth (215.506 mph) has led just about everyone to say that Roth should have replaced himself instead of Jay Howard. A logical conclusion, sure, but let me ask how many of you wanted ever wanted to race at Indy? OK, now how many of you grew up dreaming of being an owner? Point being it's Marty's money and not yours or mine (curses!) and if he wants to go down driving it himself then it's his purchase.

Unlike Marty, Sarah Fisher looks to be safely on the starting grid at P22. Folks, those are your dollars hard at work (especially if your name is "O'Gara").

Oh, and thanks to Mark Jaynes of IMS Radio, who during Sarah's attempt said "A lot of the blogs and chat rooms are encouraging fans to donate to Sarah Fisher Racing." There aren't exactly "a lot" of IndyCar blogs, but we happy few appreciate the generalized shout-out.

I don't know if you caught it on IMS Radio, but they were saying that Jaime Camara is on a huge seat of heat and that a driver with a French sounding first name and a Buddy for a brother was waiting in the wings to qualify Camara's car. Should things get wacky enough to push the P30 qualifier to the bubble, remember you heard it here second.

How would you like to have been Jeff Simmons today? All ready to go and getting a yellow flag from the starter because the team forgot to authorize the qualification attempt. Oops. It may not be over until the fat man swings, but it doesn't start until Super Tex waives the green flag.

As a testament to how hard Ryan Hunter-Reay hit the wall last week, note that he qualified six days later in the T car. The primary is probably sitting under a sheet somewhere near Columbus, Ohio.

All things considered, at least the rain held (mostly) and there were 33 qualified today. That's acceptable, even if the last one was a guy who was lifting in Turn One so much he slowed to 210 mph.

However little it may be, bring on the bumping.

Hate Me

Posted by Iannucci | 5/16/2008 | 13 comments »
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Your humble host wasn't at the track today so I didn't get to hear if there was round of applause this morning when EJ Viso lost control of his car and hit the wall on his second lap of the day. Maybe a few hand claps would have been too obvious and instead the folks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway simply smiled or nodded to each other.

It's been said by more than a few folks that the one thing missing from this year's Kumbaya Indy 500 is Paul Tracy. Tracy would be the Champ Car poster boy to get us fired up that much more for this historic event because he more than anyone could be the "black hat" for the boo-birds to let loose.

Well, the clock is about to strike midnight on qualifications and Tracy ain't getting a ride. Still, without him we have managed to find a quality "black hat" for the year - in a black car no less - in the form of Viso.

Now I personally have no animosity towards the lead-footed rookie, but it's becoming obvious lots of folks do. In fact, I'd be surprised if he's on anyone's Christmas Card List come December considering the way he's going about his business.

Let's review.

With a handful of laps to go at Homestead it was the Darkslide who lost control and collected race leader Tony Kanaan, setting him off on his now infamous three-wheeled odyssey.

At Kansas Viso cost Ed Carpenter a shot at the podium by accidentally pulling into Carpenter's pit and costing the Hammer valuable seconds he would never get back. So frustrated was Ed that he dropped an F-Bomb live and in person to the thousands in attendance.

Earlier this week none other than Curt Cavin noted "E.J. Viso isn't all that impressed with the Speedway," and quoted Viso in the IndyStar as saying:

"In Europe, we never watched ovals," he said. "It's not that I don't like them, but I'm starting to enjoy them."
And just yesterday Viso found himself called out by both TCGR drivers.

DAN WHELDON: You know, with these guys, you can't discount any of them. The craziest by far is Ernesto Viso, I think his name is. Dude, he looks nuts. You can tell he hasn't hit the wall yet. When he hits the wall, you'll know, because he'll pull out slowly from the car in front, move back nicely. You can tell he hasn't hit yet. You can tell the guys that haven't hit hard. Scott (Goodyear), you can relate. In 2003, I came out the box swinging. Then you hit the wall and you just start to calm down a little bit, then you start to hit the wall a bit more, then you really start to calm down. You realize it's not a nice feeling.

He seems to be the most aggressive.

