LiveBlog: Kansas 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 4/26/2009 | 21 comments »
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Welcome ladies and gentleman to the first oval race of the season, which means the roughly half of you who've been disinterested the last few weeks are geeked, and the other bunch of you who got your street race vibe on are ready pass out from excessive left turns. Such is the bimergified world we live in.

The big story today would normally be that two cars not in the Big Three will be starting from the front row, as N/H/L teammates Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos will lead the field to the green flag. They got a little help from the IHJ though, who came down on the otherwise faster Helio and Dario for going below the yellow line during qualification. Those drivers will be sent to the back, and quite honestly it should be more fun to watch them try to work back through the field.

(Note: This also marks roughly 423rd time Helio has been punished by league officials, who thankfully were not on the jury for his recent tax-related legal festivities.)

No, the big story is the weather, which may or may not rain but will definitely be blowing like a...hang on, my kids read this site, so you'll have to imagine your own analogy. Needless to say Mother Nature is yet again on a rampage at Kansas, going so far as to unleash the fury of a nearby tornado yesterday.

Here is exclusive footage of Pat Caporali and the @VisionRacing team seeking shelter.



Seriously though, let's hope everyone can manage to stay safe in these inclement conditions. The Indy Lights race this morning resulted in much carnage between turns three and four, giving the Delphi Safety Team more track time than many of the drivers. Not exactly what race fans came to see.

Battling wind and racing against the (possibly) forthcoming rain will make for some interesting twists on the racing today, but it also set the danger level up to '11'. It's time to find out who's ready to race and who's thinking about just bringing it home in one piece.

And now, it's time to start.

0: Who's in charge? LindyCar, that's who. She's manning the podium and has banished Arute to conduct driver interviews. She'll be running the entire VERSUS network by the time The Month of May.

0: More rule changes for The Hair Club for Men, a.k.a. Franchitti and Kanaan. If Tony wins today he shaves Dario's hair BUT he still has to keep growing his 'fro. If one of these guys can't get a "Supercuts" sponsorship this month it's a total opportunity wasted.

0: @VisionRacing and @luczodragon both say rain is inevitable. Vision says "Giant green blob headed our way". Could be rain, or possibly Hedorah.

0: Looks like Helio is still signing autographs. Wait...wait...and THERE'S the hug!

0: Rick Mears, LIVE! I'm guessing he probably wouldn't agree to it, but you really couldn't do any better than Rick Mears as a race commentator.

0: "Just because they're the strong doesn't mean they can't get their asses kicked." OK then.

0: Here's Jon to tell us the weight jacker is opperated by the buttons marked "WJ". After that...I think he was talking about a video game.

0: These picks by the broadcast crew would be far more interesting if they didn't all pick the same people. What is this, the Robert Doornbos Fan Club? Sheesh.

0: "...start your engines!" We are HOT HOT HOT! Now get out there and let the green flag drop before the rain, please.

0: Jack Arute, noted race strategist, busts out with a bunch of advice. I'm no expert, but I'd tell my driver to hug the low line because all of those cars losing it earlier today seemed to be blown up to the outside wall. But neither Jack nor I drive 220 mph all that often.

1: And we're green with another spectacularly malformed set of rows. Clean lap for all though, which is far more important.

7: Rahal still leads but Dixon is in 2nd. Viso, who started at the back, if already around Helio and Dario and up to 16th. That penalty must have re-ignited the rage.

9: Dixon to the inside of Graham, taking the lead. Doornbos, Danica, Mario Marios, err, Moraes round out the Top 5.

14: Yowza! Everyone slowed down and Helio ran hard into the back of Vitor Meira. Flying debris took off part of Viso's wing as well. All cars are still running but definitely damaged.

16: Free ethanol in the pits! Everyone is in and the new leader is...Robert Doornbos! Dixon, Rahal, Moraes, Briscoe follow.

18: Hold the phone, Bobby D. Looks like he struck his teammates tire resting in Graham's pit box on exit, and that's gonna be a penalty. The IHJ demands Robert go to the back.

22: Back to green and Rahal gets a great jump to pull up next to Dixon. Can't complete the pass though so he peels back to follow.

25: You know we're on an oval because Ed Carpenter is in 6th. Can't miss that blinding Menards paint scheme.

29: Here's an in-car feed of Viso getting lapped by someone. And someone else. And someone else. That's just cold, VERSUS.

