Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Indy 500 Field Rundown

Sunday is opening day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and while I still have yet to ever be there in person (though plans are being set for '09), I can say I just like many out there I am pretty excited about the start of the "greatest spectacle in racing". I'll be mostly glued to live timing and scoring and live video through the awesomeness of through the month as usual.

For those who are needing it however, I offer a quick rundown of the entrants for this years Indy 500 pointing out the things I think people are generally most interested in; Where all these guys are coming from, as THE biggest race in the world attracts people from all points on the globe, and what are their chances (as of today before any practicing has commenced).

Car # - Driver - Hometown -Win/Threat expectancy
5 = no surprise if they win
4 = not a total surprise just not heavily favored
3 = can win with the right things going their way
2 = would surprise & would warrant crazy excitement and awe
1 = a surprise so unexpected half the field must have been black flagged for going too fast?

#2 - A.J. Foyt IV - Hockley, Texas - 4
A.J. IV is starting to really mesh with his team and the car is getting stronger and qualifying/running better in each showing. However remembering how long this race is and that A.J. may be doing a good deal of mid-pack racing there's the added chance of getting collected in an incident.

#3 - Helio Castroneves - Sao Paulo, Brazil - 5
Helio has won this thing twice before and is usually a lock for at least the front two rows if not front row. Now add up that 2 of his new friends Julianne Hough and Floyd Mayweather will be there, he'll be wanting to show off. The only thing of caution so far is that it seems like Helio is strongly pushing for the one thing he doesn't have on the resume yet (IndyCar Season Championship) however don't forget Helio has long stated his desire to be in the 500's 4-win club.

#4 - Vitor Meira - Brasilia, Brazil - 3
I'm a huge Vitor fan but the '3' seems to fit better at this point as the team has thus far run into a lot of bad luck; and its not the luck but the nature that which most people get down with bad luck I'm worried about. Panther Racing having yet to capture the elusive 500 win, and Vitor yet to capture the elusive win... look for everyone in the speedway and media center to be applauding if it happens.

#5 Oriol Servia - Pals, Spain - 3
Oriol and KV Racing Technology have shown thus far to be a little ahead of the curve on getting to know oval track racing. Add that to having a full month to prepare for Indy and you have a legit threat from the lone entry from Spain; plus his helmet is simply badass.

#6 Ryan Briscoe - Sydney, Australia - 4
One of the two Aussies this year and of the two has better team for this win. Briscoe himself has shown a lot of promise in his return to the ICS but I'm not sure yet if that adds up to a win so much as it may just add up to a Top 7. Theres no doubt he has the drive to win, but I just wouldn't consider him a favorite right now.

#7 Danica Patrick - Roscoe, Illinois - 4
If this race were 200 or 300 miles I'd knock that down to a 3 but being 500 miles long actually plays to Danica's advantage. She will start the race with heavy understeer and will need to make adjustments but with the longer race will have the time to really benefit the changes.

#8 Will Power - Toowoomba, Australia - 2
Like his teammate Oriol; he and KV Racing have shown they can get their cars up to speed, unfortunately this year twice now has Will had a bit of bad luck on the two ovals thus far. Indy is different though, I look at Will as currently the most driven young rookie-ish driver in the field, with the talent to reinforce that drive. If Will can get out of traffic his chances of winning almost double.

#9 Scott Dixon - Auckland, New Zealand - 5
I would think that most are pegging Dixon as the favorite going into May and why not, he should have won Kansas if not for bad luck in pit-timing, and was only beat in Motegi by better strategy. The Target cars are running great so far so its really just a matter of the circumstances of avoiding bad luck (incidents, car parts and pit timing) for Dixon.

#10 Dan Wheldon - Emberton, England - 5
I think 2007 was actually good for Dan because it probably humbled him some and showed that being overly focused/closed is a possibility. I put his chances slightly lower than Dixon for simply that he's a more aggressive/less patient driver which can get you into an incident especially with a longer race; but I think fresh off Kansas, Dan is having fun again and not only is that is great to see but its when Dan is at his best.

#11 - Tony Kanaan - Salvador, Bahia, Brazil - 5
Tony right now is my favorite. He not only has the car, but probably has the most Indy motivation right now. Lets take a look: 2002 led 23 laps got taken out in accident, 3rd in 2003, 2004 leads 28 laps but rain ends race before he gets chance to really run at Rice, 2006 led 12 laps but finished 6th & the worst probably in 2007 leads 83 laps, and should have won until he spun to avoid another crashing car.

