LiveBlog: Richmond 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 6/28/2008 | 19 comments »
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Welcome to Saturday night short track action where Steve Kinser and Joe Saldana will be thrilling the crowd...oh wait, sorry. Wrong night. Seriously though, this should be some exciting stuff tonight as 26 cars try to work their way around 3/4 quarters of a darkened mile.

We need to start off with an apology. We may have been remiss in passing on Davey Hamilton's words that AJ Foyt (The Owner) is absent from the Richmond festivities because he can't stand to look at Darren Manning without spitting fire. After researching this Foyt Racing indicates that Super Tex is back in Houston due to a "schedule conflict", which Hamilton may have read as "scheduled conflict". We apologize for any confusion.

Race Control has Dixon, Danica, Wheldon and Quattro tonight, so in the interest of equal time we're going to keep an ear on Foyt IV tonight. Congratulations to him, Buddy Rice and Bruno Junqueira for starting in the Top 10 tonight and temporarily bending my perception of the universe.

And now, it's time to start.

1: Wow, that was actaually one of the best starts in years...until Hunter-Reay spun coming out of turn four, bringing out the yellow. Doh!

8: Back to green, although Bernoldi is stopped in the pits with some kind of suspension issue.

9: And just like that we're back to yellow as Will Power goes bonzer into the wall. Looks like he's OK otherwise. So unless Bernoldi has come back out we have 2 green laps and 2 cars off the track. I'm sensing the program may run a bit LONG tonight.

10: Oh yeah, it's Kanaan, Marco, Graham, Dixon, Wheldon.

22: Finally back to green and the lap is completed. Hallelujah! Meanwhile Helio started 18th and is up to 13th. He really wants to win.

25: Now Helio's up to 11th. Man on fire.

30: Yellow as Foyt comes down into John Andretti, touches, and then shoots up into the wall. As if that wasn't bad enough for Vision it looks like Quattro's rear attenuator came off on impact and fired down the track, crippling the car of his teammate Ed Carpenter. That there is some seriously bad luck.

31: There's a bit of a delay with Race Control but it sounds like his spotter was saying "inside inside" but then stopped saying it in the turn, so Foyt went down, and, well, as Darren Manning might say, Bob's your uncle and he's into the wall. I can't say for certain that it's the spotter's fault because the audio and video may not have been perfectly synchronized.

40: Back to green, and although there's no change at the front Helio is up to 9th.

42: Helio around Servia for 8th. Cue the theme from "Jaws".

49: While his teammate is still off the track Jamie Camara has gone from 24th to 12th. Congrats also to the Camaras on the birth of their son this week.

53: Camara to 10th. That's a Conquest car in the Top 10 folks. Of course, it's early.

57: Kanaan, Marco, Graham, Dixon, Wheldon. Buddy Rice hanging in there in 6th, begging for air time.

68: Yellow for debris on the track. Link just asked "Is Marty still out there?" Har har.

70: Someone said there's a groovy lemonade stand in the pits so it's fiesta time! After stops the new leaderboard is the fuel makers of Jamie Camara and Danica Patrick, followed by Kanaan, Helio(4th!) and Marco.

80: We go green, but not without a yellow. Rice, Junky and Briscoe are all in various states of "your race is over".

82: Replay shows Manning ran into the back of someone on the restart, and then Danger Mouse slid around tagging a few of drivers. Also, Vitor tagged Manning and all of a sudden we have an "accordian effect". Sweet fancy moses, this is ugly.

86: This may or may not have been started by a slowing black car with the #25 somehow at the front when the green flag flew. Vitor, Briscoe, Manning, Rice, Junky are all out after that.

88: Just got this email: "Camara's strategy of lead and brake is briliant. He can take out half the field without being touched!"

93: Back to green, where Danica is a moving chicane. And then we go back to yellow. Looks like Vitor was not done in by that last crash but he is now. He and John Andretti are tapping out with a collision.

94: What do we have, 8 cars left?

96: Actually by my count we have 15 cars, one of which is Marty Roth. Who'da thunk it.

97: Camara, Kanaan, Danica, Marco, Helio - all eagerly awaiting the next Yellow-Green-Yellow.

99: Darren Manning is chatting with Brienne, echoing the comments of Ryan Briscoe that something needs to be done about braking on the restarts. Paging Mr IHJ.

103: Danica and Danica alone pits. Smells like another outbreak of Kyle Moyer fuel strategy. Meanhile Ed Carpenter is back on the track looking to lock down a Top 15.

108: Back to green...and miraculously we stay green as Camara is holding off Kanaan.

114: Marco around Kanaan for 2nd.

116: Marco around Camara for 1st. Chewing up Brazilians and spitting them out.

119: Marty Roth is going excrutiatingly slow. Please exit the track. PLEASE!

123: Email recieved: "If you were drinking for every yellow lap you'd be driving like Marty Roth right now."

130: Marco, Camara, Kanaan, Helio, Wheldon.

133: And (surpise!) it's another Yellow, this time for Graham Rahal, fulfilling his "Hole in the Wall" sponsorship. We're not even halfway through but we have a solid contender for the worst IndyCar race ever.

138: Several cars pit although Andretti 3.0 is not one of them. Amazingly ESPN lists the Top 3 as Marco, Viso and...Milka? Uh, guys that's Townwsend Bell in the car.

139: And just like the WorldWide Leader corrects that oversight. Pressdog must have called the B-Unit directly.

142: Back to green flag racing. Marco, Viso, Bell, Kanaan around Danica for fourth. Danica's car continuing to run in reverse.

145: Yet another yellow as Hunter-Reay and Mario Moraes snuggle up together in the worst of ways, singing "Crash into me". Make it stop! Getting out of the car the Hunter wants to discuss racing stategy with Eminem, then they both get into the same safety vehicle. Should be a fun trip to the infield car center.

146: Should have made the Drinking Term "Real Estate" basd on Scott Goodyear's abundant use of the term tonight.

151: Marco, Viso, Kanaan, Helio, Camara lead as this nightmare becomes an official race.

155: Someone get the Hunter a towel. He's sweating like a...well, actually I don't know any politically correct way to complete that phrase. Nevermind.

163: Back to green and Kanaan goes around Viso for 2nd.

164: Helio around Viso for 3rd.

166: Camara around Viso for 4th. Notice a trend here?

169: Servia around Viso for 5th. You never know these days if this is a bad car or if EJ's just "making fuel".

182: Briscoe is back out, as is Manning. Track probably seems a lot more spacious now, eh guys?

186: P1 notes: "This is pretty dumb, having an N-word commercial on during an IndyCar race." She's in a bad mood since her girl is going backwards.

200: Marco, Kanaan, Helio, Camara, Servia.

203: Marco and Kanaan are about to lap Danica and Mutoh. Hold your breath, Michael!

205: The drama is averted as Marco pits. Strategery.

212: If you aren't reading the comments then you don't know we have actual NASA weathermen telling us that contrary to what the broadcasters are saying there will be no rain anytime soon in Richmond. So that's one less thing to worry about.

217: I recall seeing on IndyCar.com that one of Tony Kanaan's favorite songs is "Yellow" by Coldplay. I'm remembering this because we're under yellow again as Camara loses it and greets the wall.

219: Pit fiesta for those who have not pitted. All are in and out safely except for Hideki Mutoh who for some reason is taking off the steering wheel. P2 - our resident Mutoh fan - has left the room.

222: Kanaan, Castroneves, Wheldon, Servia, Dixon, Patrick, Wilson, Bell, Marco - and that's all that's left on the lead lap.

226: Hideki broke the half shaft. It's OK because AGR buys their transmission parts in bulk.

228: Back to green and Dixon goes right around Servia for 4th. Right behind his teammate now. Should be a great deal of TCGR racing love there.

238: Kanaan is pulling away, up by two seconds. Otherwise, lots of lock-stepping. Can't blame them for dialing down the bravery after tonight's racing massacre.

255: Kanaan extends the lead to 3 seconds. Not much else happening. You can take a nap - I'll wake you when something happens.

269: Kanaan by four seconds as the leaders maintain position. In other words, keep napping.

276: It's now a six-second lead. Might be lapping Marco soon.

282: Marco graciously lets him by.

290: Townsend Bell in 11th gets some air time. I don't know who "Rigid" is but they've got to be pleased.

300: And Kanaan wins his first race of the year. Probably feels more like winning "Survivor", but it keeps him in the championship hunt. Good for him and his team.

