SPEEDWAY, IN (Sunday May 30, 2010) _ Greetings from @Dale_Nixon, Live from Bloggers' Row on the fourth floor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing...flanked by James Black (16thandGeorgetown.com); Stef Walcraft and Paul Dalbey (Planet-IRL.com). Extra special props to Stef for the computer jumper cable; as my ACER power cord is sitting on the desk in my hotel room.
First and foremost, the crowd is mammoth and continuing to build. Sunshine with a high haze, temperature looking a little bit higher than originally predicted. I left the hotel downtown (the Comfort Suites in the shadow of Lucas Oil Stadium) at 7:02 AM and arrived at the track at 8:43AM...a physical trip of approximately 7 miles that was most spent sitting on 16th street waiting to turn off for the special super mega top secret shortcut given to me by a kind yellow shirt when I was leaving the track Saturday night. It was magic, and probably took another hour off the commute. Thanks, Mr. Gateman.
Also hazy are the recollections of last night's details. IZOD darn sure knows how to throw a party. The one thing I've always felt the Indy 500 lacked a bit was Saturday night downtown action, but there were streets blocked off, live bands playing, celebrities a plenty, and a mammoth red-carpet high dollar party at the Conrad Hotel. At least I think it was the Conrad...totally surreal - I've never seen so many well-groomed folks in the same place at the same time, and that includes South Beach. Better still, despite Jaegerbombs (not really always a good idea at 1:30 AM when you have to get up at 5:30 but c'est la vie). An extra shout out goes to Arie Luyendyk Jr. and his girlfriend, who upgraded us to full VIP status. It was the last days of Pompeii, only with with pop collar attire.
There is much pomp and circumstance at the moment. Celebrities have definitely been upgraded by the IZOD IndyCar connection. The Kardashian-Jenners, Mark Wahlberg, Jack Nicholson, Jewel, Robin Roberts in the pace car and a plethora of Hollywood illuminati. Driver interviews are rolling, introductions are pending. It's more of a Spectacle now for some of the others who aren't hard-core race junkies.
Ryan Briscoe just said "IndyCar racing is on the rise" and he's definitely accurate in that assessment. The crowd is exponentially higher than any I've witnessed thus far and there is definitely a palpable buzz in the air. I'm sticking with my Dario pick, especially with a chance of late showers.
12:39 cars are on the grid; drivers are introduced. Jack Nicholson is saluted by the crowd as he's in the starter stand. Hard to believe Jack made the trip with his buddy Dennis Hopper passing, but the show must go on...Jack's quote “It's good to be here.” But he's mugging for the crowd and kissed the Bricks with Mario Andretti....My favorite Jack role - "Here's Johnnnnnnnnnny..." The Shining. What a movie.
Interesting quote from @CurtCavin today about new IZOD IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard: "I like that he spent $20,000 of his own dough to buy tickets and hotels for all his friends and family members. He refused to get comps. I like that."
Jewel belts the national anthem out of the park. Great, great job.
Drivers to their cars. Mark Wahlberg getting a special trip in the two-seater at the back of the field. The drama builds. All wagers must be posted NOW!
Timing and scoring is active. Broadcast is on time delay. Davey Hamilton in the wall. Tony Kanaan past eight cars on the first lap. +1 on the Indy wagers for me; push on first car out with Hamilton. Wow, Franchitti was around Helio before the flag, and leads the Indy 500.
Back to green, Lap 5....Jack won't leave the starter stand and waves it again. Nice.
Scheckter is up to P8 and was savaged by Hamilton in the interview.
Lap 8. Another wreck. Bruno into the wall and there goes a big dark horse choice in the B&W Special. Two veterans who usually bring the car home out, all rookies still in it to win it. Go Figure.
Lap 12 back to green. This ABC broadcast delay is tough to stomach when cars are thundering by me in the tower.
Lap 19 Dario, Power, Helio, Tags, Matos....holy s^%& where did Matos come from?
Lap 23 Sarah Fisher struggling to keep the pace, could be the first car lapped? Some of the red mist out there has cleared and the race pace is very fast. Ryan Hunter-Reay up to 11th.
------pause for computer battery going down-------------
Lap 70 Kanaan up to fourth, Carpenter fifth, RHR in P6...
Lap 81 - Holy penalty boxes - Graham Rahal gets black flagged for blocking. Kardashians weep and make their makeup run. Drive-thru again. Which isn't exactly a black flag. He put the big block on Wheldon and dropped to P24. Bobby is $%R$^#*$( at Barnhart.
Lap 84 - Watching the track feed with the ABC sound is impossible. ABC is on a 19 second delay. Even Milka was closer than that...give me a break.'
Lap 86 - Mad props to Paul for hooking me up with his computer. He's in his seats, photoblogging. Just received a message from IndyCar blogging forefather/legend Money CJ. He would've killed it at the IZOD party last night, because that's how we roll.
Lap 90 - Just received a text from Iannucci with an excellent point: "Dario might be the only one NOT blocking right now." Suffice to say the Franchitti-Judds won't be exchanging Xmas cards with the Rahals. Send some haggis, that will fix 'em.
Lap 95 - The crowd is eating up this battle. No one is making bathroom breaks; after the caution outbreak the pace of the race is picking up considerably.
Lap 97 - Mutoh out of the car. Sato still in. Go frickin' figure part II.
Lap 98 - How can ABC go to commercial heading into the halfway mark? We don't need Ashton Kutcher commercials; it's THE INDY 500!
