Deadline in Toronto

Posted by Iannucci | 4/30/2008 | 8 comments »
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The Andretti Green Promotions letter of intent for purchasing the rights to promote the Toronto Grand Prix expires today, and as you may have noticed this sale has not yet occurred. Reports indicate the race has been too much of a money loser and the prospective buyers want the city to lend a fiscal hand. Just how much of a loss and how much assistance vary depending on your source.

According to Sun Media, Andretti Green Promotions has discovered that the event has been running a $2-million deficit and before they sign off on the deal, they want someone to step in and cover that shortfall.TSN

With the Toronto race losing in excess of $4-million a year, according to sources, a key issue is how much of the shortfall would be covered by Andretti Green and how much by the provincial government and Tourism Toronto, both with a financial stake in a three-day event that generates $50-million for the local economy.Globe and Mail

However, the group is said to be concerned about a $2 million loss the event is said to have suffered in each of the past three or four years.
He (Toronto Councillor Joe Pantalone) wouldn't provide any figures on the value of cash and services the city has offered. However, an informed source said the city had been asked to contribute $500,000.
Toronto Star

This may be a stupid question, but if a longstanding race such as this is losing that much money then does it really need to happen? I mean, I feel for the Canadians out there who already feel smitten that without Paul Tracy their lone representative is Marty Roth (who by the way has a big fan in Jack Arute). It's just that racing is a business with the intent to make money, and if the tickets aren't selling then maybe it isn't meant to be.

UPDATE: The Globe & Mail reports the deadline "has been extended for a brief period, a source confirmed yesterday." I guess deadlines aren't as dead as they used to be.

Bigger than a bump

Posted by Iannucci | 4/30/2008 | 6 comments »
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On IndyCar.com right now.

National ratings more than double

The national rating for the ESPN2 broadcast of the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 from Kansas Speedway on April 27 was up 164 percent from the 2007 race (similar date and time slot, and same cable outlet).


WOW! If this were any other sport Danica's agent would be on the phone seeking a contract renegotiation.

Olson goes to the 'dog

Posted by Iannucci | 4/30/2008 | 6 comments »
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While covering IndyCar festivities in Kansas this past weekend, pressdog decided to seize the opportunity of speaking with Jeff Olson, a.k.a. the motorsports journalist who thinks sports journalists all suck. As it turns out, Olson’s now infamous article was not all it seemed to be.

When I finished it, I felt fantastic. It was cathartic. And then the e-mails and calls started, and I began to think I’d stepped on it. I took a stab at sarcasm and fell a bit flat. Never thought people would seriously believe that I thought all sportswriters suck, but they did. I heard from many, many indignant sports journalists. But honestly, there is an element of schlock in this business. Nothing wrong with pointing that out, but I should have made it clear that I included myself among the schlock. At the very least, it made people talk.

(MORE from pressdog)
Which just proves you should leave the untrained word butchery of sarcasm to the untrained word butchers...and of course, I’m being sarcastic there.

Look, I’ve said before Olson’s a fabulous writer and if this is a case of a single piece falling flat then so be it. I was even a encouraged by the kind words he spoke of both pressdog and My Name Is IRL, knowing we need not worry about his future writing being less about racing and more about the coverage thereof. But sarcarsm or not, I just have to scratch my head when Olson says this.

I stand behind the idea that a majority of people in the press room at IRL events should not be there. They aren’t a) receiving a check for what they’re doing, or b) they aren’t producing anything. They’re impersonating journalists.
I’m sorry, but while “b” is a solid point “a” sounds a little like elitism. I’m rather sure the p-dog isn’t pulling a check for his endeavors, and this weekend he pretty much disproved that “a” part of the theory. If you can conduct yourself so as not to be a distraction and produce work that gets people excited about the product then you have fulfilled the obligation of the media credential. It doesn’t matter how much you’re earning or what media you use, because as the name implies it’s called a “media credential” and not “paid journalist impersonation card”.

And we're still not addressing the fact that his piece lamenting the "Us vs Them" among fans seemed all for "Us vs Them" in the media room.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but either way this entire discussion is starting to seem a little too self-involved for my taste - and that's partly my fault because I'm contributing to it. I’d rather start talking about The Month of May, to be perfectly honest.

(Photo: Bill Zahren Motorsports Journalism Impersonation Inc)

George “distracted” by partnership with God

Posted by Iannucci | 4/29/2008 | 9 comments »
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The intrepid Curt Cavin dutifully reports that Kingdom Racing’s Davey Hamilton is expected to be partnering his Indy 500 entry this year with Tony George’s Vision Racing – the same team that helped Hamilton to his 9th place finish at the famed circuit last year.

As popular as the return of the IMS Radio stalwart is, Cavin reports George has his concerns about working with Hamilton and The Almighty.

George also said he feels an obligation to field a third car alongside Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV.

But George is afraid the extra car will negatively impact his ever-improving team. Prior to committing to a third car, George said he "would have been disappointed" not to put a car on the front row.

Now he has doubts.

"I'm afraid we're going to be distracted," he said.

(MORE from IndyStar)
Elsewhere, God has yet to comment on the matter.

Pit Road to Perdition

Posted by Iannucci | 4/28/2008 | 6 comments »
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As drivers furiously race hundreds of miles towards the checkered flag there awaits for them an evil so unspeakable, so undefiniable, it can turn the greatest of racers into sobbing, f-bomb throwing messes. Beware... (Jack Arute voice) the pits!

What in the world is it about the pit road that makes it THE place where recent races at Kansas Speedway have been determined? Last year Tony Kanaan was taken out of contention after getting clipped by a teammate in the pits, as was Scott Dixon who suffered a drive-through penalty after entering the pits too late. This year, as a our buddy pressdog would say, they may as well have set up the circus there, cued the music, and let the clowns run wild.

At any rate, just as last year the beneficiary was Dan Wheldon, who bookends 16 winless events with a couple of Kansas victories. And with that we now have a different winner for each of the five IndyCar events this season. If that doesn’t get you excited then I don’t know what will.

Also, a HUGE word of thanks to the intrepid pressdog, who deserves some sort of award for his epic reporting on Saturday and Sunday. Dare I say his reporting was even more enjoyable than is world-famous race recap.

The Good

With his Dixon ahead of him most of the day, Wheldon goes green, saves fuel, and wins his first race in a year. Dan said after the race he was trying to conserve, and that conservation allowed him to benefit from Buddy Rice’s misfortune while his teammate was forced to pit. It’s great to see Dan the Dental Plan return to Victory Lane, especially in the first race after Danica! scored a “W”. Please re-fire this rivalry immediately no matter how artificial it may seem.

Last year Marco Andretti had to park it. This year he scores fifth, showing a strong oval performance just as he did at Homestead. I don't care if he does like pressdog better, I'm happy for him.

Ed Carpenter’s quest for the podium ended when he showed up at home and found EJ Viso parked in his driveway. Be not disparaged Hammer, as your car was just as spectacular as your post-race F-Bomb. We’re not fans of boorish behavior, but just as when the similarly dull Kosuke Matsuura busted out the Sofa King disappointment we will embrace your similar outburst of personality. Keep it up, just keep it cleaner most of the time.

A fourth place finish keeps Helio Castroneves in the lead for the ICS championship. He has no wins, but he’s finished fourth or better every week. I have no dancing analogy for this, and even if I did I wouldn't use it.

Hideki Mutoh finished in sixth for the second time in three races. Godzilla is now just 10 points back of Will Power for Rookie of the Year, and with this being the first of six straight ovals you can expect Godzilla to stomp quickly past Power and Graham Rahal for the lead in that category.

He’s not a rookie but could someone please give a round of applause to Oriol Servia? El Matador has finished no worse than 12th in any race, something only Helio, Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan can claim. That’s a nice group to be in no matter what the stat.

The Bad

Only in the upside-down, flying monkey land of Kansas can we have Dan Wheldon win a race largely because he played a fuel strategy. I still won’t disparage any victories, but if this is what the rest of the year looks like then right about now would be a good time to rip the knob off and go back to the single fuel setting.

Not only did Tomas Scheckter’s day end when EJ Viso slid up into him, but then we were treated to this kinder gentler Scheckter who said not a discouraging word about the Venezuelan. Last year we got glove throwing at Marco and “he should spend less time dancing and more time driving” towards Helio. You see how driving for a Penske suppresses one’s personality, even with an excitable guy like Tomas Scheckter?

Speaking of, do you remember that line of folks in the movie “Airplane!” waiting to punch the hysterical woman? I’m guessing there’s a similar line forming outside of Viso’s motorcoach. Despite being nearly up to speed with the leaders, Darkslide was grinding all over the track and in the pits. She may not have know who he was before the race but I’m guessing Danica! knows who Viso is now.

There’s snakebit and then there’s this run of luck for Panther Racing and Vitor Meria. If anyone had predicted him in 21st(!) at this point in the season please raise your hand. Still looking…still looking…exactly.

Marty Roth – WTF? I mean, really. W. T. F?

The Ugly

How much of a nightmare was it on pit road at Kansas? Let’s summarize.

In what could have been a completely horrific event, Marty Roth ran into one of Tomas Scheckter’s tire changers. Fortunately the crew member was not only relatively unhurt but also managed to crawl out from under the car and go retrieve a tire. Simon Morley – the guy in question – will soon be joining the cast of “Heroes”.