#12 - Tomas Scheckter - Capetown, South Africa - 4
The worst part of 2007's 500 was wondering what could have been had Hornish not overly aggressively tried to block Tomas ruining both of their races in the process. Tomas was running a mad pace and most likely had a car to contend for the win. Add that to Tomas's other disappointing list of 500s and the fact that his only real schedule this year is the 500 and add that the car was performing great in Kansas before he had his day ruined twice and it looks good for Tomas in May.

#14 - Darren Manning - North Yorkshire, England - 3
Very funny man who needs more camera time; I'm not sure what to think yet about Darren's chances. One day they have the car feeling great, the next day its being pulled out the race cause it won't handle. when its handling fine though Darren is right in the mix of things. However if Foyt Racing does run the second car then I'd actually downgrade the car's chances to a 2 because of the spread resources.

#15 - Buddy Rice - Phoenix, Arizona - 3
While theres nothing more than many of us would like to see than Buddy winning again and being able to do well (after what has been arguably the worst treatment to a 500 winner ever) his team just doesn't have it; and its further hampered that the team will most likely be spreading all its resources on the 2nd and 3rd cars one of which which will not likely be contributing any valuable information back to Buddy.

#16 Alex Lloyd - Manchester, England - 3
Lloyd was dominating in Indy Lights, but I'm really starting to wonder if it has more to do with Sam Schmidt Motorsports or the drivers they choose because everyone who seems to come through SSM is a contender automatically. The car for the 500 will be ok to good and Lloyd should be a great driver on the track but we honestly don't have much until practice to judge him on.

#17 Ryan Hunter-Reay - Boca Raton, Florida - 4
RHR has looked good so far in this season on the most important thing, making improvements. This is the most important thing for Indy because of the length of the month, and also the length of the race it yields plenty of time for a unit like RHR-RLR to operate best in.

#18 Bruno Junqueira - Belo Horizonte, Brazil - 2
Dale Coyne Racing just hasn't had it yet this year, and for this former 500 pole-sitter that's a real shame because we know he has the talent to run up front, just doesn't seem to have the equipment to get him there... YET. The team has spanking new Dallaras for Indy so we'll have to wait and see if it makes some kind of difference.

#19 Mario Moraes - Sao Paulo, Brazil - 1
A true rookie, on a team just getting thrown into a new car setup, in the biggest race. I'd look for Moraes to be gunning for a finish more than anything in this race, and that's assuming he makes the field. He's had a couple run-ins with the wall so far and the speeds haven't been all that high and that doesn't look good going into sure bumping this year.

#20 Ed Carpenter - Indianapolis, Indiana - 4
Ed's new Menards' Yellow car has been running very well thus far only being brought down by some bad luck here and there. The one thing that I'm worried about for Ed is that it seems the setup they are running right now is burning much more fuel than everyone else, which is fine if the race has plenty cautions in the right spots, but plays very against him should the race run very green.

*#21 - Jaques Lazier/Playa Del Racing? - 2
There are high doubts about whether this car will even make it into practice, but if it does with this driver combination I'd at least warrant it a 2 possible 3 with this combination working so well last year, and thats something considering they are running the "old" Panoz.

*#22 Davey Hamilton - Nampa, Idaho - 3
Davey hasn't yet been confirmed for this car but it looks like he's going to run for Vision for the 2nd year, and with vision showing strong it brings a normally low one-off score up to a 3. While he will be missed on IMS Radio for this race, I'm surely looking forward to seeing him on the track again as there are many reasons to love and root for Davey from being true comeback story 20+ surgeries later after his horrible crash, not to mention a very nice guy, and one who simply loves racing. (Plus Mrs. Wedge used to carpool with the Hamilton family growing up in Idaho)

#23 Milka Duno - Caracas, Venezuela - 1
Some people want to put her in the possible DNQ category but are failing to note Milka has definitely acquired (probably as a result of being with D&R) the ability to at least qualify decently. However that is really only good enough to put it in the field and unfortunately most of us are just crossing our fingers that she doesn't get squirrelly in traffic.

