Phantom debris is real

Posted by Iannucci | 6/09/2009 | 7 comments »
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Before I write anything else in this post I'd like to personally thank you for reading it. I'm completely serious. THANK YOU!!! You, dear reader, are the kind of person that represents the hope and future of the IndyCar series today. Maybe not as an individual you don't, but collectively by actively seeking out social media sites about the IndyCar series you are changing the way racing is done.

Don't believe me? Here's proof: Today, the IndyCar series did something incredible - they offered an explanation for a debris caution. So sayeth the reporting machine that is Dave Lewandowski today at

It's Lap 150 of the Bombardier Learjet 550k and a Delphi Safety Team member of Safety 1, ever-vigilant to the racing conditions, breaks the relatively low radio transmissions to report to Indy Racing League track safety coordinator Dave Brown that he's spotted debris between Turns 1 and 2 of the 1.5-mile tri-oval.

Brown confirms receipt and race steward Brian Barnhart calls for a yellow flag to inspect the track and subsequently requests sweepers to remove tire marbles in the corners. The caution interrupts Ryan Briscoe's ride alone under a full moon, during which he built an 11.2-second lead on his closest pursuer, Marco Andretti.

Though not shown during the TV broadcast, a bolt that fastens each of the four titanium wear bars to the undertray is collected from the racing groove between the turns (where there's a bump above the infield tunnel). Also, carbon fiber shards from a Lap 2 incident involving three cars that have been sucked onto the asphalt and a piece of a brake rotor are picked up.
That's right - two days after the fact the league decided to commission their online media outlet to write an entire story in response to something as otherwise mundane as a yellow flag. This yellow flag, however, was perhaps critical to the race, as then leader Ryan Briscoe had an 11-second lead and looked on course to lap everybody save Brian Barnhart himself.

So who exactly is this response intended to reach? Is the other teams? Well, other than Ryan Briscoe they all benefited. Heck, Briscoe's teammate won the race, so I can't imagine Roger Penske is still troubled by the caution. Is it to the mainstream media? Well, I didn't see too many reports from them proclaiming outrage.

Well then who WAS pitching a fit about this over the last 48 hours? You were, that's who. You left your comments here and at pressdog's and elsewhere. You got your anger on at TrackForum. You tweeted to, in the immortal words of Jack Arute, "describe the feeling" of watching Briscoe's lead vanish because of some unseen debris. In short, you were a whole lotta angry fans in a sport that can't afford to drive away the point-whatever rating of viewers that still exist. And today, the sport responded.

So thank you, dear reader, for expressing your opinion on the matter, because there can be no doubt that your collective voice helped to prompt this explanation offered today. Regardless of whether or not the explanation is true (and really, I'm not going to go there) it indicates that someone in the offices at 16th and Georgetown is hearing your outrage. Keep hope alive that in the future they'll take pressdog's advice and work a little explanation of any future debris caution to the broadcasting teams and avoid this outrage altogether.


  1. Dale Nixon // June 09, 2009 7:43 PM  


    all this time I thought it was Jacques Lazier...

  2. Leigh // June 10, 2009 3:16 AM  

    doesn't take away from the fact that it took longer to clear up minor debris than a three car pile-up though...

  3. Will Overhead // June 10, 2009 4:33 AM  

    Thanks for your web page

  4. The Dude // June 10, 2009 7:08 AM  

    I still am skeptical by this "Bush-ian" post facto response

  5. Anonymous // June 10, 2009 9:38 AM  

    The only hope the IRL has of survival is to get at least one other chassis and tire manufacturer interested and hopefully 2 or so other engine manufacturures involved.... Otherwise the only thing the steady "lock-step" drone of those Hondas will be good for is the creation of white noise at nap time....

  6. Megan // June 10, 2009 11:43 AM  

    Thank you, dear writer, for giving the fans intelligent (read - "non-hilljack") commentary on the IRL.

  7. Brian (not Barhnart) // June 11, 2009 11:27 PM  

    No explanation DURING the NINE LAP caution period to pick up bits and sweep the outside, non-racing lane... Only later, AFTER we complain... 'Oh, a Safety Team member said that he saw something (off the racing line), so we kept that in our back pocket until the race was almost over, then waved yellow to sweep the track for their safety and to provide for a passing lane.'