So from a national broadcast on ABC, Sunday afternoon, with a N***** rain-out, to a Monday morning on the Deuce. Randy Bernard is going to have to get a rain totem and soon if the Izod IndyCar Series is actually going to attain a whole number rating before May.
Nice to see Jamie Little back on pit road. Marty is talking about birds and worms. Am I the only one wondering why Marty Reid gets so excited for the tin tops and is so laid back for the Izod IndyCar series (there, I said it...)? Maybe Scott Goodyear (another name anomaly in a Firestone-shod series) should borrow some Venom Black Mamba from Marco and set up an IV drip?
Race control has declared it a "dry race". Barnhart is furiously knocking beer cans out of spectators' hands - oh, not that kind of dry. Apparently, if it's a "dry race" you can start on any kind of tire, but if it was "wet" you have to start on rain tires. Decisions, decisions. Looks wet from here. Crowd is actually looking robust for a Monday morning.
Drivers are strapped in to their cars. Tires they are a changin'. Vitor and AJ are starting on blacks. Overhead shot. Skies look clear, ground is wet, overhead shot of the crowd is not as flattering as the straight-on view.
Engines are fired. All rows are "hot". Yes, even Milka's engine is working.
Turn one ought to be fun. Green, greasy track and some drivers angry at being up so early on a Monday may not bode well. APEX Brazil commercials abound. Skies are blue.
Milka spun on the pace lap. Not even kidding on that one.
Uh oh. Lots of moisture still on tires as they come around but it seems everyone is starting on dry tires. Everyone makes it through turn one, TK drops back. Uh,oh Mike Conway is stalled in T2, and Dario gasses it onto the straight and spins himself. Still pretty moist off the racing line. Both cars refired, Dario flatspotted all four tires as the yellow emerges.
Rafa Matos comes in for gas, Franchitti new tires and Conway also gets gassed. Franchitti took off his reds before two laps, so confusion over the rules.
Marco squeezes past Dixon and into P2 on the restart. He's on it. And looking for more as Power is squeezed off line and it's Marco, Marco, Marco in the lead. TK third, Justin fourth, RHR fifth.
Lap 42 - it's Briscoe as the bright sunshine hits the track, followed by Mutoh and Helio.
Lap six Dixon takes over the lead from Marco as Andretti Autosports flexes the muscles. Marty says "looking very racy" for the first time. Cars are still running weird lines as moiture is still off line. Helio drafts past Marco into T1 for second place. ESPN2 does not have side by side, so bathroom breaks are permitted. Gawd, bad daytime TV commercials for ambulance chasing lawyers.
FINALLY able to log in to timing and scoring feed. Lap 10 run down - Dixon, Helio, Marco, Power, Kanaan, Wilson, RHR. Brief interlude for a Panica as the Superstar drops from 21st to 22nd...already 30 seconds back. Rest of the Top-10 Tags, Sato, and my dark horse pick for the season EJ Viso. A Little sidebar on Simona, who is up to P12. Disco Briscoe in for blacks on lap 13, first green stop for anyone.
Bottom of the board 20- Matos, 21- Dario, 22 - Danica, 23- Briscoe, 24 - Milka...Dario turns fastest race lap flying past Danica. Milka has mechanical issues. Probably something to do with a lift in her right foot. More commercials. Thou shall not be denied commercials on an ESPN broadcast. Ever. Uggh.
Izod commercial - it's RHR in Alcatrazz shorts wakeboarding. Progressive Insurance commercial, maybe they should sponsor a car? Got to admit Flo is kind of hot.
Lap 17 - back in Dixon +3.9 seconds over Helio, Power passes Marco for third as track is drying rapidly. Power pulls out of the draft past Helio into T1...getting offline could still be tough, so drivers are actually yielding positions if someone is on the race line next to them.
Alex Lloyd is out due to suspension problems and smacked the wall. It's Dale Coyne Racing locked up in P23 and P24 as racing continues with a nice dice between TK and Justin Wilson. Wilson past TK into T1...looks like the only good spot for passing in the street parade.
Lap 21 - Rahal and Tags with green flag stops. Dixon is driving away +6.6 seconds over Power. I'd imagine more stops are pending. We shall see how Briscoe's early stop pays off. Back from commercials brief Lights interlude, props to JK Vernay.
Surprise, Sato is into the tires in T4, as Vitor was pressuring him and pushed him out in a battle for ninth. Yellows all around. JLittle said Sato's left front tire had been done for several laps. The series really should figure out a way to get cars off track faster, the yellows on street courses are ponderous.
Lap 26 - Dixon, Power, Helio, Marco ...everybody is coming in for pit stops who hasn't already. RHR +3 spots into fourth out of the pits. The track sweeper wakes up pretty much everybody coming off the line. Vitor stays out and takes the lead.
Okay Vitor is the race leader but without pitting, followed by Matos and Dario. I'm sure Vitor is happy to see Matos next to him as we head towards a restart. Or not. Vitor is waved around the pace car but for some reason the rest of the field is behind it, so we have a bit of a salad in the order. Brief editorial comment - it should not take 5 laps to pull the nose of Sato's car out of a tire barrier. Get rid of these lazy yellows, Mr. Barnhart. Yank the car off the track and go green.
Some fun in the field as Mutoh jets past Tags for fifth. Helio and Power squeeze Rahal and move past the Dollar General car. Mario Moraes chops off Dixon's front wing, Moraes gets a flat for his troubles and Dixon's wing is weirdly folded up and blocking his vision. I'd file that under racing incident as the replay shows both guys with some blame. Dixon, TK, Moraes and Marco all pit. Vitor in for blacks and gas on lap freakin' 34. Tires? We do not need new stinkin' tires.
Matos and Franchitti are the leaders, but neither has pitted since lap two so I'd guess they will be coming in soon. Vitor rejoins in P17 in front of Dixon, TK, Marco and Moraes to catch up on that group. Matos coming in for gas as the rest of the field bunches up like Iannucci in Phoenix traffic.
Okay, now there are several different pit sequences going out there, with Dario due in very soon while running P1, followed by Briscoe, Mutoh (!!!), Helio, Tags, Power, Wilson, RHR, Graham and Viso. There is a big congo line going as Mario Moraes is holding up everyone from Tags back while Conway attacks Graham at the rear.
Dario green flag stop on lap 41...it's Briscoe and Hideki Mutoh in second. That's right - Mutoh running VERY strong and you know that NHL can track every drop of fuel at the street festivals of speed. Mutoh is actually haulin' oats and actually pulling away from Helio. Moraes is STILL holding up a train of about 15 cars.
Man, ESPN2 needs to chill on the commercials. There was just approximately 1.5 minutes of racing between four of commercials here as we soldier on to the halfway point. Seven different leaders in the first 44 laps, and Hideki next in line as Briscoe nears his window.
Oh, no. Back from commercial to see Moraes and Wheldon being pulled from the car in turn one. Carbon fiber everywhere as it looks like Wheldon broke something and spun as he hit the brakes. There are parts everywhere as Wheldon's mirror sits under a Firestone banner. If it took six laps for Sato cleanup, get ready for 12 here. A big break for Briscoe to pit under the yellow though, as he was due in for juice any freakin' time now. Just wondering if Johnny Rutherford has push-to-pass in the pace car?
Power, Wilson and Viso stay out and take the Top 3. Okay replay confirms Dan's left rear suspension broke at the braking zone of the front straight, and sent him on a ride. Could've been much worse, but it was unfortunate for Moraes being in the wrong place as Dapper Dan spun on by. Another bad break cuts off Marty in mid-sentence with dumb ESPN commercials.
Lap 51 - Top-3 remains the same, followed, by Simona, Danica and Dario. Wheldon apologizes to Mario and KV for taking them out. Nicely done by Dapper Dan, who also gave props to Panther for giving him a good car. Jeez. We are now in yet another break. The continuity of these broadcasts is terrible.
Lap 53, back to green as Dixon outbrakes Vitor into turn one, with obligatory Danica props for running in fifth. Dixon last pitted on Lap 40, so he's in shape for a good while despite the front wing disaster. Franchitti flat left rear so he comes in for rubber and gas. It's impossible to track the sequences. Simona doing a nice job holding off Dixon for now. Spoke too soon, Dixon past Simona, who now has Danica and her ESPN entourage in the mirror.
