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.”

14 comments

  1. Justin // May 27, 2008 6:20 AM  

    Hey what Section of the Southwest Vista were you sitting. I was in Section 1 like I have bee for the last 10 years and saw Davey Hamilton have a huge "moment" after the last restart he had to be at full opposite lock trying not to spin. Also I had my scanner on and heard Robbie Buhl talking Milka around the track every lap trying to get her to pass cars.

  2. mmack // May 27, 2008 7:54 AM  

    Jeff,

    First off, it was great to meet you and your two children at the Speedway last Saturday. You now have a new fan in Mrs. mmack, who has been begging me to explain how to post on your site. As we were stuck in traffic on Georgetown Rd. Sunday morning, she DEMANDED I help her post about how stupid the traffic control was. So expect a comment from her any day now.

    The crowd was the biggest I've seen in years, which, while great for increased interest, was terrible for traffic. Much precious gasoline was wasted idling in stop and stand traffic heading towards the track. Luckily we grabbed free parking at lot 1B.

    Some of my great memories of this year's 500 were:

    - Telling Mrs. mmack's 80+ year old relatives we were going to the Indy 500 on Sunday. A mention of Danica Patrick got a "who's she?" reaction, but when we mentioned Helio Castroneves from Dancing With The Stars would be driving, the ladies were very excited. So take THAT, Danica-Mania! :^P

    - EJ Viso taking the T-Shirt cannon from the Firehawk at the drivers meeting and sending T-shirts to the TOP ROW of the Tower Terrace seats.

    - The IPS, sorry Indy Lights race on Saturday was the yin to the 500's yang Sunday. Lots of three and four wide (and at one heart-stopping moment, five wide!) racing made for some toe-curling, cover-your-eyes excitement. If any My Name is IRL posters score tickets to an IRL event, do yourself a favor and catch an Indy Lights race if it's on the bill. These drivers are fighting their way up the ladder and could use some full grandstands to cheer them on.

    - Meeting Mr. 500, Mr. STP, Mr. Turbine, Andy Granatelli at the Memorabilia Show at the State Fairgrounds and getting to shake his hand and tell him I was a fan of his and Vince Jr, his son. I still wish I'd brought my copy of They Call Me Mr. 500 for Andy to autograph.

    - Being in the stands in time to hear the Purdue Band play On the Banks of the Wabash as the cars were moved to the grid.

    - That Nicky Hayden lap of the track may just convince me to buy tickets to the Red Bull MotoGP. Now I see why Johnny our missing poster loves motorcycle racing.

    - Singing along with Gomer once again.

    Some observations from Turn 4:

    - I loved seeing Tomas carve his way through the field, until his Norton\Symantec sponsored machine got a "General Fault Error" and the gearbox crashed. I think he could have surprised had the car held together. Someone needs to get him back in a car full time.

    - I was going to give Briscoe Inferno the Battling Back from Adversity (26th 1 lap down to 8th) award until he broke The Danica Directive (Thou shalt not crash into Danica! and cause her to DNF!). Instead, I'll give it to a surprising Ed Carpenter, who fought back from a disasterous pit stop to finish fifth, and by passing cars to get there showed some fire in his belly, unlike his teammate, who showed fire everywhere else on his body.

    - I'm of two minds on the TK\Andretti 3.0 Incident. On Tony's side, I can see the point that you don't divebomb a teammate to the inside on the entry to a turn on a superspeedway. On the other hand, in Andretti 3.0's defense, Tony, if you leave the door open, don't be shocked to find someone trying to slip through.

    TK may be happy to know that one fan sitting next to us who had him to win in his 500 pool kept flipping 3.0 The Bird every time he led.

    - It's hard not to feel for Sarah Fisher. For some reason fate decided to use Sarah as it's punching bag this month. Put aside how you may feel about her, nobody deserves a month like that.

    - It's two days later and I still don't know how Vitor pulled off the move of the month on Dixie on that restart. There was much rejoicing in Stand H when Vitor came around in the lead, and many fans were pulling for the upset. I know I was.