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I tend to agree. Viso is pretty crazy. You know, I think it's the guys that did well over there, if you look at it. (Will) Power, he's got good car control, definitely thinks about things a little more than maybe some of the others.
And don't forget Viso's sponsor. As much flack as fellow Venezuelan Milka Duno gets for touting Citgo, folks should also realize Viso is racing some Hugo Chavez dollars as well from PDVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.). One part of their translated web site reads:

"We are celebrating a great victory moral, political, economic, technical and legal against imperialism. It is possible that sells homelands not like this overwhelming victory, because this was the fifth column that gave our country ruled while, but the people have elected a government more patriotic and they never will again."

Hey, it's not every day the word "imperialism" works it's way into an auto racing post. Plus there are lots of nice pics of Hugo all over the site, which makes me wonder if driving for a cigarette manufacturer isn't really so bad.

For now Viso's team is working quickly to repair his car in time for qualifications on Saturday. If for some reason he finds himself on the bubble for the 92nd Indianapolis 500 be sure to listen closely to see if folks at the speedway aren't cheering a little bit harder for the next driver on the track.

Toronto is a go

Posted by Iannucci | 5/15/2008 | 7 comments »
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Congratulations, Canada! You can pencil this one on the "cleaner sheet of paper".

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 15, 2008) Andretti Green Promotions, LLC announced today it has formed a wholly-owned Canadian company, Andretti Green Toronto, ULC (AGT), and has completed the purchase of the assets of the Grand Prix Association of Toronto Corp.

The terms of the purchase agreements will not be disclosed.

Andretti Green Toronto is operating out of a Toronto-based office and will run its first IndyCar Series event in 2009.

(MORE from Andretti Green Racing)

Eddie Gossage strikes again

Posted by Iannucci | 5/15/2008 | 3 comments »
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When they take to the track the current IndyCar roster features the names of several famous families of motorsport, such as Andretti, Foyt and Rahal. And thanks to Über-promoter Eddie Gossage, when the show comes to Texas Motor Speedway in a few weeks you can add another famous name to the docket.


Legendary motorcycle daredevil Robbie Knievel announced today that he will attempt “Kaptain Robbie Knievel’s Great American Hummer® Jump” Presented By Frac Tech Services during the pre-race activities for the June 7 Bombardier Learjet 550k IndyCar Series event at Texas Motor Speedway.

Knievel, son of daredevil icon Evel Knievel, will attempt to jump 20 Hummer® vehicles courtesy of Sewell Hummer on the speedway’s frontstretch. The jump is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT, 90 minutes prior to the start of the Bombardier Learjet 550k IndyCar Series race. He, along with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, made the announcement in the Samsung Media Center Victory Theater after arriving in Hummers to the music of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” and red, white and blue confetti.

“To me, the jump is all about the show for the audience,” Knievel said. “Nobody puts on a show anymore. As an entertainer and growing up with my dad and being the son of Evel Knievel, it’s a great thing to get to do this for a living. Guys still come up to me now and say, ‘This is my dad that brought me to see your dad, and here’s my son that I brought to see you.’ That’s pretty cool to think that we span three generations.”

(MORE from Texas Motor Speedway)
20 Hummers, eh? This should fall somewhere on Robbie’s list of jumps between 25 police cars and 16 "full-size RVs".

(Thanks to pressdog for the tip)

And he still hates White Castles

Posted by Iannucci | 5/15/2008 | 1 comments »
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Thus sayeth Tomas Scheckter:

“Yeah, I knew. To be honest, it was common knowledge that I was halfway to Andretti Green Racing during the offseason. There were meetings the whole time and we exchanged a lot of paperwork. Basically, it was just down to number of flights and number of appearance days. To be offered to drive for such a great team, even though it didn’t work out due to sponsorship issues, I knew that I had done a good enough job..."

Chris Estrada has the full interview.

Spreading sunshine

Posted by Iannucci | 5/14/2008 | 5 comments »
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This post brimming with positive information from the last few days can best be summed up by a saying my stepfather likes to often use: “Don’t give me good news – it only weakens me!”

Charles Bucknum, who spent several days in the care of medical personnel after he inadvertently stepped in front of a moving Dallara, has also been released from hospitalization. Bucknum suffered a “traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage and a skull fracture”, which is probably about as much fun as it sounds.

The same article notes Alex Lloyd, who has also spent the past few days in the hospital while recovering from his rear-end collision with Turn Three, has been released and cleared to resume driving activities this weekend for his Ganassi Incorporates Rahal Letterman (GIRL) Racing team, which also has a new "Wii Fit" paint scheme to show off.