Lap 58, it's Will "Don't Call Me Billy" Power +2.5 seconds over Justin Wilson, with Viso holding down third despite a white wall, as Dixon attacks from fourth. Then it's Simona, Danica then another .6 seconds to the rest of the field spearheaded by Matos. Wilson staying in touch with Power, but not pushing too hard. Can anyone imagine the pandemonium of a D&R win?
TK, Helio and Briscoe all up in the gearbox of Matos. Viso in to the pits lap 64. He might be close to the rest of the race if we get another yellow. WOW, Viso catches a HUGE break as Conway gets punted into the wall by Matos. Full course yellow.
Fuel strategies out the window as engineers furiously recalculate. If they come in 66, most should be able to make it to the end. Viso...looking amazing if the yellow lasts for a while from P14. Danica comes out of the pits on reds. We shall see what happens there since they only have been lasting 10-12 laps. Power's crew nails the stop. Vitor stays out and assumes the race lead and we all know what happens when one assumes...
And my network crashes. Viso's gearbox says goodbye moments after inheriting the lead. Oh, Simona "obviously" gets divebombed by Graham, and while she sat in the middle of the track a few turns back, Dixon clips the inside wall of Turn 9 and stuffs it on the exit, bringing out yet another caution.
Push to passes galore as the counter hits Lap 80; it's Power back in the lead, followed by Wilson, Helio, Briscoe, Tags (!!!), Danica, Matos, Graham, TK and Dario (!!!) We have had 10 lead changes...and a big train of angry cars. Tags took on fuel only, and is being told to baby the tires. Lap 82 Wilson has begun to push Power and is pulling up on the leader's gearbox. Push to pass speculation abounds.
Riding on board with RHR - there are some fast times being posted with 15 laps to go. Power, Wilson and Helio all posting sub 1:04 lap times, putting some ground on the rest of the field. Sidebar piece on Power's engineer David Faustino. Who'd have thought Bud Bundy would be engineering the series points leader? Oh, it's a different guy. Or is it? The evil empire of Penske Racing can be a font of subterfuge and disinformation.
Lap 90 - Dario outbrakes TK into T1; it's game on for everyone. Power, Wilson, Briscoe, Helio, Tags...then Danica, Matos, Graham, Dario and TK. That 7-10 group is really dicing. Could be some antics there before the end of the race. Sidebar speech on how 'Stash isn't helping Graham with his sponsor finding. Big surprise there. Dario past Graham with Dario charging and Danica on her disintegrating reds holding up the line. Dario outbreaks Matos and is on Danica like, well, a Go Daddy commercial.
Lap 95 - Wilson has been stockpiling P-2-P pushes...and has +5 to Power. Dario past Danica and sets off after Tags, who is +2.5 seconds. Replay shows Will Power with a very very close miss in T10. Feeling the pressure as Wilson charges.
Three laps to go. Power and Wilson both furiously pushing to pass, while Dario runs down Tags! From P11 to P5 in 12 laps. Briscoe and Helio are also dancin' with two laps to go.
White flag is out. Power, Wilson, Briscoe, Helio and Dario, who is probably going to have to be content with fifth, while Tags' tires hold up a line. Danica uses her last P2P.
At the line, it's Power a few car lengths over Wilson, followed by Briscoe and Helio. Dario fifth. Tags holds on to sixth, with Danica, Matos, Graham and TK.
Little parting fact from Marty, Will Power is only the second driver in series history to open the season with two wins, the gone but not forgotten Sam Hornish Jr. being the other.
"Perfect weekend, perfect race," Power said. He's memorized the Penske Book of Rhetoric. Wilson did not use all of his Pushes according to Jamie Little. A second for D&R is a nice start. Briscoe charged from his bad starting spot, Helio not even sweating somehow after the race. Either a quick blow dry or a lap with the helmet off?
Thanks to St. Pete for letting everyone out of work today, and thanks to Iannucci for the spot in the lineup. It's time for me to head to work, as well.
So from a national broadcast on ABC, Sunday afternoon, with a N***** rain-out, to a Monday morning on the Deuce. Randy Bernard is going to have to get a rain totem and soon if the Izod IndyCar Series is actually going to attain a whole number rating before May.
Welcome to St Pete where...it's wet. Very wet. With lots of wind. And lightning. And puddles so deep they might be harboring alligators. And while that might add an extra level of excitement for race fans in the comfort of their homes, it's a living nightmare for the IRL logistical staff as well as the drenched fans seeking cover in Florida.
When the powers that be figure out when this baby will be raced I'll be glad to tell you all about it. For now, well, the intrepid Curt Cavin just tweeted "There is NO CHANCE this race is held today. NONE!"
After the weather-related fiascoes to start the 2010 season, I wonder if Randy Bernard is starting to plan ways to have indoor races.
UPDATE: Looks like the race will be at 10am ET on ESPN2, which is 7am for those of us at or near the west cost. It's like breakfast at Wimbledon for IndyCar fans.
At this point it's just a rumor according to Robin, but...
Graham Rahal rejoins the IZOD IndyCar series this weekend at St. Petersburg in Sarah Fisher's car but the 21-year-old second generation star is poised be reunited with the Newman/Haas/Lanigan team for the rest of 2010.Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that tongues were wagging about Graham being a third driver for Ganassi? Yeah, well, looks like we can all forget about that. At any rate, congrats to the Son of 'Stache on his return to being fully returned.
SPEEDtv.com has learned that young Rahal secured sponsorship that will likely put him back with the Chicago-based squad he's driven for since 2007 - beginning at Long Beach next month.
"I don't want to say too much yet but it's looking good for something full-time," said Rahal on Tuesday night following his ALMS Corvette test at Sebring, Fla.
(MORE from SPEED)
Sunday's race at St Pete will be the 200th start in Dario Franchitti's illustrious CART and IndyCar career. He's marking the occasion with toilet paper.
Cottonelle Brand to Sponsor Dario Franchitti at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
INDIANAPOLIS (March 24, 2010) –Target Chip Ganassi Racing announced today that Cottonelle brand will serve as the primary sponsor of its No.10 Honda Dallara for reigning IZOD IndyCar Series Champion Dario Franchitti in Round 2 of the series at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (March 28 at 3:30 PM ET, ABC). Kimberly-Clark joined the Target racing program in 2010, and its brands will be featured on both the team’s IZOD IndyCar and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars this season.
(MORE from Target Chip Ganassi Racing)
I rather enjoyed the awful racing double entendres that resulted from Dario's Vaseline For Men livery, but I don't know where to begin with IndyCar potty humor.
Based on totally unscientific feedback gleaned from such reputable samples as blog comments and message board posts, the consensus is that despite issues with the weather and the track surface (or perhaps because of them) the street race in Sao Paolo was pretty high on the entertainment charts. The biggest reason? Sao Paolo featured 95 passes, many of which were not only for the actual lead but were also visible to actual television viewers.
That's right, 95 passes in a street race. An abbreviated one, in fact. No wonder Jack Arute was talking about the possibility of swarms of locusts appearing.
Maybe it was because of the weather issues, or the track configuration which featured long straightaways leading towards abrupt turns, or even the souped-up "push to pass" button which now seems like less of a video-game inspired punchline and more like something that facilitates interesting racing. Whatever the reason it was...man, after years of despising street racing parades even I have to admit that was *gulp* exciting.
...and here come the swarms of locusts...
Now, your humble host is still a vocal supporter of oval-based preferences, and is not suggesting the IRL needs more street racing. But as the league struggles to find new venues it might be that we're going to get more street racing whether we like it or not. To think, just three seasons ago the IndyCar series featured exactly one street race on the schedule with the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg, but bimergification has prompted the IRL to add similar events at Sao Paolo, Long Beach, Toronto, and Edmonton to the schedule, and yet another is growing closer.
Baltimore Racing Development LLC envisions sponsoring the Indy Racing League event - including a main race with cars going at speeds up to 200 mph - starting in August 2011 and continuing annually for at least five years.Note the comment about racing in August, and couple it with this quote from an interview with Randy Bernard in the St Petersburg Times.