Adding insult to injury, Roth then ran over the foot of a different Luczo Dragon team member who was trying to help Roth back up. The crew member then struck Roth’s helmet, thus invoking the first head-slap since Danica Patrick went upside Jacques Lazier’s noggin several years ago. Insert your own AJ Foyt punchline here.

Ed Carpenter’s dash to the front was stopped when EJ Viso decided to park in his pit. I guess Viso had felt a sudden urge to save big money at Menards. Meanwhile one can only wonder if Carpenter instinctively felt for a horn button on his steering wheel.

Danica Patrick’s day ended when her right-rear wheel changer noticed something unseemly involving studs, nuts and shearing. OUCH! No confirmation to the rumor that after his wife’s 24/7 media tour this week the culprit was Husbandthal.

Vitor Meira struck a tire exiting the pits, ended yet another good run. For a guy who has been historically cool-headed, every post-race interview shows Meria that much closer to becoming unhinged. Panther Racing may have to keep him from sharp objects this month.

Scott Dixon’s race effectively ended when he was caught in the pits as Buddy Rice’s car went “Oh Snap!” out on the track. If there is any consolation for Dixon it is that he is leading so many laps that he could bust out a five race winning streak and it would surprise exactly no one.

Jay Howard reportedly got a drive through penalty for making contact in the pits. We didn’t see it because Jay has discovered he has invisibility on the telecasts and will also be joining the cast of “Heroes”.

And lastly, Milka Duno found herself sideways in the pits. The telecast didn’t show how it happened, showing only the boys a-running towards her once Milka parked it. She has that effect with many men.

Open Thread: Kansas 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 4/25/2008 | 26 comments »
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Your humble host has a long-scheduled obligation this weekend that will be taking me out of town to New York City. I'm taping an interview segment for "The Late Show"...or not.

As a consequence of this sojourn I will be in transit during the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 this weekend, which means missing my first race since goodness knows when. Thankfully, the DVR has been invented and is primed and ready for Sunday night viewing.

My Name Is IRL has never had an "open thread" type post, so go ahead and make the most of it while I'm off looking for a good show and a place to eat.

Cheat Sheet: Kansas 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 4/25/2008 | 3 comments »
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In case you've been in a coma for the last few days, allow me to summarize.

Danica Patrick. Twin Ring Motegi. Danica Patrick. Champ Car finale. Long Beach. Danica Patrick. Will Power. Danica Patrick. Danica Patrick. Danica Patrick. Danicker Patrick. Danica Patrick.

There, that should be enough of pre-race coverage for this week. Now we can all re-unify, sing another round of Kumbaya, and put twenty something cars back onto a single track with a dash of Milka and Scheckter just to spice things up. Wind up another 1.5-mile oval and away we go.

Favorite: Scott Dixon. Iceman's teammate is the defending champion at this race, but Dan ain't winning anything lately (more on that later). Fully fueled and already looking like the class of the field at both ovals in '08, expect Dixon to build on the 168 laps he's already led this year.

Contender: Tony Kanaan. Last year's pole winner at Kansas ran into some hard luck after a team gaffe ended with Danica! running into him in the pits. In his last 9 races his worst finish was 8th, and that was at Homestead where he was leading until his Dallara got turned into a tricycle.

Longshot: Vitor Meira. The Mirror Man has three podiums at Kansas in his last four races here, so this may be his best shot at scoring that elusive first win all year. So far this has been the season of first-time winners, but odds are that Vitor will extend his record winless streak to 80 races.

Driver to Watch: Tomas Scheckter. Scheckter has finished 7th or better his last three races here and has ALWAYS qualified at least 8th. Let's see if he can shake off the rust in this Luczo-Dragon-Son-of-Penske special.

Danica Threat Level: DanCon 2. DanCon 1 is tempting, but winning back-to-back is hard enough for anyone, let alone a driver with just one win. She is however in the sweet spot of the schedule for her, so if she's going to start thinking about the ICS championship (she is *gulp* third) she might be content to just finish on the lead lap.

Stat of the Day: Dan Wheldon is winless in his last 16 events, which is every race since he won here in Kansas last year. Additionally, Helio Castroneves is winless in his last 18 events, celebrity dancing competitions notwithstanding. That's a full year now of these two top drivers winning nothing - wow!

Drinking Term: “Motegi”, which is Japanese for “The Queen of Lean”. Marty Reid has spent the last few days preparing to say the word “Danica” about a million times for the broadcast.

Pressdog says: “I can't decide between Tony Kanaan -- who is likely smarting (on the inside) over the prospect of an entire year in the Amazon rain forest-sized shadow of Danicker -- and Scott Dixon. Or Helio who needs to redeem himself for brain lock at Motegi. Look for Dixon to get the wick fully out (careful!) and win.”

Clearly the 'dog is covering the bases for all of the leading teams. At any rate, enjoy the show!

Perera out, Camara in

Posted by Iannucci | 4/24/2008 | 8 comments »
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As part of the summary of the 2008 Homestead race I noted a link that mentioned the financial woes of Franck Perera’s sponsor Opes Prime. Those troubles have now caught up with the driver.

Jaime Camara didn't take the express route to the IndyCar Series, but three years of seasoning in Firestone Indy Lights will serve him well straight away.

Conquest Racing announced that Camara will drive the No. 34 Dallara/Honda/Firestone for the remainder of the season, beginning with the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway this weekend. It also announced an extension to the sponsorship program with Sangari.

Conquest Racing owner Eric Bachelart said the loss of sponsors Opes Prime, which recently went into receivership, and ARES necessitated the change. Franck Perera competed in three races, with a high of sixth place on the streets of Long Beach (Calif.) last weekend.

(MORE from IndyCar.com)
With 3 wins in 42 starts Camara – yet another Brazilian – was good but not great in his years in the series formerly known as Indy Pro, having a career best characterized as hard-charging but accident prone. If I were a betting man I would say this isn’t the last time this sort of thing will happen in 2008, as drivers like Wade Cunningham and Jeff Simmons are jumping back into the Indy Lights pool to be at the track and at the ready should any more current IndyCar series drivers run out of sponsorship cash like Perera did.

And as for Fronkensteen, we hardly knew ya. All we're left with is Vitor Meira's prophetic words: "Look how fast are you now, dude."

Works of fiction

Posted by Iannucci | 4/24/2008 | 3 comments »
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Usually the authority on racing fiction is our buddy pressdog, but it seems now everyone wants to get into the act.

Now that Danica Patrick has stepped into the win column in the Indy Racing League -- too bad it had to come in the middle of the night in Japan -- the conjecture has begun about when she will switch to NASCAR.

If she wins Sunday at Kansas Speedway, the racing pundits will have her in that proposed fourth Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet faster than you can say oval.
- London Free Press

Because if you were looking for a top-level stock car driver, you would naturally look to a driver who's 1 for 50 in a career as a top-level IndyCar driver.

ESPN.com's Marty Smith reported Wednesday that multiple sources close to Joe Gibbs Racing are saying that Tony Stewart has told Joe Gibbs that he would like to be released from the final year of his contract, which runs through 2009.

Just a guess, but my hunch is that Stewart wants to make another run or two at the Indianapolis 500, which means a return to his open-wheel roots.
- The Grand Rapids Press

Just a guess, but my hunch is Smoke can't fit in the tub anymore. Methinks he's eating at Subway more than three times a day.

According to motorsport-total.com, (Rubens) Barrichello could be poised to hang up his Formula One helmet at the end of the season and head to the IndyCar Series in the United States to see out his final years. The Brazilian has apparently received an offer to join the crack Andretti Green Racing outfit - where he would link up with old friend Tony Kanaan and Motegi racewinner Danica Patrick - for 2009.

The report also suggests that the Brazilian could be half of a 'swap' deal that would see the Andretti name return to Formula One. Marco Andretti, son of former McLaren pilot Michael, has already tested on a couple of occasions with Honda and has made no secret of his interest in making it to Formula One - but he could face some stern opposition from other young hopefuls who have made their way up the conventional European ladder.
- Yahoo! Sport UK

Somewhere an overworked AGR rep is weeping at the wave of inquiries this will add to a week otherwise filled with 24-hour Danicamania, and somewhere else Tony Kanaan is having quite a laugh.

What recession?

Posted by Iannucci | 4/24/2008 | 5 comments »
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Looks like all of a sudden folks are scraping the bottoms of their wallets to scare up some tickets for IndyCar races.

Fritz figures his track (Richmond International Raceway) got a 20 percent goose in ticket sales from Patrick's captivating fourth-place finish at Indy in'05. Patrick figures everybody makes out, starting with this week's race in Kansas.

"I think that it would be a rational thought to think there would be a bump right after and it would hopefully increase," Patrick said yesterday. "There's a chain reaction. It's not just about me, it's about finding out about the league. I hope it keeps growing."
- Richmond Times Dispatch

"The momentum is spectacular," she said. "As for ticket sales (for Mid Ohio Sports Car Course), from what I'm hearing from our call center, they're excited about what's coming." - Mansfield News Journal

Danica Patrick’s historic IndyCar Series victory this past weekend in Japan has fueled a huge spike in ticket sales at Infineon Raceway for its upcoming Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County weekend, Aug. 22-24.

