LiveBlog: Chicagoland 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 9/07/2008 | 33 comments »
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Welcome to Chicagoland, where today ... oh, as if you need me to tell you what's going on here.

We are locked in and eagerly awaiting the answers to the pressing questions of the 2008 season. Will Helio Castroneves be able to go back-to-front and challenge Dixon for the title? Will Hideki Mutoh have enogh to hold off Justin Wilson for Rookie of the Year? Will Jack Arute be presenting the championship trophy for the second consecutive year?

Questions, questions, questions.

Oh by the way, we might have some rain as well. Welcome to the Midwest where the weather is always random.

0: Two things about Scott Dixon. First, he has an ENORMOUS mutant apple in his kitchen. Second, is there any way we could get his wife in a car? I mean before she starts spending lots of time haning around Ashley Judd next year.

0: Arute has the scoop that Dixon had to get up this morning at 3am to run his dog (Dixon's, not Arute's) to the emergency vet. Sounds like Helio spiked Rover's dinner.

0: Marty Roth is starting in Row 5. There's nothing real in the world anymore. Regardless, it's time to start.

0: Or not. Marty Roth has just been told to go to the back. Not sure why Probably just a safety precaution.

1: Green green green as Nariz quickly moves into third. Did I call Kanaan passing Danicker at the wire or what?

3: Dixon drops back to third as Kanaan in a yellow car is challenging for the lead. Meanwhile Helio is already up to 21st.

5: Castroneves up to 18th. Man On Fire. Kanaan and Briscoe are side by side up front with Danica and Dixon doing the same right behind them. Spectacular racing action all over the track.

9: Helio up to 14th. Meanwhile Kanaan is pulling behind Briscoe as the leaders start to pull into a bit of a single file formation.

10: Briscoe, Kanaan, Dixon, Danica, Ed Carpenter. Uh-oh, uh-oh! Here come the Hammer!

14: Helio is up to 12th, just two seconds behind the leaders. Unreal. Clearly he's spending more time driving and less time dancing.

In case you were wondering, both Vision cars are in the Top 10. Vitor too.

27: Helio up to 11th, but EJ Viso has followed him along the way and is up to 12th. You can't stop Viso. You can't even hope to contain him.

37: Yellow as Ed Carpenter pancakes the wall. His spotter calmly informs him "You gotta get out there because your car's on fire."

38: Replay of Ed is shown many times. Almost as many times as Scott Goodyear says "passenger". Scotty's blatant use of the term makes me wonder if he isn't sending coded messages to sleeper cells. You never know with these Canadians.,

39: Free ethanol in the pits, everybody! After pit stops it's now Kanaan, Dixon, Briscoe, Whelon, Patrick. Helio is now up to 8th.

43: Still yellow. For those following the ROY battle Hideki Mutoh is in 14th while Wilson is in 18th. As a footnote, Servia is in 19th.

44: It's a minor thing, but this magic ring thing with the Firestone tires reminds me how cool race cars look with whitewalls. Just one man's opinion.

47: Ed Carpenter has been checked and released. Says the accident aggrivated a finger he broke while playing volleyball. No doubt inspired by the American dominance at beach volleyball in Beijing. Ed assures us in his best Ah-nuld "I'll be back".

50: Back to green as Kanaan leads the way. Helio quickly puts Quattro away, up to 7th. This Helio guy, he's pretty good.

57: Helio around Vitor for 6th. Next in the sights is Danicker.

59: Whoopsie! Danicker has to lift, drops back, and Helio zooms up to 4th.

65: Did you know Franck Perera is in this race? He is. He's 24th.

66: Helio around Dixon and into 3rd. Briscoe ahead of him.

67: Maybe the drinking term should have been "...8th or better."

70: Kanaan, Briscoe, Helio, Dixon, Quattro. Nariz is utterly dominating this race but getting no love. Bummer for him.

74: Yellow as Vitor is in the wall. 0 for 92. He's out and walking around. There's a big THANK YOU VITOR sign in the Panther pit. I'm sure right about now Vitor is thinking "Thanks for letting me go. Have fun fixing the car for your new driver."