33: Helio got his nose fixed and is up to 12th. Dario right behind him in 13th. Justin Wilson in the Dale Coyne car is in 14th.

42: Stick in fork in Viso, his day is done. Parked and exiting the vehicle. At least he wasn't impaled by that debris from Helio's car.

43: Dan Wheldon is around Moraes for 5th. With his history on this track you might as well cue the them from "Jaws" now.

45: Helio up to 9th. Who needs patience when you have a Team Penske car. (will Power, that's who.)

50: Poor Vitor. 0 for 96. It almost looks like he's crying in his interviewe with Arute.

55: Dixon, Rahal, Kanaan, Briscoe, Moraes. Danica 8th, Sarah 17th, Milka 19th.

59: Kanaan around Rahal, who suddenly seems to be a touch slower and dropping back. Focus on channeling the blogger karma, Graham.

61: Arute says "Scott Dixon is making excellent fuel mileage". Lovely.

67: We are a third of the way through and teams are starting to cycle though another round of pit stops. The leaders, conserving fuel like champs, are still holding station.

69: Tony Kanaan becomes the first leader into the pits.

70: Then Rahal. That puts Helio up to 2nd, for now.

71: Then Dixon. Eventually he had to come in.

72: Then Helio, who actually led for a lap. This Castroneves guy, he's pretty good.

74: After all that it's now Dixon, Kanaan, Briscoe, Rahal, Carpenter. Franchitti and Wheldon right behind them. 26 or so laps to an official race.

83: Franchitti lapping Barrett, and those cars together kinda look like teammates this weekend. Well, visually they do.

86: Commercial break so I just peaked over at the N-Word race. Let's just say sheet metal workers will be in high demand this week.

92: Dixon still leads, looking to lap Milka Duno. She lets him by without incident.

93: Meanwhile Kanaan and Briscoe are side by side battling for 2nd. And by battle I mean Briscoe is past him without blinking.

94: Unnamed spotter for one of those guys calling out "Milka Duno! Milka Duno!"

97: Yellow flag for Matos, who has done something to mess up the suspension on the front-right of his car. Looks like we're going to have an official race, though. Woo-hoo!

100: How about we all pit, eh? In and out for 7 seconds of love and the new leader is...Ryan Briscoe! Kanaan, Dixon, Helio, Franchitti. In other words, "the usual suspects".

105: Back to green and Scott Dixon TOTALLY jumped Tony Kanaan for 2nd. Paging the IHJ! Hello? Hello!?!

110: Here comes Rahal and Danica, both around Franchitti and closing in on Helio.

111: Jack Arute smashes an egg in his hands. He had that egg left over from Motegi and he's used to playing with it every April. They moved that race to the fall, and just look at how disoriented he is now. Poor guy.

120: Helio getting great runs on Kanaan on in the straightaway but he can't complete the pass. Forgive me for saying this, but I could probably watch these two guys battle each other all day. Just them. They're that entertaining.

123: Meanwhile, Ed Carpenter is trying in vain to defend against Dario for 7th. Dario says "later".

125: Robert Doornbos is in 14th, behind Wilson and ahead of the Fisher Queen. Just noting this for his fan club in the VERSUS gang.

135: And...nothing is changing. Just a lot of lapping of Stanton and Milka. I think everyone else is conserving fuel like professionals.

142: "Battle for 8th position, Dan Wheldon on top of Ed Carpenter". Ahem.

147: Arute tells us the leaders are "all making fuel". I'm going to have a party later and we're going to use "making fuel" as a drinking term. We'll be passed out before it rains, which Arute says is now "10 minutes away".

149: At least Marco isn't above passing someone. He's around Moraes, Carpenter and Wheldon and up to 8th.

152: Yellow for Franchitti, who's into the wall. BAM! He was behind Rahal who pulled below the line to pit but Dario didn't slow down. Hit the brakes and went up into the SAFER barrier. He's out and OK, but his day is done. No stunning Ashley quotes this weekend.

154: Everybody pits and on exit it's...Dixon, Helio, Kanaan, Briscoe, Marco.

155: Roger Penske is enraged. Briscoe was pitting as Franchitti was getting up close and personal with the SAFER barrier, but then the IHJ told Team Penske they couldn't touch the car as THAT VERY INSTANT the pits were closed.

