LiveBlog: Milwaukee 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 5/31/2009 | 29 comments »
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It seems like just a few days ago that we were watching the stars of the IndyCar series racing around the the most famous speedway in the world, but that was then and this is now. Today the action moves to Milwaukee, which is actually and older track that Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Speakling of old, the big story today is the pairing of Paul Tracy and AJ Foyt as driver and owner, not only because these are two of the most surly, err, self-assured drivers in racing history but also because they are a combined 114 years old. And no - the #14 is still sponsored by race sponsor ABC Supply Co and not Metamucil. Opportunity lost.

I have a confession to make: I'm hoping Paul Tracy wins today. There, I said it. Black is white, up is down, and I'm rooting for Paul Tracy. Fact is he's won here four times and AJ Foyt's team hasn't won since...I don't even remember, to be honest. Tracy has raced VERY well in two IndyCar races in the last 12 months, and...OK, I'm officially insane.

A big note for today's race is that last week's winner Helio Castroneves will be starting from the back today after crashing during yesterday's qualification attempt. Should be fun to see him march up the field in attempt to go from last to first like he most recently did in the season finale in Chicagoland last year. Yes, this Helio guy is pretty good.

We've got five different teams making up the first five starting psotion, so this will be a great chance for someone to break the Big Three grip on ovals. And with all of that, it's time to start.

0: Hey, that looks like a good crowd! Must be the $50 seats allowing all you can eat Famous Dave's BBQ and all you can guzzle beer.

0: Dario has an fugly green car, sponsored by a GPS manufacturer. On a one mile oval. Go figure.

0: AJ Foyt tells them... *crickets chirping*. No audio for the "start your engines". FAIL.

0: And look here, it's a split screen with an isolated Helio-cam. Feel the excitement.

1: And we're GREEN. Wiuthin one lap Tony Kanaan has ROCKETED to the front. Much less drag now that he's shaved his head.

3: We're 3 laps in and we're already checking in with Danica - in 9th. Ye gods!

5: Tomas Scheckter has already gone from 10th to 5th, and even more surprising is ESPN is putting him on screen.

10: Kanaan, Briscoe, Rahal, Dixon, Dario. Helio only up from 20th to 17th. And now that we've raced 10 laps we need to go to commercial. WTF?

17: And we're back. And Helio is in 18th. Being told "use your tools". Please drink responsibly, friends.

21: Paul Tracy is in last, and is getting lapped. I accept full responsibility for this since I was saying I hoped he won. Let me know who you want me to jinx next week.

26: Briscoe and Dixon - who I guess got around Graham - both go around race leader Tony Kanaan. Well, I guess I should say FORMER race leader.

29: And here's another commercial

36: And we're back. 14 laps of commercials in the first 36. So glad I tuned in to watch.

39: Ryan Briscoe is right behind his teammate, Helio Castroneves, contemplating lapping him. Decisions, decision. Meanwhile Tony Kanaan has dropped back to 9th. He was leading this race 13 laps ago.

42: Vince Welch tells us they're trying to get Tony to "work with his tools".

48: It's Briscoe, Dixon, Franchitti, Rahal, Mutoh. Yes, I said Mutoh. Helio is still at the tail end of the lead lap. And now - another commercial.

53: We interrupt this commercial break to bring you racing action.

57: YELLOW as Mike Conway has gone into the wall. He's performed this maneuver in nearly every race this year. Gave Dan Wheldon a ton of room to pass him underneath and just drifted up. Meanwhile, Helio gets a HUGE break.

59: Free ethanol in the pits and everyone is in, everyone is out...except Helio. He's stalled it in the pits so he's still the last car on the lead lap. Say, who's up for another commercial break?

62: And we're back. Your leaders are still Briscoe, Dixon, Franchitti, Rahal, Mutoh.

63: Marty Reid just "oh, by the way" mentioned that EJ Viso is still on pit road, but, hey, let's go for ANOTHER commercial break.

67: Back to THE Milwaukee mile. Marty Reid says Danica passes Hideki Mutoh on the restart but actually she was going around Rapahel Matos. You say Tah-Mutoh, I say Tah-Matos.

75: 14 cars left on the lead lap. Ryan Hunter-Reay is 14th, with Helio just ahead of him.

78: Paul Tracy is now 2 laps down. Somewhere Vitor Meira is quietly chuckling.

