Wheldon stays, Viso does not

Posted by Iannucci | 10/28/2009 | , , , | 0 comments »
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Curt Cavin reports the unspectacular union of Dan Wheldon and Panther Racing that resulted in a total of 8 laps led in 2009...will continue. This is not unlike an unsatisfied married couple who both went out to separate bars, surveyed the options available, then went home to tell their spouses how much they love them. Wheldon is still a skilled driver, and Panther is still able to put a competitive car on the track (at least as competitive as anyone not in the Big Two) but I'm sure both would rather forget that 2009 ever happened. Well, except for that nice check they got for finishing 2nd at Indy.

Meanwhile, HVM Racing has issued a press release

With the checkered flag unfurled on the 2009 IndyCar Series season, HVM Racing is planning changes for the off-season to get the historically winning team back on track for 2010.

The team plans to return next season as a two-car operation after adding a second car mid-season in 2009 with the signing of Robert Doornbos. Doornbos is signed to return in 2010, and the team is now exploring options with their second entry after E.J. Viso's contract with the team expired.

Team principal and owner Keith Wiggins is already busy looking for the right talent that he feels is needed to get team performance back to past levels...
Which means if you have sufficient funding, you too might be "the right talent". And the return of Robert Doornbos practically begs the use of the term "meh", except that I don't say "meh". I just kind of shrug my shoulders, which of course you can't see. So OK, good for Bob, and now we're all moving along.

Meanwhile, I can't say that anyone can blames Viso for leaving. After an exciting rookie season where he made as many enemies as fans, Viso was featured in IndyCar fanclub ads as one of the more prominent drivers. "Spend a Day with Viso", they said. In reality most folks wouldn't wanted to have spent race days with Viso, as his '09 campaign was a dismal failure resulting in 18th place in the championship standings - last of any driver who competed in every race. You don't have to be a Venezuelan snake enthusiast to know that when you finish 12th or worse in all but one race it's time to look elsewhere.

Where that elsewhere will be is anyone's guess, but if there's any way he can be paired with his rumored punching bag Mario Moraes then I'd be willing to pitch in $20 to help fund that team.

US F1 - The Mini Series (Day 2)

Posted by Declan | 10/27/2009 | 4 comments »
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Scheckter ready to get messy

Posted by Iannucci | 10/24/2009 | | 0 comments »
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It always seems like a logical idea that racers find a way to keep racing, no matter what kind of vehicle, and IndyCar drivers especially need to seek out ways to hone their skills since the IRL schedule constitutes less than a third off all weekends. (Which is probably why we spend half the year wondering "Is it may yet?...but that's another post for another site.) To be sure, there are a few testing weekends and a couple more for the Month of May, but over the course of 52 weekends more often than not there is plenty of time to work in time with go karts or stock cars or antique roadsters or sports cars or ten speeds.

Or even souped up, tricked out, off-road golf carts.

Dreyer and Reinbold Racing's driver for the 2009 IndyCar Series season, Tomas Scheckter, and William Yokley, defending National Champion in the UTV Division in the GNCC Series, will team up during the season ending GNCC Race in Crawfordsville, Indiana on October 24, 2009.

"I'm really happy to go to Crawfordsville and have a look around. I have an ATV myself, so it's really exciting to be associated with a champion like William Yokley and with MonaVie. I'm looking forward to have the chance to ride on board with him. It will be something very fun and exciting. I hope he is safe and that I'm buckled in tight, and hopefully he can win another one," commented Scheckter.
I had to bust out my Google to find out about this "GNCC UTV". Looks like Tomas better bring a towel.

USF1 - The mini series

Posted by Declan | 10/23/2009 | 0 comments »
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If a picture says a thousand words

Posted by Iannucci | 10/14/2009 | | 5 comments »
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What does this one say?

