LiveBlog: Motegi 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 9/18/2009 | , | 0 comments »
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Hello again, race fans. I realize it may be late for many of you on the East Coast as well as the tens of Indycar fans in Europe, but here in sunny Arizona it's just past dinner time.

In honor of the annual race in Japan we here at My name Is IRL World HQ are enjoying an evening of Japanese cuisine...oh, wait, we're not having Japanese cuisine? Well what are we having? Tacos? Oh, OK. I love tacos. And truth be told I'm not a fan of sushi much. At any rate, we're celebrating Twin ring Motegi with a lovely Pico De Gallo.

Tonight we will still enjoy Japanese, as there are three drivers of Japanese heritage: Hideki Mutoh, Kosuke "Sofa King" Matsuura, and Roger Yasukawa. If any of these fine young men wins today I promise to immediately run out to BevMo and down an entire bottle of Sake.

We are also at the first ever event in the history of the IRL where the defending champion is a woman. And that woman is Milka Duno...just kidding. Had to see if you were paying attention. No, all eyes will be on Danica Patrick, about whom recently much has been said and little has actually occurred. If she wins tonight I think we should all start a "Danica to Formula Nippon" rumor.

First though, a moment of silence for our friends who are subscribers to DircTV, which recently dropped VERSUS from their offerings...

...And with that, it's time to start.

0: Gentleman Jack Arute is the only actual member of the VERSUS on-air team to have made the trip to Japan. I can't believe they let him go after he practically sullied Danica's post-race celebration last year by asking here "When are you gonna win AGAIN?" I still love Jack, but I'd vote for LindyCar.

0: Moraes is starting 2nd tonight, so he's the favored underdog. Jack Arute informs us "he sat on the podium in Chicago." I guess it was his first time there, so it's possible Mario didn't know you're supposed to stand on the thing. Perhaps it's some sort of rookie hazing thing for first-timers.

0: Arute loves interrogating Danica so much there's a PART II to her "In Color" that is in black and white. Danica says she remembers women scrubbing weepers, and now I'm going to refill my adult beverage.

0: With it's odd shape Motegi is notorious for eating cars. Heck, it ate two in qualifying. First out picks tonight: Link says Stanton Barrett, P1 says Moraes (she's such a hater - she calls him "Monkey"), and I'm going with Kosuke Matsuura. May the best man win.

0: "Konichi wa, watashima Bob Jenkins"...?

0: A bigwig with Bridgestone musters his best English and tells us "Lady and gentleman, start your engines!"

0: Warm up laps are under way.

0: Arute says Danica won last year "by fuel consumption". I think he meant "fuel conservation". Or maybe he's just already overworked.

0: Coming to the green flag. I agree with Roy Hobbson - having Kanaan and Helio starting at the back makes this race about 3500% more interesting.

0: And we are GREEN. Everyone makes it through the first lap without incident.

3: Camerawork in Japan is very erratic. Thank goodness for the ticker scrolling at the top.

5: Dixon, Dario, Moraes, Briscoe, Danica. Scheckter right behind her. Marco has already moved up 7 spots to 8th, with Graham Rahal right behind him.

10: Cars are starting to spread out, with many positions already having as much as a second between them. No one is going to confuse this place with Kentucky or Chicagoland.

15: Scott Dixon is leading by about a second over his teammate Dario Franchitti.
18: In case you were wondering, Kanaan and Helio are up to 16th and 17th now. Mike Conway is next up to pass on their to-do list.

20: The Japanese delegation is bunched together in 19th (Yasuakawa), 20th (Mutoh) and 21st (Matsuura). I'm sure the home crowd is thrilled by this development.

21: Dan Wheldon goes around Danica to take 5th. This might be the first time he's been in the Top 5 since Indy. If it's not it sure seems like it's been that long.

30: I sure hope you saw that AWESOME vintage promo for early travel to racing in Japan. If not, you have my condolences.

