mmack's nnotes: Kansas 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 4/27/2009 | 7 comments »
Bookmark and Share

Ladies and gentleman, once again My Name Is IRL proudly welcomes guest commentary from a man who ain't too proud to snuggle with his own wife. Home from the pub and returning to the comfy couch, it's the one, the only, the mmack.

It's spring, and a Midwesterner's thoughts turn to . . . thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, flooding, and other ugly weather. Here in Chicago (Our city slogan: "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it'll get worse!") our first 80 degree day of 2009 is followed by clouds, rain, sun, humidity, gale force winds, pelting rain, thunder, rain, sun and more stifling humidity. We've had everything but locusts and frogs, so I don't hold out much hope when mrs. mmack and I settle down on the comfy couch and turn on the TV at 3 PM. I fully expect to see a replay of yesterday's Truck race, with jet driers and support trucks at the ready awaiting an end to the rain.

To my surprise it's blue gray skies with low hanging clouds but no rain. It's windy enough that it looks like it will start pouring at any second, and I await the inevitable Wizard of Oz quotes from our Versus announcing team. As the flags whip in the wind and the sponsor banners dance in the gale, our coverage begins with a recap of qualifying (which I caught late enough on Saturday to see Graham Rahal steal the pole).

Evidently Elvis and The Dancing King have White Line Fever. For blatantly ignoring The Iron Hand of Justice's rule on not dipping below the white line in the turns, Mr. Ashley Judd and Free Helio! go to the back of the class. They are joined by EJ "C'mon, do something CRAZY already!" Viso, who is in the back because his car failed post qualifying tech. We are not told what the failure is, so I will speculate wildly and say it was the old Nitrous Oxide in the fire bottle trick. (More likely it was probably something boring like the undertray being .00001 in too low).

It's a Newman\Haas\Lanigan front row, with Young Master Graham and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, I mean Doorknob, er, Robert Doornbos leading the pack. During the interview I see Margaret Hamilton fly by on her broomstick threatening "I'll get you my pretties, and your little Dallaras too Mwahahahahahah!"

We then move on to a possible three peat story with Choppers Wheldon. A nice montage of '07 and '08 is followed by our FIRST OFFICIAL Wizard of Oz reference. Wheldon likes shoes, click your heels, no place like home, get it? Sadly, Dan's Pumas are not ruby red, but boring old camo green. Dan is hopeful to pull off the win.

We then segue to a story on spotters with Jack Arute. I am intrigued by the mention of a "vibrating buzzer" connected to Race Control that indicates a yellow is out. Upon hearing this I briefly wonder if EJ Viso has an Electronic Shock Collar version, and if that's why he's been so mellow lately.

Speaking of EJ, we find out that his pet boa constrictor's name is Tracy. Mrs. mmack, with a pathological hatred of snakes wonders what the deal is with all these race car drivers with snakes?

After we try, and fail to find out "what the dealio" is with EJ, Versus gives us a nice short piece on Sarah Fisher and her words on the trials and struggles of being both an owner and a driver. Then Versus brings out the crying towel for Scott Dixon. Two races in and Scott is not eleventy-million-billion points ahead of second place. In fact he is in seventeenth place in the points. Next you'll be telling me Jenson Button is leading the Formula One drivers points, or some nonsense like that. Scott starts fourth and is concerned with his rough start to '09, but feels he has a good car for the race today.

Free cheesecake for everyone! An interview with Danica! follows, where after asking the boring questions about race cars, we move on to the Shape magazine cover of Danica in her itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny yellow bikini, sans polka-dots. We are informed that many male customers may be buying this magazine. As long as we are stating the obvious, water is wet and fire can burn your skin.

We now move on to Helio! Coverage of Helio shaking hands and kissing people as if he is running for office. He is asked a few cursory questions about racing, and then is grilled about his reaction to the Shape magazine cover with Danica. Helio responds like an 8th grade boy caught staring at the cutest girl in class. I fully expect the interviewer to ask "You like Danica, don't you?" Hey, maybe they can pass notes to each other too. At this point mrs. mmack remarks that she still thinks if Danica! and Helio! got together romantically, they would have "children beautiful enough to sell." So there you go, love conquers all and all that.

