LiveBlog: Barber 2010

Posted by Iannucci | 4/11/2010 | , , , | 7 comments »
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Welcome to Barber Motorsports Park, also known as "a beautiful facility". A gorgeous road course with a spectacular museum that, if previous auto races are any indication, promises to feature virtually no passing whatsoever today. But it's the "Augusta" of road courses.

Today's race features a compelling storyline of Will Power attempting to suffocate any hope for anyone else winning any races the rest of the year. The Toowoomba Tornado has won the first two races and starts from the pole today. Rumors are running through the paddock that he's a cyborg from the future sent to destroy Scott Dixon for the sake of humanity.

Meanwhile Mike Conway has qualified second, meaning he has two choice today. One: he can follow Power around all day and finish on the podium. Two: he can try to jump Power at the line and take an early lead, only to panicked into a mistake at some point later in the race. Choose wisely, anonymous redhead.

And with that, it's time to start.

0: Jack Arute is back, interviewing Helio. Jack was not part of the broadcast team for the last event for the St Pete race, one of the few IndyCar races he's ever missed. And of course the St Pete race was rained into a Monday morning. Coincidence? I think not. Somebody check Arute's home for sorcery paraphernalia.

0: Mike Conway is starting second, so he's getting an on-air interview for something other than a mid-race, post-wreck chit chat. And I could swear that Leona Lewis is wearing an IZOD firesuit and standing behind Conway during the interview.

0: Will Power enjoys his vegemite, so he's a bona fide Australian cyborg.

0: Marco Andretti has giant sunglasses with red lenses, smartly co-ordinated with his red and black firesuit. He's finished 23rd and 12th in two races this year, but despite that he's still exceptionally fashion conscious.

0: Justin Wilson says "a common misperception about me is that I'm tall". He made a funny. On a more serious note, if he can find a place to pass he could give Dreyer & Reinbold it's first win since 2000.

0: Jack Arute asks the burning question: "How do you pass when you can't pass?" It's not a real IndyCar race if Arute isn't making my brain explode with his mind-bending madness.

0: Charles Barkley's in the house. The Team Penske paddock, to be exact. Insert me imagining him telling their drivers "Paul Tracy is a knucklehead".

0: Now Barkley is talking to EJ Viso. EJ is about as big as Charles Barkley's leg.

0: Here's a perfectly-timed ad for Brazilian coffee. I think we all agree we're gonna need a whole lotta that beverage today.

0: We've gone 37 minutes into the broadcast and I don't think I've heard the name "Danica" mentioned once. How can this even be an IndyCar race with such an egregious omission?

0: Barber owner/president/overloard George Barber says "Ladies, gentlemen, ya'll start these engines." And the rows get "hot".

0: Power, Conway, Helio, Marco, Dixon and Sato will lead the way into the first turn. You don't need me to tell you first turn on a road or street course is often an improptu re-enactment of "Death Race".

1: And we are GREEN! And we are CLEAN through the opening turns.

2: Clean first lap. Everyone in single file formation. Apparently Dixon jumped the start (shocking, I know) and had to surrender back the position back to Marco. Power, Conway, Helio, Marco, Dixon lead the field.

6: Other than Dixon's jumped start we've had no televised passing yet. *sighs* Where's my coffee.

8: Timing and scoring indicates some passing back in the field...no, wait, that's just because Tagliani is pitting. Nevermind.

10: Romancini and Wheldon pit, trying to get off sequence. It's a celebration of pit strategy today. I tell ya, when you those IndyCar teams plan fuel strategy it's breathtaking wonder to behold.

12: YELLOW! Sato and his glorious Lotus livery is stalled on the course. This is happening during a GoDaddy commercial, which is the first appearance of Danica all day.

12: Delphi Safety team out to perform AAA duties and give him a tow to the nearest pit stall.

13: Lots of cars pit. Not all though. Helio, Marco and others stay out. And it looks like Conway has bested Power to the pit out line...wait, replay says NO! Power by a couple inches.

14: Now it's Helio, Marco, Dixon, Dario, Simona. Yet another Simona sighting near the front.

16: Back to GREEN! And Marco is all over Helio...hang on...maybe..maybe..YES! A televised overtake as occurred! Marco takes the lead, nearly running Helio into the beautiful grass at this beautiful facility.

18: Meanwhile Power and Conway are 13th and 14th respectively.

