LiveBlog (sorta): Texas 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 6/07/2008 | 24 comments »
Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway. If you have the funding then by all means buy yourself a Learjet, come pick me up, and let's go to the race of your choosing. I'll bring the snacks.

Don't know if you caught this ahead of time but after driving by the ramp about a dozen times Robbie Knievel finally launched and successfully jumped the 20-whatever Hummers. Motorcycles jumping stuff never goes out of style.

Your humble host was listening to the IMS broadcast before the race and I noticed for the umteenth time how the drivers announce their name, hometown or country, car number and race team before each event. Attention ESPN: spending a couple minutes before a broadcast doing this would be an EXCELLENT idea.

We're going to be live with the TV broadcast once it's on, which unfortunately is being tape-delayed due to a Nationwide series race. Ugh!

1: Clean start as Helio takes the lead. The radio team said EJ Viso moved up like a half-dozen spots right off the bat.

10: Yellow for a spin by Mario Dominguez.

13: Briscoe just pulled into Dan Wheldon's pit stop because that's where the cool people hang out. Then he hit a tire on the way out so he gets a penalty on top of that goof. Oh man, Ryan's having an AWESOME year.

17: Junky didn't pit so he has the lead as we go back to green. For about two seconds. Helio drives past him like he's standing still. Meanwhile Briscoe is in the pits taking his penalty.

18: Another yellow for a verrrrrry slow Darren Manning. Currently we have Helio, Junky, Dixon, Hunter-Reay and Mutoh leading the way.

25: Junky pits so shuffle everyone up as we go back to green. The winless Vitor Meira is now in 5th.

32: The Hunter keeps trying to get around The Iceman for second, but he's foiled by the current aero package. Slingshots would be nice. Meanwhile Danicker is around Vitor for 5th.

37: Viso started 28th but is now 10th. I'm beginning to think this kid is an above average talent.

39: Third yellow of the day when Justin Wilson makes contact with the wall. We still have 190 or so laps to go, so maybe you should fire up a pot of coffee.

41: Junky doesn't pit so he retakes the lead. Gotta get the sponsor whateer airtime you can, right? Not only that, Junky single-handedly keeps Briscoe from getting a wave around so he's still a lap down. Sucks to be him.

42: Dixon, Heilo, Hunter, Danica behind Junky. For now.

45: Scheckter has gone from 9th to 23rd after killing the car in the pits. Well, at least he didn't break the half-shaft.

46: Back to green and Briscoe and Helio blow past Junky, so at the next yellow Briscoe will get his lap back.

47: And just like that Servia loses it to bring out a yellow. He almost missed the walls entirely but he ultimately clipped the left front on the interior wall. Bummer.

50: Pits aren't opened yet but I'd like to point out that four yellows in and NONE for Duno or Roth. They're both outside of the Top 20, but running.

55: Back to green and it's Helio, Hunter, Dixon, Mutoh, Carpenter. And just as we go green Mario Moraes makes contact with Scheckter and goes spinning through the grass and bring out a another yellow. Somewhere TMS uber-promoter Eddie Gossage is pulling his hair out.

59: Jamie Camara is no longer racing for reasons unknown.

60: Back to green and Viso is up to 7th.

67: Now THIS is racing! Dixon side-by-side with Helio, Marco and Hunter all over them as well. Wah-hoo!

72: Are you people watching this? Three-wide, Baby!

77: Would you believe Ryan Briscoe is up to 6th? Wow. In front of him it's Helio, Dixon, Andretti, Hunter, Kanaan all withint less than a second of each other.

85: Well, it was nice while it lasted but we fallen back into single file racing as they weave through traffic. Scheckter is done, presumably as a result of damage from contact with Moraes. No glove throwing yet, though.

97: They're all bunching up again and Marco goes Hornish-style high side and takes the lead, and...I'm going to the living room for the delayed broadcast. From here on out, we are delayed.

100: Well, we're back to coverage, this time in High Definition. TV delays stink. Duh. Some of you may be following live online, and since you may be commmenting I'm not going to read the comments until aftre the race. You could have lottery numbers in there - doesn't matter.