The raceway’s ticket sales department enjoyed an increase of more than 400-percent for the first three days of this week (Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday), as compared with this same time period last week.
- WhoWon.com

Now, if they can just do something about these hideous shirts (less is more, people) they might finally be turning the fiscal corner.

Danicker Quote of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/24/2008 | 5 comments »
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“I like when the pilots announce on the radio that, 'We’re flying over Indianapolis and we’ve got Danicker Patrick on the plane'...I’m like, at least get it right.” - Danicker Patrick, on The Late Show.

Media frenzy

Posted by Iannucci | 4/23/2008 | 8 comments »
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Evidently this Danica person is somewhat popular.

WEDNESDAY, April 23
(All times Eastern, check local listings)

Syndicated "Rachael Ray"
11:30 p.m.-12:35 a.m. "Late Show with David Letterman," CBS

THURSDAY, April 24
(All times Eastern, check local listings)

5-6 a.m. Bloomberg Television
7-8 a.m. "The Big Ten," MTV
7-9 a.m. "The Early Show," CBS
11 a.m.-noon "The View," ABC
10-11 p.m. "On The Record with Greta Van Susteren," FOX News


Don't forget to mention the race this weekend, Mrs Hospenthal. Thanks!

The number 99

Posted by Iannucci | 4/23/2008 | 8 comments »
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A little while back this email showed up in my Inbox.

To start I am a huge IndyCar fan, been one since the start. But, when champ and the IRL merged I think it's only right that we bring in some of the commitments that Champ Car committed to. CART/ Champ Car retired the #99 in honor of Greg Moore, but if you notice Townsend Bell's car is #99 at Indy. There are plenty of other numbers to choose from in the array of numbers that are open. It would just hurt me to see something that the one open wheel community retired come back because of the closing of their series… We need to do this as a community so one league's honor is not forgotten. Is there anyway we can start a grass roots petition to have them change the number by May?


Now as a general rule your humble host doesn't try to start petition-type stuff because, well, I'm not a torch and pitchfork kind of guy. Being an IRL fan where there has been no number retired the official stance of My Name Is IRL is that of apathy, not for the legacy of Greg Moore but for the entire concept of number retiring. I'm just not big on that kind of thing in any sport so it's difficult for me to get all worked up about this.

As popular as Moore was in CART the fact is several teams have already used #99 at Indy since Moore’s tragic death in 1999, the most recent being 1996 Indy 500 champion Buddy Lazier last May. That being said this subject still deserves some attention because the entire “Champ Car did this but the IRL doesn’t” debate will likely occur more than once in the near future.

For his perspective I asked our buddy Oreo, who unlike many of us actually knew Moore, about this subject in his most recent ESPN.com chat.

That's a tough one and it pretty much depends on where your loyalties lie. Moore was on the way to a phenomenal career before he was killed. He was electrifying to watch, especially on ovals, and it's an absolute tragedy that he never competed at Indianapolis. But for that reason, he doesn't have much stock with the IRL or its post-1996 fans. Imagine Moore's record had he been in that #3 Penske car for the last eight years....

I have also inquired with Curt Cavin on his Q&A but he hasn’t yet responded.

The fact is it’s probably too late to change Townsend Bell’s number for this year, but I suppose if enough people speak out the number could eventually be re-retired. Consider this an open invitation to express your thoughts on which if any numbers should be retired in the newly unified world.

Uno más, por favor

Posted by Iannucci | 4/22/2008 | 13 comments »
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Yet another refugee team prepares to make the transition. Fiesta!

Pacific Coast Motorsports appears to be the latest former Champ Car team to make the switch to the IndyCar series.

The California-based team has scheduled an announcement in Mexico City Wednesday to confirm that Mario Dominguez will pilot their entry in a limited IndyCar program in 2008.

The news comes on the heels of Dominguez' third place finish in the final Champ Car race in Long Beach over the weekend.

(MORE from TSN)

Air Tranica

Posted by Iannucci | 4/22/2008 | 12 comments »
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Your humble host is trying to not get carried away with Danica! hype, but this is unbelievable. Apparently this is a real plane used to fly real people, and it's called "AirTranica Won". Eeee-gads!


You can also enter a contest to be a member of her pit crew (ahem) by clicking on the image above. Probably a position as tire warmer, though.

The Big W

Posted by Iannucci | 4/22/2008 | 15 comments »
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Sherman, set the WABAC machine to 2005, when Danica Patrick stomped the gas and stormed to lead late in the Indianapolis 500. After having her lead threatened by Dan Wheldon with a handful of laps to go, Danica hit the overtake button to defend her lead as hundreds of thousands erupted in cheering at IMS, as did millions of others watching on TV worldwide. Danica became Danica!.

But despite the ensuing years of publicity, the dream seemed to have ended there. Her crew told her she was low on fuel and she had to let others pass and finish in fourth. Observant fans soured on her ability, pointing out that she benefited from being one of the few drivers to have Honda power that year. Another 45 races would pass, each one bringing more sneers towards this unabashed and self-promoting girl and further embarrassment for IndyCar fans who had to endure the ribbing that our sport’s most popular driver was a winless farce.

Her arrival in 2005 was supposed to be a great moral victory, the culmination of the quest for gender equality in racing initiated by Janet Guthrie. But moral victories always show up in the loss column, and despite the best attempts of Danica!, Lyn St James and Sarah Fisher the girls just couldn’t score the win. That is until this weekend when the Big “W” – the real victory, moral and otherwise – finally arrived, giving frenzied media types reason to waste time asking Danica! when she’s going to win again.

Unfortunately this monumental occasion has been met with resistance by those who say this win doesn’t count because it was based on fuel strategy. Weak. I guess Dario Franchitti has to give back his 2007 hardware since his two biggest wins were claimed on fuel conservation and weather strategy. Anything less than the fastest car and you might as well go home, right? (I’m looking at you Bob Margolis and Gregg Doyel, and I’m sending the Diecast Dude over to knock some sense into you.)

There are many ways to win a race, and the best a driver can do is put himself or herself into a position to utilize any of them. A lot of that starts before the race in trying to be with the best possible team, a lot of it rests in the hands of engineers and pit crew members, and a lot of it is up to chance. Those are all parts of racing – heck, any sport – and to count any of them as reflecting negatively towards a driver is simply ignorant. Or in this case sexist, but frankly I don’t really want to go there.

Look, you don’t have to be Danica!’s biggest fan to know how much her success means to open-wheel racing, and as such it makes no sense to try to diminish her victory with absurdities like saying the other drivers let her win or it doesn’t count if she wins on fuel strategy. She won, legitimately, against the best in the league, period. So for all of those who are trying to find a way to diminish this historic victory, take a breath and step back from the bitterness. Just because you would rather watch Helio climb a fence or Dan Wheldon spin some donuts doesn’t mean this win needs to be downplayed.

People don’t watch races to see cancer cured; they want to live vicariously, feel the visceral thrill, and maybe even find a hero in an increasingly cynical world. And in this context that petite brunette who doubles as a swimsuit exhibitionist fits the bill. Think of the women who carry a chip on their shoulder in the workplace. Think of the hormonally charged boys (regardless of age). Think of the young girls who want to compete with the other gender. Think of people who want to see something different in sports. Think of the folks who cheer exclusively for Americans. Think of Todd Harris.

All of these people find themselves watching races, buying tickets and scooping up Patrick’s merchandise not because of what she has done but because they of what they want her to do. And for them, the millions of Fanicas, their driver finally won. And you know what else? OUR driver won, because like or not among non-race fans Danica! is the most prominent face of this series, and her victory on Sunday just helped that face go from “farce” to simply “over-hyped”.

Just yesterday your humble host was driving in to work and listening to a local morning show host enthusiastically babble about – you guessed it – Danica Patrick. Nothing like hearing how in the closing laps “Danica took the pole” (Hello!) from “Helio Castro-novus”. Ah, well, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

Color her overrated if you want, but name a sport that doesn’t have an overrated superstar. (*cough* Dale Junior *cough*) Hype is all around, and yes the Danica! promotion is only going to grow even more monstrous from here. But the AGR driver has finally fulfilled her promise, and in doing so she’s lifted the monkey not just off her back, but also off the backs of her fans as well as fans of the entire sport.

Girls, girls, girls

Posted by Iannucci | 4/21/2008 | 4 comments »
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Here here for the ladies! Jamie Little and Danica Patrick on Saturday, and then Simona De Silvestro on Sunday.

Less than 24 hours after Atlantic Championship graduate Danica Patrick earned her first career Indy Racing League IndyCar Series victory in Japan, second-year Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro became the second woman in the 34-year history of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda to win a race with her victory in the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach.

De Silvestro joins Katherine Legge as the only women to win races in Atlantic Championship competition. Legge owns a total of three Atlantic victories, the last of which came at San Jose on July 31, 2005. Legge also picked up her first career Atlantic win at Long Beach in 2005. In addition to it being De Silvestro's first victory, it was also the first Atlantic win for Newman Wachs Racing, which came into the series in 2006.