    - Well, hometown boys Dale Coyne Racing had an eventful month, did they not? I was as stunned as Jeff to see Mario lead. The Return of Bruno, however, was a bust.

    - As for other surprise leaders, nice to see Buddy Rice out front, followed closely by Justin "Stretch" Wilson, even if they were off pit sequence. I'll throw Rice the Flying Under The Radar award, to be shared with Oriol Servia.

    - Wait, Milka Duno, on the lead lap, until Buddy Lazier pinched her off line while she was lapping him?!? =:^o

    - Ryan Briscoe = 21st century version of Kevin Cogan? Discuss.

    - That said, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at a post race Andretti Green team meeting. Mutoh was the only one who came off smelling like a rose Sunday.

    - Kudos to The Iceman for taking it all. Not since Whine Pablum have I seen such a dominating winning drive, and not since calling it for Rick Mears in 1988 was I so sure a driver would take the win. It was Dixon's track Sunday, the other drivers just raced on it. That said, I will only give TCGR a 75 on the Pressdog B*tchslap Scale (100 being the Penske Team at the 1988 Indianapolis 500) since both drivers failed to lead 90% or more of the race laps and Well Done faded at the end. Also, their shared driver (Lloyd) tried to do his best Salt Walther impression by pinwheeling down pit road.

    And now, on to Milwaukee, where we will cheer on the drivers in person this Sunday.

  3. mmack // May 27, 2008 7:57 AM  

    Wait, I think Quattro is on fire again!

  4. katie26 // May 27, 2008 8:26 AM  

    Great notes!!

    Check out this article that was published in many local newspapers, including mine:

    http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5iAS6UQk1E-DTO6743YTIWCPMnEWw

    Too bad that someone always has to bash something about the IRL.

  5. The American Mutt // May 27, 2008 8:49 AM  

    I'll preface this comment by saying that I hate Dixon, and as with every trip to the brickyard I came away dissappointed with the winner. However, and I don't see many people agreeing with me on this, I'm going to say Dixon got lucky. THAT'S RIGHT...I said it. With the exception of Wheldon and a very much traffic slowed TK, Dixon didn't make a single pass for the lead that wasn't given to him by his pit crew. Vitor, TK, and Marco can all say otherwise. ALSO--most of the domination TCGR showed early went away as soon as the two drivers were split up. It was the leaders race to lose, and were it not for a pit stop Vitor would have won. I have yet to see the replay, but I'm going to say Marco probably wasn't nearly as at fault as TK stated. The fact that Marco was there to make that pass means TK had slowed too much, and if we can't have passing in the corners then something is wrong with the 500 that desperately needs to be fixed. Marco was two, not one, cars behind TK. For him to have not made that pass meant he'd have had to lift, or worse brake, opening the door for others behind him to take his position. Again, I may change my opinion upon seeing the DVRed version. Also, in what world does Buddy Lazier screw up like that, and then have Milka make a great save--her car came to a stop a mere ten yards from me.

  6. Carrie // May 27, 2008 9:10 AM  

    Katie: Don't mind the Jim Litke article. Like most AP sports writers, he doesn't have the first real clue about any sport he writes about. He knows just enough to be dangerous.

    Jeff:: Cool story about Simmons & P1. I always get a kick out of these ballsy racecar drivers being playful with the little ones. Oh, and, they interviewed Sarah on TV. She cried and so did I.

    I loved the race. I was pulling for Vitor there at the end and was disappointed he didn't win. Could Dixon have been the least excited I500 winner in history? He acted like he could have cared less.

    Wheldon got screwed... again. I don't see him staying a TCGR past his contract. At least I sincerely hope he's not stupid or desperate enough to put up with Ganassi's BS any longer than that.

    Props to my other three guys, Hunter-Reay, Manning and Servia!