#24 Jay Howard - Basildon, England - 2
Jay hasn't had the qualifying time and car setup since putting the car into the wall at Homestead so the rating isn't as much due to Howard not being talented as it is simply just the team and Jay getting acquainted and getting experience. With a good May they could surely put on a great race, but it has yet to be seen from them to complete a race well from qualifying to finish.

#25 Marty Roth - Toronto, Canada - 2
A lot of people want to bang on Marty but they forget that while he's been around for years, that he is actually a rookie. Before this season he had all of 9 races under his belt with basically all of them being one-off attempts. One thing is for sure though, Marty loves racing and loves Indy and will in time have one of the big teams in the ICS, much like some other current owner attempted drivers.

#26 Marco Andretti - Nazareth, Pennsylvania - 5
Marco right now is my pick for the race. He's flying under the radar but the equipment is there with the rest of them; most have forgotten that he actually should have won Homestead and most missed his great driving in Kansas... so long as he can cut the absent minded rookie mistakes with the half shafts and if he actually can execute the 'Kanaan cold tire passes' that he was trying in Motegi look for him to shock a lot of people, but not me.

#27 Hideki Mutoh - Tokyo, Japan - 3
Hideki has talent for sure, and unlike all the former Japanese races, has a top tier team behind him; he doesn't have yet however the experience and comfort with his new ride needed for the aggressiveness we all know he has. For any of you girls out there that think Hideki is a cutey, it looks like Kanaan is trying to setup Hideki with a girl to help him with learning English.

#33 E.J. Viso - Caracas, Venezueala - 3
Rookie Ernesto reminds me very much of rookie Tomas Scheckter. Both had very hot careers coming into the IndyCar Series, and both so far had rookie seasons flooded with over-aggressiveness. EJ was all over the track blocking and trying to make moves in Kansas, but his aggressiveness showed it could pay dividends in St. Petersburg. This kind of thing doesn't usually work out well for a rookie 500 campaign though because of the lenght of time to contain that aggressiveness... just ask Scheckter...

#34 Jaime Camara - Goiania, Brazil - 2
Jaime has finally gotten to the big leagues, and he has plenty experience under his belt that makes him a good driver to have racing out there on an oval. The lack of experience in the big boy cars but moreso Conquest Racing's so far lack of good aero package on the ovals will hold him back.

#35 Enrique Bernoldi - Curitiba, Brazil - 2
Enrique like many of the drivers in the race this year have plenty experience and background that you know come time and experience they will be contenders in the future, but right now that time and experience just isn't there with him or the team to be a true contender for this race.

#41 Larry Foyt - Houston, Texas - 1
Larry hasn't exactly had the most historic runs at the Speedway, but bringing this entry down even more is the doubt that it may even happen. I think some are actually hoping it doesn't because it will only serve to spread Darren Manning's chances thinner with the crew. I'd like to see Larry on the track because he's been a guy who one would like to see do well but he just doesn't have the driving chops to really even contend in the top two thirds of the field.

#44 Max Papis - Como, Italy - 3
I'm willing to take this entry to a 2 or 4 just depending on the first days of it looks almost as well prepared as the Luczo/Dragon/Tomas Scheckter. Rubicon Race Team is essentially comprised of a lot of the best parts from Sam Schmidt Motorsports and some of the guys formerly of Kelley racing. These guys know how to race, and so does Papis.

#67 Sarah Fisher - Commercial Point, Ohio - 2
It really would have been nice to see this team run Kansas to get a head start on the program but obviously sponsorship most likely took that in another direction. We'd all love to see Sarah do well but I'm just not sure how it will go as the team is running its first ever race, though the driver and engineers are veterans, there are just certain things that need time to develop.

#77 TBA/Penske/Walker - ??? - 2
Its doubtful this car will see the track, its best chance is to be farmed out to another team. If that team gets assistance from Penske then it shoots to a 3 or 4, but otherwise is just an also ran.

#83 PJ Chesson/John Andretti/Someone Else/Panther Racing - 2
There's a big chance this car won't see the track. If it sees the track with Chesson, I worry about the aggressiveness much like you do with Viso, Panther doesn't put "only good enough to qualify" cars in the field so with the right driver you can at least look at middle contention.

#91 Buddy Lazier - Vail, Colorado - 2
This can quickly change depending on Hemelgarn Racing's car and preparation but theres no doubt Buddy will get this car in the show. He's too good a driver and too smart a good to not be able to make the adjustments to get the car running well. Getting it to run up to speed with the front runners will need to be seen before the threat level is upgraded though.