"It was very tough weekend, especially on Friday, but we got everything together," De Silvestro said. "I worked on myself also from Friday to Saturday, and it helped a lot. For the race, I was pretty confident, because the car felt really good. I just had to keep it on the track. Bomarito made a mistake, so I got that chance and I could pass him. On the restart, I was a little bit nervous, because I'd never done a restart (as the leader). I thought maybe Alan would come close, but I think I did a good job and just kept going. It's awesome. It's an awesome weekend because Danica won and I won. It's perfect. Congratulations to Danica as well. I also need to thank the Nuclear Energy Institute for supporting me. I am proud to be a brand ambassador for the Nuclear Clean Air Energy intiaitive."

(MORE from Champ Car Atlantic News)

Please remove the tin foil hats

Posted by Iannucci | 4/21/2008 | 10 comments »
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“She passed me fair and square. I didn't have enough fuel even if I wanted to fight with her, and today I guess it's part of history again." - Helio Castroneves from the Penske Racing race recap

Now that that is settled, let's relive the excitement with some local flavor. Either this guy has consumed way too many energy drinks or Paul Page has learned to speak fluent Japanese.

The split is history

Posted by Iannucci | 4/20/2008 | 19 comments »
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We shall never watch another Champ Car race again, which depending on your point of view is either a good or a bad thing. Either way, it's done now that the Grand Prix of Long Beach has concluded.

It's all IndyCar series now, and after four races we have four different winners - only one of whom had previously won in the ICS. Congratulations Mr Power, and thank you for giving a reason to post this.



UPDATE: This post was originally made after the race was over but before your humble host had actually finished watching the telecast. As the comments below indicate, it was extremely rude of ESPN to be interviewing Danica at the conclusion of the final CCWS event. Hello - a race and series ending over here!

Meanwhile as Mrs Hospenthal was giving the first of about a billion interviews this week Ricky Bobby was doing donuts with his competitors trying to get around him. Alex Tagliani nearly got taken out. Of course, no mention was made because the Danica lovefest was set to 11.

Way to fire up the Champ Car Fanatics, Worldwide Leader. Ugh!

Finally

Posted by Iannucci | 4/20/2008 | 6 comments »
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"I feel like a wuss crying, but it's been a long time coming. Finally ..."

(Photo: IndyCar.com/Shawn Payne)

Oreovicz: "Her win was the product of a disciplined final stint that allowed her to stretch a 22-gallon tank of ethanol farther than anyone else. But a win is a win is a win."

Olson: "Danica Patrick doesn‘t have to answer the question anymore."

Estrada: "When American open-wheel racing finally unified in February, the sport got a new lease on life. Now, in the wake of that historic truce, the Indy Racing League has made the most of it."

Cavin: "Danica Patrick made history Saturday as midnight struck."

Martin: "It is yet another sign of the positive vibe this form of racing has been feeling since unification at the end of February. Prior to that, IndyCar Racing had become the "Redheaded Stepchild" of the sporting world, relegated to the back pages of the sports sections when it was embroiled in an open-wheel civil war, first with CART and recently with CART's successor, Champ Car."

MORE MORE MORE

LiveBlog: Motegi 2008, the sequel

Posted by Iannucci | 4/19/2008 | 35 comments »
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Well here we again. After yesterday's weep-out (or possibly this morning's, depending on your time zone) the IndyCar series will be once again taking to the grid at Twin Ring Motegi.

This time however your humble host will be following all of the action live here online. It seems the race is on ESPN Classics, and I don't have that. So we're all gathered' 'round the 17" monitor for all of the low-res racing and Mike King we can handle.

0: Yay! Race Director Tony Kanaan has decided the track is fit so the command to start engines has been given.

0: King says this race has a hydrogen-powered prototype for a pace car. They should have those over inthe N-Word in about 30 years.

1: We are green...and right away Marco has spun and wrecked in turn two. Ugh! Just got a little high spun it. He's out, and walking around.

15: Sorry for the delay. We are back to green and holding station with Castroneves, Dixon, Wheldon, Kanaan, Patrick. Still on DanCon2 alert.

20: We are lock step, of course Mike King doesn't say Lock Step. The exception being Briscoe Inferno who has worked up 3 spots to 12th.

24: Roth and Yasukawa have just been lapped. Sayonara, guys!

43: The race keeps moving along as Dixon, Wheldon and Kanaan have used traffic to close in on Castroneves. Meanwhile Briscoe is up to P11.

48: Hideki Mutoh gets wacky and almost takes out the pace car after Marty Roth has an accident. Mutoh has to put and get a nose job.

50: Pitting by a bunch of others before the accident has benefited Penske. Castroneves is first and Briscoe is up to second. Believe it or not Townsend Bell is now scored as 6th.

57: We are green, and Dixon wastes little time in moving back into second.

60: Castroneves, Dixon, Briscoe, Wheldon, Kanaan. Try to act shocked. Darren Manning around Bell for 6th, though.

66: Mike King is doing his best Jack Arute, talking extensively about the shape of eggs.

70: Helio is in cruise control, having opened up a lead of nearly a second over Dixon. Wheldon in third is three seconds back. Briscoe has slid back to fifth.

80: The Target Twins have halved the difference to .5 and 1.5 seconds for Dixon and Wheldon respectively. However, still not much passing.

90: AGR can't be happy today. Kanaan in 5th (5 seconds back), Patrick in 8th (12 seconds back), Mutoh in 13th (1 lap down) and Marco off and dead last.

92: Racing excitement is saved by the debris yellow!

93: Let's take this as a chance to point out that other than the top 5 only Manning, Bell, Carpenter, Hunter-Reay and Meira are on the lead lap. Keep hope alive, Vitor.

94: Alright I jinxed him. Vitor grazes the wall and damages his right rear suspension...And now Vision teammates collide lightly in the pits! Oh, the humanity!

96: Ed makes a few long pit stops under yellow but stays on the lead lap. Meanwhile Vitor gets pushed behind the wall. Sorrow.

97: Back to green and Danica jumps up to P7.

98: Danica passes Briscoe, moves into 5th and is closing in on Wheldon. Feel the love, Dan.

102: Dixon now has the lead. No one on the radio broadcast seems to have noticed. Scott's stealth like that.

105: Dixon, Castroneves, Kanaan, Wheldon, Patrick.

106: Howard makes contact with the wall but it's not yellow-worthy. He has it checked in the pits then returns.

110: Howard chops in front of Danica and Briscoe has gotten around Mrs Hospenthal to reclaim 5th. Also, Foyt has just parked so there are only 14 cars on the track.

117: Mutoh has passed Buddy Rice for P11, a.k.a. "best driver two laps down".

120: Dixon has stretched his lead out to a 2.5 second lead over Helio. Castroneves, Kanaan, Wheldon and Briscoe are all within a second of each other.

126: Dixon now up by over 4 seconds. We all stayed up for this?

132: Dixon by 5.5 seconds as Helio and Kanaan battle for second right behind Buddy Rice.

136: Kanaan got a little loose trying to pass Helio and ended up falling back to fifth. Dixon is now up tp a 6.5 second lead. Yawn.

141: Yellow for a "Roger Yasukawa brake fire". Say what? Well, now everyone will probably make their final pit stop and bunch back up.

144: The leaders all pit and come out Dixon, Briscoe, Kanaan, Wheldon, Castroneves, Patrick, Carpenter. These are shown as the only remaining cars on the lead lap.

149: Stillyellow so Patrick, Carpenter and Castroneves all pit to top off and Danica comes out first. Hmmm. Should we elevate to DanCon1?

150: Uh, no. We go back to green and Ed and Helio go right around Danica.

153: Kanaan around Briscoe for second. Ryan is running bit higher line here, which usually doesn't end well.

157: I stand corrected, as Hunter-Reay passes Danica for 7th. The Hunter, Manning and Bell are all still on the lead lap.

163: Dixon is only ahead of Kanaan by about .7 seconds. We may finally see some racing here.

170: Dixon, Kanaan, Wheldon, Briscoe...Hunter-Reay noses past Carpenter for 5th!

172: Danicker has dropped back to 9th, 12 seconds back. Either she's conserving A LOT of fuel or something has gone very, very wrong.

176: Wheldon is around Kanaan and TCGR claims the top 2 spots.

178: Briscoe has eventually gotten high enough to whitewall the car in turn two, dropping back to 7th. Did I or did I not say he was running a dangerously high groove? Forgive me, but as P2 would say, "Told ja!" Briscoe's adventure doesn't bring out a yellow but it does put Hunter-Reay in 4th.

190: Hunter-Reay comes in for fuel. Here comes the drama.

191: Manning and Bell pit, Danica up to 6th.

194: Carpenter pits, Danica into 5th.

195: Dixon pits, Danica into 4th. This race is on ESPN Classic, right?

197: Wheldon and Kanaan pit. Helio leads, Danica right behind him.

198: DANICA AROUND HELIO! HE'S PITTING SLOWING!!!!!

200: SHE! HAS! DONE! IT!

P1 is is FIRED UP! Danica is clearly choked up in the post race interview. This woman is not climbing a fence, instead weeping tears of relief. Jack Arute just asked here "When are you going to win again?" - he's gonna regret that.

TJ Patrick just said "It's the best day of my life." Mr Hospenthal says "I'm so happy for her, just trying to hold it back myself." Danica comes over and gives him a moment.

