LiveBlog: Watkins Glen 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 7/06/2008 | 25 comments »
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Welcome to the Fourth Annual Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix Mouthful of Title Race!

We have breaking news - literally. It seems that Tony Kanaan crashed in morning warmups, breaking not only his car but a bone in his arm. Amazingly he's been cleared to race, although somewhere Rusty Wallace is now quietly calculating how to get rid of the morning session on road tracks.

The AGR team has been frantically trying to reassemble the car because going to the back up means going to the back. Frankly, I'd rather enjoy seeing Nariz and Helio battle it out at the back at the start of the race, but maybe that's just me.

Race Control has Rahal son, Rahal driver, Vitor and Dixon. We're going to stick with Son of 'Stache since he brings racing plenty of excitement - and not necessarily the good kind.

And now, it's time to start.

1: We are green and we make it through the first turn with only Viso going off the track. And even then he was still going straight on a paved run off.

1: Already some bad news for the Target Twins. Dan Wheldon goes off track and has some broken suspension while Iceman is being penalized by jumping past The Hunter at the start.

2: Replay shows Dixon jumps BOTH Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson at the start. Cheater cheater pumpkin eater.

4: Biscoe Inferno continues to lead Hunter-Reay, Dixon (penalized back a position), Kanaan and Servia. Helio has moved up 7 spots to 19th. Meanwhile Mario Moraes is in sixth. What?

5: Yellow for Helio as he appears to have had some issues entering the pits. Once again The Glen shows no love for everyone's favorite dancing clebrity.

6: Helio is doing a hand puppet show as his car is slowly pushed into the first stall available. Replay shows a little contact with Bernoldi, but nothing that would lead to a dead car. The #6 is pulled into the first available pit (that of the absent Marty Roth) where the starter doesn't work. I smell F-bombs.

7: And now Justin Wilson is stopped in the pits. Parked with Wheldon and Helio. They must have heard "Wall-E" was showing at the Drive-In there.

8: Back to green and Dixon jumps past Hunter-Reay for second, this time in legal fashion. Throwing out the line and trying to reel in Briscoe.

10: Not much movement but now Junky is up to sixth. Good to see Bruno getting some air time.

16: Until the next pit stop or yellow flag, we are in full "Parade" mode.

20: Briscoe and Dixon both pit well but Dixon still comes out behind him. Meanwhile Vitor Meira has not pit and now leads the race.

25: Vitor finally pits, although Briscoe is only a couple of seconds behind him. Briscoe retakes the lead, Dixon is 2 seconds back and Hunter-Reay and Kanaan are 10 seconds back in third and fourth. In other words, fuel saving hasn't done much for Vitor yet.

29: Dixon has closed the gap on Briscoe to around a half second, but everyone else is so far behind it's silly. For example, Junqueira in 5th is over 20 seconds back, and we're only halfway through.

32: Dixon is still following Briscoe, but you can't help but wonder if the Iceman wouldn't rather just follow around Briscoe than risk losing the car. Castroneves is several laps down and Wheldon is off the track. Second place is almost as good as a win right now.

34: More good news for Dixon and bad news for the rest of us as Kanaan has to pit off cycle for adjutments, meaning he's not likely to finish in the fourth position he's been racing at most of today. And you probably thought this race couldn't get less interesting.

37: Just for perspective, Junky in 3rd is 27 seconds back. Grab a pillow and a blanket.

38: Yellow as Viso drives Vitor into the tires. Viso, Vitor. Vitor, Viso. Meira makes the obligatory hand gestures. Lots of puppet shows today and none of them involving Danicker.

40: I'm sorry, did Scott Goodyear just say Vitor told Viso "You're not number one on my Christmas Card list"?

41: Everyone pits and it looks like the first out is Dixon. Then Hunter. Then Briscoe. Then Danica suddenly loses control on pit exit and nearly takes out some of the Target pit crew! Front wing disassembly! Hand gestures! Panica! Hope you didn't nod off there.

42: Correction - not everyone made a pit stop. Darren Manning stayed out and leads the race. For now. Followed by Dixon, Hunter, Briscoe, Kanaan. Then Buddy Rice, who must love this track.

44: Back to green as Manning rockets away from the field. Dixon around Hunter for second as Enrique Bernoldi gets hipchecked off the track. And we're back to yellow.

