LiveBlog: Chicagoland 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 8/29/2009 | , | 4 comments »
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Welcome to Chicagoland, located just outside the Windy City of Chicago, where it is not only windy but also cold. Or, as the locals are known to say, "butt cold". In the 50s (Fahrenheit, that is), which is substantially less than the 110-degree sunshine we're enjoying here at My Name Is IRL World HQ. We here will be sweating for all y'all at the race.

Today's big story is the anticipation of some side-by-side racing since this is not only the location of three of the five closest finishes ever, but the last super speedway race at Kentucky was decided by about the distance of Ed Carpenter's shaking arm. We just hope an underdog - ANY underdog - can make a run to the front. It's gotten so bad we're considering Tony Kanaan an underdog.

Also, for the FishHeads in the audience, please be advised that due to Dario's revolving sponsorship deal his car tonight will look nearly identical to Sarah Fisher's. If you see a yellow car near the front to not instinctively reach for a paper bag to breath into.

And with that, it's time to start.

0: We're 5 minutes into the broadcast and Jack Arute has already used the term "plummeting temperatures" several times. Smells like a drinking term, and quite frankly it looks like a little flask of liquid warmth might come in handy tonight.

0: Lindy in the sky(lair) without diamonds, but she is sporting a a big honkin' watch.

0: Robbie Buhl interviews Ed Carpenter. No offense, but this totally pales in comparison to pressdog's Q&A with Ed.

0: Arute is interviewing Kanaan in what looks like a dark alley. It's like an episode of "Cops". I kinda hope Kanaan takes off running and makes Jack chase him down.

0: Robbie is interviewing the always ebullient Helio. P1 just chirped "I know why Helio's so happy. He drinks to much coffee. Or there's something wrong with him." That's my girl!

0: Nostrabeekhuis is goving over telemetry relating to the Will Power/Nelson Philippe incident. Apparently the docs looked at the telemetry and said "Hey Will, your back is broken". Will was probably relieved, although he was also probably looking for his missing teeth.

0: We just learned Ryan Briscoe plays rugby. Riiiiiiight. I'm not douubting he loves the sport, but Ryan's about as big as me, which means he'd get snapped like a twig in the first scrum of the match.

0: Danica has a fetching beanie cap on her melon, looking like she's about to bust out a skateboard. With her contract ending maybe she's trying to suggest we start a rumor about her joining the Olympic snowboard team.

0: Why does Danica get the soaring inspirational soundtrack during her Jack Arute Interrogation? Everyone else got some creepy new-agey crap that sounded straight outta the X-Files.

0: Danica likes to drink wine. And clean the house. And pick up dog crap. For a brief moment, I was almost in love with her there.

0: Robbie Floyd just said this race will be the closest Hideki Mutoh gets to home all year. Uh, what about Motegi?

0: Robbie and Tony Kanaan were asking what kind of girlfriend he's like. "I don't care." Now, more than ever, Hideki needs to take the offer of our own Shane Rogers to serve as his wingman.

0: Let's warm up these cars and get this baby underway before it becomes a Sunday race.

0: I think Deiter from the SNL "Sprockets" skit says "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines." Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!

0: Warm up laps. Literally. Briscoe and Castrovenes will lead them to the green flag.

1: And we're green. Fugly. Totally spread out.

2: Kanaan is contesting Dario for third. Tony is driving the Oscar Mayer wienermobile. Has an board camera. Weiner cam?

7: Kanaan drops, Dixon moves up, and here come Ed Carpenter going after the Top 5.

8: Dixon is flying, up to 2nd.

10: Briscoe, Dixon, Dario, Helio, Ed. Help us Obi-Ed, you're our only hope.

11: Dixon contesting for the lead. If he's conserving fuel then I'm a Chinese fighter pilot.

13: Dixon drops back behind Briscoe. Now he's conserving fuel. After the season finale here in 2007 you can't say the phrase "fuel conservation" without saying "Scott Dixon".

17: Ed gets around Helio for 4th. Admit it - you're rooting for Ed tonight. It's OK, you're in good company.

24: Tomas Scheckter nearly takes the front wing off Danica. Robbie Buhl then says "The spotter is just a tool". I just spewed adult beverage all over my laptop.