157: How about a day with Wheldon. "Do you think I'm your mother!?!" No Dan, my mom doesn't have as many pairs of shoes as you do.

160: Back to green as the late Tony Hulman tell them "Gentlemen, start your engines!" Very nice. Danica is in 5th, ahead of Marco now. All 4 AGR cars in the Top 8.

165: Wait, Mike Conway is out? Wha' happended?

168: Looks like a passing free zone as everyone spreads out, presumably to conserve more ethanol. Oh, and I guess that rain wasn't 10 minutes away after all.

175: Robbie Buhl says everyone is laying down their fastest laps, which means the rain must be on the way.

178: In-car camera shows Dan Wheldon and his perfectly white gloves. Checking for dust around the track.

185: Rahal with some nice driving avoiding Stuntman Stanton and around Mutoh for 7th. Still Dixon, Helio, Kanaan up front though.

189: Dixon is checking out, up by nearly a second. I feel safe in saying he won't be behind Barrett in the points much longer.

195: They're not sayin' "lock step" but that's what's happening.

196: Jenkins speaks for all of us when he says "it's just absolutely amazing that it didn't rain".

199: White flag. Oh, the drama.

200: The Iceman winneth. *rimshot* Helio, Kanaan, Briscoe, Danica. Pretty much that way since the last restart.

Quickly LindyCar gets a word with Emma, who says Scott's been "grumpy for three weeks". Yes, married to a beautiful woman, driving for a top team, Indy 500 winner and two-time series champ. Who WOULDN'T be a total grouch in those circumstances?

Scott looks happier now. Helio looks happy as well. Kanaan also looks happy. Happy podium this weekend, friends. Behind Kanaan however, Michael Andretti does not look very enthused. In fact, he's wearing not just a sour puss but his baseball cap is backwards like he's in some kind of Snoop Dogg video. Double-u. Tee. Eff. Question mark.

Side note: thanks to the fans who let me know that Mike Conway touched the wall trying to avoid Milka Duno. Apparently this was covered by the amazingly thorough team at IMS Radio, but I didn't catch it on the telecast. I'm sure the mere mention of Milka will cause the comments section to burn to the ground.

Well that's it for me, folks. Time to check out the other LiveBlogs while waiting for the latest from pressdog who is at the scene. He's probably getting Dixon to explain the winning fuel mappings this very instant. I can't wait for his epic report...but I'll have to.

Congrats to Dixon and his superior fuel mappings, and three cheers for Mother Nature who gave us a window today. In fact, someone go tell Arute the rain is STILL just "10 minutes away". And kudos to all (or possibly "most") of the drivers who did an exceptional job of keeping the carnage to a minimum in the dicey racing conditions. Thank you all very much, and good night.

21 comments

  1. Tony Solorzano // April 26, 2009 2:22 PM  

    Here's an interesting side bet. If Milkalicious ever finishes ahead of Mr. Ashley Judd, Ashley gets her head shaved by Milka, who can nail it to her wall like a trophy. Same goes for the Little Motor Mouth. IF she finishes ahead of her, Buzz Buzz Buzz...

    Think they'd go for it?

  2. Robert // April 26, 2009 2:57 PM  

    Got to Love Jack....smashes an egg to prove a point- let's all drink to that one!!

  3. Demond Sanders // April 26, 2009 2:59 PM  

    Briscoe and Dixon, 1-2. My two least favorite drivers. Great guys, but boring as hell.

  4. Leigh O'Gorman // April 26, 2009 3:47 PM  

    Re: Conway

    One word you need to know: Duno!! Mike sounded very angry in the interview on the radio

  5. Dean // April 26, 2009 8:58 PM  

    Guess what, she did Tony. Darn, that would be funny.

  6. Tony Solorzano // April 26, 2009 11:02 PM  

    Oh I know, I'm sending some electric clippers to Milka at Indy as incentive.

  7. Ashley Judd // April 26, 2009 11:38 PM  

    Hey Tony! When your girl goes a race without being MULTIPLE laps down MAYBE then you can mention her in the same sentence as an Indy 500 winner & IRL champion. Stop babbling about haircuts... unless its me shaving your back & then YOUR melon !

  8. Mike Conway // April 26, 2009 11:45 PM  

    Tony, Why don't you have the stones to go defend your BS you left on the Milka post? Having more fun defending idiot, Rent-A-Wrec... Drivers?