101: Frenzy of green flag pitting has ensued. Dixon, ever the fuel-saver after last season, pits last of the leaders. When he comes out we now have Briscoe, Meria, Junky, and then...Milka? Whatwhatwhat? Meanwhile, Helio now had a driver-through penalty for speeding in the pits.

108: Briscoe is coming in to pit, and he almost takes out Viso doing it. Looks like he needs a new nose after getting up close and personal with the right-rear tire of Hunter-Reay. Ryan's hitting everything but the lottery, so if you have those numbers handy feel free to let him know.

111: Marco, Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Carpenter. Buddy Rice in 7th.

123: OK, Milka's back to 20th. I was worried there for a bit. Wheldon has managed to get up to 5th.

128: No yellows for a while but everyone is spreading out. Marty however is refraining from lock-stepping it. It's Dixon, Andretti, Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Wheldon.

130: Where did my side-by-side coverage go? And who's this weightlifiting clown with the bad hair and MySpace page that keeps popping up in the commercials?

143: Ed Carpenter just had a pit stop that took like a year. Probably 20 seconds but I'm sure Ed thought it was at least a month. Such a shame.

152: Kanaan just had one of those extended stays in the pits himself. Meanwhile the Penske and Ganassi cars move in and out without issue.

156: Milka goes high and nearly takes out John Andretti. He was almost taken out when Seriva lost it earlier in the day. Maybe after this race he tells Marty that Jay Howard can have the car back.

162: And after all of this the leader is...Scott Dixon. What a surprise.

166: And here's a yellow flag for...what? Anyone? Hello?

170: Dixon, Andretti, Hunter, Wheldon, Kanaan come out of the pits first but Marty says "Vitor Meira could have the race lead." Oh no, don't tell me Vitor's going to get another crap sandwich at Texas.

176: Vitor is in fact the leader as we go back to green. 15 cars on the lead lap as everyone scrambles for position behind him.

180: Please don't tell me we're talking about Dixon conserving fuel again. I'm begging you, Honda - PLEASE rip the fuel setting knobs off. The only thing less exciting than a race decided by pit stops is a race decided by fuel conservation...OK, I'm done ranting. Back to the exciting race going on.

188: I can't believe they just misspelled "Terrell" Owens in the graphic for that package showing Helio practicing with the Dallas Cowboys. HA!

190: Meira (still!), Hunter, Dixon, Helio, Kanaan. 38 laps to glory, Vitor!

193: "Everyone is still playing the fuel-saving game". Excuse me, I need to go flush my head in the toilet.

195: Buddy Rice, in 10th, getting air. I'm speechless. I'm also sadly unable to see what's written on his sidepods.

198: Marco, back up to 4th, is loving the high-side today. However, he almost kissed the wall there. He's still racing though, and Vitor's still leading. Pulling away a bit, actually.

205: Still Vitor. Everyting else is irrelevant now. 23 laps to glory!

206: So much for glory. Vitor has to pit. What is that now, 0 for 81? He's fast approaching Zippy Chippy (look it up, people) in this category. Marco Andretti is now your race leader.

212: It's been a while but we have a yellow flag for Enrique Bernoldi. Rico Suave was lapped and trying to race with the leaders when his car went sideways and into the wall. Evidently he doesn't recall the words of Dirty Harry Callahan: "A man's gotta know his limitations".

215: Marco, Dixon, Briscoe, Hunter, Helio. Mutoh hanging in there at 8th as the last car on the lead lap, Meira sadly in 9th, and looky here it's Graham Rahal up to 10th.

218: We're going back to green with Marco in the lead, and I just noticed he has no associate sponsor. Huh.

221: Hunter around Briscoe for third as Dixon looks under on Dixon.

222: Dixon into the lead. It's becoming a cliche.

223: BAM! Hunter-Reay looks like he got a little low onto the flat part of the track and lost it and collected Marco. Both went hard into the wall as broadcast feed was live inside Ryan's car. Stunning.

