Guilty plea in death of N/H/L crew member

Posted by Iannucci | 4/30/2009 | 7 comments »
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It's been nearly a year since Newman Haas Lanigan mechanic Davey Evans died after being kicked in the head during a bar fight, but today comes word that this guy - 30-year-old James P Brackin - has pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and is tentatively scheduled to be sentenced on Carb Day.

An Indianapolis man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of an IndyCar Series crew member who suffered a stroke after a bar fight.

James P. Brackin, 30, entered his guilty plea Tuesday in Marion Superior Court; he faces six to 20 years in prison at sentencing next month.

On May 4, before last year's Indianapolis 500, Brackin attacked David "Davey" Evans, 63, outside a bar in the 5800 block of Rockville Road after the two had argued inside over Brackin's girlfriend.

(MORE from IndyStar)
Ironically, for the next 6-20 years he'll have a completely different kind of girlfriend.


(Thanks to IndyTrackside for first noting this story.)

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/30/2009 | 7 comments »
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"Castroneves wasn't driving any further than his nose--inexcusable for a driver of his experience. He made a bad mistake and we had to pay for it. I'm pretty upset with him because that's the second time he wrecked my car by doing something stupid. The last time was a while ago; it was when my grandson Anthony was driving for me and Castroneves did apologize. But I'm not going to tolerate it anymore. When I see him, I will have a talk with him. - AJ Foyt, on his upcoming hunting plans for The Month of May.


(Thanks to Roy Hobbson for catching this.)

Hijack or hijinx

Posted by Iannucci | 4/29/2009 | 15 comments »
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Is this an actual theft of Danica Patrick's race car or do my eyes deceive me? First we had this "cell phone video" a few days ago.



Then we got this "surveillance video".



Then there came this statement from co-owner Kim Green onthe AGR site that reads:

“I am disappointed that this video was leaked because it creates an unnecessary distraction as we prepare for the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500. We are in contact with the individuals in the video and are making progress in getting the car returned prior to Opening Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We have no further information to offer at this time and will provide additional details as they become available.”

And now we've got this "News clip".



Can't wait for those "additional details" from Andretti Green over the coming days. Oh, the drama of Indy.

UPDATE: The intrepid Curt Cavin is on the case.

Danica theft a hoax

A surveillance camera video circulating the Internet is real, but the alleged theft of a Danica Patrick race car is a hoax, a team member said today.

Andretti Green Racing spokesmen still haven't confirmed the story either way except for a carefully crafted response by team co-owner Kim Green that says the "leaked" video has become a distraction.

The team will unveil its Indianapolis 500 paint scheme on Friday at 10 a.m. near the Indianapolis airport. Patrick will be present.
I'd just like to add I feel a certain warmth for the word "hoax", manly because it reminds me of old episodes of "Columbo" and "The Night Stalker". It's a very 70s word.

If a picture says a thousand words

Posted by Iannucci | 4/29/2009 | 13 comments »
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What does this one say?



(Photo: Twitpic/@GoDanica7)

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/29/2009 | 0 comments »
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"No, I wasn’t aware of it. I don’t know. It’s kind of funny. I guess if I had to give myself a nickname based on the way things transpire over a race weekend, it would be more like Chief Babysitter." - Brian Barnhart, on his now ubiquious "Iron Hand of Justice" monicker, speaking heart-to-heart with the man who gave it too him.

It's officially The Month of May

Posted by Iannucci | 4/29/2009 | 2 comments »
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Iannucci: After 11 long months, welcome friends to The Month of May!

Reader: Uh, sorry Mr Word Butcher, but my calendar still says "April".

Iannucci: Stop talking to the computer screen, dear reader. I didn't say it was "May" - I said it was "The Month of May".

Reader: You losing me here, buddy. Got any new pictures of Danica?

Iannucci: My dear friend, it is "The Month of May", which means we now commence upon several glorious weeks of racing at the most historic and supremely awesome race track in all the world.

Reader: So, there's racing today?

Iannucci: Actually, no. That comes later.

Reader: Look, this isn't making any sense I'm about to click on over to p-dogs to read about the "F-Word". Do you or do you not have a point here?

Iannucci: I'm so very gald you asked, because the point is that now 1070 The Fan has begun their nightly coverage of The 500 with the world-famous show, "Talk of Gasoline Alley" featuring David Dona, err, Donald Davidson.

Reader: Is that the guy that knows all that Indy stuff off the top of his head?

Iannucci: Yes, that would be the guy.

Reader: Cool, thanks...I'm still going to pressdog's site, if that's OK.

Ratings? What ratings?

Posted by Iannucci | 4/28/2009 | 15 comments »
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I just want to take a moment and let you all know that I now admit your humble host previously overreacted when word of the ratings of the VERSUS broadcast of the St Pete race arrived.

As you may recall, I took one look at the ".3" and immediately declared it a bomb. That was my word for the rating, not the superb coverage. "Bomb". You know, like KABOOM and then everything is in the rubble of what it once was. I thought it was appropriate, but like I said, I know now it was a gross exaggeration given that viewership of the Long Beach race ballooned up to ".5". W00t.

So, has anyone caught the ratings for the Kansas event yet...?

The Indy Racing League TV ratings took a step back at Kansas this past Sunday. After posting TV viewership gains for the Long Beach race April 19, the IRL earned a .15 rating nationally (.3 share) for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway on April 26.

(MORE from The Score)
*staring blankly at screen*

FLASHBACK: Champ Car Race Narrowly Misses a Zero TV Rating

Brazil race now likely

Posted by Iannucci | 4/28/2009 | 17 comments »
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From Steve Ballard, who was doing his best Curt Cavin impersonation for the IndyStar this weekend.

Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League's commercial division, said his upcoming trip to China and ongoing talks with Brazil don't mean the IndyCar Series is intent on going global.

"We're a domestic series and will continue to be," he said Sunday. "But to not explore opportunities in countries with emerging economies, we would not be doing our job."

Angstadt leaves Sunday on a five-day junket to China. Any race there is at least two years away, he said, but Brazil is a likely addition to the 2010 schedule.
It's important to note that "likely" is Ballard's word and not Angstadt's, but that doesn't mean this is pure fiction. It does, however, mean that we have to look at this picture - taken in Brazil - because you might recognize some of these young men.

mmack's nnotes: Kansas 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 4/27/2009 | 7 comments »
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Ladies and gentleman, once again My Name Is IRL proudly welcomes guest commentary from a man who ain't too proud to snuggle with his own wife. Home from the pub and returning to the comfy couch, it's the one, the only, the mmack.

It's spring, and a Midwesterner's thoughts turn to . . . thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, flooding, and other ugly weather. Here in Chicago (Our city slogan: "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it'll get worse!") our first 80 degree day of 2009 is followed by clouds, rain, sun, humidity, gale force winds, pelting rain, thunder, rain, sun and more stifling humidity. We've had everything but locusts and frogs, so I don't hold out much hope when mrs. mmack and I settle down on the comfy couch and turn on the TV at 3 PM. I fully expect to see a replay of yesterday's Truck race, with jet driers and support trucks at the ready awaiting an end to the rain.

To my surprise it's blue gray skies with low hanging clouds but no rain. It's windy enough that it looks like it will start pouring at any second, and I await the inevitable Wizard of Oz quotes from our Versus announcing team. As the flags whip in the wind and the sponsor banners dance in the gale, our coverage begins with a recap of qualifying (which I caught late enough on Saturday to see Graham Rahal steal the pole).

Evidently Elvis and The Dancing King have White Line Fever. For blatantly ignoring The Iron Hand of Justice's rule on not dipping below the white line in the turns, Mr. Ashley Judd and Free Helio! go to the back of the class. They are joined by EJ "C'mon, do something CRAZY already!" Viso, who is in the back because his car failed post qualifying tech. We are not told what the failure is, so I will speculate wildly and say it was the old Nitrous Oxide in the fire bottle trick. (More likely it was probably something boring like the undertray being .00001 in too low).

It's a Newman\Haas\Lanigan front row, with Young Master Graham and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, I mean Doorknob, er, Robert Doornbos leading the pack. During the interview I see Margaret Hamilton fly by on her broomstick threatening "I'll get you my pretties, and your little Dallaras too Mwahahahahahah!"

We then move on to a possible three peat story with Choppers Wheldon. A nice montage of '07 and '08 is followed by our FIRST OFFICIAL Wizard of Oz reference. Wheldon likes shoes, click your heels, no place like home, get it? Sadly, Dan's Pumas are not ruby red, but boring old camo green. Dan is hopeful to pull off the win.

We then segue to a story on spotters with Jack Arute. I am intrigued by the mention of a "vibrating buzzer" connected to Race Control that indicates a yellow is out. Upon hearing this I briefly wonder if EJ Viso has an Electronic Shock Collar version, and if that's why he's been so mellow lately.

