mmack's nnotes: St Petersburg 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 4/06/2009 | 6 comments »
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My Name Is IRL is all about sharing, and since his comments only overshadow my own race recaps I have yet again bestowed upon this site's lone "Commentator Emeritus" the duties of 2009 post-race analysis. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome the VIP of the Comfy Couch, the one, the only, the "mmack".

Greetings Race Fans! The Fabulous mrs. mmack called our satellite provider and we now have Versus (Network Slogan: "Hey, when you're done watching the race, how about some Bull Riding?"). As mrs. mmack is taking care of her mom after a recent hospital stay, I will be commenting solo from the Comfy Couch.

It's 1:00 PM CST and HEY! Race Coverage! No sudden death women's golf, sudden death men's golf, or softball. Wow, coverage of a race other than the Indianapolis 500 starting ON TIME. Truly the 21st Century is a magical time in which to live.

Prior to the race I note that Graham Rahal (Born in Glen Ellyn, IL, driving for Newman\Haas\Lanigan from Lincolnshire, IL) and Justin "I guar-an-teee it, mon ami" Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing from Plainfield, IL) are sharing the front row and bringing some sunshine to Illinois, which will be covered in one to three inches of Global Warming later tonight.

Bob Jenkins introduces the broadcast team and now Jack Arute is working the pits as some sort of package deliveryman or something. Jack, if you're dropping off mrs. mmack's Stamping Up order or my kit order from Squadron Shop, please leave them in the right corner of the front patio, and wrap the boxes in plastic so they won't get wet if it rains. You guys almost ruined my last order, just sayin'.

The Versus team introduces the drivers and I note a few things:

1) When Tony Kanaan was younger and had hair, he looked like a Mini-Me version of Roberto Guerrero
2) Evidently Elvis IS in the building, or Dario visited Graceland when he was down south in Tin Top Land
3) "Kinder, Gentler" Danica. Um-hum, we'll see how long THAT lasts. Somehow I expected her to break into a verse of "I Enjoy Being a Girl" or "I Feel Pretty" during her Jack Arute interview. Listen, if we're going to talk about shoes, talk to Choppers, I mean the Geico Gecko, I mean Dan Wheldon.

Around 1:30 the 2009 season starts WITH A FESTIVAL OF CARBON FIBER!!!!!!!! Poor Graham is pushed, shoved, poked, and kicked back to dead last after a failed attempt to go five or six wide into turn one. As Graham goes off roading, Alex Tagliani VAULTS over the nose of his car, adding insult to injury. Mike Conway decides to get coverage for his team by torpedoing the tire barriers. Multiple replays show Tony putting his nose (the car's not his) into Graham, sending him for a little spin. I came for a road race in St. Pete and I get short track action at Bristol.

Announcers state "Kanaan needs a new nose" and I think "Damn, that's cold, talking about Tony that way. I mean, we do call him 'Nariz', but still", until I see the new Dallara nose cone in the AGR pits. After a carbon fiber rhinoplasty, Tony joins Graham at the back of the class.

Somehow, some way, The Cajun Chef has the lead! Just 99 laps to go and my hometown homies will get that first win!

We're back to green and Wilson leads Elvi, I mean Dario and is pulling away ever so slightly. To answer the burning question for 2009, the part of Marty Roth will now be played by Stanton Barrett.

Someone please fax, e-mail, or snail mail a copy of The Danica Directive to:

Raphael Matos
c/o Luczo Dragon Racing,
150 Gasoline Alley
Indianapolis, IN 46222

Replays show that Matos tries to put himself between Danica! and the wall with sadly predictable results, although the whipsaw crash into the tires looked cool, but felt painful, I'm sure. Kinder, gentler Danica appears and does not point at Matos and yell "I WILL KILL HIM!" at the top of her lungs.

In the meantime, Vitor Meira plays "Tags, you're it!" with Tagliani's rear tire, while Hideki Mutoh sends Moraes into the wall.

Pit stops occur and Will "Where's my pit again OH MY GOD I GOTTA STOP!!!!!!!" Power overshoots his pits, which causes Scott "THIS is how I finally get Versus to cover me?" Dixon to overshoot his pit. In a real world case of "Don't raise the bridge, lower the river", the Target team physically pushes Scott's car closer to the refueling hose. By the time Scott leaves the pits, he needs a telescope to see the race leader.

During the midpoint of the race there is actual passing for position as drivers on different fuel strategies. Wilson, Kanaan, and Rahal are working their way forward through this, while Briscoe Inferno leads. Things are in a "hold steady, trending to lockstep" mode until The Cajun Chef makes his last stop on lap 71 and in a nail biting, toe curling move heads off Briscoe at the pass. Now if this just stays green . . .