45: Hang on - Darren Manning leads with 15 laps to go? Somebody get the defibrilators ready for Super Tex.

46: Jack Arute just asked Vitor about the contact with Viso. Vitor said the IRL isn't doing anything about Viso so Jack asked "What are YOU going to do about it?" Geez, let's start a riot, Jack. Good grief.

47: We're about to go green except that Quattro and Milkalicious look like they got together somewhere. And not in a comfortable way. This will prolong the yellow flag and help Foyt IV's grandpa. Who wants to throw out a Foyt family conspiracy theory?

48: Sweet mother of unbeievability! Dixon and Briscoe just got together rolling around under yellow and are both stopped on the track! Replay shows the Iceman just gave it too much gas and spun and lost it. Total brain freeze. Hunter moves up to 2nd, then Kanaan, Junky, Rice. So much for that nap, folks!

51: Back to green and Hunter takes the lead in the first turn.

51: And Camara in the other Conquest car wrecks bringing out another full course yellow. Will Power may or may not have bumped him but either way he's out. Same place Tony Kanaan crashed in practice this morning, so the mentoring program continues.

52: Hello Marco! As Junky dropped back on the restart Andretti 3.0 quietly moved up to 5th. AGR teammates Kanaan in 3rd and Mutoh in 7th.

54: Back to green as the Hunter quickly pulls away from Manning.

56: Hunter is already up to a 2 second lead, racing towards his first win. Well, not counting the two Champ Car wins he has. So his third win. Or first. Or whatever.

59: Hunter's crew tells him to "Bring it home, nice and smooth."

60: And Hunter-Reay takes the checkered flag! He immediately proceeds to doing some donuts Zanardis and his crew quickly says "Hey, save that engine, we gotta run it next week."

It's close but no cigar for Darren Manning who finishes second. Tony Kanaan and his broken arm will be on the podium as well. Meanwhile in a post-race interview Scott Dixon says "I was a complete idiot". Apologizes to Briscoe. Briscoe doesn't seem to bothered though despite the fact that Arute calls him "Ryan Hunter Briscoe". Good gracious.

Unfortunately the show closes without interviewing Darren Manning. Pity. Congrats to Ryan Hunter-Reay for the win, as well as the super huge billboard bearing his likeness that just went up in New York. Fantastic timing by Izod.

Well, that's it from here, folks. Thank you very much, and good night.


  1. Jennifer Coomer // July 06, 2008 1:40 PM  

    Helio two laps down? This is painful. At least Ryan H-R & Vitor are riding around up in the Top 5.

  2. Demond Sanders // July 06, 2008 1:56 PM  

    Championship. . . over.

  3. Anonymous // July 06, 2008 2:01 PM  

    There couldn't be a bigger contrast between this and the Wimbledon final in terms of drama and excitement.

  4. Unknown // July 06, 2008 2:08 PM  

    Congrats Danica, it takes real skill to have a pit stop that bad.

  5. Anonymous // July 06, 2008 2:16 PM  


    Just don't see what all the shouting is about for road racing -it is a parade with occasional outbreaks of stupidity.

  6. Anonymous // July 06, 2008 2:27 PM  

    And...we're back to farce.

  7. Anonymous // July 06, 2008 2:28 PM  

    In, what, one lap? Milka Duno wrecked A.J. Foyt IV for whatever reason, and now Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon just sit on the track for whatever reason. What a mess.

    Great shot of Chip Ganassi thinking about how crappy a week he's been having.

  8. Jennifer Coomer // July 06, 2008 2:29 PM  

    LAP 47 SUPER TEX ON RADIO: We need Darren to make fuel. Get on ta’ radio and tell Anthony to put that girl driver in the wall and then throw his steering wheel so it doesn't look intentional.

    Wait, would AJ use the word intentional? Scratch that. “…so it don’t look like he did it on purpose.”

  9. Unknown // July 06, 2008 2:31 PM  

    Between Richmond and this week, I didn't know IndyCar added Demolition Derbys to the schedule

  10. Jennifer Coomer // July 06, 2008 2:32 PM  

    My dad: "I thought Danica was going to kill about 10 people there."

    Maybe you have to know my dad to know how funny that was.

  11. Jennifer Coomer // July 06, 2008 2:33 PM  

    Okay, let's hope Manning & RHR don't take each other out and give TK the win.

    Oh and there goes Bitchin'Camara.