77: More free ethanol! Leaders pit, shuffle, and now the leader is Helio. Back to front in about a hundred miles and change. Briscoe, Kanaan, Dixon and Wheldon take their places behind him. Quattro 6th, Danica 7th, WillPower 8th, Viso 9th, Son of 'Stache 10th.

80: Wilson 14th, Mutoh 16th. For the FishHeads out there, your girl is in 17th.

83: Back to green. Wheldon around Dixon as Foyt quickly passes Danica and is now all up in the Iceman's business.

88: The leaders are the same but the top eight cars are within a stone's throw of each other. For those who wonder why some of us prefer oval racing, please look right now.

91: Ryan Briscoe has assumed the obvious "wingman" position on the right rear of Helio's car. No need for blocking right now.

93: Wheldon, oval course specialist, is not phased. He makes it three wide all the way around the track. Meanwhile Dixon has dropped back to 8th. Drama is now set to ON.

98: Viso up to 4th, Mario Moraes is up to 6th - right in front of Dixon. I'm sure the Iceman is conforted knowing that such experienced drivers are leading him around the track.

100: Helio, Wheldon, Briscoe, Kanaan, Viso. If the season ended RIGHT NOW (*shot*) Dixon would win by two points.

103: Briscoe has dropped back as Helio and Wheldon are battling side-by-side for the lead. If you happened to be at the track for this awesome action, I'm sofa king jealous.

108: Yellow for debris on the track. Looks like a mirror fell off. Belongs to Oriol Servia, who's probably on the phone to sponsor CDW to get a new one. Helio leads, Dixon shockingly in 10th.

110: Pit stop time, and it loks like Buddy Rice gets whacked exiting the pits. Might have been Rahal that hit him. Yet another frustrating season ends for the local Indy 500 winner.

111: Helio leads Briscoe, Wheldon, Kanaan and Viso out. Dixon only up to 8th. Conspiracy theorists working overtime.

115: Servia pits as his team tries to attach a new mirror. With duct tape. Hahaha! Now THAT'S funny!

117: Back to green because it takes 9 laps to pick up a mirror. Can we call a penalty on Brian Barnhart for blocking the racing action?

118: Right back to yellow because Sarah Fisher is stopped just past turn four with obvious damage. She's up and out but hopping on one leg. Somewhere at Chicagoland pressdog has just uttered numerous epithets and headed to the concession stand for a large adult beverage.

120: Wilson 9th, Mutoh in 16th. I have no idea if that is enough for Wilson to claim the ROY title because the broadcast crew seems completely disinterested in this subplot. Thanks.

125: Back to green because it takes less time to clean up the remains of Sarah Fisher's car than it does to pick up a broken mirror. Meanwhile Wilson goes around Dixon for 9th.

132: Helio either falls asleep or is distracted by fending off his teammate because Tony Kanaan just snuck under the #3, retaking the lead. Meanhwile Dixon has raced back up to 6th.

137: Yet another Yellow as this time Viso gets eaten up by Turn Four. EJ is up and out. Gives a little wave to the crowd. And I'm not just saying "little" because he's about as tall as a tire.

138: Replay looks like his right rear tire went into instand deflation mode, although to Goodyear's credit he did not say the word "passenger".

139: Hey, it's yellow so why not pit again. Helio, Briscoe, Danica, Wheldon, Kanaan. Dixon in 6th with Moraes and Marco - Marco, where ya been! - behind him.

140: Milka didn't pit so she's in the lead. Milka Duno, leading. Hang on, I gotta check outside for rivers of blood.

145: Milka AND Marty Roth lead the way *gulp* as Helio trails by an extremely comfortable margin. Meanwhile Moraes goes three-wide under Kanaan and Dixon, giving the two veterans some serious vapors.

148: Milka has fallen like a brick, back to 7th already. Nope, no rivers full of blood today.

150: Helio, Briscoe, Wheldon, Danica, Kanaan. Dixon still in 6th, which is "...8th or better."