Speaking of EJ, we find out that his pet boa constrictor's name is Tracy. Mrs. mmack, with a pathological hatred of snakes wonders what the deal is with all these race car drivers with snakes?



After we try, and fail to find out "what the dealio" is with EJ, Versus gives us a nice short piece on Sarah Fisher and her words on the trials and struggles of being both an owner and a driver. Then Versus brings out the crying towel for Scott Dixon. Two races in and Scott is not eleventy-million-billion points ahead of second place. In fact he is in seventeenth place in the points. Next you'll be telling me Jenson Button is leading the Formula One drivers points, or some nonsense like that. Scott starts fourth and is concerned with his rough start to '09, but feels he has a good car for the race today.

Free cheesecake for everyone! An interview with Danica! follows, where after asking the boring questions about race cars, we move on to the Shape magazine cover of Danica in her itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny yellow bikini, sans polka-dots. We are informed that many male customers may be buying this magazine. As long as we are stating the obvious, water is wet and fire can burn your skin.

We now move on to Helio! Coverage of Helio shaking hands and kissing people as if he is running for office. He is asked a few cursory questions about racing, and then is grilled about his reaction to the Shape magazine cover with Danica. Helio responds like an 8th grade boy caught staring at the cutest girl in class. I fully expect the interviewer to ask "You like Danica, don't you?" Hey, maybe they can pass notes to each other too. At this point mrs. mmack remarks that she still thinks if Danica! and Helio! got together romantically, they would have "children beautiful enough to sell." So there you go, love conquers all and all that.

Finally we get down to racing, which is why mrs. mmack and I paid for Versus in the first place. A clean start shows Young Master Graham in the lead with Scott Dixon slicing up to second. Danica falls back from her third place starting spot. At this point some braver souls try THREE WIDE racing, but think better of it. Danica begins to claw her way back as Dixon slips past Rahal for the lead. Mrs. mmack remarks here that she is so bored with red, white, and blue cars that all look alike. So let's get some purple, orange, yellow, and gold out there folks. Or at least more yellow and green than Ed and TK.

Our discussion on color palettes is interrupted by a yellow flag and Vitor Meira stopped on the track with the car's rear wing askew. On the replay, evidently Helio was texting his sister Katy when he ran full on into Vitor

Katy: HEY BRO, WHAT U DOIN?
Helio: JUST RACIN ;-) OH NO!!! BIG CRASH!!!
Katy: COOL!!!! CAN U SEND PIX?
Helio: SURE, IT WAS COOL! I CAUSED IT LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!

Holy flying debris Batman! Helio's errant wing flies through the air like a scythe and lops off EJ Viso's front wing! The spotter turns EJ's shock collar to 11 to keep EJ in the car and away from Helio.

Note to Versus: Now would have been a good time to talk to AJ Foyt for a candid comment. Just sayin'

A flurry of pitting and in the course of leaving his stall Doornbos NAILS a tire from Rahal's car. In the mean time, EJ's team uses duct tape to fix the front wing of #13. What's next, Bondo and gray primer?

As we finish up, a story on umbrellas in the pits leads me to think Mary Poppins is working in Mario Moraes stall, I think. That is, the story wasn't too clear.

Doornbos has to surrender the lead under yellow for playing discus with Young Master Graham's Firestone. On the restart Rahal and Dixon fight, as TK and Briscoe Inferno go wheel to wheel. TK moves up to work on Rahal.

Now, I must tell a tale out of school on mrs. mmack and myself. While Scott Dixon efficiently lead the race and the pack strung out, after the second set of pit stops where Helio lead a lap and The Iceman came back to the front, we sort of nodded off on the big comfy couch. It's a very soft couch and we were cuddled next to each other romantically holding hands, and the next thing you know, zzzzzzzzzzzz. So my notes may not be as comprehensive as they would normally be.

Holy Cow! A yellow! Who the!?!?, What the?!?!?!? A replay shows Matos in the wall to "break the monotony of a Dixon walk away", per my notes.

At this point on an oval, everybody pits under yellow. Dixon, Kanaan, and Briscoe pull in and Ryan pulls out with the lead. There's plenty of slicing and dicing on the restart, including a suspicious move by Scott Dixon at the green. As the race goes on Danica moves forward, then tries to be REALLY RACY by trying to pass Young Master Graham while Rahal tries to pass Free Helio!

At this point we switch to the pits and Jack Arute. Freed from trying to scare us with the threat of rain before the race reaches 100 laps, Jack gives us a helpful visual of an egg and his hand as a throttle and a foot, or something. It's good, but still not as good as the block of cheese and the grater from a few years back. Hey, for the Indy 500, get the cheese, the grater, the egg, some mushrooms, green peppers and some diced ham and Jack can make a Denver Omelette. We can call the segment "Cookin' With Jack", or "You Don't Know Jack About Cookin'!"

We return to the action as Dario and Ed Carpenter fight for position. Later Dario and Danica fight for position until Danica uses Stanton Barrett to keep Dario behind her. As Danica moves forward she puts the moves on Young Master Graham.

At this point Ryan Briscoe peels off for the pits just as Dario shoots up the track and torpedoes the retaining wall. It's a pretty nasty hit for Dario. The replays show him locking the brakes and skidding to avoid Rahal. Unfortunately, Briscoe Inferno has to take a pass-through in the pits and come back around for service, due to the yellow. As expected, Roger Penske is outraged at the ruling. The leaders come into the pits and exit Dixon, Helio, TK, Briscoe. On the replay Helio JUST misses Briscoe as he pulls out of his pit stall. The race restarts Dixon, Helio, TK, Ryan, Danica. An Izod moment on Tony Hulman ends with a nicely timed side by side of the green flag falling while Tony Hulman announces "Gentlemen, start your engines!"

Graham and Mutoh put on the best show at the late stages of the race as nobody really has anything for The Iceman. The field strings out while Danica keeps out of Marco's clutches and holds on to a top five spot. Of course, if Milka Duno had an F-16 with full afterburner she'd be ahead of Danica, as well as Ryan, Tony, Helio, and Scott.

The checkered flag falls and order is restored to the IRL as Scott Dixon wins a race. We're not like those crazy foreigners in F-1 with their Brawn and Red Bull teams scoring wins, no sireee Bob! Helio, Tony, Ryan, and Danica round out the top five. That's two top five finishes in a row for Mrs. Patrick-Hospenthal, for those of you keeping score at home.

Interview with Emma (Mrs.) Dixon. Scott has been "grumpy" since the beginning of the season. Do we want a Grumpy Iceman or a Happy Iceman folks? It's your choice. In a post race interview Mr. Dixon states he will take the momentum into Indianapolis this May.

And with that, we wrap up the race at Kansas for 2009. As the broadcast ends I close my eyes only for a moment and the moment is gone, as I ponder how long 'till the point that we return to Kansas, and why nobody at Versus mentioned all the dust in the wind during the race.

I think this race, for better or for worse, is a good predictor of The Big Enchilada at Indianapolis next month. Lots of shuffling and shoving for position on the restarts, with the field stringing out under long green flag runs. Look for Dario and Scott to be strong with a resurgent Helio and Ryan keeping them honest, while Will "Excuse me, Mr. Penske, WHY wasn't I racing today?" Power will be trying to keep his ride and change Roger's mind. Danica and Tony look strong, Marco is traditionally strong at Indy (when he keeps all four wheels on the track), while Mutoh is still the question mark of the team. Graham will probably redeem himself from last year's debacle and get a first day starting spot.

And that's the last recap from The Comfy Couch for a while, as the Fabulous mrs. mmack and I plan to be at Indianapolis for the 500, and up in God's Country wit' Da' Upers in 'sconsin for the Milwaukee race, Ya hey dere!

Oh and Doug, who posted on my Long Beach notes: mrs. mmack and I looked for you in the crowd shots. We didn't see you.

LiveBlog: Kansas 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 4/26/2009 | 21 comments »
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Welcome ladies and gentleman to the first oval race of the season, which means the roughly half of you who've been disinterested the last few weeks are geeked, and the other bunch of you who got your street race vibe on are ready pass out from excessive left turns. Such is the bimergified world we live in.

The big story today would normally be that two cars not in the Big Three will be starting from the front row, as N/H/L teammates Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos will lead the field to the green flag. They got a little help from the IHJ though, who came down on the otherwise faster Helio and Dario for going below the yellow line during qualification. Those drivers will be sent to the back, and quite honestly it should be more fun to watch them try to work back through the field.

(Note: This also marks roughly 423rd time Helio has been punished by league officials, who thankfully were not on the jury for his recent tax-related legal festivities.)

No, the big story is the weather, which may or may not rain but will definitely be blowing like a...hang on, my kids read this site, so you'll have to imagine your own analogy. Needless to say Mother Nature is yet again on a rampage at Kansas, going so far as to unleash the fury of a nearby tornado yesterday.