224: We're going to end under yellow. Marco is saying his knees hurt. Replays show Marco giving little room to Hunter, so they'll probably both be mad at each other. It's a shame because they were both racing exceptionally well all night and a win by either American driver would have been noteworthy. But, once again it's Dixon.

228: Checkers fly and for the second consecutive race the Iceman wins under yellow. (EDIT: Poor wording as a result of liveblogging - I meant Dixon wins as we finish the second consecutive race under yellow.) Dixon, Helio, Briscoe, Dixon, Kanaan. Mutoh in 6th. Two Ganassi, two Penske, two Andretti Green in the final six.

Helio, second again. Correct me if I'm wrong but no Brazilian driver has won this year. As the Big Schwag from "Monster Garage" would scream, "You gotta be kidding me!"

In post-race interviews Hunter-Reay says "Marco gave me the inside line on the backstretch but not in the turn". A few moments later Marco says "Some guys you can race side-by-side and some you can't". Oh snap!

And unless I missed something, BOTH Roth and Duno finished. The race, that is.

Well, that's it from here. Looks like with Ganassi (Dixon) as the "Favorite", Marco as the "Contender" and Hunter-Reay as the "Driver to Watch" your humble host finally got something right on the Cheat Sheet. Insert blind squirrel and nut analogy. That'll do, so thank you very much, and good night.


  1. Jennifer Coomer // June 07, 2008 7:16 PM  

    I am so mad at ESPN right now. I could jump on a plane and go get AJ on somebody's a$$. For the AAA of NASCAR? What the???????

  2. Anonymous // June 07, 2008 7:51 PM  

    The tape delay for the taxicab race is almost as humiliating as a couple years ago when the last 20 laps of an IRL race had to be dropped by WIBC so they could broadcast an Indiana Fever game.

  3. Anonymous // June 07, 2008 8:15 PM  

    Love the live blog ! Glad to have you back this week !!

    I hope ESPN sticks with the Victory celebration since we Indycar fans had to watch the Napcab celebration. I have a feeling we won't be seeing the cowboy hat wearing, guns firing tonight, pity.

  4. Anonymous // June 07, 2008 9:42 PM  

    HEY, do my eyes deceive me? Marty Roth finally finished a race? Bet that team is going out to celebrate tonight! Nothing to fix or rebuild? Granted "Moto" Marty was 7 laps down at the finish and was the typical moving chicane all night, but this will boost his ego enough to continue onto another crappy performance in Iowa.

  5. John in Speedway // June 07, 2008 10:11 PM  

    The IRL needs to rectify this contract they have with ESPN. I was extremely disappointed that we had to watch a tape delayed race.
    Thank goodness they actually got some post race interviews in before switching over to: none other than, a Nascar rerun!! Great race, disappointing telecast...let's hope they rectify the telecasts in the future to allow more time before and after the race. Great race though, lot's of exciting side by side action. Personally, I was rooting for Vitor.

  6. John in Speedway // June 07, 2008 10:16 PM  

    I'm sorry, but is it too much to ask to have ESPN at least put a small headline on their webpage about the race outcome? They have a headline for a Busch, err Nationwide series, and also for a college baseball team. No love for the ICS yet?

  7. Ansen Bayer // June 07, 2008 10:25 PM  

    Why, Enrique?

    He doesn't crash...and then the leaders would've had to pit.

    Vitor should've had it. Again.

  8. Anonymous // June 08, 2008 5:38 AM  


  9. Anonymous // June 08, 2008 6:57 AM  

    "228: Checkers fly and for the second consecutive race the Iceman wins under yellow."

    Actually, while it was the second consecutive yellow finish, it wasn't the Iceman who won last week, it was Briscoe. ;) (I almost made the same mistake)

  10. Fred Hurley // June 08, 2008 7:01 AM  

    For what it's worth:

  11. Anonymous // June 08, 2008 7:23 AM  

    Is it true that Aussie Vineyards is moving their sponsorship over to Marty Roth's car only for the fact they feel the fans can see their logo better on his car?