152: Danica pinches down on Dixon, he lifts, and Moraes goes past him.

154: Dixon must be enraged enough to fiddle with "the knob" because withing a lap he shoots past Moraes and Danicker.

158: Just noticed on the crawl that Scheckter is OUT. Did I miss something? Man, I hope it wasn't a half-shaft.

160: Wilson 11th. Mutoh in 17th.

169: Mutoh is in the pits. The ROY battle finally gets some interest from the broadcast crew.

174: Wheldon has taken the lead. Dixon is in 4th. Helio is sweating. Scott Goodyear just said the circuit at Belle Isle is "impossible to pass at". That there's the problem, people.

178: Danica peels off and pits. Still two Penskes and and two Ganassis up front.

182: Yellow as Moraes taps the wall and slows. Helio has reclaimed the lead and clinched the points for leading the most laps. Everyone is tensely awaiting the final pit stop of the race.

185: And here come the pit stops. Eeryone goes fuel only with a few drivers dirt-tracking it out of their stalls on their used tires. Dixon - gifted with the front pit stall - comes out in front. Try to act shocked. Helio, Brisco, Wheldon, Kanaan follow the Iceman.

189: Finally back to green, but not for long as Rahal goes into the Ra-wall. Yellows breeding yellows. The only hope for drama now is if Dixon runs out of fuel and drops back 8 spots. Don't hold your breath on that happening.

192: Still yellow. Why?

193: Still yellow. Apparently Helio is getting too close on the restart. Tim Cindric tells Helio "Maybe we'll get the rules down for next year". Helio responds saying "He's going to slow!"

194: And finally, we are green.

196: Dixon is stuck to the low line and Helio can't get around him.

198: Helio pulls up aside Dixon.

199: Side by side for the white flag.

200: And it's Helio! Wait, it's Dixon. By one 1/1000th of a second.

Wait, the replay looks like Helio won. What the..? Meanhwhile Dixon has pulled into Victory Lane. Chatting up Arute.

Let's go to Vince Welch. "Helio, we just found out you won the race!" Helio erupts in happiness. Congratulations, you win a set of steak knives!

That's all folks from the broadcast. Meanwhile the rookie of the year is...? Hello?

Switching to, which reads "After 17 rounds of tight competition, Scott Dixon clinches his second IndyCar Series championship with a victory -- by 0.0010 of a second over Helio Castroneves." Holy Dewey Defeats Truman!

In fact the Race Results are already on the site showing Dixon as the winner. Unless he was driving the car with the #3 the replay clearly disputed this. How ridiculous.

Anyhow, it looks like Wilson finished 11th (19 points) and Mutoh 22nd (12 points), so Godzilla should be the ROY winner. I think. Then again, I don't even know who won the freaking race.

Regardless of the outcome, unless he tests positive for steroids Scott Dixon has clinched the 2008 championship. Congratulations to Scott and the entire Ganassi team, as well as to Helio for winning the race but not getting to celebrate anywhere other than at the podium.

What a bizarre ending to a unique season. I guess we shouldn't have expected anything any different. Well, I need to get on the phone to bump my cable up to Versus, so from all of us here at the World Headquarters, Thank you very much, and good night!

UPDATE: From "After 17 rounds of tight competition, Scott Dixon clinches his second IndyCar Series championship with a runner-up finish. Helio Castroneves wins the race -- by 0.0033 of a second."

That means the race was decided by the 2nd closest finish in IndyCar series history. As an incredible side note, none of those closest finishes are on road courses. Go figure.


  1. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // September 07, 2008 12:41 PM  

    I'm going on record:
    I would be okay if Dixon won this championship. BUT, go Helio GO!!!

  2. Migue // September 07, 2008 12:47 PM  

    hope they hurry up a bit tonight, i want to go to bed. but not before we've seen another thriller like last years finale!

  3. Chuck // September 07, 2008 12:47 PM  

    I'm with Jennifer -- gotta be rootin' for the H-dog to put on a show.