#96 Mario Dominquez - Mexico City, Mexico - 2
Pacific Coast Motorsports is a good enough team to get this car in the show, but with it being their and Mario's first race with the chassis even the month of May is most likely not an adequate amount of time to make it a contender.

#98 Roger Yasukawa/Alex Barron - Los Angeles or San Diego, California - 3
Can someone please step up and get Greg Beck the sponsorship he needs to run both of these guys? Both drivers are quite exceptional behind the wheel, Roger took Sarah's backup and made it faster than Sarah could in just a day last year, Alex hasn't finished lower than 15th in the 500 and has won in ICS before, both guys deserve the ride, Beck deserves to be full time and shows nothing but commitment, just has a lack of money. Whichever driver gets the ride, expect it to put a decent showing in both qualifying and the race.

#99 Townsend Bell - San Fransisco, California - 3
Townsend dong very well is one thing Buddy Rice is hoping for. Townsend is the teammate Buddy needs full season and the one D&R needs to have in that car to get the setups and to be able to effectively experiment and try out thingsa with the cars. Many forget Townsend may have actually won Motegi had he not got caught by the yellow flags on two different occasions. He got the car running well once and should be able to do it again.

#02 Justin Wilson - Sheffield, England - 3
All you need to know is the radio chatter from last week when the team asked him how the car was Justin replied something to the effect of "The car is great, it just doesn;t have the speed" Now give N/H/L Racing a month to figure out thew speed part and Justin becomes a quick contender.

#06 - Graham Rahal - New Albany, Ohio - 2
While Graham shares the same team as Wilson and is feeling good from the win at St. Petersburg, he's too completely new to ovals to really do the aggressive moves and chances that will be required to win the 500. I expect him to do very well and be consistent, just don't see him chugging the milk at the end of the day.

Look for all predictions to look horribly wrong by pole day... Happy May everyone!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A concise statement the IRL must listen to

To basically everyone who even reads this blog, most if not all of what Jason Peters says will not be new, but it is easily the most concise, collected, informed group of observations about the current state that the IndyCar Series is in. He sums up what the IRL MUST take note of to take the IndyCar Series to the level it is easily capable of: the best and highest level well rounded racing series in the world.

IndyCar Unification Was Great, But Will Anything Change?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Some Thumbs and Notes from Indy Weekend

While the race for first never got to play out (because Dixon and Ed both got caught by the final yellow) there was plenty o excitement in the pits in Kansas this weekend... so lets take a run through:

Thumbs Up: JR Hildebrand gets his first victory and also gives RLR/Anderson racing their first. the racing that went on in the front of this race was light years ahead of the Target thrashing to come later in the evening.

Thumbs Sideways: While I appreciate a good rivalry, I have a feeling that if Raphael Matos and Jeff Simmons get into each other one more time on the track that it will come to fisticuffs. That's two incidents in two races, and neither racer cares to give the other room or settle. Whiile thats exciting, two guys going at it on the track is not safe to the other drivers not to mention Jeff has the history behind him of taking out Kosuke a couple times last year and being shaky enough as it is that RLR let him go.

Thumbs Up: Somewhere in there is Dan Wheldon, the 5th winner in 5 races so far this season. (though for what I'm assuming is banckruptcy issues or ego orders, ICS is saying we've only had 4 races this year). Talk about fun with parity, I'm loving it, especially going into the Indy 500, seriously tell me who is your favorite for the 500 right now. If you were making odds at this point, could you honestly give anyone a 3-1 shot at this point? I'll do my own handicapping/preview of the entire entry list later today/week, but for now, how about three cheers for parity, can we make it 6 winners in 6 races?

Thumbs Down: This picture is what we should have seen more of but never got.... The biggest question you should ask about the ICS Kansas race... Where would Scheckter have finished? You can point first at the EJ Viso incident, yes it was a "racing incident" clearly Viso slid up the track while Tomas held a line, and while the slide is not entirely Viso's fault, here's the bigger tidbit: Scheckter should have never been racing with Viso to begin with. Marty Roth's running over Scheckter's right front tire changer basically ruined the day as it was for the Luczo/Dragon car. Yes technically they were still on the lead lap but down plenty positions, but keep in mind that at the time, had they put in a quick stop like it looked they were doing, Scheckter could have gone to the lead with a fast enough stop. Lets be fair though, Marty is hardly the first person to have a problem of this nature in the pits so I won't be getting all over him and saying he needs to retire, it sucks but the thumbs down here is simply that we all got screwed from watching what Scheckter could have done...