Here is exclusive footage of Pat Caporali and the @VisionRacing team seeking shelter.



Seriously though, let's hope everyone can manage to stay safe in these inclement conditions. The Indy Lights race this morning resulted in much carnage between turns three and four, giving the Delphi Safety Team more track time than many of the drivers. Not exactly what race fans came to see.

Battling wind and racing against the (possibly) forthcoming rain will make for some interesting twists on the racing today, but it also set the danger level up to '11'. It's time to find out who's ready to race and who's thinking about just bringing it home in one piece.

And now, it's time to start.

0: Who's in charge? LindyCar, that's who. She's manning the podium and has banished Arute to conduct driver interviews. She'll be running the entire VERSUS network by the time The Month of May.

0: More rule changes for The Hair Club for Men, a.k.a. Franchitti and Kanaan. If Tony wins today he shaves Dario's hair BUT he still has to keep growing his 'fro. If one of these guys can't get a "Supercuts" sponsorship this month it's a total opportunity wasted.

0: @VisionRacing and @luczodragon both say rain is inevitable. Vision says "Giant green blob headed our way". Could be rain, or possibly Hedorah.

0: Looks like Helio is still signing autographs. Wait...wait...and THERE'S the hug!

0: Rick Mears, LIVE! I'm guessing he probably wouldn't agree to it, but you really couldn't do any better than Rick Mears as a race commentator.

0: "Just because they're the strong doesn't mean they can't get their asses kicked." OK then.

0: Here's Jon to tell us the weight jacker is opperated by the buttons marked "WJ". After that...I think he was talking about a video game.

0: These picks by the broadcast crew would be far more interesting if they didn't all pick the same people. What is this, the Robert Doornbos Fan Club? Sheesh.

0: "...start your engines!" We are HOT HOT HOT! Now get out there and let the green flag drop before the rain, please.

0: Jack Arute, noted race strategist, busts out with a bunch of advice. I'm no expert, but I'd tell my driver to hug the low line because all of those cars losing it earlier today seemed to be blown up to the outside wall. But neither Jack nor I drive 220 mph all that often.

1: And we're green with another spectacularly malformed set of rows. Clean lap for all though, which is far more important.

7: Rahal still leads but Dixon is in 2nd. Viso, who started at the back, if already around Helio and Dario and up to 16th. That penalty must have re-ignited the rage.

9: Dixon to the inside of Graham, taking the lead. Doornbos, Danica, Mario Marios, err, Moraes round out the Top 5.

14: Yowza! Everyone slowed down and Helio ran hard into the back of Vitor Meira. Flying debris took off part of Viso's wing as well. All cars are still running but definitely damaged.

16: Free ethanol in the pits! Everyone is in and the new leader is...Robert Doornbos! Dixon, Rahal, Moraes, Briscoe follow.

18: Hold the phone, Bobby D. Looks like he struck his teammates tire resting in Graham's pit box on exit, and that's gonna be a penalty. The IHJ demands Robert go to the back.

22: Back to green and Rahal gets a great jump to pull up next to Dixon. Can't complete the pass though so he peels back to follow.

25: You know we're on an oval because Ed Carpenter is in 6th. Can't miss that blinding Menards paint scheme.

29: Here's an in-car feed of Viso getting lapped by someone. And someone else. And someone else. That's just cold, VERSUS.

33: Helio got his nose fixed and is up to 12th. Dario right behind him in 13th. Justin Wilson in the Dale Coyne car is in 14th.

42: Stick in fork in Viso, his day is done. Parked and exiting the vehicle. At least he wasn't impaled by that debris from Helio's car.

43: Dan Wheldon is around Moraes for 5th. With his history on this track you might as well cue the them from "Jaws" now.

45: Helio up to 9th. Who needs patience when you have a Team Penske car. (will Power, that's who.)

50: Poor Vitor. 0 for 96. It almost looks like he's crying in his interviewe with Arute.

55: Dixon, Rahal, Kanaan, Briscoe, Moraes. Danica 8th, Sarah 17th, Milka 19th.

59: Kanaan around Rahal, who suddenly seems to be a touch slower and dropping back. Focus on channeling the blogger karma, Graham.

61: Arute says "Scott Dixon is making excellent fuel mileage". Lovely.

67: We are a third of the way through and teams are starting to cycle though another round of pit stops. The leaders, conserving fuel like champs, are still holding station.

69: Tony Kanaan becomes the first leader into the pits.

70: Then Rahal. That puts Helio up to 2nd, for now.

71: Then Dixon. Eventually he had to come in.

72: Then Helio, who actually led for a lap. This Castroneves guy, he's pretty good.

74: After all that it's now Dixon, Kanaan, Briscoe, Rahal, Carpenter. Franchitti and Wheldon right behind them. 26 or so laps to an official race.

83: Franchitti lapping Barrett, and those cars together kinda look like teammates this weekend. Well, visually they do.

86: Commercial break so I just peaked over at the N-Word race. Let's just say sheet metal workers will be in high demand this week.

92: Dixon still leads, looking to lap Milka Duno. She lets him by without incident.

93: Meanwhile Kanaan and Briscoe are side by side battling for 2nd. And by battle I mean Briscoe is past him without blinking.

94: Unnamed spotter for one of those guys calling out "Milka Duno! Milka Duno!"

97: Yellow flag for Matos, who has done something to mess up the suspension on the front-right of his car. Looks like we're going to have an official race, though. Woo-hoo!

100: How about we all pit, eh? In and out for 7 seconds of love and the new leader is...Ryan Briscoe! Kanaan, Dixon, Helio, Franchitti. In other words, "the usual suspects".

105: Back to green and Scott Dixon TOTALLY jumped Tony Kanaan for 2nd. Paging the IHJ! Hello? Hello!?!

110: Here comes Rahal and Danica, both around Franchitti and closing in on Helio.

111: Jack Arute smashes an egg in his hands. He had that egg left over from Motegi and he's used to playing with it every April. They moved that race to the fall, and just look at how disoriented he is now. Poor guy.

120: Helio getting great runs on Kanaan on in the straightaway but he can't complete the pass. Forgive me for saying this, but I could probably watch these two guys battle each other all day. Just them. They're that entertaining.

123: Meanwhile, Ed Carpenter is trying in vain to defend against Dario for 7th. Dario says "later".

125: Robert Doornbos is in 14th, behind Wilson and ahead of the Fisher Queen. Just noting this for his fan club in the VERSUS gang.

135: And...nothing is changing. Just a lot of lapping of Stanton and Milka. I think everyone else is conserving fuel like professionals.

142: "Battle for 8th position, Dan Wheldon on top of Ed Carpenter". Ahem.

147: Arute tells us the leaders are "all making fuel". I'm going to have a party later and we're going to use "making fuel" as a drinking term. We'll be passed out before it rains, which Arute says is now "10 minutes away".

149: At least Marco isn't above passing someone. He's around Moraes, Carpenter and Wheldon and up to 8th.

152: Yellow for Franchitti, who's into the wall. BAM! He was behind Rahal who pulled below the line to pit but Dario didn't slow down. Hit the brakes and went up into the SAFER barrier. He's out and OK, but his day is done. No stunning Ashley quotes this weekend.

154: Everybody pits and on exit it's...Dixon, Helio, Kanaan, Briscoe, Marco.

155: Roger Penske is enraged. Briscoe was pitting as Franchitti was getting up close and personal with the SAFER barrier, but then the IHJ told Team Penske they couldn't touch the car as THAT VERY INSTANT the pits were closed.

157: How about a day with Wheldon. "Do you think I'm your mother!?!" No Dan, my mom doesn't have as many pairs of shoes as you do.

160: Back to green as the late Tony Hulman tell them "Gentlemen, start your engines!" Very nice. Danica is in 5th, ahead of Marco now. All 4 AGR cars in the Top 8.

165: Wait, Mike Conway is out? Wha' happended?

168: Looks like a passing free zone as everyone spreads out, presumably to conserve more ethanol. Oh, and I guess that rain wasn't 10 minutes away after all.

175: Robbie Buhl says everyone is laying down their fastest laps, which means the rain must be on the way.

178: In-car camera shows Dan Wheldon and his perfectly white gloves. Checking for dust around the track.

185: Rahal with some nice driving avoiding Stuntman Stanton and around Mutoh for 7th. Still Dixon, Helio, Kanaan up front though.

189: Dixon is checking out, up by nearly a second. I feel safe in saying he won't be behind Barrett in the points much longer.

195: They're not sayin' "lock step" but that's what's happening.

196: Jenkins speaks for all of us when he says "it's just absolutely amazing that it didn't rain".

199: White flag. Oh, the drama.

200: The Iceman winneth. *rimshot* Helio, Kanaan, Briscoe, Danica. Pretty much that way since the last restart.