    Does anyone else find it really depressing that one of Scott Goodyear's expert contributions to the race broadcast generally involves how he felt as the loser in some situation?

    "And in 2000 I lost and it sucked. Let's go racin'!" -S.G.

  4. J E Clerk // September 07, 2008 12:55 PM  

    Go Anthony Go! ... up to 9th

  5. J E Clerk // September 07, 2008 12:57 PM  

    c'mon ED! YEAH! get past Danicer!

  6. J E Clerk // September 07, 2008 1:13 PM  

    I'm pretty sure I jinxed Ed again


  7. Bash // September 07, 2008 1:33 PM  

    No! Vitor, dammit! What a bummer...

  8. Chuck // September 07, 2008 1:42 PM  

    I would love to thank Marty for spoiling at least two of the outcomes of the NASCAR race. Much appreciated. One more reason I'll be rooting for Versus to hire a new play-by-player.

  9. Shawn // September 07, 2008 2:16 PM  

    E.J.! NOOO!!!

    He looks good though, leaps from the car, waves to the crowd, and gives a mighty hard look at the fire extinguisher sat at his feet.

  10. AGRfan26 // September 07, 2008 2:31 PM  

    Can we call a penalty on Brian Barnhart for blocking the racing action?

    Best line of the day !

  11. Carrie from her Mom's house // September 07, 2008 2:33 PM  

    Am I the only one that thinks once EJ settles down a bit he's going to be a damn fun and fine driver to watch?

  12. Bash // September 07, 2008 2:36 PM  

    I think E.J.'s Fun and fine to watch right now... :)

  13. carrie from her mom's house // September 07, 2008 2:48 PM  

    Was that The Mutt I heard screaming when Dixie got out of the pits first? ;-)

    Bash: I like EJ but he makes me too nervous for it to be fun right now.

  14. carrie from her mom's house // September 07, 2008 2:55 PM  

    Who won the damned race?!?!

  15. carrie from her mom's house // September 07, 2008 2:58 PM  

    Yay Helio!

    Well at least he tried to make the championship finish interesting. Too bad Barnhart messed it up.

  16. Demond Sanders // September 07, 2008 3:08 PM  

    "After 17 rounds of tight competition, Scott Dixon clinches his second IndyCar Series championship with a victory -- by 0.0010 of a second over Helio Castroneves."

    LOL - Give them a break on the accuracy 'cause that was pretty damn exciting regardless.

    Good season, everybody.

  17. H. B. Donnelly // September 07, 2008 3:15 PM  

    Quite a finish indeed. I'm not sure what caused the error in scoring, but I certainly couldn't tell anything from the live shot. That's why photo finishes exist, and I'm glad for it.

    BTW, was the better racing today caused by those white option tires or something? I haven't seen side-by-side like that in a good long time.

  18. Anonymous // September 07, 2008 3:16 PM  

    This is why the season finale SHOULD STAY at CHICAGO

  19. Demond Sanders // September 07, 2008 3:20 PM  

    Amen and Amen. More tracks like Chicago please!

  20. Anonymous // September 07, 2008 3:38 PM  

    Better enjoy Chicago while it lasts. When the new car debuts in 2011 with a turbo and, I'm guessing, different bodywork, you might have seen the last of the IRL's "restrictor plate" racing.

    Unless they bring back the Handford Device. Could happen!

  21. the american mutt // September 07, 2008 3:45 PM  


    I only screamed three times. I screamed when Dixon didn't get a drive thru despite his team clearly leaving the tire out when his car was already gone AND in the wrong box, and then the two times they waved off the restart because it wasn't single file...WTF!?! Tell Dixon to quit brake checking and light the candle.

    Otherwise it was an amazing race, an amazing end to an interesting season, and if the better driver can't win the championship at least he won the race.

    Is it April 09 yet.

    PS and the effin' Pats won...if the Colts lose I may have to fall off the wagon again...

  22. Tabernerus // September 07, 2008 3:48 PM  

    "Does anyone else find it really depressing that one of Scott Goodyear's expert contributions to the race broadcast generally involves how he felt as the loser in some situation?