Congrats also go out to Servia (5th), Wilson (7th) and Bell (8th) on their best finishes of the year. You all earned it. For real.

Recently a few of you have been asking if there is some way you can have your comments in the LiveBlog. I'd love to be able to do that, but I think there isn't much any of us can add tonight beyond "that was a steaming pile of a race". Ugh. Thank you very much, and good night.

Cheat Sheet: Richmond 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 6/28/2008 | 7 comments »
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Welcome to Richmond International Raceway, the third short track on the 2008 schedule and the only one of the three to blessed with conducting racing at night. Race cars always look better at night. Always.

This may be the reason why the four-letter network decided to get silly and air the commercial (like a dozen times!) for this IndyCar race during this week's heavily viewed NBA Draft. While many of the readers at My Name Is IRL have been miffed with the WorldWide Leader's overindulgence with the N-Word recently, it does bear noting that as the season progresses they do appear to be trying. More promos, more coverage of drivers not named "Danica", and even a pre-race show last week at Iowa are positive signs on the path to improved exposure.

Now if we can just get Jack Arute to stop kissing people we'll be set. And now, onward to 16 seconds lap times!

Favorite: Helio Castroneves. Helio won the pole here in '04 and '06 and won the race in '07. He's always fast on the short-tracks, he just has an occasional outbreak of "snakebit" with tires going down or wings falling off or whatnot. Today he starts 18th, which makes this pick look ridiculous. So be it.

Contender: Tony Kanaan. Stats be damned – he’s due!

Longshot: Oriol Servia. After his impressive march through the field at Milwaukee, El Matador looks to re-assert himself in the even smaller bullring at Richmond. Given the benefit of having additional “rookie” practice laps this week, I’d bet money he finishes in the Top 5. Your money that is, but still.

Driver to watch: Darren Manning. After gifting bloggers the opportunity to jump all over the word “knackered” Manning has really gotten AJ Foyt’s knickers in a twist. So much so that Super Tex is not even attending the race in Richmond this week. On Friday IMS Radio reported that Larry Foyt will be taking over for the team and has already begun arguing with Manning. I am totally not making that up.

Danica Threat Level: DanCon Three. Even the most die-hard fans would admit that for whatever reason Danicker is not running at a competitive speed. Despite scoring her first win, not making the Top 5 of any race here in North America is making 2008 look like a step backwards. But if she can keep it clean that luck could turn around tonight. Or not.

Stat of the race: Dan Wheldon is the only driver to have completed every lap of every 2008 race. Well, except for that Motegi/Long Beach weekend asterisk, but you get the point.

Drinking term: “Lift”. Fans of actual driving will be pleased to know there’s no way to go flat out all the way around this track, so this race is largely a balance of courage and judgment in the turns. However, fans of actual passing may notice that it usually takes a lot of effort to pass someone at this shortened venue.

pressdog says: “After the standard disclaimer -- Dixon is probably going to win -- I'm going to go with Tony Kanaan. He may just win on rage power alone. Dark horse -- RHR. Whew! That prediction has me totally knackered!”

And I'm knackered as well from writing this post. Enjoy the show!

AGR to Herta: You’re fired

Posted by Iannucci | 6/27/2008 | 16 comments »
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Despite being an AGR employee since 2003, The Invisible Man just got dropped like a bad habit.

Valencia's Bryan Herta did everything that was asked of him at Andretti Green Racing, and even surprised a few with some unexpected wins.

But Herta was the one who was surprised on Thursday when he was informed that he was being replaced on the Andretti Green Racing American Le Mans Series team with driver Franck Montagny, a Frenchman with limited Formula One and road racing experience.

Herta will not be driving for Andretti Green Racing in the next American Le Mans Series race at Lime Rock Park at Lakeville, Conn., on July 12.

Montagny is the new primary driver of the team's No. 26 Acura-powered entry in the American Le Mans Series and will be teamed with Marco Andretti, son of team co-owner Michael Andretti, in the race at Lime Rock Park. Herta is not in Andretti Green's plans for future races, but the team said in a release that a variety of drivers will team with Montagny for the final seven races of the American Le Mans Series season.

(MORE from Los Angeles Daily News)
First, Marco’s IndyCar is scheduled to race in Nasvhille on July 12th, so that should raise some eybrows.

Second, that’s the same Franck Motagny who finished second at the Streets of Long Beach this past April. Start your own rumors about which current AGR driver he will be replacing in 2009.

Third, what the...? I mean, Herta is the same guy who quietly stepped aside (and out of IndyCars) so Andretti Green could sign Danica Patrick. Note that in 58 races Herta won two races and had 15 Top 5s, while in 25 starts Patrick has one win and only 5 Top 5s for AGR. She has however surpassed Herta handily in talk show appearances, swimsuit issues, and merchandise sales.

(Thanks to Jennifer for the alert)

Black hair, but no black hat

Posted by Iannucci | 6/27/2008 | 3 comments »
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You may have read about Mr Carpenter and Mr Dixon both complaining about Danica Patrick’s Iowa block party. You may have read about Mr Barnhart warning Mrs Hospenthal about such behavior (Smells like double secret probation). You may have even read that she was unmoved, saying she only cares about what her teammates think about her. (Yo D!, your sponsors are having a conference call on line one.)

But truthfully, the world’s fastest swimsuit exhibitionist would rather not have all of this negative attention.

Q: Would you embrace the role of maybe being the bad guy? Because it's worked for Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart in NASCAR, you could probably make that

DANICA PATRICK: I don't think that it's ever a route that you choose to be the bad guy. I think that in an ideal world I would win over everyone's heart and be a sweetheart and be tough on the track and have great finishes, that would be ideal and that people would like me from that standpoint.

But, unfortunately, when you're popular, you get, again, positive and negative attention. There's just no -- I have no control over that.

(MORE from Motorsport)
Translation: “I just want to be loved. Is that so wrong?”

Say what?

Posted by Iannucci | 6/27/2008 | 4 comments »
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In case you notice this on the newswire...

Virgin to Buy Helio for $39 Million

...this startling headline has nothing to do with the IndyCar driver. Although that would be quite the FUN-tastic story, no?

Fisher's new ride

Posted by Iannucci | 6/27/2008 | 6 comments »
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Concerned about the expenses involved with her IndyCar team, Sarah Fisher has taken to the more cost-effective world of elephant racing.

After being saddled with more than her share of pigs in IndyCar racing, Sarah Fisher apparently decided to climb aboard something that at least had some towing power.

She recently took a trip aboard Tombi, a 31-year-old, 14,000-pound African elephant, as part of the Indianapolis Zoo's elephant awareness days.

"She races at over 200 miles per hour and she was scared to ride on an Elephant that doesn’t even go 30 mph,” joked Tombi’s trainer."

(MORE from pressdog)
This is actually a savvy move on Fisher's part, as Tombi is the next logical step in the current "race to make fuel" strategy sweeping the IRL. He uses no ethanol, requires no tire changes, and is unsurpassed at defending track position. Plus, he's got huge sidepods for sponsors. Win-win-win.

Wilson finally utilizes his height

Posted by Iannucci | 6/26/2008 | 2 comments »
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If one race team was going to take up hoops it had to be the twin towers at Newman Haas Lanigan.

Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson, both rookies in the IndyCar Series, probably want to stick with piloting their open-wheel race cars instead of declaring for the NBA Draft next year.

Rahal and Wilson visited Virginia Commonwealth University yesterday to attend VCU head coach Anthony Grant's youth basketball camp in Richmond (photos attached). Rahal and Wilson are in town for this Saturday's SunTrust Indy Challenge IndyCar Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

"They taught us how to shoot some hoops, but I think I need to work on that a bit," said Wilson. "One kid ran circles around me. It was fun and it was great to play basketball with the kids to see all the up and coming basketball stars. Many of them are very serious about committing themselves to the game which builds great character."

(MORE from Richmond.com)
To quote Hubie Brown, Wilson still has “tremendous upside potential”.

Brian Barnhart is a turbo lover

Posted by Iannucci | 6/26/2008 | 12 comments »
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You won't hear me, but you'll feel me
Without warning, something's dawning, listen.
Then within your senses,
You'll know you're defenseless
How your heart beats, when you run for cover
You can't retreat, I spy like no other.

Then we race together. We can ride forever.
Wrapped in horse-power, driving into fury
Changing gear I pull you tighter to me.