Quickly LindyCar gets a word with Emma, who says Scott's been "grumpy for three weeks". Yes, married to a beautiful woman, driving for a top team, Indy 500 winner and two-time series champ. Who WOULDN'T be a total grouch in those circumstances?

Scott looks happier now. Helio looks happy as well. Kanaan also looks happy. Happy podium this weekend, friends. Behind Kanaan however, Michael Andretti does not look very enthused. In fact, he's wearing not just a sour puss but his baseball cap is backwards like he's in some kind of Snoop Dogg video. Double-u. Tee. Eff. Question mark.

Side note: thanks to the fans who let me know that Mike Conway touched the wall trying to avoid Milka Duno. Apparently this was covered by the amazingly thorough team at IMS Radio, but I didn't catch it on the telecast. I'm sure the mere mention of Milka will cause the comments section to burn to the ground.

Well that's it for me, folks. Time to check out the other LiveBlogs while waiting for the latest from pressdog who is at the scene. He's probably getting Dixon to explain the winning fuel mappings this very instant. I can't wait for his epic report...but I'll have to.

Congrats to Dixon and his superior fuel mappings, and three cheers for Mother Nature who gave us a window today. In fact, someone go tell Arute the rain is STILL just "10 minutes away". And kudos to all (or possibly "most") of the drivers who did an exceptional job of keeping the carnage to a minimum in the dicey racing conditions. Thank you all very much, and good night.

You really should be reading

Posted by Iannucci | 4/25/2009 | 1 comments »
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In case you haven't been following his updates today, pressdog has been absolutely killing it with the coverage LIVE from Kansas Speedway. Tornadoes, Molson, serial Twitters, hugs from Arute, and everything in between. It's the kind of coverage that, for lack of a better term, makes your wildest dreams comes true.

Live from Kansas 4/25/09 Part I


Live from Kansas 4/25/09 Part II



Live from Kansas 4/25/09 Part III


And I'm not just saying this as a guy who'll be forced to share a room with him at Indy next month longtime fan of his work. Friends, if you don't appreciate the in-depth coverage he's providing this weekend then you leave me no choice but to send Terry Tate over to your house to knock some sense into you, same as p-doggy is knocking some serious fun into the Indy Racing League.



"You know you can't bring that weak-ass stuff up in this humpity bumpity!"

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/25/2009 | 5 comments »
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"Having no warm-ups hurt me for the last couple of years...We practice, qualify race, but you need everybody out there on race day under similar conditions. You would know where your race car is. It's especially important on ovals. Last year was better, but I've gone into races saying, 'I cannot drive this thing.' On ovals, there's such a thing as soldiering on to an extent. What's the point of being six laps down on a track? There is nothing you can do as a driver, so they say 'Park it.' The only thing worse than being six laps down is being six laps down and taking someone into the wall." - Marco Andretti, on his jubilation at the repealing of "The Rusty Wallace, err, Paul Dana Rule" which had eliminated race-day practice on ovals for much of the past three seasons.

Another glass of Milka

Posted by Iannucci | 4/23/2009 | 40 comments »
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Part of me just wants to slap my forehead, wondering what in the WORLD is going on here. Milka Duno, the veritable punchline who in her IndyCar career has never finished higher than 11th, will soon be resuming her on-track masochism by returning to Dreyer & Reinbold racing this weekend in Kansas.

It's true.

But another part of me - probably that part in my youth I hit on the steel beam, requiring a dozen stitches - is intrigued, and not because she led more laps than any other woman in the IndyCar series last year. Granted that I don't have to try to drive around her during races, but I've always thought if there was any shot that Milka Duno could somehow become a driver with a chance at winning (although thusfar it appears she has about as much of a chance at winning an IndyCar race as my dog does), a media savvy and fan friendly woman like couldn't could a tremendous asset to the league.

Of course, I'll probably never know, because the consensus considers her currently more of a liability than an asset. I, however, won't pile on, because if nothing else Milkalicious has taken very little proficiency and translated it into some of the highest quality entertainment of the last few years.

Like the time Ashley Judd famously called out Milka (and the IHJ for not parking her) after her husband won the 2007 championship. Or the YouTube favorite where Danica Patrick had her face mistaken for a towel hamper, uttering the immortal zinger "It's not my fault that you're slow." Or even when Jack Arute compared Duno to both Charo and a chihuahua, engulfing his budding career as a blogger in flaming emails.

Maybe she's a moving chicane that's better off racing in computer-generated movies, but as someone who writes about the IndyCar series I have to tacitly acknowledge that Milka is a bottomless well of material. She's easy on the eyes, difficult on the ears, and has her own mascot. And for those things - which I fully admit are all the wrong reasons - I'll always be interested in her driving.

VERSUS loves other drivers too

Posted by Iannucci | 4/23/2009 | 8 comments »
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When VERSUS recently revealed a spot featuring driver Danica Patrick - and only Danica Patrick - the new broadcast partner appeared to be taking the path of promoting the IRL as the DaniCar Series. Red flags, all around.

Well, have no fear fellow IndyCar fans, because VERSUS has now unleashed not one, not two, but THREE new drivers promos. And each of them features a different driver not married to a Hospenthal.



Here's Graham Rahal talking about how young he is. I don't think he wets the bed anymore but he may still have baby teeth.



We also have Tony Kanaan talking about how "Speed is my drug". I sincerely hope he isn't talking about amphetamines.



And lastly, just when you thought we were done with "football field every second" references, we have Scott Dixon channeling his inner Scott Goodyear.

Will Power Wednesday

Posted by Iannucci | 4/22/2009 | 21 comments »
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At the end of the Grand Prix of Long Beach the IndyCar series brought several drivers to the free feeding trough that is the media center for interviews. League officials had decided beforehand that they would have the top two finishers and the "story of the day" driver offered up the the hungry scribes, so they ushered in succession winner Dario Franchitti, runner-up Will Power, and Danica Patrick after she drove from 22nd to 4th. Also, they brought in some guy named "Helio" over whom much ink has been spilled recently.

We don't know who's going to win this weekend in Kansas, but it's a safe bet the real "story of the day" driver won't be attending a post-race press conference because he won't even be participating in the race. Yes, we're talking about Will Power, who is SECOND in championship points, and but as part of his arrangement with Team Penske looks to be sitting out every other race this year not named "Indianapolis 500". Think about that - when was the last time a guy who was second, or anywhere in the Top 5 for that matter, sat out a race for anything other than an injury? Has this ever happened before? Is Donald Davidson in the house?


It's an unfortunate situation to say the least. Power was obviously hired as a contingency plan for things outside of his and Roger Penske's control, and by all accounts that agreement provided The Captain the right to have sent Will packing post-haste this weekend. But Roger kept him in a car, perhaps because with two street courses starting the season Power may have been the best available driver for those circuits - an opinion that seems accurate since, again, he's second in championship points - and Penske appears to have enough confidence in Power to field a rare third entry for him at Indianapolis.

But it's the fact that Power is still being kicked to the curb that has some Power fans spitting nails. For example, toward the end of yet another stellar race recap from Robin Miller's close, personal friend pressdog, our fellow word butcher detailed what Will had to deal with to accomplish his second-place finish at Long Beach.

OK, I gotta say right here I'm a little yanked off. I hate to bust up the Helio Love Fest, but FIRST, Will gets kicked over to the backup car after working with #3 all weekend so Helio could make his triumphant return. Fine, he knew that was coming. THEN he gets the replacement crew that goes with the car. All wonderful people, I'm sure, but not the well-oiled Penske Machine that runs the #3 crew. So what does he do? Stuffs it on the pole only to have the stories be about Helio's post-crash headache usurp his party, again. THEN his radio and telemetry on the "identical" backup car are whack yet he remains P1 then some crew dude screams "yellow-yellow-yellow" when it's green-green-green so Power gives up two spots before he knows what is what. So he has to inhale Danica and drive on fumes to STILL get P2. If his name was Andretti, there would be a statue being cast and a TV package being prepared right now.

I hope Roger gives Will a bear hug and festive fruit basket at least for everything he did over the weekend which was amazing and would have had everyone weeping tears of Power is Great Joy if not for The Return of Helio.
While not sharing the same level of fervor I do feel sympathy for Will, who said this weekend he took the deal because wants to spend the rest of his career driving for Team Penske. That seems a slim proposition since Roger already has two drivers, plus a third who might someday return. The more likely scenario is that Will finds a home with a different team, as more than one has expressed interest at the chance to add the Australian to their roster. Pending funding, of course.

Only time - and possibly the accountants at Verizon Wireless - will tell how this season turns out for Will Power, but for now here's a little My Name Is IRL love for the real "story of the day" for the next race. If he happens to win at Indianapolis - a very real possibility in a Penske car - he could end up being "story of the year".

If a picture says a thousand words

Posted by Iannucci | 4/22/2009 | 15 comments »
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What does this one say?