Oh who am I kidding. Taking a page from the Tin Tops, first Ed Carpenter spins in the marbles, bringing out a full course caution. EJ Viso takes this time to retire from the race, while I see visions of Penske Racing swamping brave little Dale Coyne. And speaking of visions, how about Ryan Hunter-Reay up to third?

The race restarts and Wilson holds off Briscoe! Can it be . . .

Nope. We get a shot of Scott Dixon's car in the tires. All together now: "Full Course Yellow". For those of you playing along at home, take a drink!

Replays show that Dixon tried the "Matos Move" on Hideki and both cars bounced, hopped, and skidded along interleaved until they got untangled and Scott's suspension failed sending him straight into the wall.

It's the restart and my heart is crushed! Briscoe around Wilson. Maybe Penske Racing IS The Evil Empire. O-Ryan the Hunter gets past the Cajun Chef too.

OH NO! It's another (say it with me) Full Course Yellow! Cue the Pressdog circus music! Take a drink! Wheldon into Doornbos, Wheldon in the wall. Mutoh into Wheldon. Feeling left out, Marco hits Mutoh. It's not St. Pete, it's Bristol, I tell you, Bristol TN! Mutoh has now hit everything on the track but the pace car and the hot dog stand.

Another yellow, another restart. Can O-Ryan the Hunter bag Briscoe Inferno? He's closing, and then SURPRISE! Another yellow. Marco wasn't quite done I guess, and garners coverage for AGR by tangling with Tags and spinning out. On the plus side, the shots of his sidepods as he blocks the track give his sponsors major air. Everybody take a drink!

After the final restart, it is not to be for Vision and Dale Coyne. Briscoe Inferno sails on to the win. The Hunter bags second, while the Cajun Chef cooks up a third place win. Both best finishes for their teams, but still, it would have been cool to see an upset.

In closing, there were some verbal gaffes, but for the first race, Versus did a very good job. We'll follow them in two weeks from sunny Cal-i-for-ni-ay and the streets of Long Beach.

Look out! Someone else just hit poor Alex Tagliani!


  1. The American Mutt // April 06, 2009 10:26 AM  

    Thank you for being the only one to point out that Dixon screwed up on that pass. He tried it way too late, didn't leave Hideki enough room (despite having a foot more of track to his right), and very nearly screwed both of them. Suppose that's what happens when Dixon has to actually pass someone on the track.

    And don't give me this our day was ruined because of a bad pit stop BS. Sure that sucks. You also had over sixty laps to come back from that. It took Tony and Rahal less to go from last to top ten.

    Anyone wonder if that first turn first lap crash would have happened if Rahal hadn't dogged the start? I cant help but feel he deserves most of the blame for going way to slow after the green. Doesn't change the fact that I'll root for him day in and day out, but I mean what could Tony have done differently? Dario didn't have to dive into that turn like that though...that was a bit shady.

  2. vitorfan // April 06, 2009 11:08 AM  

    "Dario didn't have to dive into that turn like that though...that was a bit shady."

    One of the best ways to gain positions on these types on tracks is at the start (ever watch F1)? A bit agressive, yes, but it was a helleva pass and it was clean. I can't fault him one bit for it. He even said after the race he had practiced it and if you watch the replay, all he did was brake later than everyone else. Not to mention, I don't believe I heard any of the other drivers complaining about it.

    I agree with you on everything else though :)

  3. The American Mutt // April 06, 2009 11:22 AM  

    Oh no. I'm not blaming Dario at all really. You can't really practice that though. You can practice the actual maneuver, but it seems like you couldn't really prepare for the consequences to the other cars. Though as you said, none of the other drivers blamed him. Something about the pass just didn't seem right to me, but again I think Graham is mostly at fault (and I REALLY hate saying that cause he's a personal favorite).

    I think ultimately it just seems like to make a pass work going into that turn you have to already have gotten at least even with the car beside you. Though I don't remember if Dario did or not...I know Dixon didn't.

    Where did Spring go. I got snow today. Snow in april in shouthern Indiana. WTF!?!

    heh my word verification is colorpop. That strikes me as funny.

  4. Leigh O'Gorman // April 07, 2009 6:27 PM  

    I must admit it was nice to get some rally good coverage for the race, but was a little annoyed by the number of silly attempts at passing though.

    It felt like it was yellow flag after yellow flag after yellow flag after yellow flag after.........

    Good drive by Ryan though

  5. Leigh O'Gorman // April 07, 2009 6:28 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  6. Leigh O'Gorman // April 07, 2009 6:29 PM  

    Oh and by the way - at least the St Pete's race wasn't stopped by monsoon weather.....