I'm your turbo lover.
Tell me there's no other.
I'm your turbo lover.
Better run for cover.


Oh, there’s good reason for quoting the worst Judas Priest song ever.

The next generation of engines was the primary subject of this week's Indy Racing League round table meeting with manufacturers, and league officials came away with a clear direction of where others want the sport to head.

"When we heard the enthusiasm around the room as to what turbochargers could bring to the series, I don't think that will be a barrier at all," said Terry Angstadt, the president of the IRL's commercial division.

Brian Barnhart, the IRL's president of competition and operations, said that while turbochargers will come at a cost, they are more adaptable to the sport's various types of circuits and create a natural muffler.

"It's nice to turn our decibels down a bit," he said. "They have a nice sound."

(MORE from IndyStar)

If it takes the addition of turbochargers to bring back more engine manufacturers to the series then so be it, because that’s certainly a larger goal than arguing over what kind of engines are being used. However, let’s all at least be honest and acknowledge that this would be yet another step towards building the 1994 version of CART and not the 2009 version of the IndyCar series.

Go ahead and turn down the sound and add another level of complexity and cost to he vehicle, but please don’t forget to try to incorporate something new into the motors at some point. Race cars are far more interesting when they’re used as a proving ground for new technologies and not a reminder of older ones.

Quote of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 6/25/2008 | 12 comments »
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"There is nothing that puts a smile on my face more than seeing a sea of fans decked out in Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. garb standing and cheering Scott Dixon, Danica Patrick and Helio Castroneves." - Jack Arute, showing why his chosen path in life involves being a pit reporter and not a marketing director.

Knackered

Posted by Iannucci | 6/25/2008 | 5 comments »
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Suppose you drive for SuperTex and you find yourself fatigued after driving for only a fraction of the race. Do you keep going until you finally lose control, or do you park the car, admit your shortcomings, and suffer the wrath of AJ Foyt?

Darren Manning chose the latter.

The initial start didn’t go well as he lost two positions but then gained them back and then some in the next couple laps. However by lap 15 he’d lost them again. I asked him what was wrong and he radioed in that he was ‘knackered already’ from the steering being too heavy.

Say what?

He hung on until the first pit stop around lap 39 and we made an adjustment with the front wing but there wasn’t any way to really correct the problem without taking it back to the garage. After 95 laps he parked it. I was not happy. I said some things in anger about his fitness but looking back, something else was going on.

(MORE from Foyt Racing)
In the article AJ goes on to say the problem may have been due to seat positioning, but it probably didn’t help Manning’s case that while he was retiring from the race Foyt’s grandson was driving his tail off to a Top 5 finish with a huge blister on his hand. In case you are interested, physically fit(ter) drivers can take a chance by sending resumes to:
Foyt Racing
19480 Stokes Road
Waller, TX 77484


(Thanks to reader J E Clerk for the link)

The sounds of racing

Posted by Iannucci | 6/25/2008 | 1 comments »
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If we’re going to be talking about ways to make the IndyCar series more interesting then let’s put everything on the table. Since folks wanting to have genteel conversations at the track wish to make the cars run quieter, how about we add some excitement by putting stylized horns on each race car.

You know, something that plays a few seconds of music or a sound effect. Just so drivers know who’s behind them complaining of blocking. Vitor has already been given the “Dixie” horn effect, Dixon could fire off an “Ice Ice Baby”, and Helio could have the theme from “Dancing with the Has Beens”.

And in honor of the highest finish ever by a Japanese driver, I think we all know what Hideki Mutoh needs to have. Click the image above to hear.

Audience Participation Required

Posted by Iannucci | 6/25/2008 | 30 comments »
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It’s long overdue, but we need some nicknames over here. Since the start of the season three drivers from three different racing series have entered as kinda sorta fulltime drivers in the IndyCar series. Might as well get ‘em some monickers.

Name: John Andretti
Team: Roth Racing:
Facts: Son of Mario’s twin brother Aldo, Andretti left open-wheel racing in the mid 90s for a decade of decadence in the N-Word where even a backmarker is paid handsomely. Generally regarded as a nice guy, he’s proven to be a solid driver even with a new team like Roth Racing.
Possible Nickname: “Andretti 2.5” per audience suggestion

Name: Jamie Camara
Team: Conquest Racing
Facts: Most recent pronunciation is “kuh-MAH-ruh”. Longtime Indy Lights competitor with 3 wins in 42 races. This Brazilian (there’s a brazillion of them!) is most famously known as being like a little brother to Tony Kanaan, once infamously confused with Anthonly Fedele.
Possible Nickname: “Z28” per audience suggestion

Name: Mario Dominguez
Team: Pacific Coast Motorsports
Facts: Former Champ Car regular with 2 wins and 12 podiums in 87 starts. Checking out his stats it looks like he’s had his best finishes at street races (4 Top 5s at Long Beach, 3 podiums at Surfers Paradise). Oh, and he’s from Mexico City.
Possible Nickname: “Super Mario” has been used by the media, but that’s far from original. Two words: Mario Lemieux.

Feel free to put on your suggestions in the comments. In fact, I’m begging you to do so.

As an addendum, the pictures for Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal are being changed after receiving numerous complaints. It seems Anonymous took issues to the fact that the previous pictures made the drivers look too young, despite the fact that they are, in fact, youthful. The horror.

Return of the yellow scare

Posted by Iannucci | 6/24/2008 | 6 comments »
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Chris Estrada at Indy Racing Revolution has a nice article noting how today may be one of the most pivotal in the history of American open-wheel racing. In an undisclosed location with the windows boarded and the doors locked various representatives from several engine manufacturers are meeting with IRL officials for preliminary discussions about competing in the IndyCar series. Unconfirmed reports have Ford, GM, BMW, Volkswagen, Peugeot, Hyundai, Fiat and Suburu (OK, so I made a few of those up) in attendance, discussing future technical specs that would somehow level the playing field and allow for dependable competition against whoop-ass machines emblazoned with “Honda”.

Unfortunately the same post includes other news relating to the future of racing. With the sudden perception of problems relating to a yellow-flag finish it seems a message board controversy is no longer just a point of discussion among die-hard race fans.

In the wake of consecutive races ending under caution, the IndyCar Series could be on the verge of going NASCAR with its finishes.

League officials confirmed Saturday at Iowa Speedway that meetings are under way as a step toward ensuring that each event has a chance to end at speed under green.

The most likely scenario involves Barnhart, as the chief steward of events, having the latitude to stop the action following a late-race accident to give a green-flag finish a chance. But enough laps likely must remain to finish in regulation, a Barnhart goal.

(MORE from IndyStar)
Oh, for goodness sakes. Of all of the things that need to be sorted out for this newly acquimergified series this should not be one of them. We’ve had this same kind of racing ending ever so infrequently under yellow for however many years, but suddenly now that the N-Word has these contrived finishes the IRL has to up the ante for viewer excitement or it’s back to .1 ratings for IndyCars.

As some of you might recall My Name Is IRL had a bit of a send-up on this madness a few weeks ago, sarcastically defining rules for improving the odds of finishing under a green flag. (Re-read it, or at least re-read the inspired first comment from the infamous “mmack”.) The ever articulate Jeff Olson also discussed this as well, giving many un-sarcastic reasons why this is a thoroughly bad idea, not the least of which is that any contrived finish is begging for crashes. But let’s not let a few valid reasons get in the way of green flag.

Ironically in the days after I posted my piece I had people tell me “I liked your ‘go-zone’ idea” of green only laps at the end of the race, which tells me the masses are not the same as they ever were and are now demanding that something be changed. So, if you really want change as much as Danica really (REALLY) wants to win, then I’ll tell you what: I’ll give you an honest set of ideas and this time I’ll do my best to hold the sarcasm.

To be perfectly clear, I don’t think there’s anything that needs to be changed with the current treatment of yellow and green flag laps, but if we must do something for the sake of contrived excitement then your humble host offers up this proposal to be thrown against the wall and seeing what sticks.

Proposal 1 – Only count green flag laps. If you paid for 200 laps then friend, you get 200 green flag laps. Period. If we start discussing any changes for the final X laps then let me point out that any rule change good enough for the last few laps should be good enough for the entire race. Consequently yellow-flag laps do not count ever, and no that doesn’t make the race longer than the set number miles any more than parade laps before the green flag do. This way we have contrived excitement AND purity in the same solution.