(Photo: Shape Magazine, with article)

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/22/2009 | 2 comments »
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"People sometimes don’t appreciate the small things. They should go out in their backyard and see the garden and the grass and the sky. Wow, I appreciate to be here. Appreciate your health. So many things you never thought you’d think about. I always thought I was a good person, but I think I am a much better person now to have gone through this." - Helio Castroneves, on the little things we can all do to feel just a little bit more fun-tastic.

The Chamberlain Chronicles: Long Beach

Posted by Iannucci | 4/21/2009 | 4 comments »
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Perhaps it was the the fact that there wasn't an N-Word race on Sunday. Perhaps there is something to the legacy of the "Grand Prix of Long Beach". Perhaps this Helio guy can pull a few more viewers by suddenly appearing in a race. Whatever the reason, this weekend IndyCar ratings got seriously bumped from .28 to .52, which if my handy-dandy calculator doesn't fail me is nearly DOUBLE the number of viewers for the race in St Pete.

Hang on a second while I bust out my kazoo. *PHWEEEEEEEEE!*

As you may recall, my own disappointment at that point-two-something number prompted me to recruit a friend who didn't watch the IndyCar series, so I will personally accept responsibility for at least one of those new 200,000+ households added this week. I'm sure the next time I see him (and by "next" I mean "first") Tony George will most assuredly give me a great big hug for my singular contribution to the increased viewership. Or not.

Anyhow, here's the first report from my buddy Chamberlain, IndyCar newbie.

First of all you asked which drivers I had heard of, so the answer is: Dario, Scott Sharp, Tony Kanaan, Danica, Paul Tracy (who wasn't in the race but was interviewed), Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves, those were the ones that stood out. In other words, anyone who has done something at Indy at some point.

I thought the opening graphics were atrocious with the Transformers turning into animals racing theme. It was totally unoriginal, in my opinion. They could have done so much different with that. If they are going to go Transformers, how about some shots of Megan Fox, at the very least? Kidding there, but seriously.

I was disappointed by the lack of originality and then they went to it a second time right before the green flag. It was a green flag which never seemed to be coming. I timed it from the beginning to when the order was given to "start your engines" and it took them 46:20. Fifteen to twenty minutes of pre-race stuff is OK, but they went way over the the limit. I was bored before they even got to the start, even though they did provide some good information, it just lasted FOREVER. I thought the recap of the St. Pete race was very well-done, but they need to cut that opening down a lot.

The race itself was...OK. I'm trying to be nice here since you're the My Name Is IRL guy and all, but not much happened. It was fine, really. That one turn - I think it was Turn 11 - was the most interesting where everyone slowed down and some passes were attempted.

The broadcast team of Bob Jenkins, Robbie Buhl and Jan Beekhuis were solid throughout the day, although I thought that Buhl added very little to the broadcast. I liked Beekhuis' piece about brake bias and how the drivers are able to control the force of the brakes from front to back from the cockpit. Conversely, Buhl threw it to the pit reporters early in the race and asked for information, but the reporters did not have what he was looking for. That should not happen. Whether it was a producer or director or Buhl misunderstanding what was coming up, it looked and sounded bad. Overall, however, I thought the coverage of the pit stops was good.

I assume that not every sponsor allowed VERSUS to use the split-screen for commercial breaks, because VERSUS got very unlucky quite a few times. They missed the first full-course yellow during a commercial, they missed several other key parts of the race during intermissions. They also missed a five-car pileup while they were doing an interview with the first driver knocked out of the race during Lap 24.

I liked the interview with Ashley Judd following Dario's win and she displayed good knowledge saying she was nervous until she realized "Target-Chip Ganassi racing wins in these situations" or something to that effect. The camera angles and race coverage itself was fine with good use of on-car cameras and they had good shots of some of the incidents from the on-car angles.


Editor's note: it's practically his first IndyCar race, people, so remember that Ashley is still a novelty. I'm going to put the over-under on races before the feedback changes for Mrs Franchitti is around two and a half.

Stay tuned for next week's report when Chamberlain gets to watch some three-wide action at Kansas Speedway. I'll be sure to ask him his thoughts on Danica Patrick's commecials, Dan Wheldon's dental work, and Tony Kanaan's hair experiment. In the meantime, here's our way of showing him some appreciation for watching.

If a picture says a thousand words

Posted by Iannucci | 4/21/2009 | 13 comments »
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What does this one say?



(Photo: KV Racing Technology Facebook page)

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/21/2009 | 3 comments »
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“You can only do so much with so much money. So being a small team, we only commit as much as we can afford to do it the right way. Last year, we hauled our car into the 500 with a 22-foot trailer, but we had made sure that every part on that car was the best part we could buy. That’s the difference in what we’re trying to do and how we’re going about it.” - Sarah Fisher, who's Sarah Fisher Racing entry will make it's first appearance of the year at Kansas Speedway this weekend. Fisher has finished between 11th and 14th in four prior races there.

mmack's nnotes: Long Beach 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 4/20/2009 | 2 comments »
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Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome a man so excited about the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach that he took his wife to a bar to watch it (Ron White voice) "in pub-lic". Here's our favorite (and lone) "Commentator Emeritus", the one, the only, the "mmack".

Here are my notes for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach: AKA "The Helio Castroneves Show"

The Fabulous mrs. mmack and I are NOT on the comfy couch for this race. Instead, we are at our favorite watering hole, Seamus McGhee's at 308 Canal St. in Lemont, IL. After threatening Mike the owner during the prior week that we would watch the race on his satellite TV, we arrive at 2:30 to grab two seats at the bar, put in a drink order, and get one of three TV sets above the bar set to Versus. We arrive just in time to see Will Power appear on screen. mrs. mmack remarks how much he looks like a young Tom Cruise. From here on out Will Power will be known as Will "Risky Business" Power.

The official beer of this Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for me is Smithwick's Ale, on tap. Mrs. mmack opens with a house Bloody Mary.

Before we go on, this will be a silent movie version of the IRL. Mike has his favorite radio station, 97.1 The Drive, playing in the background and the folks next to us are watching the White Sox -(Devil) Rays game on the closed caption TV, so I will martial my awesome lip reading ability to relay what's going on.

The coverage starts with a great montage of Long Beach races past. F1, Mario, Michael, Little Al, up to Will "Damnit, Helio HAD to come back NOW" Power's win last year.

FREE HELIO appears! As an aside, now that Helio is free, where can I order my own free Helio, and do I need to pay shipping for him? We see his qualifying crash, which shows Helio has taken up slam dancing in his free time. As Jack Arute interviews him, EJ Viso comes up to tell Helio "I will EAT you alive!" Or my lip reading may be off.

Our Chicken Enchilada Dip appetizer arrives as Versus covers Will Power. I wonder if Will wins, will Roger open his wallet and hire him for the rest of 2009? As we dip into our food, Versus replays the dagger thru my (and Dale Coyne's) heart moment of Briscoe Inferno STEALING the St. Pete race from Justin "The Cajun Chef" Wilson last week. Much hope from my barstool that Justin will redeem himself today.

LOOK! An ad for bull riding tonight on Versus! Huh, don't see THAT ever!

A montage of "biggest wrecks" from St. Pete ends with a crowd shot at Long Beach. I look, but no Jeff.

Paul Tracy appears and makes his case for winning the 2002 Indy 500. Give it up Paul, you passed under yellow! (Sorry Meesh)

Per mrs. mmack, Jack Arute is getting a George Hamilton-like skin tone, heading towards beef jerky or shoe leather. Also, according to mrs,. mmack, Michael could skip a few pasta dinners and "shave that damned soul patch!"

Another crowd shot, still no Jeff.

Drivers, start your engines and Risky Business doesn't. Find out later Will has radio problems, back to Ye Olde Pit Signs and chalk sticks? We go green and there's plenty of slicing and dicing as we avoid the big wreck at the start I was sure would occur. At this point the White Sox win 12-2, and the couple next to us pay their tab and leave. Mike offers to put the race on the big TV over the bar, which also has closed captioning. Our second round arrives in time for Versus to go to the Green Screen o' Death before we see Will 1st and Matos 2nd?!?!?!?!? The Cajun Chef holds off the Target Twins for 3rd. Then Elvis, I mean Dario, blows past Justin for 3rd. At this point, we have our "You can tell it's a street course race when" moment when ALL of the Versus Big Movers of the race moved ONE spot!

Now we enter a period of "lock step". We order cheeseburgers with fries (thin cut for me, sweet potato for mrs. mmack) and round three. Dario moves up to second spot with the rear end of his Target car slip slidin' coming off the turns. At this point Mike Conway gets his team some air time by torpedoing the tires. Dario slides into the pits for fuel and tires. On the restart, Dixon NAILS EJ Viso, ending his day.