Danica is now driving around waving to the fans, ALL standing. She can barely crack a smile, though. Hopefully after tonight she can start to enjoy racing as we get closer to The Month of May. Graham, Danica both winning - WOW!

Folks there's nothing left to say. This is just EPIC! We've heard about this forever and now IndyCar race fans NEVER EVER have to hear the K-Word again. Oh Lordy, I need to figure out how to get P1 to calm down. Congratulations Mrs Hospenthal on making history, thank you all very much, and good night!

Stop the presses!

Posted by Iannucci | 4/19/2008 | 4 comments »
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Jamie Little WINS Toyota Long Beach Celebrity Race!

I am totally not making this up. Emergency phone call from Russ the Stat King at Long Beach delivered the scoop: Jamie Little won the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at Long Beach on April 19.

Jamie Little: GET HER IN A CAR and she wins. BAM. Since I'm not in the media center, I am cheering openly here.

Russ on the cell phone: "Jamie won .. oh .. she's climbing the fence ... she stopped at the start-finish and she's climbing the fence ... higher than Helio."

(MORE from pressdog)

LiveBlog: Motegi 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 4/18/2008 | 18 comments »
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The first part of the double header is about to kick off in Japan, as is made abundantly clear by the footage of Japanese cheerleaders and Pokemon-looking mascots dancing at the start finish line. Good gracious, you gotta love those wacky folks overseas.

No IndyCar Race Control this week. Bummer. Listening to Mike King on IMS radio and he's saying that there are "weepers" on the track being furiously worked upon, which at this point sounds more manageable than the monsoons that were forecast a few days ago. King says it's an estimated 20 minute delay, although this has yet to be confirmed by Race Director Tony Kanaan.

Seismological note: earthquake in Indiana, earthquake in Japan, but all is calm in Long Beach, California. Go figure.

Meanwhile, ESPN2 is showing "N-Word NOW" with an interview and Adrian Fernandez. Coincidentally, did you know Fernandez won the first CART race at Motegi in 1998? Well you do now.

0: All Arute all the time. Helio says he has a "fun-tastic car". Danica is sitting on her tire to warm it up...and now the obligatory re-run of the swimsuit exhibitionist footage. Marty Reid's viewing is no doubt enhanced.

0: Race Director Kanaan and his associates (Helio and Scott Dixon) are inspecting the track. We don't start until Nariz SAYS we start!

0: Blah blah blah...Graham Rahal being interviewed in Long Beach, by Marty and Scott who are saying they are also in Long Beach. Bobby Rahal has reportedly already left the track. Shades of Bobby-less 2007.

pressdog: Rahal is a sharp guy. Very intelligent. Impressive. Not sure he's actually related to his father.

0: That drying car looks tiny. I guess everything really is smaller in Japan, except for the weepers. At what point do these races get broadcast on The Weather Channel?

0: Tony says it's still wet, might be another half hour. "Obviously it's not just my decision. Scott was there, Helio was there." Anyone else missing from that statement? Maybe Brian Ba...what's his name again?

0: It's prop time with Dr Jack Arute! Yay! It's a rain ghost, and it looks exactly like something my pre-schooler made at Halloween.

0: Dan Wheldon and new wife footage. Dental footage! Race fans demanded it and they got it! Chopper-cam is ON. However the microphone is overloaded by Jack.

pressdog: OMG. Arute overload ... must .... drink ... beer ... Arute's mic problems is GOD trying to cut him off.

0: Oh My! Arute just got Dan to say "Shagalicious, baby!" Our work is done, people.

pressdog: iPod run down. we've arrived at the third ring of hell

MyNameIsIRL: Franck listens to Britney, just like you. you can bond.

pressdog: Give Me More!


0: We're an hour in and recycling broadcast packages. On the track Race Director Kanaan is giving orders to the Brian guy. And there's Al Unser Jr down there with them on the track. Who saw that coming?

0: Many drivers have been interviewed here in Japan, ironically none of them being Hideki Mutoh.

0: Arute now interviewing the IHJ. Talking about the coefficient of friction and longitudinal rotations. Barnhart that is, not Arute. Meanwhile here's live footage of a weeper. Fascinating. We aren't going to be lighting this candle anytime soon.

0: ESPN has run out of video packages, so here's footage of last week's Indy Raining League event. Marty says 30 minutes until we pack it up and try again tomorrow.

0: And...we pack it up. After 2 hours we're done for the night. Let's try it again tomorrow.

From India to Indiana

Posted by Iannucci | 4/18/2008 | 5 comments »
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And we thought Japanese drivers had interesting names.

Trying to make his mark in motorsport, rookie A1 Team India driver Parthiva Sureshwaren is planning to take a plunge into the popular American IndyCar racing next year.

"I have kept an open mind about F1, it's not the end of all thing. I am planning to go for the Formula V6 Asian championship this year and the American IndyCar racing next year. And once you go into the American racing, you stay there for your career."

(MORE from Hindu News)
Hey, at least he isn't talking about the N-word.

Quote of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/18/2008 | 3 comments »
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After failing for several days at trying to cleverly work this in to a post, well, here ya go. It's not so much a quote as a paraphrasing from the always enlightening Panther Racing Q&A.

Q. Great race for Panther, but a bummer of an ending. I saw Vitor pat Franck on the back after they were yellling, are they cool?

A. Near the end of their discussion, Perera made the comment 'I was faster than you' .... and Vitor patted him on the back and said, 'Look how fast you are now, dude.'

Cheat Sheet: Motegi 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 4/18/2008 | 5 comments »
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Some people are a bit irked at the less-than-unified IRL/CCWS re-split this weekend, but your humble host is surprisingly pumped. In previous seasons my interests on such weekends would be to watch the IndyCar race and maybe check out a bit of the Champ Car event if I remembered. I figured there wouldn’t be much passing and Bourdais was probably going to win anyway, right?

But times have changed, and an oval-headed Gomer like yours truly is all a-twitter to be watching both Twin Ring Motegi and the streets of Long Beach with great fervor. While My Name Is IRL will only have a LiveBlog for the Motegi event (respectfully leaving the final Champ Car hoorah to longtime Champ Car bloggers) the Long Beach race has grabbed my interest, because not only henceforth will this be an IndyCar event but for once I finally know a few things about many of the drivers. Like say this guy.

Meanwhile back in Japan, rain has washed out qualification so the field will be set by standings in the ICS. Right about now would be a good time to notice that Vision Racing teammates Carpenter and Foyt are P7 and P8 respectively in the standings - and that’s after a street race. Friends, is this the weirdest season ever or what?

Favorite: Dan Wheldon. Last four races here: twice first, twice second. ‘Nuff said.

Contender: Tony Kanaan. Nariz has three podiums in the last four races here and is the defending champion. Heck, he’s led at least one lap in 7 of the last 8 IndyCar events. With all four wheels on the ground he's unstoppable.

Longshot: Buddy Rice. His last four years here have all been Top 10 finishes, three of which were in the Top 6. Side-stepping an embarrassing Asian food and “rice” joke, let’s instead have some fun checking out Buddy’s Red Bull hat collection.

Driver to Watch: Ryan Briscoe. The Briscoe Inferno has flamed out with two DNFs to start his Team Penske career. Now with qualifications washed away he finds himself starting from P15 – the worst start for a Team Penske entry since Helio Castroneves started from the same position at Kentucky Speedway in August of 2005. Pardon the pun, but the Inferno might find himself in the hot seat if he can’t bring a strong performance this week.

Danica Threat Level: DanCon 2. Danica’s style of patiently waiting for those in front of her to crash out plays well at this car-eating circuit. Not only did she lead 32 laps on this track in ’05 – far and away the most she’s ever led anywhere in the ICS – but she may also have some good karma coming her way from her new ad campaign. Add to that the possibility of rain on race day and anything is possible.

Stat of the Day: Hideki Mutoh will become the sixth driver of Japanese lineage to compete in the Indy Racing League’s event at Twin Ring Motegi, joining Kosuke Matsuura, Tora Takagi, Shinji Nakano, Shigeaki Hattori and (American) Roger Yasukawa - none of whom ever finished better than 7th in this race. On the plus side, saying all of those names out loud makes one’s mouth feel taihen yoi!

Drinking Term: “Egg”. The track is shaped as such, and Jack Arute had better pull an egg out of his pocket and show it to the camera just like he does every year here. I know you’re doing the double this weekend Jack, but don’t forget the props.

Pressdog says: “With no 'transition drivers' to clip the right front, Tony, Tony Tone Kanaan cruises to victory at Motegi. In Long Beach -- since we're all one big happy family and this IS an IndyCar points race -- I'm going with Will ‘Danger’ Powers.”

It’s double the picks and double the fun, so remember how painfully long this off-season was and by all means enjoy the show shows!

Max Papis is the lizard king

Posted by Iannucci | 4/17/2008 | 8 comments »
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For a while now we have preached Dan Wheldon and the Geico gecko were a match made in marketing heaven, but unfortunately the synergy between these two has yet to be realized. Pity.

However, that doesn’t mean that Geico has shunned IndyCar drivers entirely. The Indy one-off of Rubicon Racing has announced that they have secured Geico as a sponsor, and just as importantly they have found a way to work Rubicon driver Max Papis into a Geico commercial. Check it out on the bottom of the GeicoRacing7 page.