83: EJ Viso is getting lapped by Ryan Briscoe, which is probably OK with EJ since even though he's a dozen laps down he's just happy to be here. Seriously, his car hasn't been able to finish a race all year. We could talk about this more but it's time for another commercial.

89: Welcome back to actual racing action, or in this case Ryan Briscoe running away from everyone in an attempt to win back-to-back race at THE Milwuakee Mile.

100: Still Briscoe, Dixon, Franchitti, Rahal, Mutoh, and Briscoe is once again closing on Helio. Ryan still hasn't lapped his teammate today.

107: Less passing. More commercials.

110: On the side-by-side we see with Dixon breathing down his neck Briscoe finally laps Helio. We also see about the umteenth ad for that "Wipeout" show.

114: And we're back, and although he's been lapped by his teammate, Helio has not been passed by Scott Dixon. Racing like a fiend despite being a lap down. I'm sure he's getting blue-flagged for that, and I'm equally sure he'll ignore that command.

128: You've missed nothing, although cars are now starting to make green-flag pit stops. I'm shocked we didn't have another commercial break, though.

133: Ryan Briscoe pits, and Scott Dixon - fuel miser that he is - takes the lead. I tell ya, you haven't lived until you've seen Dixon drive in fuel mapping position 4.

135: Tony Kanaan pits and there's a bunch of smoke coming from his car, and where there's smoke there's fire. Fire up the Car-Be-Cue. Kanaan gets help climbing out as his day is done.

140: After all of the pit stops it's Dario now in the lead, followed by Briscoe, Dixon, Rahal, and Matos. Time for another commercial break.

147: And we're back, but not before P3 has started a puzzle, P1 has nearly nodded off, and P2 has gone into the other room to see what's going on in the N-Word race. Between the lack of passing and all of the commercials a malaise has set in.

154: Wake up, everyone! Briscoe goes under Franchitti to take the lead and Scott Dixon jumps in to make it nearly three-wide. Much "defending" on Ryan's part, but since he's not Helio he won't get a black flag from the Iron Hand of Justice Velvet Glove of Tolerance.

156: Wow, and exciting battle for the lead - so let's check in with Danica in 6th.

158: Thanks, Danica. Let's have another commercial break.

160: Side-by-side shows a yellow flag. For what...?

163: Commercial break has ended, and we are told the caution is for debris on the track. Looks like a giant street sweeper has joined the field.

165: Final pit stop for the race leaders and...the first six hold their position from pit entry. Briscoe, Dixon, Franchitti, Rahal, Matos, Danica. AGR teammates Marco and Mutoh right behind Bunnies & Rainbows.

171: Still yellow. Still sweeping marbles I suppose.

172: FINALLY back to green...wait...nevermind. Wave that off.

173: GREEN - and this time we mean it. By then end of the lap the fron three already pulling away.

175: Marco is moving up, going around Matos to take 5th.

178: As Marco sets his sights on Graham Rahal for 4th Marty Reid says "Let's go back and check in with the race leaders because nothing has changed up front..." For real. And look - more ads.

186: And we're back. And I'm annoyed. Sorry freinds, but this is just a horrendous broadcast today.

189: Marco is reminded to "keep using your tools". But we can't show him running more than a lap before checking in with Danica, who I should point out is behind him.

191: Looks like Viso has pancaked the wall and is coming into the pits for what looks to be another DNF. What aforgettable year this is turning out to be for EJ.

196: Marty tells us Viso is out for the day and "it's been a tough year for that team". I wonder if he even knows the team name. No matter - more commercials!

202: Back again, but not before Scott Dixon has now taken the lead. Meanwhile Danica is in 5th and Marco is in 7th. There's passing here today - we're just not seeing it.

208: Here are replays of Danica and Matos going around Marco. Marco is being told to "use your tools". I'm starting to think these pit reporters may have teleprompters.

214: 11 laps to go and P1 and P3 have been bored to the point of sleep by this broadcast. P2 is still watching the N-word race. This is unprecedented in our household.

219: Dixon has pulled way ahead but Dario is challenging Briscoe for 2nd. Try to act thrilled.

220: Graham Rahal - who's been running in FOURTH all day - finally gets some air time.

224: White flag for Dixon. Come sweet slumber, enshroud me in thy purple cloak.