Finally we get down to racing, which is why mrs. mmack and I paid for Versus in the first place. A clean start shows Young Master Graham in the lead with Scott Dixon slicing up to second. Danica falls back from her third place starting spot. At this point some braver souls try THREE WIDE racing, but think better of it. Danica begins to claw her way back as Dixon slips past Rahal for the lead. Mrs. mmack remarks here that she is so bored with red, white, and blue cars that all look alike. So let's get some purple, orange, yellow, and gold out there folks. Or at least more yellow and green than Ed and TK.

Our discussion on color palettes is interrupted by a yellow flag and Vitor Meira stopped on the track with the car's rear wing askew. On the replay, evidently Helio was texting his sister Katy when he ran full on into Vitor


Holy flying debris Batman! Helio's errant wing flies through the air like a scythe and lops off EJ Viso's front wing! The spotter turns EJ's shock collar to 11 to keep EJ in the car and away from Helio.

Note to Versus: Now would have been a good time to talk to AJ Foyt for a candid comment. Just sayin'

A flurry of pitting and in the course of leaving his stall Doornbos NAILS a tire from Rahal's car. In the mean time, EJ's team uses duct tape to fix the front wing of #13. What's next, Bondo and gray primer?

As we finish up, a story on umbrellas in the pits leads me to think Mary Poppins is working in Mario Moraes stall, I think. That is, the story wasn't too clear.

Doornbos has to surrender the lead under yellow for playing discus with Young Master Graham's Firestone. On the restart Rahal and Dixon fight, as TK and Briscoe Inferno go wheel to wheel. TK moves up to work on Rahal.

Now, I must tell a tale out of school on mrs. mmack and myself. While Scott Dixon efficiently lead the race and the pack strung out, after the second set of pit stops where Helio lead a lap and The Iceman came back to the front, we sort of nodded off on the big comfy couch. It's a very soft couch and we were cuddled next to each other romantically holding hands, and the next thing you know, zzzzzzzzzzzz. So my notes may not be as comprehensive as they would normally be.

Holy Cow! A yellow! Who the!?!?, What the?!?!?!? A replay shows Matos in the wall to "break the monotony of a Dixon walk away", per my notes.

At this point on an oval, everybody pits under yellow. Dixon, Kanaan, and Briscoe pull in and Ryan pulls out with the lead. There's plenty of slicing and dicing on the restart, including a suspicious move by Scott Dixon at the green. As the race goes on Danica moves forward, then tries to be REALLY RACY by trying to pass Young Master Graham while Rahal tries to pass Free Helio!

At this point we switch to the pits and Jack Arute. Freed from trying to scare us with the threat of rain before the race reaches 100 laps, Jack gives us a helpful visual of an egg and his hand as a throttle and a foot, or something. It's good, but still not as good as the block of cheese and the grater from a few years back. Hey, for the Indy 500, get the cheese, the grater, the egg, some mushrooms, green peppers and some diced ham and Jack can make a Denver Omelette. We can call the segment "Cookin' With Jack", or "You Don't Know Jack About Cookin'!"

We return to the action as Dario and Ed Carpenter fight for position. Later Dario and Danica fight for position until Danica uses Stanton Barrett to keep Dario behind her. As Danica moves forward she puts the moves on Young Master Graham.

At this point Ryan Briscoe peels off for the pits just as Dario shoots up the track and torpedoes the retaining wall. It's a pretty nasty hit for Dario. The replays show him locking the brakes and skidding to avoid Rahal. Unfortunately, Briscoe Inferno has to take a pass-through in the pits and come back around for service, due to the yellow. As expected, Roger Penske is outraged at the ruling. The leaders come into the pits and exit Dixon, Helio, TK, Briscoe. On the replay Helio JUST misses Briscoe as he pulls out of his pit stall. The race restarts Dixon, Helio, TK, Ryan, Danica. An Izod moment on Tony Hulman ends with a nicely timed side by side of the green flag falling while Tony Hulman announces "Gentlemen, start your engines!"

Graham and Mutoh put on the best show at the late stages of the race as nobody really has anything for The Iceman. The field strings out while Danica keeps out of Marco's clutches and holds on to a top five spot. Of course, if Milka Duno had an F-16 with full afterburner she'd be ahead of Danica, as well as Ryan, Tony, Helio, and Scott.