"It's a world-class event that brings global media exposure to the city and has a huge economic benefit for the city and the citizens of Baltimore," (Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake) said. He said the city could realize $60 million in economic gains over the five years of the race, as well as hundreds of full-time jobs and millions in city and state tax revenue.
"They very much want this market," (Jay Davidson, chief executive of Baltimore Racing Development) said. "They don't have anything in the Mid-Atlantic."
I'm not convinced that sanction agreements are always in the best interest of the league and I would like to see possibly co-promotions and I'd like to see possibly the bottom two events dropped every year so that we continue to make sure that we are bringing better value every single year to our fans.If Tony George brought his hammer to work everyday, the it looks like Randy's bringing his axe. So with regards to August, a quick check of the schedule shows Edmonton (proven money loser) in late July, Mid Ohio (regionally close to perennially-discussed Cleveland) in early August, and Sonoma (chronically poor attendance) in late August as possible candidates for culling. Considering the comments the new CEO made in an extensive interview with Declan Brennan about focusing on the fact this is primarily an American series, Edmonton may be the slight favorite if there is a chopping block derby.
Meanwhile...anyone heard any good rumors about adding any ovals lately?
“I’m not going to be like someone else -- who you can probably figure out who...I’m not going to sit here and hang the N****R carrot over everyone’s head and say ‘Oh, well, if you guys don’t help me I’m going to just leave.’ That’s not the way it is for me. I’m committed to this.” - Graham Rahal, on his commitment to staying in the IndyCar series less than a month after the intrepid Curt Cavin reported Rahal was scheduled to meet with N****R officials.
(Thanks to pressdog for the find.)
Following on from our weak pun based breaking news of a couple of weeks ago, it has been confirmed, by Conquest Racing, that the 2009 World Series by Renault Champion, the magnificenly monikered, Betrand Baguette will make his debut at Barber Motorsports Park.
March 22, 2010 (Indianapolis, IN)- Conquest Racing announced today that it will enter a second car in the IZOD IndyCar Series for Belgian driver Bertrand Baguette, beginning with the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 11th through the remainder of the season. The car will carry the colors of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium's National Team. The RACB is the Belgian motorsports governing body.This is hugely encouraging for the IndyCar Series as a whole. Randy Bernard quite correctly stated that the IICS needs to have the best open wheel racers in the world competing in the championship. Baguette represents the next generation of such drivers and his move to IndyCar serves to significantly increase the talent pool of young racers in the series.
"I have always been attracted to racing in America," commented Baguette. "American open wheel has a rich heritage in competitive races and legendary drivers, and I couldn't be happier about following in their footsteps. Racing in the US is a fantastic opportunity for me, and I am excited about entering into this next step of my career."
Baguette, 24, received considerable attention in Europe after he captured the 2009 World Series by Renault championship. As a result of his success in 2009, Baguette was invited to test for Formula 1 teams Renault F1 and BMW Sauber earlier this year in Jerez, Spain.
"I am looking forward to the 15 races this year with the IndyCar series and I am thankful to the sponsors and for the support of the RACB National Team that have made this possible," said Baguette of the newly formed deal. "I will carry the yellow color of the Belgian National Team with dignity and pride, especially during the legendary Indianapolis 500. To run this race in front of 400,000 spectators will undoubtedly be a big moment of emotion for me as a driver and Belgian countryman. I will be counting on the experience of my new team owner, Eric Bachelart, to help me enter successfully into this new world of racing."
Bachelart is excited about the prospect of a Belgian driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Bachelart has watched the career of Baguette closely over the last several years and is optimistic about Baguette's ability to be successful this season.
"I am completely confident in the capacities of Bertrand to quickly adapt to the IZOD IndyCar Series car and the North America road and street circuits. I followed his 2009 season and was impressed by the excellent degree of competitiveness and maturity he showcased on his way to becoming Formula Renault 3.5 Champion," asserted Bachelart. "Because of his ability to adapt well to new formula, I am confident that he will also learn the art of oval track racing relatively quickly."
While he will not be racing until the Barber Motorsports event, Baguette will be attending the St. Petersburg Grand Prix this weekend to familiarize himself with the IZOD IndyCar Series, the cars and the team.
"I am really looking forward to becoming more familiar with him during the upcoming race in St. Petersburg," said Bachelart. "It will be good for Bertrand to be able to attend an event, understand the communication between driver and team and get acclimated to IZOD IndyCar Series racing without the pressure of also having to learn the cars on the same weekend. This should make Bertrand's debut event at Barber much smoother for him and for the team."
And his name is simply a gift that keeps on giving, so it's a 'win/win' for all of us!
"Jack Arute asked Vitor in the post-race interview if he had tears in his eyes. Vitor said, 'A.J. would kick my butt if I was crying here so I better not.'
"Maybe not, Vitor, maybe not. As hard as you worked to recover and as hard as you raced, you deserved this. I was as thrilled for you as if you had won the race. By the way, you didn't have to thank me for waiting for you. You drove like the champion we knew you to be when we hired you so of course we waited for you to come back.
"And when you do win this year, I'll be wearing my sunglasses, even if it's raining."
- AJ Foyt, coming thisclose to shedding a manly tear.
In recent years fans of any number of sports have had unprecedented, round-the-clock coverage of sports to the point of receiving up close and personal at a near constant clip. Such is the task of the modern athlete, who probably feels they have a microphone shoved in their face every time they blink. Unfortunately this whole process of constantly seeking verbal feedback (i.e. "describe the feeling") has revealed that many athletes - like most of us - are not exactly modern-day Ciceros.
This isn't to say skilled professionals like IndyCar drivers are stupid, but rather that despite all efforts to coach the modern driver in the proper ways of conducting an interview many of them still suffer from verbal ticks manifesting themselves most often as "uhh" or "umm" or the ever-dreaded "you know". And you know who says "you know" a lot, right?
(Full disclosure: I'm not claiming to be immune to this disease. Ever notice how many times your humble host says "well", "look" or "hey"? That's not just typing - it's the way I actually speak. And actually "actually" is another one I probably overuse, but I digress.)
It's sad that it's come to this, but one IndyCar driver's problem in this area has reached a point of crisis, requiring an intervention of some sort. I'm talking about Graham Rahal and his abuse of the word "obviously", because not only did young Mr Rahal use the word "obviously" a whopping SEVENTEEN times in a teleconference with Sarah Fisher this week, but it was, in fact, the very first word out of his mouth. Here's the awful truth:
1. Obviously, it's extremely exciting for me...
2. And so obviously being that there was one race...
3. ...and obviously Dollar General for me, I just had to jump right at it.
4. Extremely excited and obviously very enthusiastic...
5. ...a lot of it has to be about the atmosphere, obviously the track.
6. ...and we're obviously going to test here at the end of this week.
7 and 8. ...it obviously looked as if we would be on the outside looking in, which it was obviously very frustrating for me.
9. And obviously for the first four months of the off‑season...
10. ...and obviously we've been in touch with various teams.
11. So for many, many years obviously known about Sarah...
12. Once we got in and we got going, obviously Dad did whatever...
13. So obviously I'm very thankful for that.
14. Well, you know, there's obviously ‑‑ there's a lot going on.
15. Because obviously, as I tell everybody, Sarah has been great...
16. ...because obviously she's already got one out of the way...
17. Obviously we want to be ‑‑ we want to be full time.
Obviously this "obviously" madness has to stop, and the best way would be for Graham to get a rubber band around his wrist so he could snap it every time he says the O-word? Here, let me finish this post by showing how this would work.
I'm obviously *snap* not mentioning this problem to pick in Graham. I'm only bringing this up because obviously *snap* he needs to overcome this issue since he's expected to be one of the faces of the league for many years. And obviously *snap* that means lots of interviews that can't be troubled with time and again inappropriately using the o-word. He's a bright young guy, so obviously *snap* I'm confident that with a little effort he can get this worked out, although it's obviously *snap* frustrating for all of us.
Please Graham, get help now. Before snarky bloggers start calling you "Captain Obvious".
UPDATE: Obviously Graham had to respond...