(Photo of Mario Moraes and, uh, friends courtesy of reader "devmd01")

Audience participation requested

Posted by Iannucci | 10/13/2009 | | 25 comments »
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Now that the IndyCar season is over, I have a small and painless favor to ask of all of you. It's a simple request that I know every one of you can do, and your participation will mean the world to a few people who deserve a little love from the otherwise silent masses. Don't worry, this isn't a call to support some sort of cause célèbre. No, it's just a modest project to help make the IndyCar universe a happier place.

As many of you know, My Name Is Irl is what's referred to as a "blog" which means it's a place where some otherwise non-professional writer conducts lots of non-professional word butchering. It is not, however, the ONLY IndyCar blog and I am obviously not the ONLY Indycar blogger. And although IndyCar bloggers might earn in the neighborhood of $1.63 per year in earnings from ad clicks, our real currency is this: comments. Real, meaningful, thoughtful comments - not the ones that simply say "ur a dumbs$%*" - are the treasure that makes every blogger's day. (Well, that and media credentials with buffet tickets and a parking pass.)

Because the IndyCar season is over and history shows many of you will soon tune out from our blogs for the winter, I your humble host am unilaterally declaring today, October 13th, "IndyCar Blog Comment Day". All that I am asking is that you, dearest IndyCar fans, celebrate this occasion by checking the sidebar here, clicking over to your favorite IndyCar or general motorsports "blog", and leaving a thoughtful comment of appreciation for the the "blogger". Anything from a simple "Thanks, and keep up the great work" to a sixteen-paragraph love letter will do. Think of this as leaving a tip that literally costs you nothing, and know that *Jack Arute voice* the words you leave today may well give one man or one woman the strength to blog tomorrow.

In all seriousness, if you've never left a comment before now then make it a point to do so now for one (or more!) of the many bloggers who share your passion for auto racing. Oh, and one other thing: please don't leave one of these comments for me. This isn't an exercise in ego-stroking, because I already know that I am blessed with a plethora of thoughtful readers. As always I sincerely appreciate your words of encouragement, but today is about those other bloggers who may or may not enjoy the same level of audience participation. Instead, if you are so inclined, comment here about the other IndyCar sites you enjoy, just in case one of your fellow readers might similarly enjoy them.

There is plenty of intelligent and witty and thoughtful and fun writing by IndyCar bloggers out there right now, and they deserve your encouragement before the series goes into it's annual hibernation. Forgive me for being so bold, but please, go forth and share the love with them today by leaving a comment. Thank you.

The one lingering question

Posted by Iannucci | 10/12/2009 | , | 8 comments »
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(I don't get as much mail as Curt Cavin, but I got a few of these yesterday.)

Q: Was it me or was that race fugly and super disappointing? I was completely put off by it. I'm not quite as pissed today, and nobody else seems to be enraged, so it might just be me.

A: Of course it was an exciting race, featuring lead changes among the very three drivers who were contending for the championship. There was strategy, we had to keep an eye on who led the most laps, and it had an intensity throughout the entire race. It was even noteworthy as the first ever caution-free race in the IRL.

Except...this was a three car race. Literally. Everyone else was lapped - at one point in multiples - rendering the entire field a bunch of obstacles. If you had no interest in those three drivers then this was the pinnacle of ambivalence for you as a fan.

Except...how different was this (at least for TV viewers) from the US Grand Prix debacle that left six cars on the track? There were 20 other cars out there - they were just completely irrelevant. And for the most part it's been like that the entire year. Two teams won all but one race in 2009, for crying out loud!

Except...the entire event was also weighed down by the six week drumbeat to the final. No slam on Motegi, but it's almost not a race since many folks don't stay up to see it, and if you didn't watch that then you had a month and a half to stir with Dixon, Dario, Briscoe and not much else. And that's exactly what the race ended up being. Exciting, yes, but ultimately unsatisfying to fans of other drivers who know their driver has literally no shot to win.

Except...what happened to the aero changes that were supposed to make everyone race more evenly? Chicagoland is virtually the same track as Homestead, but six weeks was all it took for Penske and Ganassi to re-open the ridiculous margin of competition. If this is what it takes to separate the field so widely, perhaps the IRL should change the aero configurations for each race, or have "competition cautions", or have Firestone design tires to randomly blow out. (That's full-rich sarcasm, dear reader.)