Proposal 2 – Yellow flags are only for warm-up laps. If for any reason traffic must be slowed there will be no more parade laps. Now, whenever so much as a Dallara mirror falls on the track the red flag comes out and all competitors must proceed directly to their pit boxes, park the car, and “make fuel” the old-fashioned way by turning off the engine. When the track has been cleared there will be two yellow warm-up laps followed by the green flag. Additionally, final average speeds will all be records in the first season.

Proposal 3 – All vehicle maintenance must be conducted under a green flag lap. The best way to reduce accidents in the pits is to eliminate having 20+ drivers pitting at once. Pick your laps carefully and make your in and out laps matter every time. If there’s not green flag then there’s no touching of the car, no fueling, no nothing. Just sit there, let your tires cool off, have a drink, maybe take a potty break if needed.

Proposal 4 – Allow drivers to start their own cars. No touching the car during the red flag parking fiestas means the drivers need to be able to re-fire their cars. Which makes sense anyways because how many laps are we losing now because someone stalls on the track and needs a push or a tow? I understand there is a tradition here, but having a dude in the back of your car firing up the car doesn’t exactly smell like 21st Century technology.

Proposal 5 – No more fuel settings. Races decided on who gets the best fuel mileage are by no means illegitimate, but they are less entertaining. Races are contests of speed, not conservation, and there isn’t a single person I know who waits all week to see which driver can play a better game of chicken with the fuel setting. Henceforth there will be a rev-limiter on the engines that will be for pit speed and warm-up laps at 60 mph, and for everything else drivers have to save fuel by doing it with their feet just like the rest of us.

There you go. It’s not perfect, but it may be the best we can do. And if nothing else I’d ask everyone to personally contact Mr Barnhart to at least get Proposal 5 implemented so you don’t have to hear (read?) me complaining about fuel knobs anymore.

Pay up sucker

Posted by Iannucci | 6/24/2008 | 1 comments »
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After having that now infamous energy drink skip payments towards sponsorship WISH-TV reports Sarah Fisher Racing has now been stiffed by a former presidential candidate. Not that politicians mishandling money is exactly breaking news.

Hillary Clinton has a record campaign debt of $22 million with at least 17 unpaid bills in Indiana.

Joining...in the pay line is Sarah Fisher Racing. It wants $635. The IndyCar team staged a photo opportunity on Primary Election Day providing caps and other props to the campaign.

At least some of the Clinton debts will get paid and spokesmen for Markey's, Indiana University and Sarah Fisher Racing all say they expect payment.
$635 isn’t going to make or break SFR, who have are still looking to race next at Kentucky Speedway in August. However, their financial woes harken back to this Schoolhouse Rock gem.

The check's in the mail
The check is in the mail
And it ought to be there Tuesday without fail
If you have got a bill to pay
Or something you need to buy
Just write the check and send it off in the mail

So happy together

Posted by Iannucci | 6/23/2008 | 2 comments »
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Love, and perhaps bigger paychecks, is all around.

Tony Kanaan said he is joining a list of IndyCar Series drivers that includes Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon. Their commonality: Negotiating contracts to remain with their current teams for the 2009 season and beyond.

"We do have our problems," Kanaan said of the 21-year-old (teammate Marco) Andretti, "but we work together 24/7. We race together . . . It's not [always good with teammates], but you don't just break up because of it."

"I think they've got a lot of shovels going on," (Wheldon) said of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team. "But honestly, with the way (the IRL) is right now and they're going to have more races and I think more testing, I'm excited to stay."

(MORE from Autoweek)

Double take

Posted by Iannucci | 6/23/2008 | 2 comments »
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A reader named “Speedy” forwarded this link to the Inbox, which purports to include the greatest sports figures bearing mustaches. Speedy was concerned about the omission of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and 3-time CART champion Bobby Rahal, asking succinctly “Where’s the ‘Stache?”

An excellent point, although if we are talking about drivers with hair on the upper lip we need to also recall three-time Indy 500 winner Mauri Rose.


Say, is it me or does he look more than a little like this guy?


Just asking.

“The new Scott Sharp”

Posted by Iannucci | 6/23/2008 | 1 comments »
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Sounds like Scott Dixon and Ed Carpenter didn’t think Iowa was a good place for Danica Patrick to throw a block party.

"She's lucky that's all she got man," Dixon said when asked about what he perceived was a near brush with trouble by Patrick during the race. "She's a menace man."

"I just started working with my car, working towards the front but Danica was doing her normal supreme block job," Carpenter said. "She is the new Scott Sharp of the series as far as I am concerned. That is two races in a row."

(MORE from USAToday)
I’m shocked, SHOCKED to hear of blocking during an IndyCar race!

Weigh this with a grain of salt, because any spotter will tell you that racing in a congested environment like Iowa Speedway leads to all sorts of complaints about drivers not holding their lines. During the LiveBlog yesterday I caught Marco Andretti on the scanner complaining about Dixon’s defensive driving, and I’m certain others elsewhere were tweaked about someone else. Brian Barnhart probably has a sore ear from spending the entire day listening to complaints about Scott Sharp impersonations.

Oh how we miss thee, Sir Blocks-A-Lot.

LiveBlog: Iowa 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 6/22/2008 | 16 comments »
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Turning on the TV this morning revealed a 30-minute pre-race show on ABC, which is darn near astounding. I am feeling the love.

Also feeling the love are Iowa and Indiana, who after suffering through biblical-level flooding are finding all sorts of charitable contributions related to the Indy Racing League. I'll try to list them all in a later post, but suffice it so say you will see and hear about this throughout the broadcast.

And speaking of love, here's a little for Ryan Briscoe. After starting the season like a missile looking for a target he locked it in at Milwaukee and Texas, going from 19th to 5th in the points. Roger probably took him out for ice cream on the off week.

And now, it's time to start.

1: As we go green Helio jumps to the lead. Mutoh looks like he skipped a gear or soething, causing a huge bottleneck. Fortunately these guys are professionals and everyone brakes accordingly.

9: Man, these laps go fast. Dixon and his snappy blue Commit are off the pace a bit as Kanaan comes up to Helio.

12: Side by side and Kanaan can’t quite get around Helio. No, there’s nothing wrong with this aero package. Dixon, Marco, Wheldon trail them.

17: Kanaan finally gets around Helio but it should be tight racing between these two for a while.

22: Marco is up to third and Wheldon is closing in on his teammate.

30: Nevermind. Kanaan has opened up a lead of nearly a second. Hunyter-Reay is the big mover going from 14th to 7th.

35: Buddy Rice is currently 23rd. Never mind the Cheat Sheet.

37: Our first mention of Danica, as she is battling Foyt IV for 9th.

39: Yellow for the yellow car as Ed has gone into the wall. He’s out and walking around.

42: Pit stop fiesta, and the new leaders are Kanaan, Helio, Marco, Wheldon, Briscoe. Dixon drops to sixth.

44: Danicker on RaceControl complaining of a push. Sounding substantially less than angry though. Must be the calming influence of pressdog this weekend.

52: Restart and Kanaan seems to be slowing. Helio around him and Marco darn near bump drafting his teammate. Of note, Vitor Meira was penalized for a pit infraction and has been moved to the back of the pack. He was in 10th.

56: Quatro started in 18th but is now up to 7th. Hook ‘em horns!

59: Arute is at the cutaway car discussing push rods and weight jackers. My viewing is EXTREMELY enhanced.

62: Wheldon divebombs Marco and takes over third. Helio continues to lead as Kanaan has settled into 2nd.

72: We have been informed the Roger Penske is not at the track, recuperating from “a medical procedure”. What’s the part of the brain that allows someone to express emotion? Just askin’.

82: Wheldon is up on Kanaan’s bumper as the Top 3 bunch up for racing. Meanwhile Buddy Rice’s car is in the pits ON FIRE. So much for that streak of Top 10 finishes.

86: Scott Dixon is in 8th, hating life, right ahead of John Andretti. Meanwhile Quattro is up to 6th.

97: Not much happening up front. This lack of racing excitement has been brought to you by the makers of fuel conservation.

102: Yellow for a verrrrrry slow Jamie Camara. Doesn’t look like he hit anything, except possibly the “E” on the fuel gauge.

105: Pit fiesta and it's Kanaan, Wheldon, Marco, Helio, Briscoe. Say hello to Justin Wilson who jumps up to 8th. Foyt IV drops to 9th, but on the positive side he didn't catch fire.