For those of you on my name is irl I have three words! Obviously! Obviously! Obviously! Obviously I need to learn more words just for you!...and now, obviously, I'll have to cheer for him to win at St Pete if only for the post-race interview. I may even have to buy some GR gear now. Go Son of 'Stache!
Last week the rumors of the Lotus/Cosworth/KV Racing Technology arrangement became fact, although it's still unclear what exactly the whole deal means. It might mean Lotus will one day again create an IndyCar chassis, or that Cosworth will soon return with an IRL-approved engine.
It definitely means KVRT will have SMOKIN' HOT historically-themed liveries like this.
The classic Racing Green and Yellow livery used on Lotus Racing cars in the 1950s and ‘60s returns to North America, with its debut on the No. 5 KV Racing Technology car in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 28.Jimmy Clark, Graham Hill, and...Takuma Sato? Who'd have thunk it?
Lotus and Cosworth have entered into a technical and commercial partnership with the IZOD IndyCar Series team. The car will be driven by former Formula One driver Takuma Sato.
“This is fantastic news for everyone,” said Sato, who made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 14. “It is exciting for me to be a Lotus driver and I’m really looking forward to great success with this new project.”
(MORE from IndyCar.com)
IRL CEO Randy Bernard has been telling anyone who will listen that his main priority is to turn the drivers of the IZOD IndyCar series into superstars, and aside from bikini pictorials or dance contests one of the better ways to make drivers more interesting is to have them form a solid, blood-thirsty rivalry. Think of Castroneves and Kanaan banging wheels, or Milka and Danica exchanging pleasantries, or Moraes and Marco having first-lap carbon fiber shredding festivals.
A rivalry doesn't necessarily matter if drivers are equal in skill or stature in the league. It requires that someone be mad, and that they go public with their anger so we know that we should be looking for something interesting in subsequent races. And friends, Alex Tagliani is mad.
As you might recall, Tagliani was tangled up with Tony Kanaan on Sunday as the two battled near the front of the pack, ending Alex's day and sending Kanaan to the back of the field. Replays though showed that the accident was caused when Dan Wheldon give Tags the chrome horn, which worked out for Dan since he finished in 5th. Perhaps because he inadvertently took out his longtime buddy Kanaan, Dan was rather apologetic for the whole incident.
“It’s really great for all of us at Panther Racing to start the season with a Top Five, but first I have to apologize for taking Tag (Alex Tagliani) and TK (Tony Kanaan) out of the race,” Wheldon said. “Tag had a bit of a bobble coming onto the straight and I got a really good run; he defended a little bit and I was going to look to the inside but decided to pull in just a touch and when I braked I hit a really big bump and it just lifted my front wheels off the ground. When that happens you can’t stop.”Wheldon even apologized to Tagliani in person after the race, which seemed to be the end of it all until...
Wheldon immediately claimed responsibility for the accident on the radio, and adamantly apologized to the crews of both drivers after the race.
"He comes to me at the airport, apologizes and says, 'Oh, I'm sorry. I hit a bump and locked up and slid into you,’” Tagliani said in a phone interview with the CP. "And I said 'OK. No problem. You're OK. Thank you.' And I shake his hand. Everything's good. And then I come to Indy and I watch the replay and it's [Baloney Sandwich]. I'm not happy."But wait, there's more. Act now and you'll also receive this special "you lie to my face" quote.
"I watched the replay. I'm not stupid. You bump me off the road. You hit me. You crash my car and then you lie to my face?" said Tagliani in a phone interview Tuesday from Indianapolis. "He (Wheldon) created a massive incident early in the race.As the kids today like to say, it's on like Donkey Kong. For the forensically inclined members of the viewing audience you can skip to around the 4:20 mark of the video below and review it as you would the Zapruder film.
"I appreciate the fact he went to see our (crew) guys (to apologize), but the reasoning behind his excuse is total crap."
And while you try to determine Dan's actual braking point - which does appear to be after he gives Alex the heave ho - remember that once upon a time Alex had an epic throwdown with Paul Tracy (meaning Alex got thrown down by Tracy) over a similar incident on a street course.
I figure the odds of two well-coiffed drivers like Alex and Dan ever actually getting into a fight are roughly equivalent to Milka Duno winning an IndyCar race, but if they do surprise us and break into fisticuffs hopefully they both act like
(Thanks to Chris Estrada for bringing this to our attention.)
......and they are sort of encouraging. A .4 national household rating is a significant improvement on last years season opener at St Petersburg.
It's hard to argue that those numbers aren't encouraging although there is still a long way to go before a race on Versus can match the numbers that any race on ABC can achieve. But this is a solid start and the addition of DirecTV's subsciber base should only see this increase as the season progresses.
VERSUS' live coverage of the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on March 14 garnered a 0.4 national household rating, the third-highest rated IZOD IndyCar Series race on the fast-growing sports cable network.The fact that the season opener was of such high quality and excitement good can only help too.
The race peaked at a 0.6 household rating between 2:15 -2:30 p.m. (EDT) and averaged 411,000 viewers, up 30 percent from the 2009 season average (315,000) and up 76 percent from the 2009 season-opening race (233,000).
"Boy am I feeling lousy. Today was not one of my better days, or even close, but I hate to hear that I've disappointed some of you, to the point of wanting me replaced. It was a difficult weekend getting the pictures and sound, but I have no excuse for my poor performance. All I can ask is, that you give me another chance, and I'll hope for a better outcome in Birmingham." - VERSUS announcer Bob Jenkins, in a post at TrackForum entitled "What an Idiot!" (Really? Yes, really), apologizing for upsetting fans with what some thought was a sub-standard performance on his part for the Sao Paolo race.
I didn't notice any major faux pas on his part during the telecast, but then again maybe this means Bob will consider taking up Roy Hobbson's suggestions for stepping up his game.
(HT: Pop Off Valve)
VERSUS and DirecTV just kissed and made up.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., and PHILADELPHIA, March 15, 2010 - DIRECTV and Comcast have reached an agreement to return VERSUS to the DIRECTV programming lineup today. The terms of the deal were not disclosed."...much more..." is clearly code for IndyCar racing, right? Umm, of course.
VERSUS will return to the same DIRECTV programming packages it was in at the end of August 2009.
(Ed Note: I don't have DTV but I've been told this is channel 603.)
"We are pleased that both sides were able to work out a satisfactory deal to bring this programming back to our customers," said Derek Chang, executive vice president, Content Strategy and Development, DIRECTV.
"We're excited that we were able to come to a fair agreement that puts VERSUS back in millions of homes with DIRECTV in time for our busy spring programming schedule," said Jamie Davis, president of VERSUS. "We look forward to super-serving these fans with NHL regular-season and playoff coverage, our first live UFC event and much more."
(Ladies and gentleman, once again My Name Is IRL proudly welcomes guest commentary from a man who evidently spent the last six months learning Portuguese. Still at home and still enjoying the amenities of the comfy couch, it's the one, the only, the mmack.)
Notas do sofá comfy Sao Paolo Indy 300
Olá! e leitores bem-vindos! It' tempo de s para notas do sofá comfy.
(Hello and welcome readers! It’s time for notes from the comfy couch.) Mrs. Mmack and I were rudely awakened to the fact that today ends Daylight Savings Time. Luckily we got to see the end of the F1 race, and had time enough to prepare an American version of a traditional Brazilian breakfast. At first I thought this meant a sword with ten pieces of steak skewered on it, but Mrs. Mmack informed me that 1) we have no swords handy and 2) the meat on a sword dish is Argentinean, not Brazilian. At least we have mimosas made with mango-papaya to tide us over. Kudos to the Fabulous Mrs. Mmack for Googling what folks in Brazil have for Pequeno almoço.
From watching Versus on Saturday, I’ve learned that qualifications were suspended until this morning. Part of the track is used as the Sambadrome for Carnival, and the street was PAINTED for the samba parade! Even after removing the paint, that section of the track caused much mayhem in practice. After grinding the surface over night, qualifications were held today with Dario Franchitti (Oh não outra vez!) and Alex Tagliani (Que boa surpresa!) sharing the front row.
After some indecision over is it/isn’t it raining hard enough to postpone the start, the drivers are instructed to start their motores and after the pace laps, the first green flag of the Dois mil e dez IRL season flies!