Wait, I thought EJ NAILED other people to get them out of his way? What's going on this season? Is EJ on a Valium drip when he climbs in his car?

All together now: Full Course Yellow! Those at home playing along, take a drink!

As the TV shows Conway's car being worked on, I think "Yes, that Mike Conway for Buddy Rice switch was FLAWLESS!"
Hold on here! Have I been drinkin' too much or is Matos in P1? Why yes he is. Just what's goin on here?!?!?

Festival of pitting has Risky Business (Power, for those who are confused), out ahead of everyone else. TK stays out and takes P1 while Doorknob passes O-Ryan the Hunter. Suddenly it's a FIVE CAR PILEUP! Cue Pressdog's circus music! Twenty little clown cars pull up and spray confetti on the crowd. Car number 5(Moraes), 18(Wilson), 27(Mutoh), 4(Wheldon), and 23(Manning) are shoved together on the track like a pileup on the Dan Ryan Expressway after the first snow of December. Smooth moves all around.

The Cajun Chef is blackened. His car will go no farther today.

Andretti is P1 and I imagine Jeff is hoisting a cold one cheering him on. Wait, Danica is the road course specialist and she can't get past Ed Carpenter?!?!? After I ponder that aloud to mrs. mmack, she passes Ed.

Dario leads again and Stanton Barrett is off course. Hmm, didn't see that coming. Carpenter feels left out and goes off course too. At this point Danica is stalking Dario. A few laps later Danica and Risky Business pit and Danica squeezes Will exiting her stall. At this point FREE HELIO! is P2. Then FREE HELIO! takes the lead as closed captioning informs us "Daria" is pitting. Is Jane working Daria's pit sign? Just askin'

Once again, Conway into the tires like a torpedo. No, Buddy Rice COULDN'T have done any better. At this point mrs. mmack suggests Jeff give Robert Doornbos a new nickname: "Bedknobs and Broomsticks". I agree to pass it on.

Another crowd shot, still no sign of Jeff. I order another Smithwick's. At this point, Mike the owner is watching along with us, when he's not bartending for other customers.

In the pits, Graham Rahal tries to exit too fast and knocks the refueler ass over teakettles. Alex Tagliani figures a quick way to get on TV is to do the same thing. Luckily no fire with either car.

Dario leads on the restart and Ed Carpenter plays motorized pinball further back in the field. A little later on Moraes goes into the tire barrier like a missle and Ed Carpenter stops to see if there's anything he can do for Mario. As the cars come down for a restart Brisoce Inferno pays it forward and nerfs old teammate Dixon out of the way. Elvis, I mean Dario, leads on the restart as Marco and Choppers, I mean Wheldon, beat and bang on each other trying to, you know, pass (a novel concept on a street course, too be sure). At this point Mike offers me round six and I hand the truck keys to mrs. mmack. Tony closes on Risky Business as we go to split screen with three laps to go. What the ?!?!?!?!?!?

We come back to another crowd shot. Still no Jeff. Mrs. mmack suggests Jeff wear a much taller hat so that we can find him in a crowd. I agree to pass it on.

The race winds down and it's FLOPPY HAT TIME! Dario wins Long Beach! Ashley is happy! Vitor is so shocked he hits the wall! In the post race interviews Mike the owner asks how Danica can wear those diamond earrings and still put on a crash helmet. We may have converted him to a race fan. Time will tell.

So, if any My Name is IRL.com-ers live in the southwest Chicagoland area, we've threatened Mike we'll be coming back next week for the Kansas race. If anybody would like to stop by, check out http://www.seamusmcghees.com/ for the menu, and look for a married couple at the end of the bar, me with my notebook furiously scribbling notes, and mrs. mmack in her IRL hat.

Oh wait, THERE'S Jeff! I see him now!

LiveBlog: Long Beach 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 4/19/2009 | 7 comments »
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Welcome to Long Beach (LITERALLY!) where...blah blah blah, I've already said enough this weekend.

Now, it's time to start.

0: Four T-38s conduct the flyover, and I love my country.

0: "Drivers...start...your...ENGINES!" And just like that we have no audio in the media center. Dead silence on the feed. Maybe I need to switch to MIKE KING and IMS Radio on the laptop.

0: Before we start, here's a brief note of congratulations to JR Hilldebrand, just to excite the reader who complained about how I am not tape-delayed.

0: God help them in Turn One.

1: And here we go with one of the most messed up formations ever. Clean through the first turns, although Dario dropped a bit.

2: Alex Tagliani, dirt-tracking through the hairpin. We've got Power, Matos, Wilson, Franchitti, Dixon so far.

3: And we're in parade mode. We'll see how long it takes for a pass.

4: OVERTAKING ALERT! Franchitti sets up Justin Wilson and passes him to take third.

5: Apparently Mario Moraes has moved up two spots to 11th but I didn't see it. If no one sees a pass, did it actually happen?

10: Well, Will Power is running well. Otherwise, I'm gonna snag some coffee. Hang on a sec.

12: OK, I'm back. Did I miss anything? No?

15: OVERTAKING ALERT! Franchitti around Matos and into second.

16: Mike Conway taps the wall and is stalled, but might not be damaged much. Second week in a row with an early incident for the quiet rookie.

17: After regaining second place Dario is in for his first pit stop. Reds off, blacks on.

17: Something is wrong with Will Power as he's slowed and drops position. BOOM! Dixon tries to avoid Power and punts Viso, bringing out a full course caution.

17: Rahal all up in Viso's business. Moraes nose-to-tail behind Kanaan. Neither able to pass yet. At least it's a relatively tight parade.

18: It appears Viso has "no power". Might also have a busted suspension. His day looks to be done. Guess I picked the wrong week to have EJ in my TSO Fantasy league.

20: Festival of pitting. Will Power leaves first, but not everyone made a stop. Leaders are now Kanaan, Briscoe, Hunter-Reay, Doornbos, Marco.

21: Back to green. Top three are really tight looking for opportunities to overtake. Nothing doing yet.

23: OVERTAKING ALERT! Robert Doornbos around the Izod poster boy for third.

24: What the? Mutoh, Moraes, Manning, Marco, Wilson, Wheldon have turned the hairpin into a parking lot. One little bump and it's time for 'accordion effect'. Ugh!

25: Good to see they have a shortcut before the hairpin to employ so they don't have to red-flag the race. Pits are closed though as we roll around under yellow.

26: Justin Wilson got refired but had to come in after his right-rear suspension collapsed rolling around the track. In the immortal words of Chef Gordon Ramsay, "SHUT IT DOWN!!!"

28: Back to green and your leader is...Marco Andretti! Dario, Danica, Ed Carpenter(!) and Power follow.

29: OVERTAKING ALERT! Mike Conway around Tagliani for...whoops, false alarm. Conway's a lap down so that wasn't for position.

30: Stuntman/Driver Stanton Barrett is dropping like a rock. The IHJ is likely searching for that black flag.

31: Here's a little sympathy for the little guy. One car teams HVM and Dale Coyne were set to finish well but both of their drivers are done as a result of someone else's mistake. Just shows it takes skill, but it also takes some luck.

34: Marco and Ed pit, Dario is your new leader. Danica still 2nd, Power, Matos and Helio now behind her.

37: Barrett is in the runoff area for a local yellow. He was in 15th before that.

40: No local yellow here as Ed Carpenter goes into a tire barrier. Minimal damage and he's re-fired and back out on the track. Nearly gave a hand puppet show before restarting.

41: Under yellow it's Dario, Danica, Power, Helio, Graham Rahal. First time in the Top 5 for the Son of 'Stache today.

42: And we're back to green. About halfway done with the race in under an hour.

44: About a second between Dario and Danica as well as Danica and Power.

45: Back in the field Conway is battling Ryan Hunter-Reay for no apparent reason. Mike, you're down a lap. Don't get carried away today.

47: It appears Dan Wheldon has made only one pit stop and has worked his way up to 8th. Meanwhile Matos has made 3 and is back to 14th.

50: Memo to Arute: That's not "push to pass". It's just full rich and drivers aren't limited to 30 seconds or whatever per race.

51: Everyone should spend "a day with Viso".

52: Holy Ironic Indy Flashback! Danica and Power pit and Danica nearly swerves out and takes out a Penske car on exit.

53: Dario, Helio, Graham, Dixon, Tagliani(!) now make up the Top 5.

53: OVERTAKING ALERT! Will Power around Danica on the track for 13th position.

54: Dario pits...and it's Mike Conway once again into the tires. This time much harder. He's out of the car and done.

56: Fire in the hole! One of Rahal's crewman waved him out while the fuel was still being added. Ethanol everywhere but luckily no fire.

57: And in a bizarre coincidence, Alex Tagliani had a similar problem with the fuel hose being attached. No spilled fuel in the Conquest pits though.

58: Your leaders are now Dario, Power, Kanaan, Patrick and Wheldon.