Yes, that’s Captain Crunch in there as well. Tongues will wag.

And speaking of green things and Mad Max, here's a fun story (with pictures and audio) letting you know what it's like to drive around IMS with Papis in this year's groovy color-shifting pace car. Color me jealous.

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/17/2008 | 5 comments »
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"It felt like a washing machine went off in my room. It was like on a gentle spin cycle." - Darren Manning on the 5.7-magnitude earthquake that awakened a few folks in Japan at 4:19am this morning.

Making babies

Posted by Iannucci | 4/17/2008 | 0 comments »
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While we wait for the inevitable IndyCar series announcement of an “official day care center” sponsorship, let’s take a moment to congratulate Buddy Rice and Justin Wilson on the births of their respective daughters.

Rice and his wife Michelle welcomed Mina on April 9th, while Justin and his wife Julia became parents of Jane Louise on April 12th. Now Makenna Carpenter will have some new buddies at the track to help boss little Leonardo Kanaan around.

All joking aside, best wishes to everyone involved.

Stay up late

Posted by Iannucci | 4/16/2008 | 4 comments »
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The Son of 'Stache is scheduled to appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" tonight. Rahal will talk not only about being 19-years-old (did you know that?) but also about the mouthful of title on his website that reads "youngest winner in major open-wheel racing".

Can't we just say "Youngest IndyCar winner ever?" Is that so wrong?

The show starts at 11:30 p.m. (ET) on CBS. Tune in to see if the names "Newman", "Haas" or "Lanigan" get mentioned at all.

Kinder, gentler IndyCar driver

Posted by Iannucci | 4/16/2008 | 2 comments »
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After watching this “Up To Speed” episode featuring the ridiculously tall Justin Wilson one can only come the conclusion that he may in fact be one of the nicest and most polite people on Earth. I fully expected to see footage of him helping little old ladies cross the street or saving kittens stuck in trees, what with him being so incredibly soft-spoken. Seriously, check out Lauren gleefully standing on her tippy toes just so she can get within earshot of this gentle giant.

Kingdom come

Posted by Iannucci | 4/16/2008 | 8 comments »
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Contrary to earlier reports at No Fenders, current IMS Radio commentator Davey Hamilton will NOT be driving for Roth Racing at Indy this year. No, instead Super Dave and his 21 foot operations will be taking the helm for the new Kingdom Racing team, which you might recall is the upstart, Houston-based outfit with the “vision to deliver God’s Word through Motor Sports”. And despite the fact that the word “Christ” does not appear in the press release, Kingdom is very much a Christian organization.

Ladies and Gentlemen, feel free to start your “Davey and Goliath” references.

On the subject of Kingdom Racing our good buddy and fellow Christian Chris Estrada has written a nice commentary saying that this shouldn’t be such a big deal , asking point blank “What are you afraid of?”

If you are firmly set in your religious ways, whether they honor God (or another omnipotent being) or not, then to be honest, you have nothing to worry about with George Del Canto’s operation. They simply believe that the word of Christ is a message that is worth relaying to people. If they accept Him, great. If not, well, that’s their decision to make. Life goes on.

Besides, even if a person isn’t “saved” through Kingdom Racing, he or she may still like the race team and its driver, Davey Hamilton. And there you go, one more new fan supporting the IndyCar Series in its quest to bring open-wheel racing back from its own Hell.

(MORE from Indy Racing Revolution)
This isn’t a disagreement with Chris, but speaking as a believer there is something giving me great trepidation: this team could suck.

I don’t know much if anything of the investors behind this team, but I know Davey is 45 years old, I know start-ups have the deck stacked against them, and I know that with the massive influx of refugee teams this year there will be little attention left to give any new NEW team to help get them up to speed. That may be no big deal for the sponsor of a product who just wants brand visibility, but there's a different level of involvement when the racing is supposed to be representing one's religious beliefs.

And furthermore, what if – God forbid, literally – Hamilton or any other driver for Kingdom suffers a horrific accident? How many fans would read that as a sign from The Almighty, and a rather ominous one at that? This isn’t to say Kingdom or Hamilton shouldn’t race or that they shouldn’t attempt to promote their ministry; it’s just an answer to the question Chris posed.

At any rate Good luck and Godspeed to Davey. Should divine intervention help him find his way to Victory Circle at Indy this year there is 100% chance of the IMS radio team cheering for their colleague. As for cheering in the media center, das ist verboten.

Since I'm "an unprofessional word butcher"

Posted by Iannucci | 4/14/2008 | 18 comments »
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How about instead of knuckle-typing we just gawk at pictures like this?

About a blog

Posted by Iannucci | 4/12/2008 | 24 comments »
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Forgive me for moment while I devote more than a few words to you and me instead of IndyCars, because we just got called out.

There are lots of people who cover open-wheel racing as a career, people we respect (although that group may not necessarily include the same individuals) who can write so eloquently as to better express a shared enthusiasm for the sport. People like Jeff Olson, who recently suffered a momentary lapse of reason in publishing an incredibly ironic piece of writing.

His article is called “Us vs Them”, and it starts off talking about how “we” need to stop this “us vs them” mentality with regard to IndyCar drivers who have raced in different series last year. Naturally I was totally in agreement with that idea, because goodness knows I’ve done my part to try to get everyone excited about all of the participants in this newly-born unification.

But then somewhere in the middle of the article Olson decides a different kind of “Us vs Them” is completely acceptable.

Sportswriters are people who couldn’t play sports but want to write about it, yet they aren’t worth a damm at that, either. Ask anyone who’s ever been in the newsroom of a daily newspaper: Sports is the Toy Department. It’s where the worst of the talentless hacks in the newsroom are sent to live out their careers. It’s where bad journalists go to die. And, yes, “bad journalists” is redundant.

Add the growing number of untrained and unprofessional word butchers to the clutter, and objectivity goes the way of the front-engine roadster. Apparently this occupation is now open to anyone who can type with his or her knuckles, no education or experience required. No need for a degree or employment, just crown yourself a bloggist, start typing and apply for that credential.

Amazing how that works. If I tried to be a plumber with no experience or training, I’d get stomped by guys with pipe wrenches and exposed butt cracks. But any fool with a computer and a MySpace page can play journalist, and the rules of the business are no longer acknowledged (or even known). So much for those endless semesters of libel law. Anybody can do this, and anybody does. No training or aptitude required.
And so it is that a big bucket of digital ice water has been dumped upon you and me and our little thing here. Oh, I realize he’s probably speaking about bloggers who were at that race in Florida, but the distinction is not clearly expressed. Now you’re probably expecting me to vivisect the above with snarky comments like another blogger has, but just this once I’d rather instead take this as an opportunity to educate. This very same issue was addressed recently by Ken Arneson, a tremendously gifted guy who covers the Oakland A’s for his own Catfish Stew blog, so I’m going to try to summarize (read: plagiarize) the point that he so eloquently made elsewhere in the comments section of yet another site.

The problem here isn’t that “journalists” are hating “bloggers” because we’re lazy or partisan or doing for free that on which they stake their careers. No, the real problem here is that blogging is a new medium and as such people tend to look at it and evaluate it using the same measures as the old one. And given the tenets of journalism people like yours truly are most certainly lazy and partisan, and we produce an incredible amount of garbage compared to the works of Olson or Gordon Kirby or John Oreovicz.

But as you and I know this equivalency is completely wrong, because even though Olson and your humble host are in the same business of spreading the word about the happenings of open-wheel racing he and I aren’t doing anywhere near the same thing.

Published articles are intended to be snapshots in time that you can hang on the wall and gaze upon but never touch. Conversely, blog entries are a chain of shared thoughts that are passionate and emotive and yes, even factually inaccurate because above all other rules they invite participation. Arneson’s key point was this: “The unit of measurement in blogging is not the article, the unit of measurement is the conversation.”

That’s the real beauty of this medium that facilitates something other than a one-way transfer of ideas. The truth is this post and pretty much every other one only take on any semblance of meaning when they get shared. The comments start coming in, another site links the post, the authors elsewhere add their thoughts, then they start getting comments, and before you know it there’s a lively discussion happening in real time that engages any number of people all over the world.

(As an aside, this proves that Robin Miller is in fact a blogger and not a journalist – he just doesn’t know it yet.)

So while Olson and Olson alone is responsible for creating every last letter of his articles, I as a blogger have all of you here to help fill in the blanks. This isn’t about me – it’s about WE. As a consequence necessary evils like fact checking get taken to an entirely new level because not only will all of you add your own information that you ascertain but you’ll also definitely let me know if I’ve got something wrong. I’m accountable for what I write, but in the process we’re all accountable to each other for what we contribute to the discussion, factual or otherwise. Together we have the power to not just to record an event but to register the impact more accurately than any single article can.

Even though this new medium of sharing may seem to be applying pressure on the old newspaper model, the reality is probably the opposite. Now more than ever we NEED writers like Olson to produce well-written articles to help facilitate our discussions. The ironic “Exhibit A” in this case would be Olson’s most recent work.