Except...having the entire field other than the Top 3 completely disincentivizes any prospective race participant from attempting to compete in this series, because not only do you have no shot at winning (except possibly on a few road courses) but you're not going to get jack squat of broadcast time if there's a close race at the front. That's not VERSUS fault - they were covering this race properly. That's just the fact that when you have three drivers with a shot at winning and those three drivers are battling for the win then the airtime will get sucked faster than (insert lewd Courtney Love reference).

But yes, dear reader, it WAS an exciting race. You just have to look at it a little differently.

LiveBlog: Homestead 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 10/10/2009 | , | 12 comments »
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Welcome to Miami, which has replaced Chicagoland as the site of the series finale. With only a few exceptions in the outcome, the IndyCar Series champion will be determined here by whoever finishes first out of the group of Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, and Dario Franchitti. Probably a safe bet to say whoever wins this race will win the whole she-bang, but that remains to be seen.

Enough talk. We've waited SIX WEEKS for an IndyCar race in this hemisphere. It's time to start!

0: Al Trautwig? Really? I thought that was Juno's dad wrapping up the football coverage.

0: Bob Jenkins is standing on the start finish line for the introduction. He needs to get off that track - stat!

0: Robbie Buhl is talking about being a team owner - from the Ganassi pit box. Why couldn't he do this from his own team's pit box? Did his own team evict him?

0: Jenkins is back in the sky lair. Behind him you can see TENS of people in the stands, ready to witness this exciting race day.

0: Gratuitous Briscoe Inferno 2005 footage. I suppose that's preferable to Paul Dana footage since we're at Homestead.

0: Grpahic says Briscoe has won this year at "St. Pete, Kentucky, Joliet". P2 asks "What's Joe-lye-ett?" Good question.

0: Helio discussing his accident in practice this week. Makes a reference to "pain keee-llers". The sound much more soothing the way he says it.

0: Arute informs us that all of the IRL official are wearing pink shirts today for Breast Cancer Awareness. Unlike Chris Berman, he does not say "Breast Awareness". Sarah Fisher gets a big check and whole segment featuring her a pink car to promote the issue, which includes pink sidewalls on her tires. P1 says she "likey".

0: Nice job by VERUS showing the pit teams for the contenders. It's always good to emphasize the team aspect of this sport. However, I still think all the Penske crew are actually cyborg prototypes he purchased from the Pentagon.

0: Only a few more dozen airings and presumably that IZOD ad will be put to rest.

0: Replays of the races this year. Listen closely and you can hear the sound of Ed Carpenter just throwing something across the room.

0: That musical chairs CGI thing is creeping me out. It makes the drivers look like Terence and Phillip clones. I'm imagining Briscoe and Dixon making incessant fart jokes right before the championship is decided.

0: Wow, Arute gives an obvious nod to pressdog by saying "We just wanna light this candle...A dozen clowns suddenly climb out of a Ford Escort in Iowa and slather our blogger buddy in SPF 45. (I couldn't resist).

0: @curtcavin says Helio's girlfriend is due to have a little Helio in January. That's Fun-tastic news!

0: Hey, suddenly a bunch more people showed up! Seriously, the stands look a LOT better. Thousands of people suddenly come back to their seats after getting their pre-race nachos.

0: Al Unser Jr, decked out in a pink shirt, announces "In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, ladies and gentlemen, fire up those Honda engines!" A bit verbose, but the fist in the air was a nice touch.

0: The cars are on the track. Dario and Dixon lead the way.

1: We are GREEN! Dixon pulls behind Dario as Ed Carpenter jumps into third.

2: Forget strategy - Dixon pulls next to Dario to do a two-wide dance.

5: Briscoe gets around Carpenter and is closing in on the Target Two-Step.

7: Briscoe has caught up and is considering going three-wide. Oh, this ought to be fun!