And it’s soon followed by the inevitable first yellow flag of the 2010 IRL season. Cars are spinning, crashing, flipping, landing atop each other, Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria! Mario Moraes decides to even the score with Marco Andretti by leapfrogging his car atop Marco’s #26 machine. During replays of the first lap crash we see the dreaded accordion effect at the head of the field, with Sato torpedoing another car and then getting caught up with Dixon and Castroneves. Helio even runs over Sato’s front wing. At this point the survivors head to the pits for service while Jack Arute, looking less like a human and more like a walking stick of beef jerky (Jack, George Hamilton called, he wants to warn you about the effects of too much sun) tries to interview Mario Moraes and Marco. Mario is evidently too angry to talk, but Marco calmly talks to Jack about the big wreck. Mrs Mmack thinks he got some Thorazine in the track medical center. I think that after 100 million interviews about crashes he’s started or been caught up in, Marco is pretty blasé about these things. A replay shows Moraes going sideways trying to slow down before he vaults over Marco.
At this point, with hardly any racing at all, obviously pole sitter Franchitti leads, followed by Tags. On lap 9 the race restarts and everybody left is a good boy or girl and follows single file through the turns of the first actual green flag lap. Going from memory (Hey, YOU try writing notes with one hand and drinking a mimosa with the other and see how much you get written buddy!), the front two positions were pretty set for the next ten laps or so, but from third on back, dare I say it, we saw some passing. On a street course no less. Now granted, some of that was Castroneves and Dixon fighting their way up from having to pit for work on their cars, but Dan Wheldon (!) and Ryan Hunter-Reay(!!), you know, two guys better known for their oval prowess, were actually making moves and advancing to the front. Within a lap of each other, Ryan took second from Tags and Wheldon took fifth place.
And then Milka Duno stalled on the course. Que surpresa, or for Milka, en español: Una qué sorpresa. For some reason this means we have to have a full course caution. Everyone pits except for Simona de Silvestro, who stays out to take the lead. Her first race and she’s already ahead of Danica Patrick! Hey, maybe one prediction I made will be correct.
Speaking of predictions, Jack Arute breaks in to tell us those dark clouds we keep seeing in the distance are rain clouds, and they’re headed right for us. Ah, sunny Brazil!
The race restarts around lap 27 with Simona being chased by Dario and O-Ryan the Hunter. RHR takes Mr. Ashley Judd and then sets off after Simona. On the next lap he forces his way past her with a shower of sparks from the undertray of his car. With rain coming in Penske pulls in Ryan Briscoe to change to rain tires. On track, suddenly Tony Kanaan and an unseen car go skidding off into a run-off. A replay shows Dan Wheldon prefers slam dancing to the samba, and shoves Alex Tagliani into TK. TK gets back on track but no Tagliani.
After that the rain comes. And with it, those that stay out on slicks perform beautiful pirouettes on track for the fans, including Danica Patrick. Perhaps if Danica had more experience in stock cars, she would have avoided that spin. Sorry, I must have channeled ol’ DW there.
Now it begins to rain harder as we see Alex Lloyd’s car in the wall. The rain is now mixed with HAIL, and timing and scoring is knocked out! So on lap 36, the race is red flagged so we can dry the track and the drivers can have a siesta. I should NEVER have made fun of NASCAR for the delays in this year’s Daytona 500. Karma, it’s a buzz kill.
When the race restarts, it will be a timed race. Before the rain came teams gambled on when to put on the rain tires. With the track starting to dry out, now teams have to decide when to go back to slicks. Briscoe Inferno, O-Ryan the Hunter, and Will Power blink first and duck in for slicks. This gives the race lead back to Franchitti. The race restarts and there’s a lot of position shuffling as cars hit the pits to get slicks back on. RHR takes the lead and there is an actual battle from second to fourth with Power, Briscoe, and Matos. Castroneves is also trying to move up.
Somewhere in here Bob Jenkins announces this race is now the most viewed telecast in Brazilian television history. I think to myself of course it is. Everyone is calling everyone else saying something like “Hey, turn on channel 12, yeah, the Indy Car race. This one car jumped on top of another, yeah, IT WAS GREAT!”
At this point Ryan Briscoe comes up to second as we are told Ryan Hunter-Reay must MAKE FUEL. It is now a timed, fuel conservation race. Great! The announcing staff debates the merits of RHR staying in the lead versus falling back to second and pacing off Briscoe. Soon the point becomes academic because Briscoe passes RHR, but then RHR passes him back to retake the lead! Except that both drivers cut the corners and took short cuts through the turns while trying to pass each other. RHR has to give the lead back to Briscoe, and falls into the clutches of Will Power. A few laps later Briscoe plucks defeat from the jaws of victory and flies straight as an arrow into the tire barriers. With the resulting yellow, all that race leader RHR needs to worry about is Will Power.
With about six minutes to go, the race restarts with Ryan Hunter-Reay being chased by Will Power. Somehow, Vitor Meira, in the AJ Foyt Racing #14, has gotten up to third place. Behind him is all manner of slicing and dicing that portends mechanized chaos. Up at the front, Will Power makes a move and takes the lead from RHR. Ryan can’t get close enough before the finish to try to retake the lead, so the finish is Power, Hunter-Reay, and Meira for the podium. Although it’s not a win, hopefully Ryan’s strong run convinces Izod to write a full season check to Michael Andretti.
And for all the talk about Simona de Silvestro, let’s give a hand to Brazilian rookie Ana Beatriz, who finished ahead of both Simona and Danica in 13th spot, and is also the highest finishing rookie in the race.
In closing, even with all the rain, some dreaded “lock-step”, and a first lap that would embarrass the field in a bomber stock race at the Grundy County Speedway, the Sao Paolo course offered some actual racing, with at least three good passes for the lead.
Adeus do sofá comfy, everyone, until the next race at St. Petersburg.
Welcome to Brazil, where the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season is about to kick off for the first time outside the friendly confines of the US borders. But it's all good - Jack Arute is there to make Sao Paolo feel just as awkward as any other race.
Today's race features 7 Brazilians racing in their homeland. IRL regulars Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Rafa Matos and a freshly healed Vitor Meira will join rookies Mario Romancini and Ana Beatriz, and thanks to a last minute deal Mario Moraes will be racing as well. Collectively they might outsell Danica Patrick at the merchandise trailer this weekend.
The big story this weekend is that yesterdays qualifications were canceled due to a slippery straightaway. The front section is part of what's none as the Sambadrome, although after removing the surface paint from the recent Carnivale festivities the concrete track was more like the ice at the Saddledome. The slippery surface might have been some nefarious plot to eliminate passing altogether on a street course, but Brian Barnhart called in the grinders overnight and now it appears we have a sufficient racing surface.
So we have a serious test of of the off-season conditioning today, as this morning they've had a practice session, qualifications, and now the race. Let's hope the drivers did their workouts workouts, are properly hydrated, and have made all other necessary preparations...
...because after a loooooong winter IT'S TIME TO START!
0: Dario Franchitti will be starting from the pole today. Arute is stuffing the mic in his face, and Dario does not disappoint. Says for Brian Barnhart "had to have really big attachments" to cancel qualifications yesterday. I just spewed coffee.
0: Alex Tagliani, in his first race for his the FAZZT Racing team he co-owns, is starting next to Dario on the front row. Justin Wilson and part-timer Ryan Hunter-Reay are starting in Row 2. Bully for the little guys!
0: And...we have a little rain. Now they have to figure out if they need to change tires. Jack Arute is showing us the weather radar, pointing to multi-colored blots. It appears it's May in Brazil.
0: Well, the pace car circled the track and I guess it's not too wet.
0: The most sedate man in Sao Paolo announces "...drivers, start your engines..."
0: OK, we have red tires, black tires, and our first chance to see IndyCars with a reverse gear. Hopefully this will help avoid a few yellow flags. On a personal note, I'd love to see the winner of this race circle the track in reverse for a super-slow victory lap.
0: For those interested, we have 5 rookies. Beatriz and Romancini, along with Takuma Sato, Simona de Silvestro, and Alex Lloyd. Quite a diverse group.
0: ...and finally We Are GREEN GREEN GREEN!