  12. Iannucci // June 08, 2008 8:49 AM  

    Sorry meesh - I corrected that horrific abuse of the English language.

  13. Demond Sanders // June 08, 2008 8:53 AM  

    I'm still very optimistic about this season, but for all the alleged home runs for the series(unification, Danica winning, Rahal winning etc) it seems there have been nearly as many missed opportunities.

    This was an exciting race despite the yellow finish. No one saw it. No one. Why have two of the best moments this season taken place after midnight?

  14. Anonymous // June 08, 2008 10:11 AM  

    I was at the Texas race last night and after Robbie Knievel jumped he came back out and thanked the crowd. Then he said he needed to get off the stage so the N-word cars could get on the track. Don't know if many in the crowd caught it, but it made me sick.

  15. Carrie // June 08, 2008 10:41 AM  

    Well I, for one, am glad for the IRL tape delay. Meant I caught the last couple laps after getting home from the Nationwide race.

    Too bad they were all under caution.

  16. Anonymous // June 08, 2008 11:00 AM  

    It's quite obvious that the IRL with some of the BEST racing there is (case in point, TEXAS!)is still the forgotten child of auto racing. I'm surprised we didn't get cut off for a curling match! Bad enough we had to wait for the 2nd tier of NASCAR to finish, but then to wait through interviews and victory circle?! Enough already! And why all the intro crap before the race. If it's tape delay, go to Gentlemen start your engines" and get with the action. I don't need anymore JAck Arute!

  17. Anonymous // June 08, 2008 12:06 PM  

    LOL Jeff! Like I said, I, in the wee hours of the morning, wrote the same thing, then re-read it and said... "wait a minute... that's not right!"

    I think it just feels like Dixon has won all the races, so it sounded right. LOL!

  18. Fred Hurley // June 08, 2008 12:19 PM  

    So since NBC and TNT have expressed some desire to discuss a split TV package with the IRL, now that ESPN is a year away from done, and NBC wants the Indy 500, I thought I'd mention that TNT's booth for today's NASCAR race from Pocono is Bill Weber, Wally Dallenbach, and Kyle Petty. Obviously, Kyle doesn't translate as well, but I fin Weber and Dallenbach to be a good booth combo. In fact, didn't they do some Champ Car races at some point? I'm still a big Mike Joy fan, but I'll pay close attention to the TNT broadcast today, to compare it to last night's IndyCar coverage on ESPN2.

  19. Carrie // June 08, 2008 8:30 PM  

    Had not heard TNT/NBC were looking at broadcasting the IRL. Probably get a ton more respect out of them than they do Disney BUT gods, please keep Weber & Dallenbach away!

    Weber is freaking terrible. He's always taking the whole TNT "We Know Drama" thing too seriously and trying to create it where there is none.

    Nothing worse than hearing him try to score his superstar sportscaster moment like Mike Joy calling Senior's Daytona win etc. It's sad and pathetic.

    Besides I'll never forgive him for telling us Tony Stewart hadn't been feeling well and would be interviewed after he changed out of his soiled firesuit.


  20. Anonymous // June 08, 2008 10:11 PM  

    Carrie : why the heck were you wasting your time watching a NAPCAR race ???!!!

  21. Anonymous // June 09, 2008 6:36 AM  


    If you're heading down to Bristol, CN to kick some TV programmer's @ss, please stop by and pick up mrs. mmack. She's got a pretty mean right hook and can really work the body for maximum effect.

    I'd like to start by thanking ESPN (Worldwide Leader in Annoyingly "Catchy" Nicknames and Hip Phrases Spewed During SportsCenter) in delaying the start of the IRL race for a feeder series that can't even fill the stands at Nashville.

    And now some random thoughts:

    You know, this fellow EJ Viso Might Just Be The Real Thing, Baby! (Sorry, channeled some SportsCenter there.) Someone at HVM has figured out the setup and EJ shows a complete lack of fear along with some serious oval chops for a "transition" driver. It was exciting seeing him race in person at Milwaukee.