As for otherwise healthy people, Roger Yasukawa has been named as the official driver for the Curb/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports entry, winning the job over prior Beck driver Alex Barron. As team owner Greg Beck declared, “It’s just a matter of whose money shows up first.”

Jeff Simmons has been announced as the driver of a second Foyt Racing entry for The Month of May. This means he will be setting out to do something he did in 2004, which is driving in both the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 on Carb Day and the Indianapolis 500 on the following Sunday. Call it the “Indy 600”.

And lastly also announced for the Freedom 100 are both Robbie Pecorari and My Name Is IRL favorite Mike Potekhen, who will be paired as teammates for SWE Racing in the event. These two good old American boys each managed to have some success last year despite racing for second-tier teams, and their additions should bring the total number of entrants for that race to approximately 100 cars. Give or take a few.

The greatest spectacle in golfing

Posted by Iannucci | 5/14/2008 | 2 comments »
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In addition to serving as home to the world’s most famous speedway, the hallowed grounds at IMS also host an 18-hole golf course known as Brickyard Crossing. And with the track closed for practice the last few days it’s no surprise that competitive regulars of IndyCar would hit the links.

Add to the list of things to do before expiring: “Play a round of golf with Darren Manning”. Even if he is dressed for Wimbledon.

Unhappy Hamilton

Posted by Iannucci | 5/14/2008 | 3 comments »
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Things that Davey Hamilton doesn’t like:
• Nazis
• The price of gas
• Street mimes
• Current Indy 500 qualification format

“I’ll just be straight up - I don’t like it,” Hamilton told PA SportsTicker. “I don’t like the qualifying format at all. I personally feel like us as drivers we hang our tail out there. Qualifying is meant to hang your (tail) out. I just did that Saturday and I felt great about it but missed the top 11 by 15-100ths of a second.

“Now, I have to go do it all over again.”

(MORE from Yahoo! Sports)
He’s got a point, because now that there are more than 34 cars fighting for 33 spots it is no longer necessary to enhance the drama by breaking the qualifications into three regimented days before Bump Day. Unfortunately he’s going about it the wrong way by complaining about having to drive fast again for another day. Fans aren’t really going to rally behind the cry of having drivers spend more time race setups.

“Hell no, we won’t go! Setups are the way to go!”...nope, not gonna happen.

Instead of making this about how annoying this is for the drivers Hamilton could echo the broader argument Oriol Servia makes by saying it diminishes the level of competition. Better yet, he could talk about how this format is discouraging drivers from even trying at all on that first day, leaving fans to see which of 15 or so drivers even attempt to crack the Top 11. Those arguments would resonate better with the public and might convince IMS and IRL officials to change the format back.

And if that doesn't work then take it up with Race Director Tony Kanaan.

Help save the flying fish

Posted by Iannucci | 5/13/2008 | 8 comments »
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America is undoubtedly the greatest land in the world, and Americans are among the most compassionate and generous people in history. And now another challenge arises for us to band together and help those less fortunate during The Month of May.

Friends, if you have it in your hearts then please donate today to ease the pain of those suffering in the faraway land of Gasoline Alley.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. – Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) today announced that they would be accepting donations from fans wishing to donate to the SFR efforts at this year’s Indianapolis 500.

“We have had so many emails and calls from fans requesting to donate to our efforts this year,” said Sarah Fisher. “I’m truly honored to have the support of so many fans. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for your support.”

All checks made out to Sarah Fisher Racing can be sent to the below address.

David A. Noyes & Co.
Attn: Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR)
111 Monument Circle, Suite 300
Indianapolis IN 46204
For just a few dollars a day you too can help provide a vital gallon of ethanol for a beautiful yet starving young Dallara. Give today and help make an important difference in the lives of families for whom bumping and underfunding are daily realities. Don't let that Honda engine go hungry one more day.

UPDATE: With slightly more seriousness the IndyStar says "Maybe Fisher needs a collection agency" while Full Throttle looks a little further into what Sarah faces "dealing with deadbeats".

Milka Duno's tremendous bust

Posted by Iannucci | 5/13/2008 | 7 comments »
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My inner Mike Gundy told me this movie featuring a character played by Milkalicious was going to be "Garbage!" Evidently, so did yours.