59: And were back to green.

60: OVERTAKING ALERT! Marco around Helio for 8th. Three of the four Andretti Green cars are now in the Top 10. Hey, what happened to Mutoh? He's 14 laps back.

61: Hunter-Reay nearly knocks Ed Carpenter into the wall. Must be some fun conversations on the Vision Racing scanner.

65: @RyanRacing says "Matos is blocking Ryan over & over again! Ridiculous! Penalty please"

66: Dario has built his lead over Power to four seconds. Checking out.

70: Still the same Top 5 of Dario, Power, Kanaan, Patrick, Wheldon. TSO Joe informs me that Wheldon's crew is telling Dan he doesn't have enough fuel to finish. Don't know about everyone else though.

73: Full course yellow as Moraes goes deep into the tires. Looks like Ed Carpenter is parked next to him. Possible driver error by Ed, or maybe he just felt compelled to help pull Mario's car out of the barrier.

76: It appears Briscoe and Dixon ran into each other under yellow. Scuff marks on the nose and a flat front right on the #6 and Dixon is stalled on the track.

77: Replay shows Briscoe just got into the back of Dixon's car on the front stretch. Kind like Watkins Glen last year, although this time it might have been Briscoe's fault. Just bizarre.

78: Back to green and Briscoe gets called in for a penalty. Marco up to 6th. Three AGR cars up front now.

79: Dario is set to launch as he quickly builds a lead of nearly 2 seconds after going back to green. Not a lot of doubt right now about the best car on the track.

80: Marco nearly side-swipes Wheldon trying to pass him for 5th, but sadly there is no OVERTAKE ALERT.

85: OVERTAKE ALERT! Robert Doornbos around Ryan Hunter-Reay at the last moment to move into 9th.

86: And Dario Franchitti takes the win! And Vitor Meira celebrates goes into the tires elsewhere on the track! Will Power and Tony Kanaan round out the podium, with Danica and Wheldon behind them.

And here is the return of the post-race episode of "Deep Thoughts with Ashley Judd". She's speaks with lots of interesting words, like "masterpiece". It's great to see her back, at least from a standpoint of blog material.

Tony Kanaan has officially lost his bet with his former teammate, and now we get to see him grow out his "afro". In the words of Dario Franchitti, "He's a handsome dude." Big group chuckle at that one in the otherwise library-esque media center.

Remember: No cheering in the media center, except at Tony Kanaan jokes.

And with that the LiveBlog ends. I may load some pictures and quotes for a post later tonight, or I may just get loaded. (Kidding!) My sincerest appreciation to everyone, especially the fine folks at Long Beach. Also to Misters Cavin, Oreovicz, Miller, Olson, and of course the EXTREMELY accommodating braintrust at TSO.

Time for some post-race press conferences. Thank you very much, and good night!

Sunday Morning at Long Beach

Posted by Iannucci | 4/19/2009 | 3 comments »
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Race day has finally arrived, and irony of ironies I'll probably be sitting down and watching it on a TV, just like back at the MNII World Headquarters. Probably the most comprehensive viewing are for a street course, so I'm not complaining. It would be nice if they'd let us all w\have an adult beverage down here, because the writing would certainly be more colorful.


Before you do anything, it seems a few people are talking about this New York Times article today. I don't know how likely it is that Danicker would jump to stock cars, but the quotes from Janet Guthrie are priceless. Guess she won't be partying at Chez Hospenthal anytime soon.


At any rate, I had a chance to walk around and see some more sights today. Most notably, Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves walking arm-in-arm to the drivers meeting. I spoke briefly with Tony (listen to me sound all reporter-y) and he assured readers that he will be returning to the Silent Pagoda "soon!" Be still my heart.


Speaking of Silent Pagoda I caught up with I Am Lindy Thackston, who told me she was a big fan of the glorious abomination infamous blog at IndyCar.com, saying "Use me anytime!" She seems very nice so I'm just gonna leave it at that.

Later, I accidentally ran into news when Karina at Conquest Racing told me Tags and the team were NOT going to race at Kansas and were focusing on Indy. She must have mistaken me for a reporter since this thing around my neck says "Press".


Oh, and one last note: don't feel too bad for Will Power just yet. It sounds like any team with an available car is jumping at the chance to help him in his exodus from Team Penske. Heck, if sponsorship money appears we may even see him racing in Milwaukee.

And on a note relating to sponsorship: Last night at In-N-Out Burger me and the TrackSide Online crew ran into some hungry Dreyer & Reinbold employees. It turns out that despite rolling out with an EMU sponsorship on the car they had to change it back to Dad's Root Beer since Townsend Bell is saying he still owns the rights to that sponsor. While it's getting sorted out by lawyers the D&R bunch has to wear blue tape on their shirts to cover up the logo.

Speaking of TSO (sign up today!) - from their morning update:

Helio was definitely noticed as he walked in, but not one person stopped him for a picture. Funnily enough, Tony Kanaan was stopped for more pictures - for whatever reason, Tony was already in his firesuit, while most of the other drivers were still in street clothes. We think that was enough to tip off the fans who are here already off that, hey, that's a driver! One of the fans had Al Unser Jr. take the picture of himself and Kanaan - talk about a time when you wish someone else was there to take the shot instead!
And with that your humble host is off to yet another press conference. Stay tuned for the LiveBlog from the bowels of the LB media center in just a bit.

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 4/19/2009 | 1 comments »
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Sunday morning edition, from Helio Castroneves at yesterday's press conference.

Everybody knows that I'm a pretty emotional guy. And to go through this with my family, it was very difficult. But the family, not only the family but the fans, they were amazing. As Roger said, so many people sent messages. So many people sent prayers through Facebook, through the Internet, through my website.

And I tell you one thing: I never lost faith. Sometimes I questioned it a little bit, but those prayers that people were sending me, it kept me really strong. It kept me really focused. And without everybody, without those prayers, it would have been very difficult to go through what I did.

But, again, my message is believe the guy upstairs, believe in the Lord, because he will not let you down. And today just proved that he did not let me down.

Saturday Afternoon in Long Beach

Posted by Iannucci | 4/18/2009 | 6 comments »
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"Welcome Back, Helio" Day is now officially in the can. Huzzah! It's a bit strange to see him at the track back in the #3, but it's even more strange to think that 48 hours ago most-many-all of us were strangely grasping the strangeness of not having him around.


Even more strange is how Helio stole the thunder from Will Power twice this weekend. As if bumping Will into the temporary third Penske entry wasn't enough, tonight instead focusing on Power scoring the pole position it seems fans are worried that Helio, despite being determined to NOT have a concussion, is complaining of a headache from his crash today that will need to be re-evaluated in the morning. (I understand the dramatic possibilities, but I'd bet my salary Helio is racing tomorrow. If I had a salary, that is.)


This is Will Power's team. Call them "Men In Black".

At Helio's big IndyCar press conference today, I didn't realize I was standing just a few feet from his family. I've heard a few people say this weekend that Helio's a big fake, but judging from his mom and dad I'd say if he's a complete fake then it's a family tradition. Fake or no fake, it's a boon for the league to have him back racing as opposed to doing time in prison. Period.


The HVM tent is directly opposite Team Penske in the paddock, and at one point EJ was sitting right in the front with no one noticing him while Helio had like 200 people gathering about 15 feet away. Note the bandages on EJ's arms, which he says were the result of skydiving. This guy needs his own reality show.


I managed to make it out to the pits for much of the day. These must be the most narrow pits ever. Look, it's basically the width of a sidewalk, and most troubling there's no rrom to run a Segway though. I mean, if I had a Segway, I would totally empathize with those who do and can't use them to go from the paddock to the pits.


Here is rare footage of an actual @VisionRacing tweet. Look closely and you might even see a scanner, a digital camera, a voice recorder, and a breathalizer also on Ms Caporali.


These folks were in the Vision Racing pits as well. The Beautiful People weren't on twitter though, so we have no idea what they were thinking. Then again, do we really need or care to know?


And here's why we all cheered when Dario came back. That glorious, humongous, the opposite of incognito, lampshade of a hat. It may one day belong in the Speedway Hall of Fame.


Maybe this cigar does as well.

Sunday is race day, and your humble host will be back for posting and tweeting for one last day courtesy of the great folks at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. And if I'm not kicked out of the frozen tundra of the media center, I may even try a LiveBlog for the race. Ah yes, there IS an IndyCar race somewhere in the schedule this weekend.

Saturday Morning at Long Beach

Posted by Iannucci | 4/18/2009 | 1 comments »
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Welcome back to Long Beach, where word butchers sneak into media centers and pretend to belong. (Shhh!) The Firestone Indy Lights qualifying is going to begin soon, so before I race back out there here are some pics I snapped for your morning enjoyment.