I wanted to put this all down in a single post as a point of reference for guys like Olson who think I or anyone else with a blog is “playing journalist”. Hopefully everyone can now clearly see this isn’t the case, that we aren’t trying to run them out of business, and that we are in effect all in the same proverbial boat by serving as unofficial promoters of the Indy Racing League. And of course, there are going to be good bloggers and bad ones just as there are good and bad journalists, so please refrain from painting the entire bunch of us “unprofessional word butchers”.

And because we all care so much about IndyCars, rest assured this is the first and last post I ever want to write about blogging.

Women's appreciation day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/11/2008 | 11 comments »
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Ladies, please forgive me for catering to the gentlemen by taking a moment to celebrate two women of IndyCar not named Danica. We love the cars, the speed, the competition, the famous drivers, but might we also find a little love in our hearts for the likes of Lauren Bohlander and Cyndie Allemann? Oh yes, we might indeed.



I could talk about how Bohlander is doing a wonderful job after stealing this gig from Arni the Indy Insider, or how Allemann scored two Top 10s this past weekend at St Pete... but you’re probably still enjoying the video and haven’t made it this far down in the post. That’s understandable.

In related news, Julianne Hough will be singing the national anthem at Indy. Oh happy day!

Target on his back

Posted by Iannucci | 4/11/2008 | 8 comments »
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This hasn't yet become an IndyCar story for Chip Ganassi, and it may in fact be no story at all, but it's still presented here in the compelling interest of rumor-mongering for the sake of discussion.

This is just a rumor, but is making the rounds again that Target, sponsor of the #41 Ganassi Dodge may leave at the end of the season. Do you blame them? - That's Racin'

On the other side of those financial measures, varied Internet reports in the past week have speculated that Chip Ganassi Racing could lose sponsor, and one-time ownership title partner, Target, in the not-too-distant future. - Centre Daily

There are persistent rumors that Chip Ganassi may be in financial deep water, with his long-time sponsor Target [sponsor of #41-Reed Sorenson and sometime sponsor of #40-Dario Franchitti] likely announcing by the end of the year it will be ending its association with the race team. - N-word.com

Then again...

Steve Eastman, Target Vice President: "The 19-year partnership between Target and Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the longest consecutive partnerships in motor sports. Our race program has proven successful and we in fact have a solid base of sponsors in place. We continue to build on the excitement and momentum around the program and look forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary next year... Any rumors regarding an end to the partnership are simply without merit." - Jayski

So there you go.

Tool time

Posted by Iannucci | 4/10/2008 | 2 comments »
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Adding to the steady stream of major IndyCar series sponsorship announcements from the likes of DirecTV, Coca-Cola, and Raybestos comes a promotional sponsorship from Mac Tools. It would seem that whoever leads the most laps this season from both Indy Racing League series (IndyCars and IndyLights) will get “an allotment of Mac Tools products” for the accomplishment.

Now I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I think of Mac Tools I think of one thing: “Monster Garage”. Yes, that rocked-out show where Jesse James of West Coast Choppers took cars and made them into things like lawn mowers and wood chippers and donut makers. And as they said in every episode, if the sweaty, foul-mouthed, tattooed builders finish the job they all got a nice set Mac Tools, although I suppose you could phrase it as an “allotment of products” as well.

Despite not producing any new episodes for a few years this is currently P2’s favorite show. (Yeah, he’s a different kind of six-year-old.) Thanks to Netflix we’re cycling through DVD’s of old episodes, and on the latest disc we watched there was an episode called “Street Line Racer” which featured a Champ Car Reynard chassis from 1999 being turned into a street painter. That’s one of those deals that sprays lane stripes on the road. No joke. Here’s a pic.

When finished the “racer” only got up to about 90 miles per hour, which I’m pretty sure my truck could do even if you installed the painting apparatus and had the whole build team sit in the bed. Still, the episode was noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First, former Champ Car co-owner Paul Gentilozzi is featured early as the guy who helps the team with design, but he couldn’t hang the whole week since he had to attend a CCWS event. This should come as no surprise since he recently bolted on open-wheel racing once we got all unified. So yeah, you could “paint” him as a quitter. Har har.

The other oddity was the build cost. Usually on the show it’s like five or ten thousand dollars for the vehicle, a few thousand worth of “freebies” – usually custom rims and tires – and another three to five thousand for whatever other parts they need. But this build – I kid you not – at the end said “Vehicle Cost: $500,000”. That was for a champ car chassis that was like four years old at the time of the episode. Sheesh, with costs like that no wonder the CCWS went bankrupt.

And now that I’ve worked “Monster Garage” into My Name Is IRL, I can die in peace.

That's a lot of Jack

Posted by Iannucci | 4/10/2008 | 1 comments »
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We wondered if anyone was going to "do the double" later this month, participating in both races at Motegi and Long Beach. One man and one man alone has risen to the challenge: Jack Arute.

Arute will cover the Firestone IndyCar 300 for the IndyCar Series at Motegi, Japan, with the telecast starting at midnight ET Saturday, April 19 (late Friday night). He will then fly from Japan to California and work the telecast of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the final race for the Champ Car World Series, at 5 p.m. ET. Both telecasts will be presented in high definition.

"Fortunately, I can sleep on airplanes with no problem," said Arute. "But I've asked one of the teams to have a cot in their pit at Long Beach, just in case I need it. And lots of coffee."


Jack is the man! Because I can only hope to emulate his dedication I will attempt a similarly rigorous endeavor that weekend. For the Motegi race I will be watching live on my computer in my bedroom, and afterwards I will journey all the way to my living room to take in the subsequent race at Long Beach on the HDTV. And yes Jack, I too will have lots coffee on hand for that parade event. Be strong, and godspeed!

The Hunter and the 'Dog

Posted by Iannucci | 4/10/2008 | 1 comments »
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Apprently, this is the year pressdog interviews everyone. Check Ryan Hunter-Reay off the list, who's shockingly at ease firing off zingers like this.

pressdog: Quick, what’s the chemical formula for ethanol?

RHR: CH3CH2OH. That was actually off the top of my head as I'm sitting here with my beaker and protective glasses.


*rimshot*

Oh, he's a hoot. Check out what he has to say about explaining his name, driving a tractor, or passing former Rahal drivers. Read it all at pressdog.

Outsourcing

Posted by Iannucci | 4/09/2008 | 6 comments »
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Alex Lloyd's talent is so huge it takes two teams to contain him. The trick has been figuring out which two teams that would be, but a press release today has answered that question.

During Wednesday’s Indianapolis 500 Media Tour, Rahal Letterman Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing revealed that they would work together in fielding an entry for 2007 Firestone Indy Lights champion Alex Lloyd for the 92nd running of this year’s Memorial Day classic. The #16 Dallara/Honda/Firestone Indy Car will be run out of the RLR stable for the month of May, with the Ohio-based team working closely with TCGR to ensure that Lloyd – who is under a developmental contract with Target Chip Ganassi Racing – receives the benefit of working with engineers and mechanics from both teams.

“This is something that we have been wanting to do for a while now and an opportunity with Bobby and his team is perfect for us,” said Target Chip Ganassi team owner Chip Ganassi. “I really think everyone is going to be hearing a lot about Alex Lloyd in the coming years. He is one of the sport’s future stars.”


Lloyd has been busy collecting dust for Big Chip all season, but apparently the reality of Ganassi having an extra driver and Rahal having an extra chassis made for a certain type of synergy. Does this mean Rahal employees will be sharing information with Ganassi people? Is a Ganassi employee going to be calling Lloyd's race? Would the earnings be split between owners for Lloyd's effort? Does Alex get to appear on Letterman's show? I have no idea, but they've got about a month to figure it out.

What I do know is you'll probably be seeing a lot of Alex Lloyd in the future. He's the real deal, and it wouldn't be shocking in the least to see him replace Dan Wheldon at TCGR next year.

The Scott Goodyear watch is now ticking

Posted by Iannucci | 4/09/2008 | 15 comments »
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From the sidebar at IndyCar.com.

Cheever joins Indy broadcast team

Eddie Cheever Jr., the 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner, will join former IndyCar Series driver Scott Goodyear and Marty Reid as an analyst in the booth for ESPN on ABC's broadcast of the 92nd Indianapolis 500 on May 25. He'll also be a commentator during coverage of time trials (May 10-11 and 17-18) as well as Carb Day May 23.

"Although I will miss sitting on the grid, I hear the view from the announcer's booth is pretty good," Cheever said.

Jamie Little will join the pit reporter team of Jack Arute, Vince Welch and Brienne Pedigo, while Brent Musburger will host the telecast.
Folks like Curt Cavin have been touting the (ahem) outspoken Cheever as a better alternative to the current color commentator, so now we’re going to get to see if he’ll be the real deal on LIVE TV. We’ll start the over/under on Andretti family complements from Cheever at zero.

UPDATE: A solid point from Will at Is It May Yet?:

Personally, I’ve always found Cheever fascinating. That said, he is trying to fill some pretty large shoes. Following in the footsteps of Open Wheel Legend Russell W. Wallace, who was once named The Most Brilliant Man on Earth or Mars or Any Other Planet You Can Name Except Pluto because Pluto is not a Planet. Oh wait, Rusty Wallace was a moron, sucked, and had no knowledge of open wheel racing whatsoever. Welcome Aboard, Eddie!