The summer of 2008 is only two weeks old, and it already has its first flop. Speed Racer, the Wachowski Brothers' kaleidoscopic retelling of the classic cartoon series, got stuck in neutral this weekend, grossing a mere $20.2 million, according to Sunday's estimates — a disastrous sum for a movie that cost well in excess of $100 mil and that Warner Bros. had considered one of its major summer tentpoles.

(MORE from Entertainment Weekly)
Looks like IndyCars aren't the only thing she gets into that underperforms. *rimshot* Meanwhile, ESPN The Magazine sent a couple of Rahals to review the flick. Their summaries?

Graham: And when they weren't racing, the dialogue was dull and cheesy. I was drawn into the racing scenes, but they got repetitive. I could hardly sit through the movie. I felt every minute of the two hours.

Bobby: Only highlight for me was that there was nothing about (N-Word) in it.

Yea or nay: Townsend Bell's ride

Posted by Iannucci | 5/12/2008 | 17 comments »
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Along with the number "13" and peanuts the color green has traditionally been considered bad luck at the track, and although his number is "99" and his sponsor is not "Planters" Townsend Bell is walking under a virtual ladder by going with a car that's almost entirely green.

Olive green that is, styled with fluorescent orange trim. has the scoop from Bell on his scheme.

“I was karting in Southern California with Justin and a few of his friends for a couple of weeks, and we had camouflage hats from William Rast, and everyone thought an army green look would be cool on an IndyCar," he revealed.

"So I called [team owner] Dennis [Reinbold] and he made it happen. It is definitely a cool look, and the people around the Speedway were really into the new paint scheme. The flat green makes the car look like a fighting vehicle - it's a much different scheme than on any other car, and I think, the more people that see the car, the more people will like it. You can't miss it on the track. It really stands out.”

By the way, that’s “Justin” as in “Timberlake”. He’s bringing sexy back.

So is this original livery truly reminiscent of a military assault vehicle, or is it just plain fugly?

(Photo from Zappatista)

Unofficial Fabricated Release

Posted by Iannucci | 5/12/2008 | 5 comments »
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Hello unified racing fans,

As you probably know I’ve been a bit busy these last few weeks, but I just wanted to take a moment to respond to the recent criticisms here at My Name Is IRL.

First of all I want to point out how totally pumped I was on Pole Day, because I was shocked as anyone to find out that we hard a car that might have had enough speed to crack the Top 11. We all know 8 of those slots are already locked in by Ganassi, Penske and Andretti, so there’s like 30 of us trying to get those final three spots. When I saw Scheckter sitting there with a 223.4-something and I knew we put up a 223.3-whatever and the track was cooling off and I was ready to go. Come on, this is Indy!

Of course I rushed to get my gear together only to find my team didn’t put a fresh pair of Bridge, err, Firestones on the car before getting back in line so there was no point in making a run. As soon as Arute or whoever shoved that mic in my face I let everyone know how disappointed I was and “threw my team under the bus” or whatever it was you said I did. OK, my bad.

But guys, take a moment here and cut me a little slack, please. In case you haven’t heard the announcers say it a billion times I’m still 19, which isn’t an excuse for saying stupid things but it is an explanation for maybe getting a little more frustrated than I should. Not many teenagers have to publicly handle the challenges of the last few weeks that I’ve had. Like say:

• Learning how to drive a new car on a bunch of tracks I’ve never driven.
• Being given some stupid "zero-six" Buckshot Jones-type of number
• Crashing and being held out of my first big oval race.
• Winning in my first official IndyCar race
• Mourning the loss of Davey Evans
• Trying to qualify at Indy with a Champ Car team
• Negotiating the world-famous IMS fence-hangers

Add to these two other things. First, imagine my embarrassment at not be able to spray champagne after my first win. Sure those Brazilian dudes got to party, but all I got was a photo shoot wearing a bunch of hats. Total buzkill there. Then, my big moment at St Pete lasted about a week because once SHE won all anyone wants to talk about is my dad’s former driver. I was hoping with some more publicity I might have a shot at getting a sponsor that wasn’t the charity my boss runs on the side, but as you may have noticed I’m still driving a pretty blank-looking car.

(By the way, great sponsorship packages are still available with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing for the remainder of the 2008 season!)