112: Back to green flag racing and Wheldon drops like a stone! Back to 9th or 10th, hanging with John Andretti. Replay shows Wheldon banging wheels with John, gesturing with one hand while he does it. Multi-tasking the rage.

122: Meanwhile, Marco is in second. Remember, he followed Franchitti around to finish second here last year so he's done this dance before.

126: Oh by the way, Darren Manning is out. Both he and Rice have dropped out with handling issues. Pigs in Iowa.

130: Quattro moves around Dixon for 6th. Check for locusts.

134: Quattro around Briscoe for 5th as Marco takes the lead from Kanaan.

143: Marco, Kanaan, Helio, Hunter, Quattro. Justin Wilson is hanging in there in 10th.

147: John Andretti in a Roth Car has just gone around Briscoe in a Penske car for 7th. The end is near.

156: Yellow for Mario Moraes, stalled sideways at the pit entry. Mmmm, Bar-B-Que sounds great right about now.

158: Much pitting as the leaderboard now reads Kanaan, Helio, Marco, Hunter, Wheldon. Quattro's pit stop drops him back to 7th and John Andretti is no longer in the top 10. In fact he's in 15th after have a fuel hose issue.

159: Vitor is stuck in the pits losing laps but eventually exits. Same story for Oriol Servia. Bummer for them.

166: Back to green and Hunter and Marco go side by side. This time Marco let's him by, willingly or not. Ahead of them Helio retakes the lead.

175: Hunter is still in third right behind Helio and Kanaan. Marco lurking behind him.

187: Yellow for Bernoldi who spun and stalled in the middle of the track. Desperately seeking airtime for his sponsors.

188: Most cars pit, although Wheldon, Mutoh and Patrick do not.

195: Back to green.

196: Back to yellow as Moraes whitewalls it on the restart. Wheldon, Mutoh, Patrick - conserving - with Kanaan and Dixon behind them.

202: Back to green as Wheldon separates from everyone. We have 18 cars on the track.

210: Hunter getting lose. Nearly hits the wall. Nearly hits Briscoe. Not sure if he hit the lottery.

211: Yellow for Kanaan HARD into the wall. Cue the "Another one bites the dust" song. Like last year Nariz just lost it in the turn, but this time he didn't collect anyone. He’s out but his day is over.

212: Marco on the radio, sharing the love: “He’s f****** blocking me! I don’t care if he is the f****** points leader!”

217: Still yellow with Wheldon, Mutoh and Danica conserving successfully. Followed by Dixon, Marco, Helio, Quattro.

220: Jack Arute, talking about Mutoh's team, just said "they have been battling a car that is good." Anyone have their Arute decoder ring handy?

226: Back to green in the worst restart ever. Danica and Helio dropped back, but I have no idea who is where right now.

229: Helio is losing air in a tire, going backwards in a hurry.

231: HUGE save by Viso as he goes sideways trying to get past the slowing Castroneves. No yellow, and Helio ends the madness by pitting. Thank you, sir.

235: Wheldon, Mutoh, Marco lead the way. Dixon, Foyt and Patrick back a bit.

240: Marco is trying to get around Mutoh, but so far no dice. They’re both just a few car lengths behind Wheldon, who turns 30 today.

245: Marco and Mutoh continue to battle. Somewhere Michael Andretti is covering his eyes. And his check book.

250: Wheldon wins and as announced previous to the race he will be donating his ENTIRE check to the Iowa Red Cross. Very Huge! Mutoh right behind him in 2nd, then Marco, Dixon and Foyt IV(!).

Dan looks happy in Victory Lane, saying he’s “21 again!” Jack Arute kisses him. My eyes are burning.

There were more than a few crashes today but without exception this was a much better race than last year. Congrats to Dan who is closes the gap on his teammate in the championship hunt. Helio’s Top 5 streak breaks with a 14th place finish, and in case you were wondering Danicker finished 9th 6th. That’s it for now, so thank you very much and good night.

Cheat Sheet: Iowa 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 6/21/2008 | 2 comments »
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While a lot of people seemed to think last year's inaugural race at Iowa Speedway was a boatload of fun, others like your humble host saw it as a total dog of an event. Part of the excitement of short-tracks is seeing drivers working through traffic more, but the wing setup seemed all wrong because the cars couldn't very well complete passes and instead it was just a lot of collisions.

So the this year the powers that be went back to the drawing board and held multiple testing sessions to determine what could be changed on the car to make it work better here. The solution: nothing. Just write it off to the freakish cold weather in June and hope for the best this year.

Oh, and add more cars with a bunch of series rookies.

Well, the weather is indeed warmer this year, but that hasn't shown to change much as there has already several hard crashes in practice, two of which resulting in entry withdrawals. Ladies and gentlemen, start your festival of carbon fiber.

Favorite: Delphi Safety Team. 24 cars going flat out all the way around a sub-mile oval sound like a great idea in theory, but so far it's only working out for parts suppliers. Expect the very large men in the orange and black jumpsuits to garner the most airtime on Sunday.

Contender: Helio Castroneves. Despite being winless Helio has finished in the Top 5 in every race this year. Were it not for his mishap at Belle Isle last year he would be riding a streak of 10 such races right now. FUN-tastic!

Longshot: Buddy Rice. Not only has Rice finished in the Top 10 in three straight races, but he finished 4th here last year. Fourth is like a 3-race winning streak for Dreyer & Reinbold. Now he just has to decide which Red Bull hat to wear.

Driver to Watch: Marco Andretti. Marco finished second here last year and has looked very good on ovals this season, except for part about the crashing in the last few laps. He's going to be a factor in the win, or in a crash, possibly both.

Danica Threat Level: DanCon One. Probably the last race of the year at the highest level, but AGR has this track figured out and Danica led early practice times. With all of the traffic she'll certainly have her anger on, so I'm personally hoping she's included in this week's Race Control product.

Stat of the Race: Last year the Iowa Corn Indy 250 started with 19 cars and finished with 10 running. Again, who thought this was a good race?

Drinking term: "Collected", and we ain't talking about payments.

pressdog says: "Greetings from Iowa Speedway. I'd say Iceman is going to win this, but he's got the Commit car and that was the kiss of death last year. He'll probably still win, but let's get nutty and call this one for the Fun-tastic Driver, El-eee-o Castroneves."

I would be remiss if I did not mention that pressdog is covering this event live since it's right in his backyard. Check out his site for pics and stories to enhance your viewing, and enjoy the show!

Attrition

Posted by Iannucci | 6/21/2008 | 0 comments »
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Two more compentitors will join Mario Dominguez on the sidelines for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 tomorrow. From the braintrust at TrackSide Online:

Marty Roth and Bruno Junqueira are both packing up and will not run this weekend. Remember, in early May, we heard that the IRL was going to restrict this race to just 26 starters, but 27 were planning to be here. PCM then decided not to make the trip, Marty crashed, Bruno crashed and now we've got 24!

Roth is reporting that a pushrod broke in the rear, causing his crash, and we already noted that the left rear lower wishbone on Bruno's car broke - sending him in to the wall.

It is notable that Roth has a back-up, that in theory should be ready to go, but they are electing not to use it. And while Dale Coyne could probably get a back-up together enough to run tomorrow, they too are not going that route.

(MORE from TrackSide Online)
Looks like even Moto Marty is getting frugal with his weekly wall quotient. Just one good moment of contact and he's done for the week.

Coasting in neutral

Posted by Iannucci | 6/19/2008 | 4 comments »
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Less than exciting news for fans of Mario Dominguez and PCM, courtesy of an IndyCar press release.

Pacific Coast Motorsports to miss Iowa race: Pacific Coast Motorsports will not participate in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer at Iowa Speedway.

"I've decided to keep the team at our headquarters in California to re-evaluate and strengthen our program," said team owner Tyler Tadevic. "Pacific Coast Motorsports and the Mexico City Tourism Board are committed to the IndyCar Series. PCM has a contract with Mexico City through 2009, and this has always been our building year. Along with our partners, we have determined we are going to take some time to re-evaluate our resources and determine how to strengthen our 2008 program and better prepare for a competitive 2009 season."

The team debuted with driver Mario Dominguez at Indianapolis, gaining valuable practice time in May although it failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. The team competed at Milwaukee and Texas, finishing 26th and 21st, respectively.
As a business buzzword "re-evaluate" has a number of connotations, nearly all of which being negative for current members of the team. Perhaps the PCM "partners" decided to "re-evaluate" their funding, although as you can see there is nothing mentioned above that explicitly states that as the case.