0: HOLY GOAT RODEO, BATMAN!!! What a messed up first turn! In what is possibly the worst start EVAH to an IRL race we see Helio, Dixon, and Sato are spinning, lots of cars through the run off, and Mario Moraes's Dallara is on top of Marco Andretti's head!
1: Marco is still stuck in that car and under that other car. A little help over here, please.
2: Arute tells us Marco has contacted his team through the in-car radio that he is OK. That's amazing - three sincere cheers for Dallara safety!
3: Replays show that Sato got loose entering the first turn causing the first mess. Moraes looks like he was spinning as well before he gassed his car over the back of Marco's. Boom, zoom, crash! (Warning: I'm fast exceeding my exclamation point quotient.)
4: Marco is out of the car, walking to the ambulance. Applause all around. Franchiti, Tagliani, Hunter-Reay...wait, now Power is third and Ryan is 4th? What? How are we passing under yellow?
5: Looks like some cars are pitting, none of the leaders though. A crane has arrived to remove what's left of Marco's car. Power makes a pit stop, so Hunter-Reay is back in 3rd. Kanaan and Matos round out the top 5.
6: Moraes declines to be interviewed by Arute. These aren't the droids you're looking for, Jack. Meanwhile, Marco has been checked, released, and will no doubt be tracked down by the very busy Arute.
7: Just got a shot of Romancini's car. Bright white with green "DOLLY" on the side. Now I have Louis Armstrong singing in my head.
8: Might be going green again soon. Gird your loins for the battle in the first turn, folks.
9: Restart on and we are once again GREEN GREEN GREEN!!! Through turn one, then two, then three, and we are in full parade mode.
10: Arute tracks down Marco, who seems fairly even headed about the whole thing. Said "couldn't see a foot in front of you" and that he was letting off on the gas, inferring the kind sould behind him might not have been so cautious. Marco might still be a bit woozy from having a 1500lb car sitting on his head for a few minutes.
11: Dixon has recovered nicely from that first lap fracas. He's already up to 9th, while Helio is back in 16th. Meanwhile Sato is parked in the pits. 20 drivers on the lead lap, with only Alex Lloyd a lap down after having to have some parts changed earlier.
12: Well, it looks like Milka just got lapped, so make that 19 cars on the lead lap.
14: Top 4 are pulling away, with Dan Wheldon all up in Rafa Matos' business for 5th.
15: Wheldon, Mutoh, Vitor, Danica, Conway comprise 6th through 10th, in case you were wondering. NO PENSKE CARS in the Top 10!
18: And Wheldon has gotten around Matos for 5th. Looks like Wheldon is moving up invisibly through the field. Would have been nice to see some actual overtaking. *banging head on laptop*
19: RHR passes Tags for P2. Hooray for televised passing!
20: Kanaan tries to get around Tagliani, but can't quite get er done. Locks the brakes but maintains control, drawing the applause of the crowd.
22: YELLOW for a stalled Milka Duno on the course. Why a full course caution? I don't know, and I'm getting tired of asking during these street races. I guess they can't just push her to a runoff with a local yellow...but what do I know.
24: Pits are open...and EVERYONE comes in. Nice and orderly. All drivers are on their best behavior. Looks like first out are Dario, Hunter-Reay, Kanaan, Tagliani, and Wheldon.
25: Hold the phone - one car did not pit: Simona de Silvestro, who now leads the race. She pitted right before the yellow so this is legit. You go girl!
26: Looks like the rain is coming in. Jack says "I'm starting to feel like the hippy-dippy weatherman." *another spit take*
27: Back to GREEN. Hang on, Simona - here they come! Hunter Reay is all over Dario's rear wing. Works him the entire lap and finally gets him in the last turn for P2.
28: RHR is driving like a man possessed. Takes the inside line, sparks flying from the bumps, and rockets past Simona for the lead.
29: The hippy-dippy weatherman says rain is coming.
29: Ruh-roh! Tagliani tangles with Kanaan and they both slide into the run-off. Oh, they Brazilian fans will not be pleased.
29: Hang on, replay shows Dan Wheldon punted Tags who spun into Kanaan. Meanwhile Briscoe pulls into the pits to change to rain tires...and here comes the rain!
30: Kanaan is back on the the track, and while we were looking at the accident it seems Dario got around Simona for second.
30: Lots of cars pulling into the pits to change for rain tires, but a few stay out. Curous call for those who stay out, as we see Beatriz, Danica, and Romancini spinning around, all without contact. It's like ice capades with cars. Quite graceful actually.
30: Full course yellow now as Alex Lloyd has made contact with the wall. Probably had an ungraceful spin, but we have no replays.
31: Rain is really coming down now. Arute suggests the way this weekend is going locusts might not be far behind. Looks like puddles are forming, which as I recall caused some significant delays at the race at St Pete a couple years ago.
32: Oh by the way, the leaders are RHR, Dario, Swiss Miss, Dixon, Wheldon. Meanwhile it appears Romancini has spun yet again. Hello Dolly!
33: Now Bob Jenkins says that Timing & Scoring is messed up and your actual Top 5 are RHR, Power, Dario, Dixon and Conweazy. Hmm. I think I liked the other Top 5 better.
36: Red flag. Everybody park it.
36: Arute with Tags, who is out of the race. He's not enraged, which is disappointing since I was hoping he'd go after Wheldon in the pits now. The only thing this race is missing a good dust up. Well, that and locusts.
36: Laps, schmaps - we're going to have a timed race. Just like that puddle-rific race in St Pete a few years ago. I thought this timed nonsense ended when the IRL went to VERSUS, but I guess that's not the case.
36: All the drivers are out of their cars, waiting for the signal to race for 45 minutes. It's like halftime at a soccer match. Meanwhile dozens of Brazilians with brooms are furiously sweeping water off the course.
36: Arute with Will Power, asking him "...what to do in the middle of a race in Rio?" Yes, he said Rio. That's our Jack! Meanwhile we learned that the Aussie is eating a banana and honey sandwich - what, not vegemite?
Ed Note: Shane Rogers, the International Superstar, tweets thusly: "Vegemite might be on short supply in Brazil, I condone the choice of Banana and Honey as the T sandwich for Will Power."
36: To kill time VERSUS is showing us 2012 chassis designs. Dallara, Swift, Lola, BAT and OH LOOK AT THIS AMAZING DELTAWING. Time for me to go make my own banana and honey sandwich.
36: Man, this race seems almost as long as the off-season.
36: Drivers are putting the helmets back on. The "Up With People" show better be wrapping ups because this IndyCar halftime show is almost over.
36: The command is given on pit road to fire the engines, so away the roll. The sun is shining and the track is drying, so the game of "how long do you race on grooved tires" begins.
36: Still under yellow with the sun shining on puddles, Briscoe, RHR, Power all pit for slicks. And there's still a lot of puddles on the course. Somewhere pressdog is readying the clown cars.
37: Franchitti, Dixon, Conway, Wilson, Vitor are now the Top 5. Other cars are pitting for slicks as well.
-38 (minutes): I have to change the notation since this is a timed race.
-36: GREEN GREEN GREEN. Target cars lead the way. Oh joy.
-35: Helio passes Viso for 5th, and Viso passes him right back. Look, racing!
-33: Drivers on slicks are marching through the field as RHR, Power, Briscoe up to 8th, 9th, and 10th respectively.
-30: Wilson and Helio have had enough of this nonsense and pit for slicks. Dixon as well. Hunter-Reay up to 2nd now and gunning for Dario.
-29: Dario pits. RHR has the lead with Will Power chasing him 3 seconds back. MMatos Briscoe and Vitor round out the Top 5. Much furious jockeying for position here.
-27: Hunter-Reay is up by six seconds plus. The Big Hyphen is opening up the can of of Whoop-Ass. It's chaos behind him as Power, Briscoe and Matos battle for 2nd.
-24: Briscoe is 2nd, now only 4 seconds back. It might be a Ryan-Ryan finish. Matos third, Power fourth.
-21: Ryan Hunter-Reay drives an IZOD sponsored car. This is IZOD's first race as series sponsor. Go ahead and start your own "the call" rumors.
-20: Romancini has smacked the wall, but he limps around without drawing a full-course caution. Golf clap here for Mario.