  7. llilly // May 27, 2008 2:30 PM  

    Ok. I saw the whole Quattro on fire thing from my seats across from his pit (shout out to Paddock box 50!!).

    There was something wrong (still?) with the fuel delivery thing. An official used a wand instead of the fuel hose to see if fuel could be put in the car and then at each pit stop thereafter, Foyt was fueled with this thin wand, not a hose.

    They also pushed his car into Davey Hamilton's pit to restart it but that didn't work so they pushed it back into his pit and got it going again. I thought they couldn't use another car's pit, but the official stood there and watched the whole thing.

    This year the traffic control was the worst ever. They would only let the cars in Lot 2 exit to the west instead of both directions as in the past. The result was 2 full hours sitting with not a single car in my area moving an inch. Thank goodness we packed a cooler with hotdog sandwiches and root beer and had something to read. Don't get me started about how they route traffic for the few hundred thousand people that have no idea where they are in and around Indianapolis.

    A memorable moment was driving out of the parking lot and seeing a guy stumble out of a Port-A-Pot with that stunned look on his face. If you've ever used a Port-A-Pot in the parking lot at the end of the race, you know what I am talking about.

  8. AGRfan26 // May 27, 2008 5:58 PM  

    I so agree with you on the National Anthem... just sing it and lets go racing already ! Also agree on the Moreas pitting a lot. I was sitting in Tower Terrace at the end of pit row and I swear he was in there every other lap ! My brother even started making fun of his sponsor. Again, loved the race, even if the yellows were long and Marco didn't win. Always look forward to your commentary every week. You and Pressdog crack me up !

  9. ASpeed // May 27, 2008 7:21 PM  

    Jeff,
    It was great to meet you at the Burger Bash, and it's great to hear that you had a good time at the race on Sunday. Great summary of the race there, as well. Turn 1 was the place to be this year, huh?

    One note on top of your notes: I think that Moraes and Milka were running through the pits pretty much every lap from about lap 180 onward in an effort to stay out of the way of the leaders. Not quite the sort of behavior or the quality of driver you'd think that the IRL would want to promote...

    Keep up the great work here, and hopefully I'll see you at the races again soon!

    Andy from Nebraska

  10. John in Speedway // May 27, 2008 7:42 PM  

    I think Vitor's pass is one of the greatest I've ever seen. He looked like Rick Mears out there.

  11. erika // May 27, 2008 8:13 PM  

    Jeff, it was great to meet you at the Burger Bash as well as P1 and P2- I'm so glad you all had a great time!

    Re: Moraes's constant pitting, I was listening to my scanner during the race and several times I heard the IHJ ordering Moraes into the pits because he couldn't keep pace. One of my favorite things to do at a race is listen to Barnhardt's scanner channel - without fail he lives up to his IHJ nickname every time.

    I couldn't agree more on the ridiculous handling of Lot 2. We hung out with our neighbors in the SW vista for at least an hour after the race, and so we were very dismayed to return to Lot 2 to see no movement and the entrance to Georgetown blocked. I can't imagine what that strategy was.

    All in all a great day, however. Congrats to Dixon on a well-deserved win - I'm sure this helps to take the sting out of last year's Chicagoland race! And I also hope that Panther really is back and that Vitor is able to keep the momentum. I realizd during this race how much I've missed Vitor messing with the big teams.

  12. The American Mutt // May 28, 2008 7:14 AM  

    Erike,

    In regard to Moreas--it'd have been nice if they'd have done this prior to him slowing TK enough for his accident to occur, or at least done it prior to him costing Marco a good restart. I'm think this Mario is off AGRs christmas list.

  13. John Edward // May 28, 2008 9:40 AM  

    Ditto on Lot 2 ... it was 2.5 hours of sitting... but we made the most of it and drank diet cokes and used the porta-potties. ,,,, ;)

  14. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // May 29, 2008 3:18 PM  

    I actually texted you right after the Marco + TK = Sarah Fisher out of the race maneuver. But I think there was a delay. Just like the radio broadcast.