Thumbs Up: Though I love his passion and anger, I do have to say Scheckter was surprisingly very calm in his interview during the race even describing the Viso contact as a "racing incident" though the replay would tell otherwise. It just shows (like many past drivers) that getting dropped and watching from the sidelines can humble most any driver.

Thumbs Down: note to ESPN/IMS Production whoever... Interviewing Danica is so much LESS Important than Buddy Rice (or any other driver for that matter) crashing. If you can measure the importance level of showing a replay of Buddy Rice (a former Kansas and Indy 500 winner) suddenly snapping up into the wall in easily the hardest c5rash we've seen so far this year, then getting out and throwing easily the most expensive piece of equipment he has down, vs. asking Danica her thoughts on things, I think we'd put reviewing what happened to Rice at 9 out of 10 only being bumped by anything currently on track and Danica's thoughts possible near the 2 level.

Thumbs I'm not sure...: I'm sure we'll get varied views on this but Vitor definitely did complain about buddy Rice's team leaving their tire out too wide 2 stops before he finally hit it, so its not like he suddenly decided to blame them... however if Buddy's team wasn't penalized to this point by the IRL one would have to assume the tire was within their pit and therefore within the regulations out of Vitor's way.

Thumbs Up: ESPN actually showed us mid-pack racing! I couldn't believe it, it was an astonishing moment... of course it didn't last too long and a good bit of it was geared to Danica's mid-pack racing, but a kudos moment goes to ESPN or IMS Productions whoever was smart enough to show us Marco and Helio's final few laps and then their finish.

Thumbs Down:
Danica's ego still needs a check. And ESPN is not helping by reviving Danica-Mania... (ESPN, its not a good thing, trust us) Look I've never been a huge Danica fan, but I've also never hated her, she's just another driver out there to watch and know about for me, I liked it when she won and enjoyed watching all her emotions come out when she did... However, becoming egotistical enough to say about Viso "I don't even know who that guy is" is probably the most conceited statement a driver can ever make. I for one never realized that only drivers Danica knew were allowed to be on the track...

Thumbs Down: On that note however, Ernesto J. Viso is not making many friends in the league. Took out Scheckter, apparently pissed off Danica, got warned for chop blocking, and worst of all... stopped in Ed Carpenter's pit box when Ed was trying to come in for a pit-stop. I like E.J., he looks great on the track but his youth shows in both good and bad. Good in that he wants to win already he's putting his car up there and contending already, bad in that he's overly aggresive, something very attributable to youth, not to mention , how does one stop in Ed's bright yellow pitbox that late in the race?

Just for thought: This was actually pointed out to me during post race interviews by Mrs. Wedge actually; I'm not really sure where to take it but its quite the thought provoker... If anyone is going to complain about another driver blocking them, and claim something to the effect that what goes around comes around, it seems the last person on the list to be able to do that would be Tony Kanaan...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Walt Disney World Speedway back?

First, this isn't breaking news or even new; so don't copy my headline and run with it...

Recently some guys on TrackForum brought up how they missed Walt Disney World Speedway (The Mickyard). I then added to the conversation that I vaguely remembered some kind of announcement pre-merger about the possibility of the IndyCar Series returning to the track.

No one knew what the hell I was talking about, and I couldn't (and still can't) find anything remotely resembling an announcement about this in my 30 minutes of web searching, but I am certain this wasn't a dream...

I then remembered that I e-mailed Mrs. Wedge about it when the "announcement" happened, asking her if she'd want to head out to Orlando for a week if the race were to actually happen.

So I tracked down the e-mail to my wife (Dated December 05, 2007) in which I copied/pasted the release (which may or may not narrow down the results as I usually paste ESPN reports to her cause her work blocks it) .

I can't find a single bit of this release anywhere on the internet now but am offering a $20 reward to anyone who can shine some light on this for me and the rest of the world.

Obviously the whole thing could have gone away with the merger, or just gone away like Louisiana International Speedway which was announced (and then disappeared when they discovered the main partner was a fraud.)