225: Checkered flag for Dixon, his second win of the year and his 18th total in the IndyCar series. One behind Sam Hornish Jr, who I believe is racing on the TV in the other room. Briscoe, Dario, Rahal, Danica. Bunnies & Rainbows is racking up the Top 5s this year.

I'd congratulate some others but we have to go to YET ANOTHER commercial break before Scott Dixon climbs out of his car in Victory Lane. I'm not kidding.

Let's total the laps shown:
0-10 (10 laps), then a commercial break
17-29 (12), than another break
36-48 (12), than another break
53-59 (6), than another break
62-63 (1), than another break
67-83 (16), than another break
89-107 (18), than another break
114-140 (26), than another break
147-158 (11), than another break
163-178 (15), than another break
186-196 (10), than another break
202-225 (23), than another break another break between the checkered flag and the the Victory Lane interview.

A grand total of 12 commercial breaks that resulted in only 160 of 225 laps being shown. 65 laps of mindless ads for "Wipeout". I'm turning this TV off before I'm subjected to any more of these ads, because I'm already requiring another adult beverage - STAT.

That's it for me, friends. I've had enough of this ABC Programing Special, sponsored by the IndyCar series. Thanks for bearing with me today, and good night.


  1. Turbine68 // May 31, 2009 1:20 PM  

    Since we're seeing mroe commercials that race, I may as well comment on that...

    Marco sponsored by a razor manufacturer? Is he even old enough to shave?

    Honestly, the dumb look on his face when he picks up the razor says it all... "eh.. what do I do with it again?"

  2. Leigh O'Gorman // May 31, 2009 1:37 PM  

    i hope someone is taking count of how many laps are "under commercial" and if i see another bloody GoDaddy advert I'll break the screen

  3. ATL_Boilers // May 31, 2009 1:37 PM  

    Is anybody but Helio and Danica racing today?

    Oh, sorry, another commericial...

    This is pitiful. The worst part is that they keep cutting away from the split screen halfway through the commercials to go to full screen local commericials. Stupid ABC.

  4. Leigh O'Gorman // May 31, 2009 1:39 PM  

    ...oh and Wipeout is an official low in TV

  5. Demond Sanders // May 31, 2009 1:52 PM  

    Briscoe, Dixon and Franchitti... kill me now.

  6. Turbine68 // May 31, 2009 1:52 PM  

    When do we get back to Versus? Watching these ABC Wipeout promo's is lowering my IQ by the minute...

  7. Demond Sanders // May 31, 2009 2:01 PM  

    And a debris on the track yellow. We actually get a clean race for once and the officials have to manufacture cautions.

  8. Tubrine68 // May 31, 2009 2:06 PM  

    #*%$(&^)&^) invisible debris caution? Is this Napcab? Jeez...

    I noticed Helio stayed out to throw more chop blocks on the Ganassi boys.

    Nice patient race by Son of Stache.

  9. Leigh O'Gorman // May 31, 2009 2:19 PM  

    ...and another commercial. Has there been a dozen of them yet?

  10. ATL_Boilers // May 31, 2009 2:25 PM  

    Not only could I not believe the caution... why did it take 7+ laps to clean up? That should have been fewer than 5 laps for that. The best part was that ABC didnt' take a commercial but waited for the race to go green first, and then went to commericial.

  11. Leigh O'Gorman // May 31, 2009 2:36 PM  

    OK, just a few things

    1) a bit of a duff race to be honest

    2) so many commercials - what the hell?? (they way the lead change was blurted out when no one had seen it, because of a commercial)

    3) danica's 3rd in the championship without any really impressive drives

    4) godaddy hires stripper's for their adverts??

  12. Leigh O'Gorman // May 31, 2009 2:42 PM  

    OK what the hell..? In the 15 minutes since the race ended, there has been a further three commercial breaks

    these are only telling me that ABC's regular schedule is pretty awful

  13. Unknown // May 31, 2009 3:21 PM  

    It's time to start calling the cautions "competition yellows" if the only debris is firestone boogers and they only threw the flag to get the street sweepers 12 points each.

    This series has zero chance of survival if major changes don't take place soon. Casual fans are never going to get hooked by anything televised today, much less make room in a weekend schedule to watch the next race. They probably lost 15% of the remaining audience after every commercial.