And I know many of you are also angry at the way my dad runs his team and I suppose a lot of you weren’t big fans of his in the first place since he was kinda dull and had those goofy glasses and that crazy mustache. But remember I don’t even drive for the old man so if you’re gonna hate me then please just hate me for stuff I do and not anything he does or doesn't do.

Anyhow, thanks for hearing me out. I’ve already talked with the team and we’re all cool. I promised to use the word “we” more often and they promised to make sure all of the bolts on the car remain secure. Hopefully the rest of the month we (see, I said "we"!) can find great success at this great track.

Thanks to all of my fans here, especially the dude in the awesome shirt.


The Son of ‘Stache

PS – I ain’t growing that mustache. Sorry.

Dixon is a total polecat

Posted by Iannucci | 5/10/2008 | 18 comments »
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Scott Dixon claimed his third pole position of the season with Saturday's fine run at Indy, besting his shiny-toothed teammate with an average speed higher by two tenths or so of a mile per hour.

Of the eleven drivers to qualify by position for the Indinapolis 500, all 8 of the "Big 3" drivers are slotted almost by team. Two Ganassis, then two Penskes, then three AGRs comprise the first seven slots. Panther's Vitor Meira snuck in ahead of rookie Hideki Mutoh for P8 on the grid, who because of a technicality had his first run of the day disqualified.

Editorial Note: Of all of the infractions to come down on someone for, poor Mutoh had his initial run DQ'd for missing a 3-pound camera battery - despite being 7-pounds over the weight minimum. You gotta be kidding me!

Anyhow, Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter made up the rest of the Saturday qualifiers. There was some drama late as Mutoh bumped Graham Rahal (The Bobby's son) out of the Top 11, who was then held up from attempting another run after Ryan Hunter-Reay (The Bobby's driver) backed into the Turn Three SAFER barrier at well over 200 mph. With about 20 minutes to go it looked like Graham wasn't going to make another run, but incredibly the track workers cleaned up the carnage and fixed the wall in like 5 minutes.

I said 5 minutes to clean up an accident and weld a cover back on the wall. That NEVER happens!

Regardless, Graham got his run and failed, but then was going to attempt another run before the gunshot...except his team had lined his car back up without putting fresh tires on the vehicle. Uh, oops. The Son of 'Stache was not pleased.

If you're not on this list then you can try again tomorrow. Weather permitting.

1. (9) Scott Dixon, 226.366 mph
2. (10) Dan Wheldon, 226.110
3. (6) Ryan Briscoe, 226.080
4. (3) Helio Castroneves, 225.733
5. (7) Danica Patrick, 225.197
6. (11) Tony Kanaan, 224.794
7. (26) Marco Andretti, 224.417
8. (4T) Vitor Meira, 224.346
9. (27) Hideki Mutoh, 223.887
10. (20) Ed Carpenter, 223.835
11. (12) Tomas Scheckter, 223.496

Howard already bumped

Posted by Iannucci | 5/10/2008 | 13 comments »
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It may be barely 7am here in Arizona but I swear I just heard one of the Kevins (Lee or Olson) say that Jay Howard has been given the rest of the month off. According to the unknown Kevin, John Andretti has been given the thumbs up to drive the Roth Racing #24 machine for the Indianapolis 500 only.

And just as this is being typed the video is now showing John Andretti on the track. (In a race car, not just walking or anything.) I guess that's about all the confirmation we need.

John is already up to 220 mph while his father's nephew's son (or uncle's grandson, if you prefer) named Marco is topping the charts at 228 mph.

Freaky Friday

Posted by Iannucci | 5/09/2008 | 5 comments »
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After having much of the week washed out by rain the entrants at Indianapolis made a quick go of it at the start of “Fast Friday” before the rain came back yet again. Scott Dixon was fastest of all in topping the speed chart at nearly 227 mph, but even P23 Sarah Fisher was within a second on the fastest lap speed at over 221 mph. Weather permitting, tomorrow should be a fun Pole Day.

Unfortunately the cars weren’t the only things coming fast as there were three separate incidents. First Alex Lloyd replicated Jamie Camara’s Turn One misadventure from earlier in the week, earning himself a sore neck and a bevy of personal injury attorneys.

Also, Mario Dominguez got wacky when he bounced off the inside wall on a warm-up lap. Not sure what the dilly-o was there.