Obligatory Paul Tracy rumor

Posted by Iannucci | 6/19/2008 | 8 comments »
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As found by Dr Indy in the Edmonton Sun.

Tracy is also rumoured to be close to coming to terms with a sponsorship deal that would see him race in the Indy Racing League at the Rexall Edmonton Indy in July for Derrick Walker Racing.
Just so you know, there's nothing on the Walker Racing site that even remotely hints at an IndyCar series program. Yes friends, that means it's gotten so bad that Captain Crunch is now rumored to be driving for teams that don't really exist. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

UPDATE: Robin, breathlessly following the story, says Tony George is willing to commit a car to Tracy and Walker but ultimately it all comes down to finding sponsorship.

"Paul wants to do it, Tony wants to do it and I want to do it so now we're trying to make it happen," said Walker, whose longtime open wheel operation has been idle since the Champ Car finale at Long Beach last April.

"I've got a couple people in Canada up there pitching for us with about a dozen companies so hopefully we can come up with something in the next week or so."

(MORE from SpeedTV)

Rick Mears speaks

Posted by Iannucci | 6/19/2008 | 0 comments »
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These kids today, some of them go very fast on these tracks and you sit them down and say ‘Do you want to set fast laps?” And they’ll say, “Well, yeah, yeah.” So you say it’s not brain surgery, you gotta finish if you want to win the race. And they’ll say, “Well, yeah, yeah.” And then they say “I just wanna win so bad. I‘ll do anything to win, anything to win.” If that’s the case, then you’re lying to me. If you’ll do anything to win, you’ll slow down. Well, anything but that, I guess.

Some struggle more than others. Some get it right away. This is a business about going fast. That’s what we feel we’re supposed to do. It’s a question of figuring out when to go fast, where to go fast, and when not to.
In case you haven't checked it out yet (and you might not have because his site did a "face plant" as soon as he posted it) be sure to read pressdog's interview with Rick Mears. It's FUN-tastic!

Five finger discount

Posted by Iannucci | 6/18/2008 | 5 comments »
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Wait until the Iron Hand of Justice gets a whiff of this. From WISH-TV:

It appears that some local thieves might not be fans of open wheel racing. Sinden Racing Service was broken into Monday night and vandals got away with a carload of race car related goods.

Six racing helmets belonging to drivers like Danica Patrick and Helio Castroneves were taken. Dan Wheldon's helmet that he wore in last year's win at Homestead is also gone.

Also on the list of stolen goods are four IBM laptop computers, two DVD players, two Xbox systems and some high-end watches.
Huh. Wonder if they were Tissot (Danica) or Tag Heuer (Sarah)?

Meanwhile WTHR-TV notes that among the confiscated items was "a Sarah Fisher helmet signed by fans to wish her luck at the Indy 500." Eee-gads! Like that wouldn’t be obvious if you put it up on eBay.

Ironically the one thing they didn’t take could have had the most value to the league: the trailer that was raided also included the Indy Racing League Championship trophy. For some reason I thought this was handed off to the winner like Lord Stanley’s Cup, but I guess IRL officials felt the hardware would be safer inside a truck than at Dario’s home. After all, he’s got crime issues as well.

If you have any clues about this shameless theft then by all means please contact The Authorities, although presumably detectives have already started their investigation by questioning these two felonious IndyCar fans.

Talk to Graham

Posted by Iannucci | 6/18/2008 | 3 comments »
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From the mind-bogglingly cluttered front page of IndyCar.com.

Chat with Rahal about The Glen and more

Chat with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal at 7:30 p.m. (ET) June 18 via the Watkins Glen International Fan Forum.

Log on to www.TheGlen.com/forum, fill out the short registration form and you're ready to go. Two other IndyCar Series drivers will participate in the weekly chats leading up to the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 6.


Suggested questions include:
• Which track has the “softest” walls?
• Big Macs or Quarter Pounders?
• Is the extensive IndyCar series schedule ruining your golf game?
• Come on, WHEN are you growing the freaking mustache?
• Blue Jackets or Crew?
• They didn’t give you champagne because of your age, but did Carl Haas give you one of his cigars when you won at St Pete?


UPDATE: Will from Is It May Yet? informs us that during the chat Graham typed the "five most devastating words in motorsports".

I'll never grow a mustache
Pity. Guess we'll just have to keep over-using this photo then.

Marco cuts it close

Posted by Iannucci | 6/18/2008 | 13 comments »
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The good news is a driver not named "Danica" has an advertisment with a major brand. The bad news is he's dubbed.

Seriously, it's not so much that Marco probably isn't growing a full beard anytime soon, but is his voice really that bad?

Howard held hostage: Race #4

Posted by Iannucci | 6/17/2008 | 9 comments »
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From the Roth Racing release:

John Andretti will remain in the seat of the #24 Roth Racing Dallara-Honda for this weekend's Iowa Corn 250 IndyCar Series race in Newton, Iowa.

This will be Andretti's 4th consecutive race in the #24 Roth Racing entry. He joined the team at Indianapolis, where he moved up from his 21st starting position to finish one lap back in 16th, and qualified an impressive 7th at the last race in Texas, equaling the best ever IndyCar Series start for Roth Racing, set by Marty Roth earlier this year at Kansas.
In a related note, Howard will be on the Autosport Radio program tonight at 7PM ET, discussing how he's using his newly found free time to become super awesome at things like knitting and scrapbooking.

Bobbing for talent

Posted by Iannucci | 6/16/2008 | 6 comments »
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It still seems strange that a proven announcer like Bob Jenkins is toiling away on Indy Lights recaps, but at least he isn't suffering the indignity of calling Competitive Eating like Paul Page does these days. Anyhow, Curt Cavin has dropped the news that Jenkins will likely be getting a call-up for a few races this season while Marty Reid is off calling N-Word races.

Question: I have heard rumbles about Bob Jenkins announcing 2 IndyCar races for ESPN because Marty Reid has Nationwide Series races that conflict. Is there any truth to this? Could it possibly turn out that next year, Mr. Jenkins returns to the ESPN booth full time? (Scott, Hughesville, Pa.)

Answer: I think I heard Bob say he's doing two races for Marty. As for full-time work, I'm not sure that's under consideration at this time, but maybe
Jenkins is the consummate professional who probably should be calling the IndyCar series races anyways, although having him call a race with the Canadian Dry that is Scott Goodyear could turn out to be sleep inducing.

Now if the unflappable Jenkins were to paired with the highly-flappable Derek Daly, well then that's a horse of different color.

Viso can drive anything

Posted by Iannucci | 6/13/2008 | 2 comments »
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Race Director Tony Kanaan can drive an IndyCar on three wheels, but EJ Viso can best you on vehicles with two wheels. Or one wheel – it’s true!



Viso is also perhaps the most superstitious driver in racing, keeping lucky charms in his pockets that vary from coins to pieces of a sweater his grandmother made. Ironically this racer also has pet turtles, although he probably doesn't keeps those in his firesuit.

This ethanol is fuming

Posted by Iannucci | 6/13/2008 | 4 comments »
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Chris Estrada at Indy Racing Revolution has found quite an intriguing audio clip. In an interview with Hoosier Ag Today (it’s an ethanol thang) a bummed out Ryan Hunter-Reay minces no words about his touching moment with Marco Andretti last Saturday, saying “the more I talk about it the more frustrated I get.”

“It’s unfortunate, because Marco’s driving like he’s gonna lose his ride. Four other drivers complained after the race; they all came up to me after the race complaining about how Marco was driving. I don’t know, he’s just got to reshape his attitude a little bit.

“He’s just got a horrible attitude about everything, and he just seems to be — I mean, he’s a talented driver, he’s just needs to drive within the limits and he’ll bring home great race cars. Right now, he’s just driving over his head at the moment.”
Guess we won’t hear a lot of “Hunter-Reay to AGR” rumors this year.

The Hunter also mentions that he felt confident about scoring a win in those final laps because his had already passed Dixon a few times, and that in all of his years driving on ovals in other series this was “the first incident with another car”. I’m not confirming that as true but it’s what he said.

Look, we all saw Ryan’s car get squirrelly a couple of times (once right in front of Ryan Briscoe) and the camera from the back of Dixon’s car showed that Marco had (barely) given enough room for The Hunter to race, but the guy had to be doing something right to be in the Top 3 that late.