  14. Jenna // May 31, 2009 4:15 PM  

    One word: terrible. That sums up ABC's broadcast. Versus are 10x better.

  15. Dale Nixon // May 31, 2009 4:24 PM  

    So ABC missed the yellow, and missed a restart and missed a pass for the lead; only to have Marty Reid remind us that we didn't miss anything because we were all SIDE BY SIDE.

    Except the pass for the lead, if my post-nap haze has lifted...

  16. Anonymous // May 31, 2009 5:26 PM  

    For everyone who doesn't have VERSUS...get it...NOW!...And check your local cable programming may already have it as part of a basic or sports pkg. COX cable in AZ added it to the basic lineup in Jan. with no extra charge and we didn't even know it until the 3rd race. Ain't it a shame that we'll probably miss some of the best racing there is next week because ABC will have to "go to commercial" and/or forget about using side-by-side?!
    And before next year let's hope that the Milwaukee track can get a street sweeper designed to pick up the marbles...7+ laps???!!!

  17. The American Mutt // May 31, 2009 5:55 PM  

    What about that time that the race didn't suck for me. I muted the tv, and listened to I suggest for future ABC broadcasts you do the same. Am I the only one who happens to think Danica is having a solid year. Sure she's not setting the world on fire, but...I mean...the only people beating her are Penske and Ganassi and well what do you expect?

  18. Anonymous // May 31, 2009 6:51 PM  

    but also because they are a combined 114 years old.*chuckle*

    hey, thanks for jinxing him ya bast... er big meanie!!

  19. vitorfan // May 31, 2009 10:28 PM  

    Jeff, you were in rare form today huh? You had me crack'n up! As for the Marco/Razor commercials, does anyone else think that's not really him talking? I had mixed emotions about PT winning today. I kinda wanted him too, but it would have made Vitor look really bad. Don't you think he's gone through enough this May? And the "get well soon Vitor" on the side of the car, man, almost brought me to tears. On a different note, has anyone checked out the "race command" on I was actually really impressed with it.

  20. Dale Nixon // June 01, 2009 5:38 AM  

    Mutt, the problem with listening to the broadcast on the Indycar network is the the I500 they were almost two laps behind the video!

    Maybe it's time to address that because Mike King and Davey Hamilton aren't exactly dropping f-bombs out there...

  21. Kevin // June 01, 2009 5:39 AM  

    Just reading some of these negative comments about Danica have me shaking my head.

    Leigh: "danica's 3rd in the championship without any really impressive drives"

    The American Mutt: "Sure, she's not setting the world on fire, but she's having a solid season"

    Let's see, Being the ONLY non-Penkse or Ganassi driver in the top 4 right now in points is really crappy. So too are 4 top 5's (no other driver has more than 3) in 5 races.

    Lack of impressive drives? I guess running 2nd to Dario for a good bit while holding off Will Power with no trouble and ultimately finishing 4th at Long Beach wasn't good enough, nor was finishing 3rd at Indy or even yesterday at Milwaukee when she consistently passed cars to gain positions and ended up 5th.

    Sheesh, some of you are just hard to please and makes me wonder why you even bother watching racing if all you do is complain about how bad everything is.

  22. pressdog // June 01, 2009 6:33 AM  

    I hope IndyCar reads this as a great case study of how their broadcasts 1) put people to sleep adn 2) drive them to N-word.

  23. Leigh O'Gorman // June 01, 2009 6:55 AM  

    @ Kevin,

    Without being nasty about it, you have to seriously ask who behind the Penske/Ganassi 4 (apart from maybe TK) are seriously championship material?

    Unfortunately right now, that's not many. Marco and Graham can always spring together some good results, but are often inconsistent and when I think Danica's drives haven't been really impressive, I mean the haven't.

    Her drives have been good, but that's it - had she been in a Penske or a Ganassi car, I believe she would be beaten by the regulars because they are simply better.
    (Let's not forget that she's ahead of Helio purely because he missed St Pete.)

  24. The American Mutt // June 01, 2009 7:11 AM  


    Chill man. You completely took what I said the wrong way. When I said she's not setting the world on fire I mean she's not out in force leading every race, but otherwise I think she's having a solid season, and that's more than I can say for any other driver in the top five. Top five in every race, but the one she got crashed out of, podium at Indy, and fourth in the points. That's solid. This is the best season of her career, and here's to hoping it keeps up. The pairing of her and Michael seems to be paying off.