Lap 100- Dario, Helio, Briscoe, Carpenter (!!!), Kanaan (!!!!) - TK started 33rd after shifting from his T car to his primary. He's playing this track like IRacing. Could it be the day that Indy pays back TK for some misery?
Lap 105 - Yellow - Vitor is slow on the track. Bit the T2 wall. T4 is clean thus far; too bad for Vitor, he was pretty optimistic about today's race.
Lap 109 - Cattle call on pit road. Scheckter stayed out and leads, Kanaan up on the radio - he's too busy passing cars to enter.
Lap 111 - Sato gets a stop and go for hitting pit lane personal. Sayonara to Japan's Indy 500 hopes this year.
Lap 113 - Dario by Tomas into T1 - TK into second, Scheckter dropping like a wheel on pit lane as everyone else has fresh tires. But do they have MonaVie airtime? Townsend Bell up to P8, hustling along and keeping his nose clean (knocks on formica)
Lap 125 - The lap counter is clicking by...track temp announced at 131 degrees - easy greasy. Kanaan & Scheckter are the current stories as Franchitti is rollin'.
Lap 129 - It's almost too remote up here in the Media Center - isolated from the noise and the rumble - I think I'll go out on the deck for a while. I expect to see Dario applying sunscreen as he drives down the front straight.
Lap 131 - Marco is flying, but he's used 10 of his 15 push to passes charges. Maybe he can buy John Andretti's unused ones?
Lap 134 - Sarah Fisher is out, P25, but the car is in one piece and that's important. She just couldn't find the speed this month. Maybe it's time to retire her car "Old Faithful"? Media Center hordes descend on the ice cream bin like Mongols on Eastern Europe.
Lap 140 - Green flag stops. Already had a day's action in the pits. Sixty laps to go. Dario is up by 9.77 seconds and has set the cruise control. No use of the phrase "making fuel" yet, but I can't imagine he is chugging the ethanol. Ana Beatriz hanging in there P19, while Simona de Silvestro is motoring in P13. Rookie of the Year battle looks to be those two ladies. Really impressed with both, considering they were in the fray.
Lap 144 - Helio stalls it in pit lane. Now he can just charge by everyone like all the predictions. As much as Indy is speed, it's also attrition and concentration for drivers; one small mistake like that can totally wreck your day.
Lap 147 - Briscoe stuffs it in the wall. Not a picture perfect day for Roger Penske, not by a long shot. That was a big hit out of turn four, reminiscent of Sam Hornish Jr.'s crash in 2004.
Lap 150 - At the three-quarter mark, Dario leads the procession under yellow, followed by Marco,Kanaan, Scheckter and T Bell. That top five is pretty much the opposite of what we all expected to be a Penske-Ganassi train. But it is amazing how much can happed in such a small window of time; seven cautions already in the books.
Lap 155 - Helio tops off. Briscoe mea culpas. Everyone hits the button on the restart. Speedi Dry flies. Dario is almost making it look too easy. In half an hour, we might have an answer.
Lap 159 - Bell black flagged for blocking Ryan Hunter-Reay. Barnhart means it today.
Lap 160 - Saavedra into the wall. He'd been staying out of trouble before that and doing a pretty good job. It's a long race, 500 miles, not 402...
Lap 162 - Mileage numbers are crunched. Danica in ninth, ESPN's producer is excited.
Lap 163 - Dixon released right into Ryan Hunter-Reay's path. Not good for RHR's car, Dixon probably escapes damage. He's not been a factor at all today, which is somewhat to very surprising, depending on your point of view.
Lap 170 - Mike Conway leads out of the yellow, followed by teammate Justin Wilson. Fuel strategies are thrown in the air. Helio third with Graham Rahal in front of Franchitti yet again. More haggis is ordered.
Lap 177 - Laps are clicked off. Mention Dad's Root Beer, for crissake. Conway has been leading 15 laps.
Lap 182 - Justin Wilson leads; apparently that's not a great story for ABC as they keep cutting to commercials. D&R is flexing their muscle today. Watch out for Dan Wheldon; he's lurking in the typical Panther last 20 laps spot of seventh.
Lap 189 - Fuel is pumped. More numbers are crunched, sorting out the fuel is interesting. Does Helio have enough after that top off? Helio and Dario are abcked way off to save ethanol.
Lap 192 - Helio is in. Dario is winning, both are running in conserve mode, not sure how they can conserve for eight laps.
Lap 194 - I'm going to the window to watch the real deal live. Wheldon has enough fuel, same with TK. It's going to be interesting. Energy efficiency is the mode du jour.
Lap 200 - Dario Franchitti wins the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race under yellow; Dan Wheldon second, Alex Pink Lloyd with the drive of the day for third place. Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay in a serious dustup on the white flag lap, with Conway up into the fence. Scott Dixon fourth, Danica with a well-earned fifth. Conway is okay, as is Hunter-Reay.
Franchitti celebrates. Great job by the crew, can't imagine there are more than two drops of ethanol in the tank as the bagpipes blare in the background.
* addendum number one - Latest report is Mike Conway has a broken left ankle from his savage crash. Ryan Hunter-Reay accepted responsibility for the wreck as he slowed suddenly after running low/out of fuel.
** addendum number two - Three cars were ruled to have passed Marco Andretti under the yellow; so move back Alex Lloyd (fourth), Scott Dixon (fifth) and Danica (sixth) in the official running order and put Marco on the podium in third.
A Tale Of Two Cities - With apologies to Mr. Charles Dickens for borrowing his title; one might expect the obligatory quote about it being the best of times or something to that ...
8 hours ago