32: Dixon, Dario, Moraes, Briscoe, Wheldon...for now. Dan is all up in Ryan's business.

40: No change up front. Eagerly awaiting pit stops in this fuel conservation parade.

42: Dixon is lapping people. And by people I mean Stanton, Yasukawa and now Kosuke.

47: Moraes pits. Seemed to take an extra second or two trying to get the fuel into the car. Replay looks like the fuel man didn't get the nozzle in all the way until about halfway through the stop.

51: Everyone not named Dario seems to be pitting. Dixon appears to be held up by Hideki Mutoh, although I thought they're all supposed to be going the same speed.

52: Dario and Briscoe pit. On exit it looks like Dario will now be ahead of his teammate.

53: Dixon is trying to pass Dario, but it ain't happening. I'm sitting in a roomful of family members hoping they put each other into the wall. Welcome to my world.

55: Dario, Dixon, Wheldon, Briscoe, Danica. Moraes in 6th but Arute informs us he only has half a load of fuel. Heh heh - he said "load".

58: Morgan Freeman is telling me to "let your freak flag fly". Umm, OK.

65: Tony Kanaan just got lapped. Luckily P3, our resident Kanaan fan, has already gone to bed.

70: Dario is lapping Mike Conway in 15th. Helio in 14th is the last car on the lead lap. This is what happens when you have extended green flag racing.

72: Moraes has to pit. That's what a "half-load" of fuel will do to you.

75: Nostrabeekhuis is lulling me to sleep by telling me about rack and pinion steering. Six teeth versus ten teeth. Steering ratioooooooozzzzzzzz...

83: Sorry, I nodded off and suddenly Dan Wheldon is in 3rd. Mario Moraes in 19th. Just got lapped by Dario to go 2 laps down. Looks like I picked the wrong week to take Mario in the TSO fantasy league.

90: Scheckter is in the pits. And out of the car. Looks like I picked the wrong week to have him on my TSO fatasy league as well.

91: BIG moment for Kosuke. Much see-sawing of the wheel. I almost one the first out pool, but sadly his crazy mad driving skillz saved him from contact with the wall. to the surprise of no one, Matsuura coasts into the pits.

97: Dario, Dixon 2 seconds back, Wheldon 3 seconds back, Briscoe 12 seconds back, Danica 19 seconds back. Feel the excitement.

101: Wheldon pits. In and out.

102: Dixon pits. In and out.

103: Dario pits. In and out. But he's not leading because Brisoce is still out there conserving fuel like nobody's business.

106: And Briscoe pits. And Conway has gone into the wall. And Briscoe will not be penalized. AND BRISCOE TAPS THE WALL ON PIT EXIT. Oh, crikey! He's driving around with the "pit zone" cone stuck under his car.

108: Briscoe rolls through the pits for what I suppose it a penalty.

109: Uh, anyone wanna tell us if Conway is OK? That was a big hit.

110: Briscoe is still listed as the race leader but he'll need to pit. Here he comes. Change the wing, change the tires, change the postion back to third. Yes, it says third, even after all those recent pit stops. he must have been ahead by a lot.

111: Dixon, Dario, Briscoe, Wheldon, Servia. Hooray for Oriol!

112: Briscoe is back in the pits. Probably not a potty break. He's going laps down so he might as well get out and visit the restroom.

113: Arute is telling us about plastic cones, saying "I know I've hit one now and again". Memo to self: if Jack offers to give me a ride, DECLINE.

114: Briscoe is still in the pits. Somewhere Chip Ganassi is already counting the dollars for whichever of his drivers wins the 2009 ICS Championship.

118: Conway's status is still unknown. But we're back to GREEN regardless.

121: Airtime for Rafa Matos, who has gotten around Servia and has stormed up to 5th. Meanwhile, Moraes is back on the lead lap and in 9th.