    To grab a line from the college boys standing behind us at Indy this year: "Moooooo-Toooohhhhh!" Hideki seems to be the only driver Mikey doesn't have to worry about recently. Agree with Pressdog: He needs a little speaker fitted to his Dallara that plays Godzilla sound effects: Dun-Dun-Dun-Dun EEEEEEEAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As for the rest of the team, glad to see Nariz and 3.0 can play nice together. Note to Tony: Unlike the openly opinionated driver who shares your first name in N-word, threats to take your teammate "to the wall" in open wheel usually don't work too well when taken to action. Leave the "bump-drafting" to Kyle, Jeffy, Jimmy et al.

    Absolutely loved the camera shot of Mikey in the pits as The Iceman passed 3.0 with less than 10 to go. Reminded me of fourth quarter sideline shots of Bears coach Dick Jauron: The total "OH NO, it's happening again!" look as the team folded and threw the game away.

    3.0 seems to be angling to fill the spot held of late by Paul Tracy, aka Captain Crunch: Fast, fearless, and fractured. Hey Marco, those cars do give off a cool shower of sparks when they grind along the wall, don't they?

    That said, O-Ryan The Hunter's spotter should have called in a Code Black (Warning: Andretti racing for position) to his driver.

    Nice to see ESPN didn't miss a "My car is SLOOOOWWWW, what do I do NOW?!?" radio transmission from Danica!

    Once again, someone else gets the gold, Vitor gets the shaft. I want Vitor to win, because that show's getting old.

    Is Briscoe Inferno trying to give Roger a heart attack? Just like Casey Stengal's Mets, Briscoe keeps coming up with new and exciting ways to lose races.

    I think Justin Wilson popped the wall just to get N\H\L on TV. His teammate Graham must have been auditioning for an Austin, TX community theater production of The Invisible Man. He's got the acting chops, as I didn't see him all night. :^/

    Props to The Iceman, but I'm starting to agree with mrs. mmack: Let's see more new winners.

    And now, on to Iowa, P-Dog, wear a hat so we can find you in the stands as we watch the race.

  22. Fred Hurley // June 09, 2008 7:40 AM  

    Yeah, so the TNT broadcast of Pocono was not as good as the NASCAR on Fox broadcasts. I know some people don't like DW's Boogity-Boogity bit, but it's a quick thing, and that's it. Otherwise, Fox does a good job of showing battles back in the field, and getting sponsors some airtime, even when their guy's not leading. Mike Joy is a good race-caller, and the general quality of camera work I find to be high. The TNT broadcast yesterday was not terrible, but the announcers were not as good (I miss BP, too), and everything else was that critical 10% less smooth and polished. Of course, it was their first race of the year, and they were coming in mid-season, so they had to pick up story lines in progress. Yeah, I remember Weber and Dallenbach being better. Heh. The more I think about, the more I want to see Page and Cheever. Both of them grate on some people, but I think those two would be a huge upgrade over Reid and Goodyear, and would be enjoyable to 80% of the people watching. Here's hoping. My biggest gripe with the current booth is that they just don't give you a sense that you're watching an Event (capital E is intentional). I know races aren't as big right now as they were in the heyday, and it's easy to go too far, but Reid and Goodyear give me the impression that I am watching a USAR Hooters Pro Cup race. Sure, it's a good race, but man, this is for the Championship. The same one that's been awarded in one form or another since the dawn of the twentieth century. The Fox guys always made it seem like each NASCAR race was a meeting of gladiators on the grand stage. A little bit of that would go a long way, I think. And IndyCar NEEDS at least 30 minutes of pre-race, 30 minutes of post-race, and a weekly 1 hour show. Please!

  23. Carrie // June 09, 2008 8:17 AM  

    Anon: Sorry but I'm not a motorsports snob. If it has wheels, a motor and they're racing it, I'm watching it.

    Besides, I was a NASCAR fan first. If I didn't watch NASCAR, I never would have found my favorite driver and, in turn, would have never found the IRL by watching him do the double.

  24. Anonymous // June 09, 2008 11:51 PM  

    carrie: drop the Napcar viewing and join us Indycar fans fulltime!