  25. Fred Hurley // June 01, 2009 8:21 AM  

    A couple of thoughts:

    1.) Yes, ABC's presentation of the race was frustrating. A telling sign will be the ratings. If they are in line with the ratings for the Versus races, then really, the IRL needs to think hard about airing anything other than Indy on ABC next year. Because right now, the single point in ABC's favor is market penetration (giggity).

    2.) Right now, Danica Patrick is one of a small handful of drivers in the running for the National Championship. If she wins at Texas, there's a good chance she's leading the standings. That's an impressive start to the season. Incidentally, she's right at the point in her career (28, fifth year) where she should be putting it all together.

    3.) Graham Rahal ran a great race. I know, he didn't win, but really, he ran a smart race, got a great finish, solid points, and brought the car home intact. At his age, that's a great thing.

    4.) I thought Marco actually ran a pretty good race. The car wasn't great, but they got a solid finish, and improved at the race went on. Certainly that wouldn't have happened last year.

    5.) Poor HVM. Things just haven't been the same since Cedric the Entertainer left the team. Chuckle.

    5.) I thought overall, the race was well-run, with the exception of the debris caution. That was a little weird. Maybe there was a chunk of something out there? Maybe? Anybody? Other than that, it was not as yellow-happy as some races. In particular, I liked that they stayed green while Viso limped it off the track.

    6.) Man, the Lockstep & Eeyore Show really made the race less fun. They do NOT build any excitement. I know it's a fine line, and we don't need Todd Harris screaming at us either, but really, a LITTLE life would go a long way. Jenkins, Buhl, and Beekhuis do a great job of maintaining decorum while still making it clear they are excited by what they're watching.

    7.) If ABC will only show a car running back in the field when they wreck, and then only for a split second, how will teams like D&R, HVM, Foyt, LDR, Fisher, KVRT, Conquest, and Coyne ever manage to sign and retain the sponsorship needed to be anything but partial-season also-rans? I know it's unlikely Coyne will ever be a front-running team, but with Z-Line, they ARE a full-season effort, and have even looked quick on occasion. Will Z-Line stick around if they're NEVER on camera?

  26. SkipinSC // June 01, 2009 12:01 PM  


    You got me thinking about something that separates Indycar coverage from the N-word. Maybe I've missed it, but I don't recall seeing the ABC or Versus broadcast crew going through the top 15, showing the interval behind the leader, as well as a comment from the crew on how the cars is performing. ("Jeff Gordon is running third, 2.5 seconds behind the race leader and Steve Latarte says they're battling a loose race car.")

    NAPCAR runs this feature consistently and it is one that I think would give more teams more exposure than they are getting now, especially in light of the lack of coverage deeper into the field.

    It occurs to me if either ABC or Versus would simply use this feature, over the course of a season, more people would get more familiar with the drivers in the ICS.

  27. Mike // June 01, 2009 3:30 PM  

    To Tabernerus:

    The marbles being scooped off the track by the undercard-series spec-sweepers were the debris, I believe.

    The passing for the lead that was shown was in fact an improvement over other broadcasts, though you're right, Jeff, the number of commercials was quite much...though I suppose we'd better be thankful that any advertisers were willing to show interest and get involved with sponsoring the broadcast. I guess I've gotten used to it through the years...wishing they'd only advertise during cautions or something...but when there aren't many cautions, and the laps pass by at more than 2 per minute, we're going to miss a bunch of the race when the bill-payers want their piece.

  28. mrs.mmack // June 01, 2009 8:02 PM  

    Wow. After reading your post Jeff and all the comments I've come to realize that f(reezing)mao in the Milwaukee stands with Mark yesterday wasn't such a bad deal. My teeth have stopped chattering and my fingers & toes have returned to their normal color. We dvr'd the race to catch the tv coverage but I can think of better ways to spend the 2 cleaning the house or getting a tooth pulled. BTW, in Illinois allowing a child under the age of 14 to watch an N Word race gets you in trouble with the department of children & family services. We'll let you slide this once.

  29. Leigh O'Gorman // June 02, 2009 2:46 AM  

    @ Mmack

    Good to see your had a good time