10: Dario appears to slow down - perhaps assuming the dreaded "Fuel Position 4" - and let's Dixon and Briscoe by.

15: Dixon, Briscoe, Dario, Marco, Wheldon. Yes, there are other drivers in this race.

18: NostraBeekhuis says drivers will be "working the controls". I think he meant tools. The extended layoff has obviously affected him.

22: Here's Alex Lloyd in his pink car with a 5-digit number. Bob Jenkins says Alex lloyd will be in this car "full time next year". Really?

28: Still Dixon, Briscoe Franchitt, albeit a bit spread out. Maybe pit stops will change that.

30: @IndyCarPR says that Jaques Lazier in the Team3G car has retired with mechanical issues. Well, that's 30 more laps than they were able to get Leilani Munter this weekend. *shaking head*

35: And here we see the leaders going around Milka. What's more frequent - shots of someone lapping Milka or IZOD commercials?

43: @FuriousWedge says "Race control says Milka is out of power assist pushes". At least she's using the thing.

46: Briscoe pits. In and out.

49: Dixon pits. In and out.

50: Dario pits. In and out. This is a 200 lap race for those of you watching with a calculator in hand.

53: And after all that Dixon and Briscoe are 1-2 and Dario is...well, he's about 4 or 5 seconds back. Danica and Tony Kanaan round out the Top 5.

54: Whoa - Briscoe closes a bit on Dixon then has 'a moment" in Turn 3. Nothing seriuos, but he may just duck in behind Dixon for a moment.

61: Holy smokin' rotors! Marco is in the pits with the wheels off and steam rising from his wheels.

63: Briscoe gets a good run and gets around Dixon to take the lead.

69: There's some good racing being show and the commentators just keep talking about the Top 3.

72: Dixon goes back around Briscoe. Woo-hoo, another pass for the lead!

73: Danica Patrick is in 4th - TWENTY SECONDS behind the leaders. This is such a three-car race.

78: Danica is in 5th, and has now been lapped. Tony Kanaan is 25 seconds back - the only other car on the lead lap.

85: While we were away during a commercial break Kanaan was passed. Also, Briscoe took the lead. Also, Tomas Scheckter nearly faded Briscoe into the wall. Well, that would have been a bit awkward.

92: Briscoe, Dixon 2.8 seconds back, then Dario 8.1 seconds back. And then a bunch of other drivers not on the lead lap.

98: Briscoe and Dixon make pit stops. In and out. Briscoe leads.

100: Dario pits. In and out. Assumes third position behind the leaders, six or so seconds back. If there's no yellow this bodes well for the Scotsman. Of course, when's the last time you saw an indyCar race without a yellow?

106: Dixon gets hold of the low line and squeezes the lead from Brisoce.

111: Dixon is opening a bit of a lead. Try not to suck away whatever drama remains here, Scott.

116: Bob Jenkins just informed us Marco is out of the race with a brake issue. We kinda figured that about 50 laps ago, but thanks anyways Bob.

122: Soon Dixon will secure the extra point most laps led in this race, which means if he finishes second in the race behind Briscoe he'll still win the ICS title. Excitement reduced.

125: Hold the phone - Dixon gets held up in traffic and Briscoe regains the lead.

128: Just noticed that Hideki Mutoh has gone from starting near the back to 7th. AGR cars are 4th, 6th and 7th, with Marco fuming (perhaps literally) in the garage.

133: Would a yellow flag now make this race more or less interesting? I'm wondering What Would (Mike) Conway Do?

140: Link, sitting in the room, suggested another network gets the rights to all of the cars other than the Penske and Ganassi teams.

145: Briscoe and Dixon again pit simultaneously. In and out.

151: Dario pits. In and out. Your calculator will tell you that if there is no caution - and there has NEVER been and IRL race without a caution - then Dario will win this race by making one less pit stop.

153: Hello! Danica is backwards in her pit box. Dan Wheldon is busting out a hand puppet show. Looks like the two had a fender bender as Dan was exiting and Danica was entering. Some crewman is goin to get an earful for that.