29: Scheckter is on the move. He's up to 9th. Probably itching to pass 7 cars in one turn as he's done in the past.

32: Graham Rahal, battling Mario Moraes for 6th, nearly puts Moraes in the grass. Jonas Brothers song of the day:: "Hold On!"

39: Since he's been tucked behind Briscoe for 20 laps, do we really need Arute to tell us Scott Dixon is making fuel? Elsewhere, water is wet.

40: Speaking of, when are these cars due for pit stops?

44: Ryan Hunter-Reay is the first to make a pit stop.

45: And Viso. And Fisher. And Conway. And the Weinermobile. And Marco. And Scheckter.

47: Briscoe pits. So does Ed. That means Dixon will pit in about 5 laps.

49: Helio pits. And here comes Dixon and Dario. On exit Briscoe gets around Dario. Helio is behind them. It's now Dixon, Briscoe, Dario, Helio...and Scheckter!

53: Tomas is all up in Ed's business. The front four have pulled away by a few seconds but the nine or so cars behind them are, well, you could throw the proverbial blanket over them.

57: Sensing fans irritation at fuel conservation, Briscoe and Dixon go wheel-to-wheel for the lead. Briscoe's even using The Button in an attempt to get around him.

62: It took him 5 laps but Briscoe finally got around Dixon. It's Penske, Ganassi, Penske, Ganassi - but at least they're racing each other.

72: Marco has to pit because he didn't get enough fuel on his pit stop. Bummer, especially since I think I picked him in my TSO fantasy league.

76: The leaders approach slower traffic and Helio takes the lead. Goes three-wide around Easy Conweasy and Viso to take the lead.

80: Viso and Dixon are going wheel-to-wheel for the first time all year. It won't last, but we can enjoy the moment.

82: Helio, Dixon, Dario, Briscoe, Ed. Scheckter still all over him.

83: All those drivers in the second pack need a yellow to catch back up with the Big Two. Milka Duno, paging Milka Duno.

89: Still no yellows, and the average race speed exceeds 210 mph. This race might actually finish at a reasonable hour. Well, on the West Coast, at least.

92: YELLOW for Mutoh, who is into the wall. He must have thought I was talking to him when I said "Paging Milka". Skidding sideways, throwing dust and possibly marbles everywhere. Slides down the track and looks to be OK. But we're gonna bunch up on the restart.

95: Free ethanol for everyone! Let's all pit together, and on exit it is...Dixon, Helio, Dario, Ed, Scheckter. Briscoe stuck a few extra moments in the pits, dropping back behind Moraes and Matos.

97: Dan Wheldon appears to be done in the pits. @16AndGeorgetown says "Looks like Wheldon Schecktered his Dallara".

102: Back to GREEN, and Ed tries to get the jump on Dario. No dice. Moraes pulls along side of Scheckter, Dixon pulls inside of Helio. It's called racing.

104: Mario Moraes gets around Scheckter and Ed as well. Closing in on Dario. Wow.

106: Dear Lord, this is just beautiful.

109: YELLOW for another AGR car. Marco got up to high, left some tire marks on the wall, through some dust up, but nothing wrecked. Hey, what's another pit stop to him at this point.

110: How bad has Panther's season gone? Wheldon got interviewed for about 10 seconds before being interrupted by Marco's incident.

112: Tomas Schekcter is in third. D&R is banging on the podium for the second consecutive race. Check for a plague of toads in tiny peacoats outside of Chicago.

113: Most drivers pull off to pit again, but some don't. That means your leaders are now Scheckter, Kanaan and Moraes. Praying for rain, every one of them.

117: Back to GREEN, and Dario TOTALLY jumps the start. Or brilliantly times it. Either way he's around Moraes and into 3rd. Meanwhile Kanaan takes the lead.

120: Kanaan, Scheckter, Dario, Ed, Moraes. 14 cars separated by less than a second. Hallelujah!

122: I'm just going to sit back and enjoy this before the Big Two ruin it all.

124: That didn't last long. Dario and Dixon charge to the front and claim P1 and P2.