19: Holy smokes! Wilson just got around Hunter-Reay ON TV for 17th. And right after that Briscoe goes around Romancini for 15th. VERSUS is showing the passing but Jenkins and team are talking about something else. And now we go to commercial. *banging head on laptop*

22: Twitter is all abuzz with word that Taylor Hicks referred to this on IMS Radio as a Formula One race. FOUR TIMES.

23: Speaking of the number four, fourth televised overtake as COnway goes wheel-to-wheel and gets around Briscoe for 14th. I guess Power got around him at some point, but it was not suitable for television.

27: Marco is still leading. He has gone 54 INdyCar races since his lone series win. Calls to mind the Rocky Bobby line "If you ain't first, you're last".

28: In a related note I think this is Vitor Meira's 100th race. All winless. A moment of silence for all those second place finishes by Vitor.

29: Marco will pit. From red to black sidewalls. Helio assumes the lead.

30: I think Tagliani just got around Wheldon for 8th. There was a replay of a pass earlier so now we're up to SIX televised overtakes. I'm giddy like a schoolgirl.

31: Helio pits. This is a 90 lap race so he may try to go the distance on two stops. Comes out in front of Dixon, who was in 2nd. The leaders are now Marco, Helio, Dixon, Kanaan and Power. Looks like the fuel strategy by Kanaan and Power isn't looking so hot right now.

35: Tagliani and Hunter-Reay make pit stops. That's about all that's happening.

37: Hang on. Matos and Vitor are battling. Replay shows Matos nearly taking out Tagliani on pit exit. And back to live for a LIVE overtake of Matos by Vitor. Like Jack Daniels, that's Number 7!

41: Bob Jenkins tells us Takuma Sato is back on track. He's 21 laps down so I guess he has been for some time. I know, I really should look at the ticker on the screen more often.

42: Power, Conway, and Briscoe all pit. Haning together on a renegade pit strategy. Top 5 is now Marco, Helio, Dixon, Dario, Simona. Swiss Miss is all business today.

45: Replay shows Wheldon, Tagliani and Matos all passing Milka in one turn. Sorry, but passing Milka doesn't count as a televised overtake.

46: Mutoh, Sato, Rahal, and others are now going around the friendly moving chicane that is Milka Duno. Immediately afterwards Mutoh goes wide on exit or a turn and does a little lawn mowing. Nothing serious though, surrendering just one position.

47: Danica around Viso. Overtake number eight!

49: Timing and Scoring indicates not only has Alex Lloyd's car not failed him yet, but he's up to 8th. I sincerely hope I didn't just jinx him.

51: I'm a little disappointed they haven't said anything about the new guy named Baguette yet. Arute could go to town with that name.

53: Helio is all over Marco's rear bumper. Not passing though. Might not need to since if there's no yellow Helio could be the only car to go the distance on two stops.

54: Looks like Power got around Simona for 5th. Didn't see it though. Her crew says she will be 2 short of going all laps on one more stop. Life is 2 short.

55: Wilson around Lloyd on the replay. Number nine. That was for 10th so Alex has dropped a couple spots.

57: Marco into the pits. Helio leads again. After the stop Marco only drops to 4th. Dixon and Dario ahead of him.

59: Very brief mention of The Grahmerican. He's in 17th.

60: Another bunch of overtaking of Milka. Meanwhile Viso spun for some reason, but doesn't stall and soldiers on. No replay on what happened.

60: Dixon pits. Dario must have pitted earlier. Helio is ahead of them all by over 20 seconds. Laying the smack down.

61: Helio rolls into the pit box. Here comes Marco and...Marco will get ahead of him. Dixon, Power and Dario now round out the Top 5.

62: Wilson carefully overtakes his teammate Conway for pass number 10. Rejoice.

65: Quick math: Helio went from 32 to 61 on a tank, all green flag laps. He's gonna cut it real close to finish without pitting again. Not impossible though.

66: Meanwhile Marco will definitely be a couple laps short on his current fuel. Where's a spinning Bryan Herta when you really need him?

67: Milka goes off course but no yellow. Replays show Marco's strategist Kyle Moyer shouting "Crash! Crash!" at the monitors. Insert me spewing coffee on my laptop.

68: Danica tries to help her teammate by hip-checking Alex Lloyd into a spin. No stall and no yellow, though. Sorry, Marco.

