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!

12 comments

  1. James // October 10, 2009 1:46 PM  

    No Versus (I have DirecTV) so I'm watching on the 'net and have to listen to the radio feed. One of the interviewers (don't know his name--it's not King and not Lee) keeps asking to "take me through the emotions." I'm going to throw my beer at the computer if I hear it again. When Indycar runs on The Lifetime Channel, then ask about the emotions.

  2. Robert A. Black // October 10, 2009 2:14 PM  

    Sarah's telemetry looks like her car is being really evil. Can you pick up her radio?

  3. James // October 10, 2009 2:20 PM  

    Not hearing any audio on her. Just loud audio hiss, but I'll keep on it for awhile and see.

  4. pressdog // October 10, 2009 4:02 PM  

    That ... was fugly. A definite waste of everyone's time, except maybe Ashley's. Note to IndyCar: this won't bring the fans flocking, and it might just send what few you have left looking for a new sport.

  5. Martin // October 10, 2009 4:22 PM  

    For accuracy's sake, Judd's quote was "How good is my husband at saving fuel and going fast!" She may be a pain in the butt sometimes, but she got this one right. Dario lapped all but two cars while he was saving fuel. Pretty remarkable, in my book,

  6. Leigh O'Gorman // October 10, 2009 5:21 PM  

    I quite enjoyed it actually - it was rather tense viewing.
    Who would have thought the first IRL race to not have a caution period would happen on an oval?

  7. James // October 10, 2009 5:37 PM  

    I agree with Martin's comment, and Pressdog's sentiment. I was thinking that they either need to toss some random debris on the track to shake things up, or they need to change the rules to be like Le Mans and have concurrent races for different classes.

  8. The Duke // October 10, 2009 6:17 PM  

    Som can I get an over/under on if Dario is the LAST IRL champion?? i.e. no 2010 season?

  9. 19Paige19 // October 11, 2009 9:25 AM  

    Haven't gotten to watch the race yet. Very happy to see Dario as the champion. Really wanted to see Ryan get it, but Dario's alright.

    Very excited to hear about Helio's baby news. Curt also said it's a girl and she's going to be named Mikaella.

  10. Tom // October 11, 2009 10:21 AM  

    Well, it may not have been a terribly exciting race, but I think we can all agree that big announcements they promised for the location of the race in Brazil, and the Series Title Sponsor sure made up for that!

    What's that? Err... wait a minute.

    Nevermind.

  11. Chuck // October 11, 2009 9:22 PM  

    Folks, I dunno -- I've made my living this year covering N-word, and while I love the snarky comments (admittedly, I thrive on them as much as carbohydrates, fats and amino acids), I can't help but feel like that really was a pretty good showing for the IRL.

    Sure, sure, three car parade blah blah, whatevski.

    I would love to see the N***** championship come down to three cars in the final race and have the championship decided on the brilliance of the crew and the strategy and the luck, frankly, of having things stay green and no caution screwing things up.

    That race was, to me, a perfect example of why the IRL is better racing than N-word. It was engineering and strategy and execution to its finest.

    And frankly, if you figure Sprint Cup starts roughly twice as many cars as IRL -- how exciting is it that exactly as many teams in N-word have a reasonable chance at that title as the IRL had in this last race? Constructive criticism of the league is ALWAYS welcome but I totally don't read the IRL finale as a strong example of why the series is hurting.

  12. James // October 13, 2009 8:37 PM  

    Re: Chuck's comment immediately above: I would normally agree except--we're in a period where it's The Same two teams dominating each year. Penske, Ganassi, and AGR all have good years and disappointing years, but it's pretty much always some combo of those three, and that becomes stale after awhile. I think it's a serious problem when if you want to see a promising young driver really accomplish something--that he has to find a seat in a Penske or Ganassi car, or an AGR on a good year. An Ed Carpenter could very easily end his IRL days with 2 career wins, though it's obvious he could be far better if he were on an elite team.