  12. Jennifer Coomer // July 06, 2008 2:37 PM  

    Did Marty just call this year's Indy 500 winner "Ryan Dixon"?

  13. Jennifer Coomer // July 06, 2008 2:43 PM  

    When did Jay Howard go out?

  14. Carrie // July 06, 2008 3:00 PM  

    Whoooo hoo! Mr. Hunter-Reay wins it. So happy for him. Great finish by Darren Manning too. :-)

  15. The American Mutt // July 06, 2008 3:16 PM  

    Anyone know why Dixon wasn't penalized two spots for jumping the start? Oh wait--it's because when it's a big three team Barnhardt is the soft velvet glove of justice.Although he's given Helio a drive through and AGR blocking warnings this year--maybe it's just Chips team.

  16. Anonymous // July 06, 2008 3:25 PM  

    As of this race Dixons average on tracks NOT FLAT OUT is 8.2. He also hasn't won on any of them. Just sayin'.

  17. Anonymous // July 06, 2008 5:20 PM  

    Did Manning hit Dan? Did Marco force Manning into him? Hard to tell.

  18. SS Minnow // July 06, 2008 5:27 PM  

    Curious as to when the last time both Penske and Ganassi cars finished outside of the top 10????

  19. Anonymous // July 06, 2008 7:12 PM  

    American Mutt...don't be that guy. Dixon's suspension broke at St. Pete and he made a stupid mistake here. Other than that, his lowest finish is 4th. No idea where you pulled that "8.2" average finish out of your hat.

  20. Anonymous // July 07, 2008 6:00 AM  

    Race notes and observations from the Big Comfy Couch in our living room:

    First off, special thanks are due to the Chicago Tribune for posting that the race was going to be televised at 6:00 PM(!). A quick check of the local ABC affiliate's website and the IRL site showed the correct time. Here's hoping when you sell the Cubs they not only get an owner who gets them a World Series title, you can use the money from the sale to pay an editor who can, you know, edit.

    I don't know what's worse: Helio having to look for help in Marty Roth's pit, or the 2nd hand starter in Roth's pit completely falling apart. Obviously $1.2 million doesn't go as far as it used to. However, to be fair, a lot of the TEAM payments Marty gets go to replace battered car parts.

    Nice to see what I learned in grade school science class was still true: if you apply heat and pressure to Ice, it cracks.

    An appology is in order to Briscoe Inferno: I automatically assumed he torpedoed Dixon when the incident was first televised. Force of habit, Ryan, force of habit.

    So Danica! came out of the pits too hot and almost knocked herself out of the race. I was waiting for her to climb out of ol' number 7 and stomp down to the Motorola pits to slap the idiot who cost her the race. Wonder why she didn't? :^P

    Different race, same result: Vitor gets a crap sandwich.

    Kudos to TK for driving to third with an injured/broken wrist, and squeezing the 7-11 car through the Briscoe\Dixon melee.

    Once again, Buddy Rice makes Jeff's pre-race predictions & observations look spot-on.

    Congrats to O-Ryan the Hunter for bagging his first IRL win. While I was pulling for Danger Mouse to make up for "being knackered", it was good to see RHR get RLR the win.

    Speaking of Danger Mouse, instead of congrats for finishing second, why do I imagine the first words out of his owner's mouth were "Why'd ya'll let him pass you?!?!"

    And in closing, as goofy as the last two races have been with their sudden outbreaks of yellow fever, Saturday evening's coverage of the closing laps of N-word's Fizzy Pop 400 at Day-tow-nuh was a Pressdog-ian festival of spinning clown cars and rumpled sheetmetal, with the race deciding yeller involving Sam-I-Am, late of the IRL. One hour to run the last 40 laps?!? It also gave graphic evidence as to why we may not want to use this green-white-checkered thing in our series.

    But on the plus side, I had a great nap Saturday night while they tried to finish the thing.

  21. Anonymous // July 07, 2008 6:06 AM  

    So from this we learn that the key to successful viewing of an IRL road course event is to tune in for the last 21 1/2 minutes or 5 laps, whichever is longer.

  22. Anonymous // July 07, 2008 6:59 AM  

    ... and I have yet another reason to loathe Duno ...

  23. Anonymous // July 07, 2008 11:24 AM  

    Lately, the last few laps is like watching the last few 30 seconds of a close NBA game, they both take about 45 minutes.