Worst and most noticeably was a Car vs Pedestrian incident on pit road involving Danica Patrick and Dale Coyne crew member Charles Buckman. There is no video available but reports from Derek Daly of WISH-TV indicate Buckman was walking between pit stalls and was struck by Danica’s "kerr", knocking the apparently helmet-less Buckman to the ground. Reports later said Buckman was rendered unconscious, suffering facial and scalp lacerations as well as a concussion.

Patrick was said to be visibly shaken as she exited her damaged Dallara and was escorted back to the garage. No further details have been released other than to say Buckman is awake and alert in the hands of medical professionals.

Simon Morley, Davey Evans, and now Charles Buckman. It seems as if the only time team members find their names in the news is when something bad happens to them.

UPDATE: Good news - Buckman has recovered enough to say "I really don't remember how it happened. All I remember is I was talking with someone on Marco Andretti's team, and then everything is blank from that point. I will be OK and hopefully back to work in a day or two."

If you want to see it for yourself there is a comment below that provides a link to video of the accident. Gut-wrenching to say the least, because getting hit by any vehicle traveling that fast can be life-threatening. Notice Mario and his nerves of steel, looking completely unflustered at probably the millionth racing incident he's witnessed in his lifetime.

Yea or nay: Marco’s duds

Posted by Iannucci | 5/09/2008 | 10 comments »
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It’s one thing to have a tricked out car with a black, brown and orange Indiana Jones motif that is contrasted with a HUGE blue Blockbuster logo, but it seems Marco Andretti’s nomex also got some energized sponsorship.

So, this is supposed to look like the Indiana Jones leather jacket, right down to the diagonal strap and simulated buttons. Good gracious!

Question: Does his helmet have a brim to look like a fedora?

Curry fails to file for unemployment

Posted by Iannucci | 5/09/2008 | 2 comments »
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Recently fired Vision Racing engineer Larry Curry didn't have to stand for long outside of Gasoline Alley with his "Will Engineer For Food" sign.

Marty Roth has confirmed that his eponymous Roth Racing outfit has hired IndyCar Series veteran, and former Vision Racing team manager, Larry Curry as its new chief engineer.

In his role, which takes immediate effect, Curry will not only oversee the set-ups for the #24 and #25 cars driven by IndyCar Series rookie Jay Howard and Roth himself, but also will set about restructuring the team's engineering department.

Roth suffered a major pre-Indy 500 blow when a proportion of his engineering team quit ahead of the 'month of May', but hopes that Curry will bring a guiding light to see the squad through both qualifying and racing at Indianapolis, as well as the rest of the 2008 campaign.

(MORE from
Wait - "A portion of his engineering team quit"? What?

Kinder Gentler Danicker

Posted by Iannucci | 5/09/2008 | 4 comments »
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The rains continued to fall at IMS yesterday (What? Rain in May? How shocking.), perhaps to symbolize the soul cleansing of the IRL’s most famous driver. Then again, maybe it was just a storm front cause by pressure variances in the atmosphere.

Regardless, The Canadian Press has quotes from Thursday that reveal the Post-Motegi Danica! as one who sees the glass of milk as half full.

"I realize, over time now, how unproductive being angry all the time is and how it doesn't really do any good for my driving," Patrick said Thursday. "I think that being positive does."

"I will say that it started, that whole being angry thing, because I wanted people to know that I wasn't OK with finishing sixth," Patrick explained. "I wasn't OK with driving my butt off and finishing eighth. I wasn't OK with those results. I'm not OK with finishing third.

"I want to win races and I wanted people to know that. I didn't want them to see me smiling and going 'Woo Hoo' and them saying, 'That's it? That's all she hopes for?' I wanted them to know that I wished and believed in more."

"But I'm trying to grow up. I'm trying to be better all-around for all kinds of reasons: for myself, for the people around me and for the people I don't know who are around me."

It’s a small Kingdom after all

Posted by Iannucci | 5/08/2008 | 2 comments »
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"Myself and Dan (Wheldon) used to race karts together when we were 8 years old. Darren Manning was actually my teammate in karts when I was 11, 12 years old, and I've known them for many years. I competed with Darren in Formula 3000, and we both went on. He was a test driver in Formula 1, and I did a couple of tests. I think I did one more year and then came across. It's just how it all worked out.”Justin Wilson, discussing which drivers are on his Christmas Card list.