The checkered flag falls and order is restored to the IRL as Scott Dixon wins a race. We're not like those crazy foreigners in F-1 with their Brawn and Red Bull teams scoring wins, no sireee Bob! Helio, Tony, Ryan, and Danica round out the top five. That's two top five finishes in a row for Mrs. Patrick-Hospenthal, for those of you keeping score at home.

Interview with Emma (Mrs.) Dixon. Scott has been "grumpy" since the beginning of the season. Do we want a Grumpy Iceman or a Happy Iceman folks? It's your choice. In a post race interview Mr. Dixon states he will take the momentum into Indianapolis this May.

And with that, we wrap up the race at Kansas for 2009. As the broadcast ends I close my eyes only for a moment and the moment is gone, as I ponder how long 'till the point that we return to Kansas, and why nobody at Versus mentioned all the dust in the wind during the race.

I think this race, for better or for worse, is a good predictor of The Big Enchilada at Indianapolis next month. Lots of shuffling and shoving for position on the restarts, with the field stringing out under long green flag runs. Look for Dario and Scott to be strong with a resurgent Helio and Ryan keeping them honest, while Will "Excuse me, Mr. Penske, WHY wasn't I racing today?" Power will be trying to keep his ride and change Roger's mind. Danica and Tony look strong, Marco is traditionally strong at Indy (when he keeps all four wheels on the track), while Mutoh is still the question mark of the team. Graham will probably redeem himself from last year's debacle and get a first day starting spot.

And that's the last recap from The Comfy Couch for a while, as the Fabulous mrs. mmack and I plan to be at Indianapolis for the 500, and up in God's Country wit' Da' Upers in 'sconsin for the Milwaukee race, Ya hey dere!

Oh and Doug, who posted on my Long Beach notes: mrs. mmack and I looked for you in the crowd shots. We didn't see you.


  1. The American Mutt // April 27, 2009 9:27 AM  

    What did we learn this weekend? We learned that at Kansas all you need to win is A: a well funded team, B: to get the lead at any point in the race (the car in clean air will win baring air strike) C: that all of these were a given that I believe needed restating D: that Barnhartt is still in my opinion The Soft Velvet Glove of Justice. I know a safe start is preferable, but come on--Dixon not only passed Danica before the line, he then took the inside track before the line. Some semblance of qualifying position should matter. (of course this is the same Barnhart who let Dixon pass two cars before the line at Watkins and said you can't do that--give back one spot--fuzzy math there Brian...fuzzy math).

    We also learned that TK will have the much coveted front pit stall at Indy. I may think it's bunk that the front guy NEVER has to turn out, but at least this year a driver I like gets it.

    We also learned that unless you're Roger Penske you're still camera off limits as a team owner. Where was AJ after Vitors crash? The series has one of the most prolific and colorful race car drivers EVER running a team, but he's never interviewed. What's up with that?

  2. The American Mutt // April 27, 2009 9:28 AM  

    It occurs to me I should really figure out how to get in my blog so I can post long things there, rather than in comments sections on other peoples blogs.

  3. Carrie // April 27, 2009 11:04 AM  

    Upon hearing this I briefly wonder if EJ Viso has an Electronic Shock Collar version, and if that's why he's been so mellow lately.That's hot.

  4. The American Mutt // April 27, 2009 11:07 AM  

    Can someone please explain to me how Briscoe can simultaneously NOT be in the pits, but NOT on the track? If he's NOT in the pits, then he's NOT supposed to be passed. Why wasn't he shuffled back to the front if he WAS NOT in the pits?

    I also found it refreshing that he was so good natured about it in his post race interview. I seem to recall Dixon being pissy when the same thing happened to him last year.

  5. AZZO45 // April 27, 2009 11:56 AM  

    Our city slogan: "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it'll get worse!")

    That's a MID-WEST slogan... In SE/ MI I've heard "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes & it will be different (& you might like it...)

  6. H.B. Donnelly // April 27, 2009 12:23 PM  

    I notice everyone getting hot about passes before the line on restarts. The thing is that the line has nothing to do with the restart; it's all about the green flag. Once the flag flies, anything goes. That's why drivers at Indy will lay back in T3, gas it on the north chute, and be past the next guy by the time they hit the yard of bricks.

    I think the rule is supposed to be that you can't pass before the initial green flag...though you're also supposed to be in distinct rows of two or three at the start as well...erm...

  7. The American Mutt // April 27, 2009 1:25 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.