Anyway here is the release I sent to my wife.. I promise I didn't make this up, mostly because who has time to make this kind of thing up....

ORLANDO, FL - In a press conference today, Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton announced that the Walt Disney World Speedway which hosted IndyCar events from 1996 to 2000 would once again become home to the series in 2009.

"The addition of this race is only the tip of the iceberg in our new plans to reach out to the world of motor sport," said Crofton, "Near the current Wide World of Sports Complex, construction will begin soon on a new state of the art racing facility. We've realized the mistakes that we made when constructing the original speedway and will be looking to fix these in the new facility."

The new racing complex will reportedly feature a 2.5 mile road course, along with a new 3/4 mile oval. The level of quality in the facilities is rumored to be great enough to bring Formula One back into the United States. Crofton, however says that isn't in the plans.

"We see great potential in American Open Wheel Racing and want to see it succeed. We are in talks with ChampCar about possibly hosting a race on the road course when it is completed, but nothing has been confirmed yet. With both the IRL and ChampCar's races being aired on our networks, we see building these tracks as an investment."

If you can fill us in, in any way, you can claim the $20 reward.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sweet Rides and a list for Idiots

Firstly, it looks like we'll be getting an announcement from Pacific Coast Motorsports tomorrow putting Mario Dominguez in a car for the remainder of the year starting with Indy... though he'll have missed 4 races that one 3rd place finish still could leave him an outside mathematical championship contender.

Secondly, if you read this thing to any extent you know I'm one who loves sweet looking IndyCar rides, especially ones that are just plain different from the rest that stand out and not the ho-hum red white blue stripes and logos... and I have to say that the Tomas Sheckter's new ride at Luzco Dragon Racing is up there on my list of sweet looking rides...

It might have some to do with my alma matter, but a sweet ride nonetheless...

Obviously since Danica's first win, the world has exploded into that of positive publicity and, while not as much, a good deal of negative publicity... basically from a bunch of sexist/prejudiced people who just can't seem to bring themselves to give Danica any credit, finding every excuse they can think of no matter how big or small... It takes a NASCAR vet to sum what are the facts the best...

Its pretty simple in racing, whoever goes the distance first, wins... there is no gray area. EVERY race is a fuel strategy race... the problem is most people don't pay attention to it and most drivers follow the leader's strategy so that no one notices... when everyone pits on a caution lap.. that's strategy my friends...

but for those of you who think you can actually categorize race wins... have fun with these:
for those of you who aren't dumb just follow the links and remember some great racing...

2008 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
- Just 2 weeks ago Graham Rahal used "strategy" to win knowing the race would end early so he strategized his fuel tank to just enough to finish...

1999 - U.S. 500/Michigan - Tony Kanaan gets his first victory but only because Max Papis runs out of fuel on the final lap

1999 Indy 500 - Kenny Brack wins but only because Robby Gordon ran out of fuel...

1997 Sonoma NASCAR - Montoya only wins because of fuel strategy, lets scratch that one from the record books...

2005 Indy 500 - Wheldon wins but only because Danica couldn't run full speed to conserve fuel

2008 Phoenix NASCAR - Jimmy Johnson wins race, but only because of fuel strategy so this one doesn't count

1995 Indy 500 - Villveneuve won but only because Goodyear was black flagged

1992 Indy 500 - Unser only won because horrible weather conditions took out 2/3rds of the field including the pole sitter so he really only beat 12 other cars and only 4 were on the lead lap.

1989 Indy 500 - Emerson Fittapaldi wins but only because he hit wheels with Al Unser Jr. and spun him out...

2007 Indy 500 - Franchitti only wins because his half of the field in fuel strategy was in front when it started to rain

1997 Indy 500 - Arie Luyendyk wins the race but only because USAC decided to go green for last lap without telling anyone. (ok I only included this one for the priceless radio chatter on the last lap from Luyendyk... and wow those engines sound harsh...)

but maybe the most relative to this discussion...