    "And in 2000 I lost and it sucked. Let's go racin'!""

    That made me shoot soda out my nose. Nice!

  23. Dale Nixon // September 07, 2008 4:05 PM  


    I'd rather hear the guy who does the voiceovers for Ice Road Truckers


  24. Dale Nixon // September 07, 2008 4:08 PM  


    Dear IRL,

    Please stop using the WWE script writers next year.


  25. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // September 07, 2008 6:54 PM  

    Didn't anyone else just about cry when
    1) Vitor crashed?
    2) Sarah crashed?

    But I guess if ya gotta go out (Vitor) might as well tear up their equipment on your way out the door.

  26. redd // September 08, 2008 6:12 AM  

    Just to complain a bit. The IRL could learn a little from NeckCar when it comes to celebrations. Dixon wins the series and it's him and a reporter standing alone in pit lane. No crew, no Coca-Cola or (insert sponsor beer here) or trophy. Then that spooky guy in the bird suit sneaks into frame and a crew guy fires off some lame ass confetti gun while Dixon unleashes his personality. I know they have a podium ceremony later, but if it's not on TV it doesn't exist. Besides, podiums are for the French and Germans.

  27. yaumb // September 08, 2008 8:09 AM  

    The most egregious post-race faux pas was ABC's, when Vince Welch turned his back in the middle of what was essentially Helio's victory speech so that the network could rush to get off the air (3 minutes early, as it turned out, so they could get local commercials in).

    On the plus side, Marty and Scott didn't have any chance to simper and schmaltz their way through a farewell since it's likely the only races they'll call next year are the 500 and a couple others...

  28. ASpeed // September 08, 2008 8:11 AM  

    The coverage was pretty pathetic, given all that was on the line. A quick mention of the ROY battle and then no update at the end of the race, massive confusion over who'd won the race (understandable, but with 5 more minutes of coverage, there'd have been a definitive answer), a terribly blase interview of the new series champ, 15 whole seconds of Helio getting excited, and then a cut to commercial and the end of the telecast 3 minutes before the time slot for the race is even up. You know if this had been a NASCAR race, they'd have gone 15+ minutes over the time slot, interviewed everyone in sight and done probably 3 season montages. Instead, we get basically squat...

    I'm ready for Versus.

  29. Chicago Chris // September 08, 2008 9:14 AM  

    Pretty confusing at the track too--the PA was silent for fifteen minutes after the race ended. People in my section figured Dixon won--9 was on top of the tower--then after awhile they swap it with 3. Couldn't hear much, basically saw HCN start jumping around on the Jumbotron and then they showed the cars' snouts in the photo finish.

    Hella fun race though! I love the ovals but do have to say I agree with Yaumb's diagnosis over on his site--in its overall effect this was a NASCAR race with zippier cars (and of course the drivers & teams I like to follow). Not that there's anything wrong with that!

    Wish they would have kept Joliet as the finale for next year.

  30. llilly // September 08, 2008 10:41 AM  

    This was a bizarre sports weekend for my picks: 1)IRL: First they say Dixon wins, then Helio 2) F-1: First Hamilton wins, then its Massa 3) Bears beat the Colts 29-13!?!? I had Helio-Massa-Bears!

    I was at Chicagoland and it was a fantastic race weekend in all regards. It will be fun seeing a night race there next year.

  31. the american mutt // September 08, 2008 12:38 PM  


    I'm afraid I'll have to kill you for not picking the Colts over the Bears. Clearly you were the deciding factor, and you've induced much vomiting in Indiana...

  32. Anonymous // September 16, 2008 2:32 AM  

    none of those closest finishes are on road courses(or streets). Go figure.

    please pleas for the LOVE of all that is good. NO MORE road/streets should be added. Byt more OVALS should be added.

  33. Anonymous // September 16, 2008 2:33 AM  

    none of those closest finishes are on road courses(or streets). Go figure.

    please pleas for the LOVE of all that is good. NO MORE road/streets should be added. Byt more OVALS should be added.