Fisher feeling the energy

Posted by Iannucci | 4/08/2008 | 6 comments »
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And so the Sarah Fisher Racing sponsorship and schedule is officially announced. All three races of it.

In front of a crowd of 75 media members attending the ribbon cutting of the Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) shop, ResQ Pure Power Energy Drink, announced today their recently-launched product will debut to the market alongside its sponsorship of Sarah Fisher and SFR for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Fisher will also compete in races at Kentucky Speedway and ChicagoLand Speedway.

In addition to ResQ, AAA Hoosier Auto Insurance continues with Fisher, who can be seen representing AAA through television ads, billboards and other promotional materials throughout Indiana. Furthermore, Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer, the worldwide leader in luxury sports watches, will utilize Fisher in its award-winning advertising campaigns. Fisher, whose partnership with TAG Heuer began in 2002, will wear TAG Heuer's Aquaracer Chronotimer at the track and the brand's 32mm Aquaracer Diamond watch off the track.

Other partners strengthening the SFR nucleus available for mention at press time include, Apex Conference and Karting Center, Arai Helmets, Firestone, Godby Heating and Cooling, Gravity Entertainment, Honda Performance Development, Hubler Automotive Group, Indiana Oxygen, Katalyst Coatings, Lincoln Electric, Lyon Work Space, Mechanix Wear, Permatex, RJE Knoll Business Interiors, Royal Spa, Simpson Race Products and the Tennant Company.


For whatever reason (maybe the high cost of gas?) SFR is only budgeting races within a stone's throw of their Indianapolis HQ, but yowza - look at all of those sponsors! While the first thing that jumps out is that none of them are named Double-A-honk-honk-M-C-O, Sarah still has so many supporters she may have to put decals on the suspension.

UPDATE: IndyCar.com has more, plus a pic of Sarah and her sweet-lookin' ride. Enough with all of the red, this series needs more blue cars.

Tell us how you really feel

Posted by Iannucci | 4/08/2008 | 9 comments »
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Panther Racing and their driver Vitor Meira were pleased with their race on Sunday, that is until the Mirror Man was attacked by a questionable pass attempt from Fronkensteen.

This post-race press release from Panther varies a bit from the usual helping of positively-spun politically correctness.

Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard Dallara Honda:

(On crash with Franck Perera) "What an absolutely stupid rookie mistake. (Franck) Perera was totally wrong. It was a dumb rookie move and something you'd expect out of somebody that doesn't know what they're doing on a street course. To pass here, you have to be side-by-side, at least, and you can't pass where he crashed me with just your nose inside. He didn't have one-fifth of his car in a position to pass me. He ruined a great run in the Delphi National Guard car and our decision to go with slick tires early in the race, which put us in a position to finish top five or six in the No. 4 car."

John Barnes, Panther Racing co-owner and CEO:

"Maybe next year Conquest will hire drivers who can see."

(MORE from the Panther race report)
Scratch Perera off their Christmas Card list.

Show prep

Posted by Iannucci | 4/08/2008 | 3 comments »
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It's not easy to be on TV, especially LIVE TV. You've got to be ready to talk about whatever event is going on where things can change in the blink of an eye, you've got people yelling instructions into your ear that may or may not be for you, and you've got thousands or even millions of people ready to gasp in horror should you make a mistake. So it's clear this job is difficult.

So as a public service to Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear, SandWedge at The Furious Wedge has posted a quick summary of talking points for the next time they find a driver not in The Big Three Big Four near the front.

We are just past mid race (lap 47-50ish), with a lot of strong racing going on up front, yet the top 5 has shaken down to Ernesto J Viso, Enrique Bernoldi, Vitor Meira, Darren Manning & Jay Howard... ALL of them racing for the positions, and not just picking them up by being the last to pit (a la Kosuke).

All of the guys are racing each other extremely hard and Marty and Scott are stumbling bad to say anything... anything at all... anything coherent (how about showing or talking about Viso's GP2 crash/career, Bernoldi's F-1 time, Vitor's winless streak, Manning's career and resurgence back from Ganassi, the fact that he actually gets along with AJ or about Howard as the former Indy Lights champion or the recent good showing from the new Roth Racing)....

No... instead Marty busts out this gem:

"These are 5 guys we don't normally talk about"
Consider that second paragraph as your own personal "cheat sheet" to study on your two-week break, guys. He won't be yelling in your ear, but Wedge has still got your back.

Quote of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/07/2008 | 11 comments »
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"You shouldn't need people to win races to promote a series. Marketing people and the PR people need to get off their a-- and promote the winners because long term, what's the point in promoting someone who's not going to win? It's not going to do you any good. Everybody tried to promote Anna Kournikova because she looked good and she was new to tennis, but it didn't last because she wasn't any good. You need to promote the good ones." - Dan Wheldon, who should be gently reminded that he is winless in his last 15 races.

Given lemons and making lemonade

Posted by Iannucci | 4/07/2008 | 13 comments »
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Suppose you had just decided to introduce a friend to IndyCar racing on Sunday. Your friend would have seen a race with a gloomy forecast that started under yellow, featured lots of sliding by otherwise professional drivers, had hardly any recognizable names running near the front, and eventually ended because time was called. That’s not exactly an event anyone would hold up as the great standard of open-wheel racing. In fact, a ridiculous event like that seems like it should be forgotten as quickly as possible.

But one thing happened that made it extremely memorable: Graham Rahal won. A 19-year-old won. The son of a former Indy 500 champion won. The first Champ Car refugee has won. The first non Big Three team win in 38 races. It’s Graham’s first IndyCar series win. In his first IndyCar series race. He won! Holy Flying American Teenagers, Batman!

So yeah, the end result was more than a little significant.

The Good

The streak is OVER! We may see a new streak reborn starting in Motegi (well, not counting Long Beach the same weekend) but for now hope springs eternal once again for all teams not named Penske, Ganassi or Andretti Green. Then again, maybe it’s now the Big Four.

The rivalry has now officially been born. Marco and Graham each have a win (on non-ovals, no less) coming at 19-years of age, and despite the fact they both would rather be driving in F1 for the time being we can all bask in the glow of seeing the offspring of our affection go forth into the world serving as proud testament to our union...sorry, got carried away with the Firestone Ad there for a moment.

Less than a month ago Paul Stoddart said his Minardi team was done, but partner Keith Wiggins managed to pick up the pieces and form the one car HVM racing. On Sunday that team and their driver EJ “Don’t call me Ernesto” Viso raced near the front most of the day, finishing just off the podium in fourth. Somebody find Stoddart and see if he needs a hanky.

Did you know Hideki Mutoh finished sixth? Of course you didn’t, because his name was hardly mentioned during the entire broadcast. ESPN better straighten that out for the next race because he’s going to be HUGE at Motegi no matter where he finishes.

Six of the Top 10 drivers were from refugee teams racing in just their second IndyCar series event. Clearly there is a new set of favorites for the road/street course events this year, which begs the question: Who absorbed whom?

The Bad

Rain sucks, but not racing on a street course because of rain sucks even more. Puddles, schmuddles, next time put the grooved tires on and get on with it so we don’t have this timed race garbage.

He may be telling Brian Barnhart when to start the race, but Tony Kanaan was on the podium but without a win for the fourth straight year at St Pete. Here’s a word for the new Director of Race Operations: Karma.

Even though one of them was not his fault, Ryan Briscoe has now failed to finish in both of his races for Team Penske. You could tell Briscoe was feeling nervous because he was somehow blaming Jay Howard for this week’s crash, even though the reply showed Briscoe smacked two walls all by himself. The line for that ride leads out the door, and he knows it.

It’s been a while since Townsend Bell raced in the IndyCar series, so maybe he’s unfamiliar with the concept of slowing and not passing in an area that has a “local yellow”. Perhaps that should be said in the past tense, because after slamming into a parked Vitor Meira he’s definitely familiar with the concept now.

Finishing on the lead lap for a race like this should be considered respectable, but once again on a non-oval Dan Wheldon was never a threat. If memory serves me correctly this is the last year of his well-compensated contract with TCGR, and if memory serves me correctly again they have already signed Alex Lloyd to drive something. With more road and street courses being added every year, we can all read the writing on the wall here.

The Ugly

This was a fantastic win for both Graham Rahal and the Indy Racing League for numerous reasons stated in the second paragraph of this post. Even in post-race interviews other drivers were praising the Son of ‘Stache for his victory and noting how it’s a good thing for everyone. So why on Earth did Marty Reid feel the need to add absurdity to the warm and fuzzy moment by going on and on about Earl and Tiger Woods?

Rahal's win was a noteworthy victory for a driver with a recognizable name, but let’s all be honest about this: Graham won that race largely because his team had a superior fuel strategy. He drove very well, sure, but he was also the greatest beneficiary of the late yellow flags that allowed him to remain out while other drivers had to pit. That’s largely what won the race for him and his team.

So to compare Graham and his victory in a goofy and random race like this to a guy like Woods who is arguably the greatest ever in his sport is on par with Todd Harris comparing Danica Patrick to Amelia Earhart. I can buy the angle of a father being proud of his son, but that’s more like Michael and Marco Andretti than the Woods family. Tiger? Come on! Maybe if Graham wins six or seven races this year Marty’s words will prove prophetic, but right now they’re simply exaggerated buffoonery.