155: Danica's still in the pits. Her car may have a case of bent-metal-itis. Time to put those Boost Mobile dudes in miniskirts to work.

163: Briscoe has just surpassed Dixon for "most laps led" in this race, which means if he wins then, well, he wins everything.

167: Briscoe just lapped Kanaan. FOR THE SECOND TIME. A valiant effort but now all non-title contenders have been moved to the back of the bus, two laps (or more) down.

175: Dixon looks like he's dropped back a couple seconds and may be saving fuel. Or he may simply be getting his tail kicked by Briscoe.

178: Imagine if Dixon runs out of fuel on the last lap and is passed by Dario. Has that every happened before? *cough* 2007 *cough cough*

180: Well, I guess we're just waiting. Lots of shots of nervous relatives in the pits. Oddly enough, Ashley Judd appears the image of serenity.

185: Dixon has closed in on Briscoe and is about .3 seconds back. I don't know if they're racing or conserving fuel or what. Maybe they'll both slow to a crawl and let Dario catch up at some point.

192: Dixon will pit! Looks like there will be no repeat champion in '09.

193: Here comes Briscoe! Splash and go and wait for Dario.

195: Dario is told "they are right behind you". Dario has about a 6 second lead.

196: Dario lets Danica by. Briscoe is 5 seconds back.

198: Briscoe is four seconds back.

199: White flag. Limping around. And...and...

200: And it's Dario!!! He wins the race, he wins the championship, and he does it in the first IRL race ever without a caution.

Swithcing to Ashley-cam: "How great is my husband at saving fuel? WOOOOOO-HOOOO!!!!!!" And that, dear readers, is a direct quote.

Dario has run out of fuel during his "Zanardi's" so he needs to get a push to Victory Lane. Just noticed Security Chief Charles in a pink shirt. Vexing.

Dario says he's "definitely loving it. Definitely loving the IndyCar series. Gotta say thanks to these fans for hanging out in this weather." It's icky sticky in Miami today.

Briscoe, says "I guess I can't be too disappointed". Oh yes you can, Ryan. He's probably thinking about running into the pit wall at Motegi right now. Probably thinking about it A LOT. But that's just speculation on my part.

Meanwhile Scott Dixon is walking around saying "fantastic day for Team Target" and doesn't look too troubled. Why should he - he only got beaten by Dario on fuel conservation for the second time in three years. What could be bothersome about that.

Just an observation - everyone looks really sweaty.

Well, with another 15 minutes in the broadcast they're probably going to interview some more folks but I'm not sure what they can say. "Hi, did my car get any airtime today?" Oh well.

The good news: once again the Indycar series comes down to the drama of the last lap. The bad news: once again it's all about who is best at conserving fuel. The ugly news: without any cautions this was a ridiculous three-car race.

Regardless, this will bring a close to 2009. Congratulations to Dario, who returns to the league and picks up where he left off. Sam Hornish Jr, take note. Take care everyone, drive safely, thank you very much - good night!

Milka wins something

Posted by Iannucci | 10/08/2009 | , | 4 comments »
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Really. It's not a race, but it's a major award.

IndyCar driver Milka Duno, the first Hispanic woman to compete in the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Series, has won the 2009 American Latino Award in the "Favorite Alternative Athlete" Category in the 3rd annual American Latino TV Awards.

The American Latino TV Awards serves to recognize excellence and achievement in the American Latino community and is a tribute to the individuals, organizations and projects that have been featured in their seven-season library of multi-award winning and groundbreaking television shows.

The nominees were selected by the producers of American Latino TV " but the winners were decided by online fan voting. Videos of the nominees and winners in each category are available at http://www.americanlatino.tv/awards/.

(MORE from MilkaDuno.com)
I don't know what criteria defines an "Alternative Athlete", as if Milka was nominated with Hispanic skateboarders and skeet shooters, but whatever the case she was the winner. And since she isn't winning much else it's newsworthy. However, I am completely befuddled by American Latino TV viewers who voted, because although I am not an American Latino (despite being able to cook some fan-ta-bulous tomatillo and chicken enchiladas) I can say without hesitation she is not even the most interesting "Alternative Athlete" in her home nation of Venezuela.