-18: Briscoe has caught up to the other Ryan, but that might be because there's some fuel conservation going on.
-17: Briscoe takes the lead...and then Hunter-Reay takes it back, but only when they both go side-by-side and take a shortcut through a turn. It's in the IHJ's hands now.
-16: The IHJ says RHR has to give back the position. Hunter-Reay surrenders the lead but lookie here it's Will Power all over his rear bumper! It's a three-way battle for fuel conservation!
-15: On a positive note, at least they have to conserve with their foot instead of the knob, since the multiple fuel mappings are GONE from the cockpit. Hallelujah!
-13: Still Briscoe, Hyphen, Power, with Matos and Vitor 8 seconds back.
-12: Whoopsie! Briscoe misses a turn and goes into the tires. So much for that Ryan-Ryan finish. Hunter-Reay retakes the lead, and we now have a full course caution. Tick tick tick...
-10: Hyphen, Power, Matos, Meira, Wheldon. Dixon and Dario lurking in 6th and 8th.
-8: This is actually lap 56 for those of your scoring at home. Or even if you're by yourself. *rimshot*
-6: Back to GREEN GREEN GREEN! Hunter-Reay and Will Power launch from the rest in not time at all.
-5: Vitor gets around Matos in a Brazilian battle for third. Vitor is smelling that podium in his first race in 9 months.
-3: Will Power, the Towoomba Tornado, sizes up Hunter-Reay and...and...and he's by for the lead! Tick...tick..tick...
-2: Here's the part where I tell my kids "I told ya Will Power would win, didn't I?" And they nod, because it's easier to beat Shane Rogers in a Vegemite eating contest than it is to best Power on a street circuit. (And Shane is all about the Vegemite, friends.)
-1: Dixon and Dario are battling for 6th. Getting dicey. Easy boys, you're going to be teammates all year. Meanwhile, white flag for Will Power, powered by bananas and honey.
0: It's Power, Hunter-Reay, Meira as the opening race is done. Man, I feel like I've been blogging this race for the last four hours...wait!
Will emerges, acknowledges the crowd and pulls bandages off his fingers. His hands are a bloody mess, and I don't mean that in the way Brits swear. Seriously, he looks like he's been in one of the MMA cage match deals. That's the price of victory.
Congrats to Will for showing Roger Penske he made the right call by getting him a full season deal. Puts that wreck in practice at Infineon last year waaaay in the rear view mirror. I may just sign up for Verizon as a sign of support. Also congratulations to Ryan Hunter-Reay for being up near the front all day. Ain't no shame in his part-time game.
No offense to those two fine gentlemen but the biggest hand of the day goes to Foyt Racing's Vitor Meira, who was last seen at Indy being pulled from a broken car with some freshly broken vertebrae. Months of rehab later he emerges as the top Brazilian in the homeland race. If anyone knows how to say "Way to go, Vitor!" in Portuguese I'll gladly second that exclamation.
And since AJ Foyt's team made the podium, you know what that means? Some quality Brazilian steakhouse is gonna get taken down tonight!
Well, that's going to be a wrap here. We had racing surface issues, weather issues, time issues, Arute issues, but in the end some sense of familiarity is restored as Will Power once again wins on a street course. The season is underway, and for the time being none of the three drivers who were battling for the series title last year are in the Top 5. Hope springs eternal. Thank you very much - good night!
It has taken be a mere four years of writing about the subject to realize it, but when it comes to IndyCars I know nothing. I mean, I know a few things like EJ Viso's hat size, the date of Dario and Ashley's nuptials, as well as entry code to Chip Ganassi's super secret underground lair. But beyond that? Pfft - nothing.
Which is exactly the reason I am not making any predictions for the 2010 season. Who wins the Indy 500? Don't know. Who wins the IZOD IndyCar series championship? Probably one of five guys, but beyond that I'll guess with ya. What kind of tragic karmic payback will befall ESPN for not renewing Jack Arute's contract? I shudder to think.
So I am asking you, dear reader, to stake you claim now in the Comments section now, before the 2010 season actually starts. Make you prediction. Call your champion. Call the first out at Indy. Call the number of teams Graham Rahal races for this year. Call the number of times Danica Patrick says "you know" on live television. Call your mom. I don't care what you predict, but whatever you do put it writing now so you can have bragging rights about it later.
Our long national nightmare is over. Temporarily. So sayeth the intrepid Curt Cavin:
Graham Rahal has finally landed an Izod IndyCar Series ride, and it's an unexpected pairing.Pressdog sums up the weeks of peril best: "FISHER SAVES SERIES BY GIVING RAHAL TWO-RACE RIDE". The two races are the second and third of the season on the Streets of St Pete and Barber Motorsports park respectively. After that...who knows. Maybe Randy Bernard is executing some tremendous marketing plan of having the Son of Stache drive at least once for every team this year.
Rahal will drive Sarah Fisher's Dollar General-sponsored car at two early-season races as he prepares his program for the rest of the 2010 season.
(MORE from IndyStar.com)
Meanwhile, here's an artistic interpretation from Tony Johns that should induce an aneurysm.
Last week a fifth (yes, I said fifth) design group entered the fray from the 2012 IndyCar Chassis Derby, showing that anyone with a computer is interested in designing the next generation of racing in the IRL. And you don't even really need a spectacular computer - you could have a Commodore Amiga or even and Apple IIgs - as it appears the folks do over at BAT Engineering.
The BAT Engineering design has not only produced a very fast car, but it also provides the strength and structure to allow the drivers to race hard and go wheel to wheel without ending their race early. This close racing and the durability of the car design, will add to the on-track spectacle and competitive format with more entries making the dash to the checkered flag.
Blah blah blah. Come on, BAT - if you're gonna be late you gotta come with something stronger than that. Anyhow, you can view all FIVE designs anytime you want over at this page at IndyCar.com
In a related note, I happened upon a quote from a couple weeks ago that had been published at the corner of the internet owned by Gordon Kirby. Somewhere in between 17 bazillion words of the typical Kirby tome was this interesting quote from Roger Penske regarding the DeltaWing, which seems to be lacking Chip Ganassi's level of enthusiasm.
"Honda's been a big partner and so has Dallara and we don't need a political battle with some car owners wanting a Delta Wing and other owners wanting to stay the traditional way," Penske comments. "I think if we wait a year and push it out to 2013 we can race what we have. We've had good racing and we can keep the costs down especially with the economy the way it is. Then Chip and those guys can get that car developed. Once we get it on the racetrack it's going to be real obvious. I think when that happens they'll either be a lot of support or there won't be.Does this mean Roger Penske wants to try to lock in another year of dominance? Does it have anything to do with the Ilmor/Honda current monopoly of engines? Does it mean he's not a big fan of jokes about race cars that look like phallic tricycles? I won't pretend to know, leaving all mind-reading duties to the more skilled members of the audience.
"At this point I think any new innovation is positive and I think it's important that we evaluate it properly. I think we need innovation. The world is living on innovation and certainly this is an opportunity. What we want to do is evaluate it properly because a knee jerk at this time with a new car and new engines it's going to be expensive. On the other hand it might be something to take Indy car racing where it needs to be."
What I do know is waiting a year takes away one of the supposed advantages of the War Wiener design since it is said to be a lot further along in development than any of the other four bidders. At the very least we have some obvious hedging here from a man whose reputation involves very little second-guessing.
At the very least it's encouraging to hear The Captain declare "...we don't need a political battle with some car owners..." Amen to that!
The most excellent Sam Smith at Lola has just been tweeting live from the Le Mans Series test at Paul Ricard today. Marco Andretti is partnered with Nicolas Prost and former CCWS pilot and A1GP Champion, Neel Jani in one of the Rebellion Lolas.
[Picture courtesy of Sam Smith & Lola Cars]
This, of course, means that the test is full to the brim of racing families of more than a little pedigree. There are a boat load of Mansells there and now comes the news that both Mario Andretti and Alain Prost will test the Rebellion Lola this afternoon.
So today we are in the extraordinary position of being able to compare the times Mansell Senior, Prost Senior and Andretti (very) Senior.
How truly awesome is that?
UPDATE: After some late day trouble with the Rebellion Lola, both veterans Champions are due on track later on this afternoon.