    Please spew more of your nonsense about your plastic surgery nightmare in a driving suit & helmet. I will enjoy readers shredding your arse!

  9. Who cares about D&R in the back of the field anyways // April 27, 2009 5:51 AM  

    Conway has already wrecked more cars than Milka did all of last year.

  10. Anonymous // April 27, 2009 5:52 AM  

    God, what a boring race. Dixon = BORING.

  11. AZZO45 // April 27, 2009 8:23 AM  

    Conway has wrecked HIS car not other racer's cars. Big EF'ing difference IMO.

    Conway has also scored wins & championships in his racing past... not had Daddy $$$-bags buy his resume

    If Mike keeps wrecking he deserves to be added to the clown list, but most drivers don't expect their team mate to be part of their problem

  12. Denver Sports Couple // April 27, 2009 10:01 AM  

    I was also wondering what happened to Mike Conway, who didn't get one second of airtime druing the Versus telecast. However, the story about his encounter with Milka Duno is not true. Had Conway touched the wall hard enough to be forced out of the race, it would have brought out a caution and the incident would have been discussed by the Versus posse. Sure enough, if you look at the official results on IndyCar.com, it lists Conway's issue as "mechanical." I don't consider myself a Milka apologist, but I find it curious that the anti-Milka camp is now resorting to slander in order to promote their agenda.

  13. Iannucci // April 27, 2009 10:19 AM  

    Denver Sports Couple - One of the folks I heard from was an employee at D&R who confirmed that Mike touched the wall and damaged the car trying to avoid his teammate, so I don't think we need to throw a word like "slander" around.

    Tony - I understand that anyone can finish ahead of anyone else in any given race, but I think head-shaving only applies to bets involving people who WIN RACES.

    Now, with those issues clarified, please feel free to resume your excruciatingly polite discussions with each other.

  14. The SpeedGeek // April 27, 2009 11:37 AM  

    Yeah, basing a bet off of "if Milka _ever_ finishes ahead of Dario"? That means Dario's not allowed to ever have a DNF and Milka has to beat him just once? Sound reasoning, sir. I'd be waiting for a "thank you" e-mail from Dario any second now, if I were you.

    Excruciatingly polite?!? I'll show you excruciatingly polite, you &^%$*(!

    Oh, wait. Sarcasm. You got me again, Jeff.

  15. Anonymous // April 27, 2009 12:03 PM  

    Just think how Tony does with "regular" sports (UGH!) If he is as bad with them as racing, I suggest a letter writing campaign to get him fired for impersonating a journalist.

  16. AZZO45 // April 27, 2009 12:06 PM  

    Hey Denver Sports! There is also the Mike Conway RADIO interview!!! How are the Milky-Haters spinning that one ???

  17. The American Mutt // April 27, 2009 12:18 PM  

    There is way too much time, energy, and vitriol wasted on Milka here guys. She's no worse than Barret. Can be fast enough to qualify next to Sarah, and ultimately is mostly a non factor at this point. I say let it go.

    Come on---lets bitch about the drivers that matter beyond a "oh that slow one is getting out of the way again...my they've gotten good at that ."

  18. AZZO45 // April 27, 2009 12:35 PM  

    Mutt: Stanton will suck this year & probably disappear Milk 'n Donuts will be back due to a very rich husband with obvious political connections to pay for her being a moving chicane (or a dodgeball on the ovals). Beyond sad IMO

  19. flyingpiano // April 27, 2009 3:11 PM  

    actually stanton drove admirably from what i saw keeping out of trouble. Cars could go three wide on him and he held his line. Versus even mentioned that during the broadcast. Regarding Milka im not sure it was her but i think if you look at the start there was a ripple through the ranks as she dropped like a rock. surprised there wasn't an accident then

  20. Jeff-O // April 27, 2009 4:37 PM  

    I'm sorry these drivers are paid to RACE, not "drive admirably" !!! Both Milka & Stanton were LAPS down pretty darn quick on a track that is not known for high oval technical skill.

    If they struggled with Kansas, what are they going to be on ovals requiring some bravery & skill?

  21. The American Mutt // April 27, 2009 8:10 PM  

    AZ,

    Actually I was trying to say I'm done thinking, talking, or in anyway addressing the moving chicane drivers. I'd rather bitch about the good ones that I don't like for whatever reason. I think the only reason I want Sam back is so I can hate him some more, and laugh when he spins turning right.