Whether Ryan is simply cryin’ or Marco really did find his way off the Christmas Card lists of “four other drivers”, the fact is we have another budding rivalry to watch for on Sundays. And as Martha Stewart says, “that’s a good thing”.

Magical news on Friday the 13th

Posted by Iannucci | 6/13/2008 | 11 comments »
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A new track is expected to be added to the IndyCar series schedule...and it's an oval.

Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager at New Hampshire Motor Speedway confirmed yesterday that the IndyCar Series will most likely return to “The Magic Mile.”

“There is 100 percent interest from both the IndyCar Series and Speedway Motorsports Inc. to having the IndyCar Series return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway,” Gappens said in a telephone interview.

After meeting with IndyCar Series executive Terry Angstadt last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, Gappens said open-wheel racing could return to NHMS as soon as the 2009 season and definitely in 2010.

(MORE from Boston Herald)
The Indy Racing League (as well as CART) have held open-wheel racing events at this track as recent as 1998, but as noted in Wikipedia the track has been modified substantially since then.

In 2002, in an effort to increase competitive racing, the track's corners were turned into a progressive banking system, as the apron was paved and became part of the track, and the track's banking was varied from 4 degrees in the lower two lanes to 12% grade (about seven degrees). The addition of SAFER barriers to the corner walls was made in 2003.
When officially announced this will become the fourth Speedway Motorsports track used by the IRL, joining the Eddie's Texas Roadhouse, Infineon Not Sears Point, and Kentucky "SPARTA!" Speedway.

Yellow scare

Posted by Iannucci | 6/12/2008 | 11 comments »
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When something undesirable happens it can often be ruled as a fluke, but a second occurrence constitutes a pattern that demands addressing. So it is that after two straight races of finishing under the un-thrilling yellow flag the fans of the IndyCar series are desperately talking up the N-Word style green-white-checkered (GWC) finish. With much wailing and gnashing of teeth the masses are gathering at 16th and Georgetown, marching arm in arm and chanting “GWC will set us free!” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the yellow flag has got to go!”

For those of you who do not watch N-Word races, the GWC policy states that if the final lap is conducted under a yellow or red flag the racers will be given one chance to race under green flag conditions for two laps once the track is judged to be clear. If anyone wrecks during that two laps then the race will finish under a yellow flag, except if it crash is on the last lap whereby officials just let the other racers keep on rolling so Mark Martin can remain winless at Daytona.

Should the ICS ever consider adopting a similar measure the official stance of My Name Is IRL is “no”. Specifically, “NO FREAKING WAY!” This is not a position brought about by the sanctity of racing only the allotted laps or by concerns of becoming stock car-ish, but rather because the GWC doesn’t guarantee much excitement beyond more crashing. Regardless of the level of their profession, if you get a bunch of drivers together in close quarters and have them drag race their way while running on fumes then the only thing you guarantee is a that they will all switch into “Road Warrior” mode and attempt to pass each other by any means necessary.

If anyone has the stats it would be interesting to see how many of these Cup race finishes end with crashes during the Two Laps of Fury, because it certainly seems a goodly portion of the ones your humble host happens to catch end with that kind of madness. It bears noting that there is reason behind not having unlimited finishes guaranteeing a green flag because the destruction level is correspondingly unlimited. That’s not hyperbole because I swear I was watching some Friday night ARCA race in the past few years and they had like 7 of these GWC deals because they couldn’t get two clean laps at the end. That’s not racing – that’s demolition derby.

However, if something absolutely must be done to artificially create excitement then we must consider all option beyond adding laps via the already flawed GWC finish. To start we will need to define a commit point for what exactly constitutes The End of each race, which would be based on the race length and circuit. Something like 2 laps remaining at Long Beach, 5 laps at Texas, and 10 laps at Milwaukee. Once you have that established you can start promoting your own “21st Century Style” rules for finishing the race. Choices at commit point include:

Require all cars running outside of the Top 5 to pull over. Listen, if you’re not in the race it doesn’t matter. For real. All competitors from sixth-place on down get the same money for every race so there’s no reason to risk wrecking the equipment while trying to gain one or two measly little positions. If you find yourself behind Milka then you just have to deal with it.

Require Scott Dixon to pull over if he IS leading. The unspoken reason for wanting a contrived finish is in the faint hope that someone might actually outrace the guy who’s laying a total smack-down on the series right now. People hate him for being boring and they think his dominance is the worst thing to happen to the IRL since the Gen IV engine debacle, so they desperately want him to start losing to far more personable drivers.

Require Marco Andretti to pull over if he IS NOT leading. Debate it over whether or not it’s his fault, but the fact remains both of these last two races have finished under yellow because of accidents involving Marco. Short track or super speedway, inside or outside line, doesn’t matter. His driving skills and confidence level have increased, but so have the AGR repair bills. (My guess is his run of misfortune has been caused by a voodoo doll Tony Kanaan keeps in a hidden compartment in his Dallara, but that hasn't been proven.)

Require everyone to pit except Danica Patrick. Hey, if we’re contriving race finishes then why not go for the one that helps the league the most?

Require green flag racing regardless of track condition. For all of the realistic representations of the “Indianapolis 500 Legends” game on the Wii, the game has the unusual quirk of not having any yellow flags during a race. In fact, there are several scenarios where you have to race through a half lap full of flaming carnage at darn near top speed since apparently there were no such things as yellow flags before 1972. Who knew? If we’re willing to accept the likely GWC carnage then let’s just go all the way and embrace the video game solution to this pesky problem. As an added bonus, you can guarantee a ratings bonanza by attracting the “World’s Scariest Police Chases” crowd.

If none of these sound appealing then there’s always the dreaded International Option. As you know, evenly-scored soccer matches throughout the world are often decided by penalty kicks, so applying this logic to auto racing could provide a new twist to determining a definitive race winner. Simply take all cars on the lead lap and have them each enter pit lane, perform a full fuel load and tire change, and exit. The one with the fastest pit stop is declared the victor in overtime. It’s no less contrived than a GWC, and it’s a whole lot safer.


All joking aside, N-Word expert Jayski notes that "There have been 30 green-white-checkered [GWC] finishes in Cup history, and only six times has the leader lost the lead on those final two laps." Bottom line, it's an 80% chance the madness results in no lead change, so why bother?

That ain't no way to treat a lady

Posted by Iannucci | 6/11/2008 | 9 comments »
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Looks like Danica! will finally be getting that F1 test she wants.

Honda has confirmed that Danica Patrick will get a test in one of its Formula One cars later this year, fuelling speculation that the American is also to be given a race chance in the top flight in the not-too-distant future.

Honda CEO Nick Fry has admitted to Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung that a test will indeed take place, and that it is likely to do so at either Barcelona or Jerez in Spain in November, following the end of the 2008 F1 campaign.

“We will put her into our car after the season at the latest and see how quick she is,” the Briton said.

(MORE from Crash.net)
Well good for her...hold up, wait a minute!

Nick Fry has denied reports that IndyCar race winner Danica Patrick is scheduled to test for Honda later this year.

The Honda CEO, though, has denied ever saying this, stating that there are no plans in place to test Patrick.

"There has been no contact between us," he told Autosport.

(MORE from PlanetF1.com)
Fry later admitted his words may have been misinterpreted by the Austrian press, saying that “We will put her into our car and see how quick she is” was a hypothetical response to a question about what Max Mosley would say if Mrs Hospenthal asked for a ride.

OK, I totally made up that last part, but if there’s a better explanation out there please enlighten us.

Paul Newman has had better days

Posted by Iannucci | 6/10/2008 | 8 comments »
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The Los Angeles Times reports (albeit unconfirmed) that Paul Newman, who among other charitible ventures has worked with the "Hole in the Wall Gang" to make life easier for children with life-threatening illnesses, has himself been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

The acclaimed actor is said to have been diagnosed at New York’s Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he is currently receiving outpatient treatment and is under a leading New York oncologist's care. One of the few to know about Newman's illness is his "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" costar and good pal, Robert Redford.

(MORE from the LA Times)
Yeah, the man totally hated the IRL for a while there but his love of motorsports has always been unquestionable. And although his movie career has been HUGE it's his charitable work that has made him stand out from other celebrities.

Lung cancer is a beast, so if this is indeed true our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this time that, speaking from experience, will totally suck.