The first bit of news is Helio's arrival, and Mr Fun-tastic was eagerly greeted with big hugs from Jack Arute and others. (Check the twitter feed to note that your humble host also got a hug from Arute, but not for anything related to jury deliberations.)


Team Penske gave Helio a round of applause on his arrival, and he was definitely his bouncy exuberant self in anticipation of getting back into a race car.


Even Rick Mears was looking giddy to see Helio. Love is all around today.


Meanwhile, Will Power's ride was being prepped nearby. I think the car is black but I couldn't tell since the sidepods were being hidden in and undisclosed location.


In other news - Tony Kanaan is powered by the Doctor. Fetching.


Rafa Matos has a cool "Air Force" and "Monster.com" livery this weekend. He'll try to keep it from going into a port-o-let this weekend.


OK, back to the track. Time for some FIL qualifying. This area is definitely secure.

Friday at Long Beach

Posted by Iannucci | 4/17/2009 | 4 comments »
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My apologies for not having a full-fledged post representing from sunny Long Beach today. Instead of using my laptop I tried to give updates via Twitter, which although it's not the same you can see on the right sidebar. Here is a recap, not including my 4am-ish departure from home.

First I arrived at beautiful Long Beach moments after Davey Hamilton press conference announcing an Indy 500 entry with Dreyer & Reinbold. D&R now has at least three cars (Conway, Hamilton, and John Andretti) for Indy, plus they're running Darren Manning this weekend again. Since when did they get all of these cars?

Shortly thereafter my phone filled up with "HELIO ACQUITTED" messages. I was told told by folks on site he was flying in tonight to ready for the race (race officials were definitely beaming), I personally checked to makes certain there is sufficient fencing for climbing. Just in case.

Almost immediately after that Paul Tracy gave a press conference with the Geico Gecko. (Opportunity lost by Gecko sound-alike Dan Wheldon.) Tracy referred to himself as a "former winner" of The 500, which was almost as amusing an when the Gecko-dude revealed himself to be Max Papis.

(Side note: I watched this press conference standing about five feet away from Meesh's super best buddy Paul Gentilozzi. Bruce Jenner was also in the room standing against the wall.)

Later came the Team Penske press conference where Will Power looked deflated. He wasn't bitter or mopey, but he definitely looked more like a guy who just found out his shiny new Penske car was being taken back and less like the guy with the fastest time on the track.

There was also a presser with the celeb drivers, where I learned that (a) Carlos Mencia is not that funny, (b) Jamie Little is hyper-competitive in an almost scary way, and (c) Al Unser Jr gives incredibly long answers to questions.

But more so, I learned that I need to get the heck out of the media center and out and about on Saturday. There is just too much cool stuff to see, like say "cars racing". What a concept.

What we know

Posted by Iannucci | 4/17/2009 | 18 comments »
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Despite yesterday's ambiguous news of a partial verdict (that there is one - not that anyone other than the jurors knows what it is), with jurors still deliberating the remaining charges there are a few things we can derive at this point.

1. The good. Some juror(s) thinks Helio is eee-nnocent of something.

2. The bad. Some juror(s) thinks Helio is guilty of something.

3. The ugly. It doesn't look like there's any way Helio Castroneves will be driving at the Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend.

Time for your humble host to hit the road for 300-and-some miles. If anything happens in the next few hours - like say full verdict is reached in the Castroneves trial, or someone indicts a ham sandwich, or if Darren Manning loses his accent - by all means, let me know.

Deploying myself

Posted by Iannucci | 4/16/2009 | 7 comments »
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The local paper here in the Valey of the Sun has an article today entitled "Tips to avoid N****R traffic this weekend". I was about to click on it, but then I remembered...

I'M GOING TO LONG BEACH!!!

That's right, friends. Sam Hornish Jr is in town, but your humble host is not. For the first time since Danica Patrick's rookie season there is an IndyCar Series race within a day's drive of this here word butcher, and it just so happens it's now perhaps the second-most famous event on the schedule. I mean, it's thrilling enough to see an IndyCar race of any kind in person, but this event also features the Toyota Pro Celebrity Race. Jamie Little, Keanu Reeves, Al Unser Jr, and most importantly Chloe from "24".

With credential in hand I'll be updating My Name Is IRL from the media center, which means I'll have innumerable conversations explaining "No, I'm not pressdog - I'm that other guy." I'll also be providing twitter updates @MyNameIsIRL throughout the weekend, and if I can find a spare camera laying around perhaps even some pictures as well.

LIVE on location coverage starts tomorrow. Let me know if you have any requests - I'm there to represent.

Helio jury still out

Posted by Iannucci | 4/15/2009 | 3 comments »
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Here, the fortunate ones through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon; and from Lisbon, to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca... and wait... and wait... and wait.

Like the WW II refugees in Casablanca waiting at Rick's Café Américain, so to must we all continue to wait for verdicts as for yet another day the jury in Helio's trial has deliberated without conclusion. However, there are two notes worth, uh, noting.

1. The Judge rejected the motion for a mistrial. Defense attorneys had argued that because the Judge Donald Graham instructed jurors that a "binding agreement" could be "written or oral", which apparently never came up in the trial, that this shoudl be a mistrial. Shockingly (or not) the good Judge decided not to declare a mistrial on himself.

2. The Judge validates an argument of the defense. One of Helio's primary arguments has been along the lines of "I'm not evading anything, and I'm planning on paying the taxes when they're due this year." I'm paraphrasing, not quoting. I only quote Helio when he says "Fun-tastic!". Anyhow:

Early in the day, the jurors submitted a set of questions to federal Judge Donald Graham. The key question was whether a taxpayer who agreed to defer income to later years could delay payment of federal taxes to the years that he was actually paid.

The judge's answer was 'yes'. This is considered a critical issue because Castroneves, who's been at the courthouse every day during jury deliberations, has said he intended to pay the taxes he owed after he started receiving money next month from a special account that had been set up.
I'm not legal expert, but...well, I'll wait for legal experts in the house to comment on this. In the meantime I'll get to work on an "As Time Goes By" reference.

Helio jury befuddled

Posted by Iannucci | 4/14/2009 | 7 comments »
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We here in the U.S. of A. know what tomorrow is. It's April 15th, or as we like to call it Take It In the Shorts from the I.R.S. Tax Day, and it holds a bit of irony for Helio Castroneves.

It seems that since Friday jurors are still grappling with the legal whatchamacallits in the tax code, and in the past few days have asked the presiding judge no less than three times to give them a little help with their task. Apparently after sitting through all of the trial they're just now getting around this "constructive receipt" idea and would like the the Honorable Judge Donald Graham to 'splain this dealio to them.

Jurors asked three questions in their latest note about these tax principles, delaying deliberations for more than two hours while lawyers and U.S. District Judge Donald Graham haggled over a response. In the end, Graham gave jurors a partial answer - but said they must decide much of it themselves.

"The questions you have presented are difficult for us to respond to," Graham told the panel of seven women and five men. Jurors failed to reach a verdict Tuesday and planned to resume discussions Wednesday.

(MORE from Forbes/AP)
I'm no legal expert, but it would seem that if the juroros are having some questions on the subject they might be reluctant to find a defendant guilty of something they don't understand. Then again, there are 18 total counts here among Helio, his sister and his representative, so one count avoided does not make any of them "EEE-nnocent."

Will at is it May yet? says that Helio's attorney has taken the opportunity of these inquiries to file for a mistrial.

Roy Black has more tricks than Houdini. Well, today the court provided some supplimental instruction to the jury regarding deferral of income. These instructions were, according to Helio’s defense team, a substantial modification to the instructions originally given to the jury, with some additional language added to them. The problem is that this violates Rule 30 of the federal code. Now, I’m no tax law expert, but I do know you cannot change the rules midway through the case, and that’s basically what they’re claiming. They say that they made their closing arguments based on one interpretation given to the jury, but a second interpretation was given once in deliberations.
None of us are tax experts, Will, but sometimes we play them on blogs, right? Present company included.

One final note: I received an email from someone who is a bit of a legal expert giving her take on the situation. Just for amusing purposes only, here is her view on the recent developments.

Based upon the question asked on Friday, I would say that the jury is not yet convinced that Feds met their burden. Given the complexity and ambiguity of the tax laws I am not surprised they had questions.

As for the transcript request, I take that as further proof there is uncertainty that the government's case is correct. They are looking at the definition of the law and the witnesses that described Helio's actions regarding the application of that law. Someone is not convinced he had constructive possession of the money.

However, the real concern is: Are they doing this because one or two people need to be connived Helio is not guilty or are they doing this because there are only one or two people that think he is innocent.

Generally speaking if the jury is asking for a transcript they are not convinced as a whole regarding that witnesses testimony or that party's case. If they are clear about something they will not waist time reviewing the testimony.


Only time will tell. The jury will resume deliberations yet again tomorrow, so if you need to you can go back to finishing your own tax-related paperwork tonight.