131: Dario, Dixon, Moraes, Kanaan, Servia. How many of you even knew Oriol was in this race?

133: Dario, Dixon and Mario Jonas are starting to separate a bit. Does this mean we all have to start rooting for Moraes?

140: I don't know how, but Marco is still on the lead lap, 2.5 seconds back, in 12th. Ahead of Helio, no less.

143: Milka is parked in the pits. Wait...false alarm, she's going back out to valiantly fall even more laps down.

148: Make that a foursome up front, as Ryan Briscoe has moved up to P4. He can't let Moraes break the Evil Empire's stranglehold on the podium.

155: Kanaan pits all by himself. Meanwhile Briscoe has vanquished Moraes to take 3rd.

157: Briscoe takes second from Dixon.

159: Dario pulls off for his final pit stop. And the tire jack gets stuck under his car, losing a precious second or two.

162: Briscoe makes his final pit stop. Dixon regains the lead.

164: Here's Ed Carpenter making his final stop. Dixon, Helio, Rahal and Danica are the last ones on the lead lap.

165: And Danica and Rahal pit. And Dixon too. Helio behind him. Dixon is out first.

166: Here comes Brisoce, around Helio, but still too far behind Dixon. After all of that it's Dixon, Briscoe, Helio, Dario, Moraes.

170: Ganassi, Penske, Penske, Ganassi - but they're aren't really close to each other anymore. I sure hope after all this spectacular racing it doesn't all go to crap in the final laps.

175: Would you believe Marco, Graham and Moraes are all battling for 5th right now? Ed's up there with them as well. Kudos to VERSUS for giving them air time.

184: YELLOW for Helio! The #3 is sliding down the front stretch. Replay shows the super perfect Team Penske car just broke. Let's bunch 'em up and take one more shot at this.

185: Dixon, Dario, Briscoe, Marco, Moraes. After a bad pit stop and grazing the wall Marco is thisclose to the podium. Impressive.

188: Arute is going over who has how many pushes of the Push To Overtake button left. I'm going to be heretical here and say it doesn't matter. In fact, it appears about as useful as the "Close Door" button on elevators. I just don't see it helping drivers actually passing each other as much as the other changes.

191: Back to GREEN! And Rahal and Marco and Moraes and Ed get back to dicing among each other.

193: Rahal gets 4th, no 3rd around Dario!

195: Dario back in third, but it's a race.

196: Briscoe pulls along side of Dixon. Rahal right behind him.

198: Three wide for the lead!

199: White flag. Rahal has deopped back, but Moraes jumps up. Dixon and Briscoe side by side and the winner is...

200: Ryan Briscoe! Years ago he left this track in an ambulance, but tonight he'll leave vie Victory Lane.

Fourth closest finish in IndyCar history. .0077 seconds. Wow! Man, after all the horrible oval races we saw this year it's great to see two straight close finishes - even if they were both won by the same guy.

Congrats to Briscoe on a race Roger Penske said was the best he'd ever seen him run. Congrats to Dixon for finishing second at Chicagoland again, as well as Mario Moraes for claiming the third spot on the podium.

Now that's IndyCar racing, friends! And on a Saturday night, no less. I'm beginning to think I need to make a pilgrimage to this track some day. I hope you all enjoyed it as well. Drive safely, thank you very much, and good night.


  1. Badgerman // August 29, 2009 7:03 PM  

    Could actually be an interesting race with the cool dense air$

  2. Vince // August 30, 2009 8:19 AM  

    What in the hell happened to Marco on those last few laps? He was 4th, and dropped to 11th. Driving the high-line all night didn't seem to help on those last laps.

    Really hoping that Briscoe wins the championship now.

    All-in-all. That was a great race. How do people watch Nascar over this?

  3. Unknown // August 30, 2009 8:26 AM  

    Danica must be jumping to F-1 or something. She has no mojo left. Starting 10th? WTF? And dropping back all the time.

  4. TJ // August 30, 2009 9:04 AM  

    @Vince - Different strokes for different folks. Last night's race was a real nailbiter, for sure, but for some there's not much substantive difference between that kind of pack racing and NASCAR restrictor plate racing.

    Some people - like myself - enjoy both.