The wave of the future

Posted by Iannucci | 5/07/2008 | 3 comments »
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As part of the “Cleaner Sheet of Paper” imperative for the future of the IndyCar series, the powers that be have been working with students at the College of Creative Studies Transportation Design to help with the next generation of chassis development. After a few rounds the designs are starting to take shape, and it appears in the not so distant future IndyCars will have split wings, longer wheelbases, and spokes on the tires. Maybe even spinners.

Check out the story and the gallery yourself.

Some of these designs have merit – like simpler profiles and wider bodies. Those are very appealing, but for the most part these models are kinda, umm, how does one nicely say “fugly”?

I mean, I guess in the future the drivers will be entombed in freaking batmobiles, and they’ll be back to using turbochargers since there isn’t an air intake to be found on any of these things.

Come on, Creative Transportation Design students - you can do better. Because your humble host cares so much about the future of IndyCars, here’s a short video to help you start. Just add wings and a snappy paint job and presto!

Casualties of peace

Posted by Iannucci | 5/07/2008 | 8 comments »
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Sherman, set the WABAC machine about 5 years and show up at any IRL or CART event. Likely the most popular drivers in their respective series would be Sarah Fisher and Paul Tracy, and although both of them have had some rough years since they were both full season participants.

Now fast forward to Indy in 2008 and notice how differently things look. The top level of US open-wheel racing is now under one series and the number of entries at Indy has risen since ‘03, but for these two drivers the days are significantly darker. From consecutive posts today on the IBJ’s “The Score” comes news that being popular is simply not enough in this unified world.

One of the most well known drivers from the now defunct Champ Car open-wheel race series, Paul Tracy, is still without a ride for this year’s Indianapolis 500.

Veteran race team operator Derrick Walker is trying to put together an 11th hour deal that will put Tracy on the famed Speedway this May. Walker told IBJ yesterday the effort to field a car is looking grim—though not completely dead.

“At times, I think we’re real close,” Walker said. “But if we’re going to go out there, I want to put together a solid effort, and that takes about $500,000. The worse thing that can happen is to become a bump day story. I don’t want to make a fool of myself.”

(MORE from The Score)
You can talk about how outspoken he is with such notable utterances as “crapwagon” and “working for hamburgers and hot dogs”, but you can’t help but wonder what rides Tracy turned down just because he thought Ganassi or Andretti would be falling all over themselves to hire him. Could he have been driving one of those vastly improved Vision Racing entires, or perhaps the KV Racing car that Oriol Servia has performed so well in? Coulda shoulda woulda, but to think his only hope is a longshot, one-off from Derrick Walker is nothing short of stunning.


As of today, Indy Racing League driver Sarah Fisher has lost her primary sponsor for this year. But she vows to continue her qualifying efforts for this month’s Indianapolis 500.

Klint Briney, Sarah Fisher Racing executive brand manager, said ResQ Pure Power Energy Drink has failed to meet a May 1 deadline to pay for the sponsorship.

“We’re going to be out here throughout May,” Briney said. “We’re committed to doing that and we still feel like our chances of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 are good.”

Fisher launched her own team earlier this year and has been working to land enough sponsorship dollars to race three or four races including the Indianapolis 500 this season. Her ability to race beyond this month now appears to be in jeopardy.

(MORE from The Score)
Just a few weeks ago it looked like this team was off to a great start. Fisher had lined up her own sponsorship for the Sarah Fisher Racing team comprised of family members and had budgeted participation only in races with which she felt most comfortable. It was a great plan (with a sweet-looking car) that went entirely sideways when “ResQ” went and did the opposite of rescuing her season. She’s still entered in the race, although there hasn’t been a team yet that improved from losing financial backing.

And yet, looking at these two it can’t help be wondered if they would be better served individually were the series still separated. Tracy would surely still be featured as a Champ Car asset in a series featuring three races in Canada, and Fisher would likely be pulling sponsors as the down-to-earth alternative to the IRL’s glitzy and glamorous (ahem) poster-girl. But now with endless stories featuring Unification, Danification, and Grahamification, it would seem interest in the pugilistic driver and the girl next door has been lost in the shuffle.

So here they are, two drivers who despite retaining loyal fans throughout the years may end up being spectators come May 25th.