You think I'm going to say it's EJ Viso, right? *BUZZER* Wrong! No, I think I found Viso's "Alternative Athlete" mentor. He's a 42-year-old baseball player by the name of Omar Vizquel.

Last winter, Vizquel and some buddies went to a wildlife refuge in Venezuela in the search for anaconda and to view other wildlife as well. About four hours into their trip, they found their snake.

In a video that Vizquel shared in the Rangers clubhouse during spring training, the group's guide stepped into shallow water to grab an 11-foot anaconda by the tail and pulled it onto dry land.

The Texas Rangers infielder... plans to try bullfighting when he goes home to Venezuela this winter.
I'm sure driving at over 200 miles per hour - and yes, there are times when Milka actually exceeds that speed - is quite a thrill, but when viewed as a skill I would rather take a chance at racing over Bullfighting or bare-handed Anaconda hunting. But that's just me.

Maybe next year Omar can rightly claim his award, although I suppose he has no shot at being determine a "favorite" unless he looks like this.

Blah blah Danica blah

Posted by Iannucci | 10/07/2009 | , | 7 comments »
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Blah blah blah, blah blah Danica Patrick blah blah N****R blah blah blah.

The two most popular drivers in auto racing -- Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- may soon be involved in a limited N**** arrangement, N****R team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed to SI.com.

According to Hendrick, the plan would be to put Patrick in the JR Motorsports team that is owned by Hendrick driver Earnhardt, Jr. with sponsorship from GoDaddy.com.
"We have no deal but she has spoke with Kelley Earnhardt [Dale Jr's sister who handles that teams business affairs] about a limited number of N****R races in that car," Hendrick told SI.com. "I have had some conversation and Kelley Earnhardt has had some conversation with that but Kelly is heading that up.

(MORE from SI.com)
Blah blah blah, Danica blah blah blah blah blah.

Add Michael Waltrip Racing to the list of N****R suitors for IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick for 2010.

Team owner Michael Waltrip said on Tuesday he's met with Patrick and given her a tour of the team facility. He is willing to put her in a limited number of races in the Nationwide and Truck Series. "Whatever she wants," he said.

(MORE from ESPN.com)
Blah. Blah. Blah.

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 10/06/2009 | , , | 0 comments »
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"I plan to run in the IndyCar Series as long as it possible to do so. I love racing the Indy cars and I hope to do it for as long as I am able. The opportunity to test a truck along with Nelson Piquet Jr. came up and it sounded like fun. I thought I might be able to give Nelson some pointers on running an oval because this will be his first time on an oval track. Before I agreed to do it, I asked both A.J. and Larry Foyt about it, and they gave their permission. It doesn't mean I'm looking to go N****R racing now because my priority is racing with A.J.'s team in the IndyCar Series. I've really enjoyed working with A.J., Larry, our sponsor ABC Supply and Honda Racing this year and I want to continue to work with them as long as they want me." - Vitor Meira, clarifying his racing preferences and explaining how one little test does not mean he intends to become a Truck Drivin' Man.

Penske kills Saturn deal

Posted by Iannucci | 10/01/2009 | | 1 comments »
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After further consideration, Roger Penske has decided he does not want to buy Saturn - the car company, not the planet (which he may still one day acquire) - effectively bringing an end to the auto manufacturing brand.

General Motors will close Saturn and wind down its dealership network after a deal to sell the faltering brand to Penske Automotive Group collapsed, the automaker said Wednesday.

The breakdown of a deal that had been widely expected to close this week will force some 350 Saturn dealerships to close and could cut thousands of auto retail jobs that would have been preserved under a plan by auto magnate Roger Penske.

(MORE from CNBC)
Rest in peace, oh plastic-door and fixed price innovator. I shall remember you well, mourning the loss of any possible cross-promotional advertising with Helio Castroneves.