    The league needs to revisit their yellow flag policy. It has become the time to go out and mow your yard and not miss anything. In fact a quick nap can now be accomplished.

    Brian Blowhard needs to take a long vacation. It is evident that he can't control his drivers or they are just so used to hearing the same speech over and over again that silently the drivers are doing a quarter pool on how many times he will repeat himself before the veins in his head explode.

    The Queen Bee is losing her luster. I don't remember any tracks that have an immediate turn right when you leave your pit box while shredding off half the tire thickness to boot.

    Penske with all his money can't hunt down a small electrical problem? Damn he spends millions just to find a 16th of a second, I would think finding the small wire that is not connected should be a piece of cake. Maybe instead of re-inventing his mirrors he can spend his time more wisely making sure all his wires are plugged in correctly.

    I think Weldon just likes smiling for the camera nowadays instead of driving. Of course he has to show off where he has been spending his money. Hint, Colgate White Strips are a lot cheaper.

    Dixon DOES fart! For awhile there I thought he was perfect all around. I am glad he proved he is human.

    I don't care what you say and how good he has been driving, but Hideki still looks like the SNL character "Mango"

    WHAT! no Marty Roth? Was it that he didn't have enough spare change for gas this weekend. The price of gas is just getting out of control. Congress needs to do something quickly so Marty can re-join the crash club. In a way, the WG track workers were happy he didn't show up as they were all out of baby blue paint.

    Howard in again? Now from what I hear Curry out again? Maybe Marty needs to start a revolving door company and give up on the real estate market. The market is "soft anyway.

    Kanaan just asking for pity? Come on Tony, you did not "fracture a small bone in your wrist". Good ole Scott Goodyear called your bluff on that one. I think you might need to have a new helmet made up for next week. There is only 1/2 inch left before your nose hits the visor.

    Marco, was he there yesterday?

    Milka, gotta love to hate her, poor thing. Maybe she just needs to attend a few Patrick charm school classes, that may improve her driving.

    Poor Brisket. He was rare until he got over cooked. But a little salt usually makes it taste better.

    E.J, stop watching all the Cheever clips on YouTube. It's not helping you!

    Did I see AJ-IV immediately take cover in the safety van? It was Milka not Danican't that ran into you!

    Hey Justin, tell your team not to use the oil from the deep fryer in the gearbox, it clogs things up.

    Jaime, the secret is to keep all four wheels on the pavement. Maybe a set of training wheels needs to be attached to your sidepods.

    Vitor, remind me not to buy any lottery tickets if I am ever around you.

    Hey Junky, was it your comments a few races back to wake up your team or did they bitchslap you after your comments and wake you up?

    I guess "Daring" showed the Tex he can still ride the horse huh?

    Graham Crackers never got out of the box, the wrapper was opened but if you don't close it properly they go stale.

    Burnoldie, yup another carton of parts headed back to be assembled.

    Ricer showed he always needs to be on the table, but eating too much of it could eventually make jack a doe boy.

    Did Bob tell the Hunter that there were still deer on the track? Nice job!

    So NASCAR has Nationwide, I think AAA should sign up as the lead sponsor for the ICS. Look they offer free towing service and maps. And for those who can't play straight they also offer bail bondsmen.

  24. Anonymous // July 07, 2008 7:26 PM  

    OK...Danica screws up in the pits...again...not like she's the only "professional" in either "top" American racing series to ever do that...the list goes on ad infinitum. Actually between Daytona and Watkins Glen this weekend, I have decided that my grandchildren might just have more skill in driving than some of these "professionals"...and the oldest hasn't even seen 10 years yet! I hope everyone noticed the total sportsmanship and professionalism of the Ganassi crew with regards to Danica's front wing...Jeez! accidents your jets, boys!... Too bad ABC couldn't find the time for Jack to interview Manning and AJ on their great job instead of sucking up to Ryan and Scott...again! But then, that's what Jack does best!

  25. Anonymous // July 08, 2008 11:42 AM  


    If you add all five of the tracks that are not flat out then with Dixon you get 41--divide that by five and you get 8.2. It's pretty basic math. St. Pete and Watkins were his fault, and therefore have no bearing on skewing that average. He lives in the bed he made. I'm not being that guy--I'm just being the one who's not drinking the koolaide. What exactly is wrong with having a difference of opinion on a drivers performance this season?