According to my spies (okay one of my Belgian listeners), 'Der Morgen', the Belgian newspaper is reporting that Bertrand Baguette has signed with Conquest Racing to run the Indy 500 this year.
Baguette dominated the 2009 World Series by Renault (Renault 3.5) Championship. He is hugely talented but coming in to to run exclusively at Indy is rather risky. Good for the car count but maybe not too good for Conquest's bank account.
He also has a spectacularly funny name and it was used to great effect (I would say that) in the 'US F1 The Series: Christmas Special' [see below]
This whole new media thing might be working out after all, as hot on the heels of his in depth conversation with Swift Engineering's Mark Page comes another thoughtful discussion with a representative from another 2012 chassis designer not involved with "Delta Wing". It's crazy, I know.
This time Andrea Toso of Dallara gets to represent.
Toso said Dallara’s approach to car design focuses on “the 3S of Racing,” -- Safety, Strength and Speed.On cost reduction:
“You need Safety first; if you are fine with Safety, then you move to Strength, which includes engineering strength (reliability) and marketing (economics, costs, support and distribution ); if you are fine with Strength, then you move to Speed (which is performance). Anytime you have an issue in the Safety or Strength department, you have to address it right away, even by conceding on Speed.”
Dallara says it’s designs would reduce chassis costs by 45%. Much of that savings, Toso said, will come from being able to design a car for the league as it is today.There's so much more discussed - from open source, to the competition, to plans for building the chassis in Indianapolis - that if you have any interest in the 2012 design I highly urge you to read the entire post. If you don't have the time now then print it out and take it to the restroom as "reading material", strategically leaving it behind so someone else can absorb the depth of article as well. (You think I'm joking? How do you think I learned so much about computers?)
“The current chassis was designed in 2002, in an era of strong competition between chassis and between engine manufacturers, when oval races were the only format; so the car was designed to host a variety of wheelbase and track width options, multiple aero parts, pull rod front suspension (to reduce drag etc.),” Toso said. “By 2005, it had to be adapted to road courses, by 2007 it became de facto a single chassis – single engine series, as competition went away.”
As a side note, I don't know about you but I'm excited about the possibilities of this increase in participation in IndyCar journalism from non-traditional outlets. Who knows what scoops the future holds.
"Perez Hilton discovers Team 3G driver plans for 2010..."
"Harvard Law Review has determined Danica Patrick unaffected by weight restrictions..."
"FoodNetwork.com reports Dario and Ashley adopting Hatian orphan..."
"Gizmodo has learned Roger Penske will purchase Greece..."
I could say something here, but I've learned over the years that Milka Duno news requires no spark of ignition from me to light a forest fire in the comments section. And I'm sure this ought to burn some people while filling others with a light of joy.
IZOD® IndyCar Driver Milka Duno has signed with Dale Coyne Racing for the full 2010 IndyCar Series Championship schedule. While this will be Duno's fourth consecutive season in IndyCar " it will mark her first full-schedule season.Don your flamethrowers and have at it. Just try to keep it within a PG-13 rating, please.
"I look forward to competing with Dale Coyne Racing. I've had the chance to speak with Dale and the team to discuss goals for the season and we are in harmony in all areas", said Duno. "For the past three seasons I've only run partial schedules and I'm anxious to be competing in all the races this year. Doing so builds momentum and maintains consistency that I feel is a key factor to good results. The full schedule includes seven races at tracks that I have yet to compete on so I will be doing my absolute best to learn these new tracks as quickly as possible. This full season will be challenging " but I'm very thankful for the opportunity!"
Duno will contest all seventeen races on the 2010 schedule beginning with the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 14, 2010.
You can't believe everything you read on blogs, but blah blah blah...how about some crazy rumors about Lotus creating a two-car team and replacing Honda as an engine manufacturer?
Rumors are swirling that Lotus Group is looking to join the Indycar Series in 2010 as a way to promote the Lotus brand. James Rossiter is supposedly being backed by Lotus in 2010 at KVRT as a Team Lotus USA/KVRT car. James tested at Barber with KVRT and ran around the middle of the pack.The Autocar article states emphatically that Lotus is seeking a major role in the series.
However, this story keeps evolving. Today Autocar is reporting that Lotus has confirmed they will be returning to Indycar racing at the season opening event in Sao Paolo on March 14th.
"Although full details are yet to be confirmed, it is expected a Lotus-branded team will run two cars in the championship under the Team Lotus USA banner. They will be Dallara built and Honda powered."
(MORE from The Other Side)
Currently Honda supplies the 3.5-litre V8 powerplants in Indycar, but Lotus is said to be considering a bid to takeover the supply when Honda's contract ends in 2011.What does it mean? I have no idea. This post is for the gearheads. And the British fans. And The Stig.
UPDATE: Guest Contributor Declan Brennan has gently reminded me that he was alluding to this very story last week here at My Name Is IRL.
*pounding head on desk*
Danica, shmanica...check out today's news.
In a collaborative effort with Team Stargate Worlds, HVM Racing will enter driver Simona De Silvestro in all 17 races of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series. Known as Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing, the No. 78 entry will carry primary sponsorship from Stargate Resistance and associate sponsorship from Bernard Richards Manufacture (BRM), FireSky, Cheyenne Mountain Games, and Cardinal Technologies.As a public service to those of us IndyCar who know very little about Simona, I have busted out my Google for reasearch purposes. Here's what I found:
1. Simona is from Switzerland. I realize there will be a certain group of fans who will grumble that this is YET ANOTHER foreign driver in the IndyCar series, but this Swiss Miss has actually lived and competed in the states for a few years and lists her current city of residence as Phoenix. Which of course means there are now two IZOD IndyCar series drivers from here in the Valley of the Sun - and neither of them has the Y chromosome (hint: the other one models swimwear and occasionally drives stock cars). Perhaps we should rename the city "PhoeniXX".
And even if we must consider her a foreigner, I'm not ashamed to say that any country kind enough to give us Cyndie Allemann is okey doke by me.
2. Simona won four races in Atlantics last year. Not 1, not 2, but FOUR wins, indicating this is no backmarker type of driver here. In the 2009 Atlantics season three drivers each won 4 of the 12 races - Simona, John Edwards (no, not the politician), and Jonathan Summerton. Simona even reached the podium for 8 straight races, so Simona has clearly got some driving skillz.
3. Simona's teammate in Atlatics was Frankie Muiz. I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, but I mention that for the "Malcolm In the Middle" fans in the audience.
4. Simona's lap times at Barber last week bested Jay Howard, Rafa Matos and...wait...hold on...yes, Danica Patrick. It's true, Simona bested Danica in terms of a best lap time. I'm trying to resist the natural inclination for comparisons here based on gender, especially since Danica has been spending a lot of time this winter driving much slower cars. But at the very least it shows Simona won't be an embarrassement on road and street courses despite being a rookie.
Then again, in the immortal words of Allen Iverson, we talkin' about PRACTICE.
5. Simona has never raced on an oval. The good news for Simona is that the first four races in 2010 are not ovals, so she has time to get familiar with here Dallara and perhaps even squeeze some practice in elsewhere. The bad news is she's in an HVM car, which means just finishing on the lead lap will be a struggle. At least she'll get to have some fun racing back there with Sarah Fisher, Jay Howard, Mario Romancini and a few others...not that we're likely to see much of that racing during broadcasts.
For more on Simona check out Simona's Women of Pressdog feature from a few months ago.
The nice people at 'Midweek Motorsport' at www.radiolemans.com are putting together their 'IndyCar: State of the Series' show for broadcast next week prior to the start of the IndyCar season in Brazil. We are hoping to talk to representatives from Swift, Lola and Delta Wing as well as input from Marco Andretti, Gil De Ferran, Marshall Pruett (SPEEDTV) and Sam Collins (Race Car Engineering).
As central part of the show will be our chat with new IndyCar Series CEO, Randy Bernard. So here is YOUR chance to get your questions to the new boss. You can post them in the comments section here, or you can post them on the dedicated thread on the show's facebook page.
In the mean time, if you were wondering how Randy did on his first day in the office at 16th and Georgetown, we can exclusively show you right here (below).