If a picture says a thousand words

Posted by Iannucci | 6/10/2008 | 10 comments »
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What does this one say?


(Photo: TrackSide Online)

Will it play in Peoria?

Posted by Iannucci | 6/10/2008 | 12 comments »
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“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”George Santayana

Earlier this week our good buddy pressdog put together another piece of satirical brilliance discussing how the IndyCar series is adding more road and street courses called “IRL ‘Pretty Sure’ it can sell customers what they don’t want.” The send-up was built around a quote by Texas Motor Speedway’s Eddie Gossage, who said the IRL should have “80% ovals” to truly succeed”, which even your humble IRL fan will admit is probably a high number. Still, Eddie is in the business of selling tickets and he knows events like his are generally more viable than those involving right turns.

I know, I’m fanning some flames here – so be it. But the notorious flame-fanner known as Robin has joined this conversation by saying the IRL should get rid of most ovals that aren’t short tracks. Not that you would expect the man who keeps calling big oval tracks “deathtraps” to speak any differently.

With a couple exceptions, open-wheel racing and ovals no longer mesh. Sure, it's still some of the best racing on this planet and it's much better to watch on television, but it's usually a big financial loser. That's why George has had to abandon the IRL's all-oval mantra and adopt one of CART's few good ideas -- a blend of road courses, street circuits and ovals.

Since the split in 1996, Atlanta, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Dover, Fontana, Las Vegas, Loudon, St. Louis, Michigan, Nazareth, Orlando and Phoenix have thrown in the towel for various reasons.

And, we're reporting right here that you can add Homestead and Nashville to that list, because neither will be back on the 2009 IRL schedule.

(MORE from SpeedTV)
Nice list. Here are a few others that have “thrown in the towel for various reasons”: Portland, Road America, Laguna Seca, as well as street races scheduled for San Jose, Houston, Vancouver, Denver, Miami, and (gasp!) Phoenix. Using Robin’s logic we can all conclude that open-wheel and road racing, or open-wheel and street racing no longer mesh. Sure it’s some of the most boring racing on the planet, and it’s much worse on TV, but it’s nearly always a big financial loser.

Seriously, Toronto and Edmonton were just added as losers of $2 million and $1 million per event respectively while “open-wheel racing and ovals no longer mesh”. Gimme a break.

Pop quiz: the biggest open-wheel race on the planet is held at what kind of track? Here’s a hint: it has four turns. Now obviously that doesn’t mean all ovals will work for the IRL, but when places like Texas continue to show the kind of lead changes and passing (not to mention attendance) that most road courses can never have it’s incredible to think this argument for MORE twisties comes this week.

(And not to get off point here, but and quite frankly you can go ahead and get rid of Nashville this year and most folks wouldn’t be terribly upset. I know it’s a big event for Firestone, but that’s a single-lane oval and a total snooze of a race. Sorry, Tennessee.)

What a businessman like Eddie understands and a guy like Robin does not is that we can all have our personal preferences in our favorite types of tracks, but America as a nation has shown time and again to have very little interest in watching road and street racing. Why? My guess is it's because on ovals the excitement is right in front of the viewer. "Here we are now, entertain us." There go the cars, loud, fast, and passing each other constantly. The drama is evident no matter what you know about the drivers or the cars, and it’s so thrilling even your grandmother can enjoy it.

Compare this kind of racing with road courses, which are challenging not only for the drivers but also for the common spectator because by contrast there is a lot less passing. I don’t care how beautiful your circuit is, people aren’t going to line up by the thousands year in and year out and pay good money to watch a few hours of pit stop competitions. That’s a $10 Carb Day contest, not an actual race.

(Again with an aside, but laps clicking by without passing is boring on super speedways as well. It’s just a lot less likely to happen, except of course at Nashville.)

Now take the road course concept a step further with street courses. Not only do we have the passing-free environment of road racing, but there’s now the added touch of only being able to see one or two turns of the entire track. Yee haw. Because of this challenge, street race promoters have to work overtime to get people interested in watching, adding everything from grid girls to celebrity races. As a red-blodded American guy I can say I have no issues with grid girls, but notice they don’t have them at places like Indy. There they can trot out Jim Nabors to sing about “new-mown hay” and people go nuts.

The point being that although many of you – many of us – can find lots of entertaining things about road and street courses, the average consumer here in America isn’t going to give more than about 5 minutes of attention to this kind of racing. It’s a proven fact, people. Champ Car is no more because they couldn’t connect with the wallets of enough fans to sustain the series. That didn’t make them bad or evil or wrong, it just meant they had a broken business model.

Opinons are like backsides in that everyone has one so here’s mine: Stick with events that work (like Texas, Chicagoland, and certainly Long Beach) and drop ones that aren’t increasing at the gate or in the ratings book. Stop looking backwards at money-losing tracks and failed racing products and start looking ahead to what the IndyCar series can become. Look to the future, live in the present, and never forget the mistakes of the past.

Check out his GoDaddys

Posted by Iannucci | 6/10/2008 | 16 comments »
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Look what showed up in the Inbox.


Let's see. "Bigger chest" joke? Rude. "Furry dam builder"? Even worse. "Victory Lane" joke? That would get me killed.

I got nothing for this. How about you?

Quote of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 6/09/2008 | 13 comments »
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"I went in there pretty deep and I got into the apex and he just drilled us. Whether his brakes failed or his brain failed, I don't know but he seems to be wrecking a lot of race cars."

So was this Ryan Hunter-Reay lamenting the close quarters Marco Andretti was racing? Perhaps Marco's take on Ryan's driving? Maybe Scheckter discussing Moraes?

None of the above, but it was one open-wheel guy talking about another. Sorta. Click here to find out.

Return of Fronkensteen

Posted by Iannucci | 6/09/2008 | 2 comments »
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He’s back, though in a slower car.

Frenchman Franck Perera, who began the season in the IndyCar Series, will return to the track in the Firestone Indy Lights for the remainder of the 2008 season with Guthrie Racing, completing the team's four-car lineup.

The 23-year-old native of Montpellier, France will drive the No. 55 Guthrie Racing machine beginning at the June 10 Iowa Open Test as a teammate to current Guthrie Racing drivers Sean Guthrie, Logan Gomez and Micky Gilbert.

"I'm not really focusing on the title at this stage. I'm just looking at it race by race so I will not be holding back at any of the races. I hope to get some wins on the road courses since that's where my experience lies, but I plan on being right up there in the front on ovals as well after I get some more practice."

(MORE from IndyCar.com)
That’s a nice attitude for Franckie to have but he should be aware there are about 25 or so other drivers in that series thinking the same thing. Holding back a little here and there wouldn’t be such a bad thing, unless of course he wants to become a win occasionally but crash more occasionally driver like Jamie Camara. Yeah, Jamie’s the guy who replaced Perera, but that was after three-plus years in the feeder series. My guess is Franck isn’t seeking an extended stay in the IRL minor leagues.

You can’t deny the kid showed skills in the IndyCar series earlier this year, but now would be a good time for Perera to recall the immortal words of Vitor Meira after Fronkensteen’s indiscretion took both of them out likely Top 5 finishes at St Pete: “Look how fast you are now, dude.”

IRL Word of the Day: Ice

Posted by Iannucci | 6/09/2008 | 9 comments »
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Ayhs
-verb
1. to cover with ice.
2. to settle or seal; make sure of
3. to kill

“As Scott Dixon continues to lead this race has officially been iced.”

Homestead: Start 1st, finish 1st, led 67 of 200 laps
St Pete: Start 13th, finish 22nd, led 0 of 74 laps
Motegi: Start 2nd, finish 3rd, led 101 of 200 laps
Kansas: Start 1st, finish 3rd, led 145 of 200 laps
Indy: Start 1st, finishe 1st, led 115 of 200 laps
Milwaukee: Start 3rd, finish 1st 2nd, led 147 of 225 laps
Texas: Start 1st, finish 1st, led 58 of 228 laps

To date:
• 7 races
• 6 podiums
• 4 poles
• 3 wins

633 laps led of 1327 (47.7%)

(Photo: TrackSide Online)

LiveBlog (sorta): Texas 2008

Posted by Iannucci | 6/07/2008 | 24 comments »
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Welcome to the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway. If you have the funding then by all means buy yourself a Learjet, come pick me up, and let's go to the race of your choosing. I'll bring the snacks.

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

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

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

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

10: Yellow for a spin by Mario Dominguez.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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