124: Ryan Briscoe meekly re-enters the race. Actually he just did an entire lap on the apron before getting up to speed. Ryan is in 19th, 12 laps down. Looks like I picked the wrong week to pick Briscoe for my TSO fantasy league.

125: In case you were wondering, I think I also had Ed Carpenter and Dario Franchitti in the TSO fantasy league. I'm only mentioning this in case something happens to either of them.

130: Danica has gone backwards to 9th and is now the last car on the lead lap. She's 6 mph slower that the leaders, so she's probably conserving fuel again.

131: And Briscoe is back in the pits.

133: And Briscoe leaves again. Meanwhile Servia has wrested 4th back from Matos. Wouldn't it be nice to see this battle instead of Briscoe sitting in the pits? Why, yes it would.

139: Mario Moraes is up to 6th. Impressive.

142: @DRRIndyCar just tweeted "Mike (Conway) is back in the team offices and relaxing. Thank you all for your concern!"

145: Moraes is slowing, now back to 8th. Looks like he's trying to save fuel now. I tell ya, you ain't seen nothing until you seen these IndyCars "make fuel". It's simply breathtaking. /sarcasm

153: Dixon, Dario, Wheldon, all within a second or so, with Rahal back in 4th 11 seconds back.

154: Ryan-Hunter Reay gets airtime because no pit stop goes untelevised. Same for Justin Wilson who's running...well, he's still out there in some-teenth.

158: Wheldon pits.

159: Matos pits.

160: Dixon and Dario pit at the same time. Rahal takes the lead. RYAN HUNTER-REAY GOES INTO THE WALL. Dixon beats Dario off the line but Rahal should have a lap on them.

162: Hunter-Reay's #14 has a lot of damage. Replay shows a hard hit (is there any other kind here?) back first, but Ryan is out and walking around.

163: Rahal, Servia, Danica, Marco, Moraes and a bunch of others pit. I have no idea what's going on, but the announcers are saying the Ganassi drivers will be shown in the lead. Dixon, Franchitti, Rahal, Servia, Moraes.

167: Bob Jenkins informs us that VERSUS will now "welcome N****R" and will profile the 12 drivers in the Race for the Chase for the Cup for the...well, that's something else DirecTV subscribers can eagerly look forward to missing.

171: Back to GREEN...or not. Dixon tried to jump everyone. Jon calls it "Premature acceleration". Har har.

172: Now we're back to GREEN, as Matsuura and Carpenter inadvertantly run interference for the two Ganassi cars.

175: Moraes, Rahal and Servia are all over each other for 3rd, 4th and 5th. If you are still awake you are certainly appreciating this. And thank you VERSUS for showing the racing instead of the lock-step up front.

179: Bob Jenkins tells us Mike Conway is OK with ice on his foot. Also, Ryan Hunter-Reay is alright but he has a bruised knee. Thanks for the update.

180: I think for about the 10th time this season I'm thinking "Gosh, if you'd take the first two cars off the track this would be a heck of a race." So it goes.

190: Dixon, Dario, Rahal, Servia, Moraes. Probably going to end that way. Meanwhile Helio and Kanaan are 10th and 11th respectively.

195: Japanese driver update: Mutoh 14th, Matsuura 17th, Yasukawa 20th. Roger's 29 laps down though, so it's not a very close 20th.

198: Danica is in 6th. No repeat. I know you're all stunned, but what are you gonna do?

199: White flag for Dixon.

200: Checkers for Dixon, his 5th win of the season. Dario and Graham will join him on the podium.

It's late, so I'll let you all go to bed, presuming you all are still awake. Congrats to Scott on a solid effort and a serious dose of luck on the timeliness of the Hunter-Reay wreck. All that remains is for Scott to give a dull interview, a required follow-up with Danica, and then we get to wait to see if the ICS reached a perfect .00 in the ratings for this race.

Thank you all very much - especially the folks who've been keeping each other awake and amused on twitter - and good night.