71: Up front Helio is all over Marco like a cheap suit, trying to force him into a mistake. Meanwhile they're closing in on Marco's teammate and Helio's rival - TOny Kanaan. Gird your loins, fellas.

72: Behind Marco and Helio, Dixon is about a second back. Meanwhile Dario is 17 seconds back in 4th. Power is 27 seconds behind the leaders in 5th.

75: Andretti Autosport has not won in 27 races (Richmond '08). Without a yellow it's going to be 28. We're just waiting to see if there's a yellow in the4 next dozen laps at this point.

78: Marco is right behind Rahal right now. Massive airtime for Sarah Fisher Racing and Dollar General.

82: Drama averted as Marco pits. No tires, just fuel.

83: Helio and Dixon go around Rahal, so that's a dozen televised overtakes. It's Helio, Dixon, Dario, Power, Marco. I think the Ganassi cars need to pit, but I could be wrong.

84: Wilson around Kanaan. 13 televised overtakes, roughly half of which are by Justin Wilson, now in 7th.

85: Simona is stalled on the inside of turn for a local yellow...wait, now it's a full course caution. Time to bunch them up.

86: Arute reminds us at the start of the race at St Pete "Marco carved himself like a hot knife through butter." Ouch!

87: I guess the Ganassi cars don't need to pit, which means we can look forward to watching Dixon try to jump the start on Helio. That would be a nice bookend to this event.

88: Back to GREEN! Both Helio and Dixon are "on the button" so no passing occurs up front.

89: White flag for Helio, who probably furiously mashing the Push To Not Be Passed button.

90: And Helio is your winner, meaning Team Penske is now 3 for 3 in 2010. Dixon, Dario, Power, Marco round out the Top 5. Now we get to see if they have any fencing in Alabama that's suitable for climbing.

Yup, they got fencing for Spiderman to climb.

Post-race interviews deployed. Scott Dixon is complaining "I think the officials screwed us at the start". Don't be whiny, Scott. Not after driving so well today.

Meanwhile Helio is talking about his baby daughter. Looking into the camera at me in my living room Drops a "fun-tastic" in there for good measure. He's giving a master course in media savvy.

Marco has put the shades with the red lenses back on. Sounds low-key, but glad to be in the Top 5. Somehow his hair is still vertical despite wearing a helmet for the last two-plus hours. Impressive.

Well, that's it for me. I counted just 13 televised overtakes, although if you include the times Milka Duno got passed that number easily doubles. Congrats Barber on your beautiful facility, to Marco for making it interesting (sorta), and to Helio and Team Penske for getting it done today. Thank you very much folks, and good night.

7 comments

  1. Al // April 11, 2010 12:22 PM  

    if I were Power, I'd let Conway go rather than risk him on the first lap...Conway is a lot faster than smart. ;-)

  2. James // April 11, 2010 1:10 PM  

    I was also wondering who the hottie was in the firesuit standing by Mike Conway in the pre-race. Props to the camera guy for framing to keep her in the image. Sucks to Robbie Floyd for not acknowledging her at all.

  3. Leigh O'Gorman // April 11, 2010 1:51 PM  

    Watching indycar.com feed - pity those watching the TV; they're showing some good overtaking through the field

  4. tripleleagueracing // April 11, 2010 4:10 PM  

    compelling event, not.

    I'm sure there's NO WHERE ELSE that would promote Indycar and run a more exciting race. I mean, there are no other road courses in the southern part of America which could host a race and get good attendance! After all, no one goes to the 12 Hours of Sebring or the Petite Le Mans!!!!

    So I watched World Super Bike and MotoGP, in fact I stopped watching Barber during MotoGP's hour, which hurt my following of the stratagey. So, in MotoGp, there was actual on track telivised passing. Same in WSBK. And they passed, as oppossed to winning by fuel.

    At least it isn't NASCAR, with it's 4 hour long events...

  5. chunter // April 11, 2010 4:29 PM  

    I don't think passing lap traffic counts as televised overtaking.

  6. 19Paige19 // April 11, 2010 5:24 PM  

    I'm so happy for Helio. So nice to see he proved Robbie wrong with his fuel strategy.

    And Mikaella is beautiful.

  7. The American Mutt // April 11, 2010 6:06 PM  

    So...Dixon....even if it was a clean pass on Helio, how'd ya get there if ya didn't jump the start and get ahea of Marco? Hitting the overtake before you're even over the line? Really? Lame.