2007 ICS Motegi - Just one year ago Tony Kanaan won Motegi but only because he did EXACTLY the same thing Danica did a year later because Wheldon was obviously the best car leading 126 laps and Kanaan used fuel strategy to get his definitely slower car to the finish line before Wheldon could catch him...

so I guess the conclusion we must come to is that all race car drivers suck, and none of them deserve any of their wins because they ONLY won them because of circumstance of things that happened during the races they are racing in.

and as I can only imagine... somewhere out there Kosuke Matsuura is "f'n disappointed" in you for thinking you can categorize race wins...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Notes from the Race Weekend

So yes as we all know Danica finally got her first win in attempt number 50... pressure's on Vitor for sure now (who by the way has bee quite visibly animated and angry in the last two races now) So here are the rest of the notes from the weekend many may be forgetting. While many people want to claim she got lucky, or that it was only fuel mileage, I'm going to just point out one thing people seem to be forgetting. She still beat Ed Carpenter and Helio Castroneves (who admitted that he did not have the fuel to actually attempt racing Danica to the finish; but for those who may not be paying attention, Helio/Penske is definitely targeting the ever elusive season championship with that move).

You can't overlook the fact that all 3 pitted at the same time, yet Danica was the only one who had enough left in the tank to go full throttle at the end while Helio was obviously slow to make it to the finish (from Timing and Scoring, it looked like he scaled down for almost the last 10 laps, and his team even radioed to him to just let Danica go, again going for the points).

And there is no questioning that in racing that knowing how to get better mileage out of the car is a very important skill to have and one you can't attribute to "luck strategy", because saving fuel only works if one can save fuel... just ask Larry Curry how well it worked out for the #20 Vision car... Carpenter looked primed for the win, the ESPN booth guys were even gearing up for it, so was I, and then shock in coming to find he not only ran too hard, but ran so hard he had to pit before the rest of the field who had 5 more laps on their tanks than him. Congrats to Danica, it was a great win!

Of the things unfortunately forgotten in the race was the beautiful start , its a real shame Marco spun on the cold tires trying quick passing (in what we can only imagine was a lesson from Sensei Kanaan) But I think Barnhart may have gotten into everyone's heads after the Homestead start fiascoes, because that first start was perfectly lines rows of 2 all heading into the green flag. Hopefully once the other 9 (plus Sheckter) re-join in Kansas this can continue.

While I love the guy, and I root for him constantly, I'm starting to wonder should Marty Roth retire to the owner/strategist booth? I know its too soon to judge a guy on what is essentially his first season but this has more not to do with Marty than it has to do with him. He's a little late in the career to be learning road courses, and I'm sure he racked up quite the bill in St. Pete for that.

However what this has more to do with is the fact that someone NEEDS to pick up Roger Yasukawa. While the average observer may not have thought anything of Roger's run it was absolutely amazing. They had basically no time to set up that car outside of barly an hour of practice 2 days earlier for the first time ever the car hit the track. While he started the race off the pace, just by the time his brakes gave out they had that car holding its own, and thats just something you don't do unless you have a great driver. Then lets add this to the fact that last May he jumped into what was essentially Sarah Fisher's backup car and immediately got more out of the car than Sarah had.

There is just no questioning someone needs to get this guy in a car full-time, and beyond that someone needs to get funding to turn Greg Beck into a 2-car Yasukawa/Alex Barron team. I honestly believe if you had those 2 drivers and that team fully funded they would immediatly be contenders...

Also, had he not been screwed by the fact that he pitted before the yellow flag came out, theres a very large chance Townsend Bell may have won that race... boy I can't even imagine what a mess that dual driver situation would become had he done it... Also, in the same situation Hunter-Reay was in a pretty good line until he also pitted during green just before that final yellow.

Lastly, how awesome was it to see the bloodlines finally show through AJ. Foyt IV?

In the meantime no less than 24 hours after Danica won Swiss female Simona De Silvestro won the Atlantics race... though if you go by local time I think it technically happened before... The more important thing to note of this is that there should be no notes, none of the racers these days seem to think of anyone on the track differently, just simply as drivers, and thats the way it should be.

And while everyone was busy trying to bring back 2005s Danica Mania, Will Power won Long Beach in a pretty dominating fashion, though not many watching on ESPN would have known as the coverage was blah at best with the final 10 minutes dedicated to someone who wasn't even in the race being broadcast. (more on this later)

and for those who may not have seen it, I'm easily giving the favorite paint job award to HVM and Ernesto J. Viso for the rear wings awesome 'Goodbye ChampCar' on the front and 'Hello Indycar' on the back.

Lastly, I'm not going to do this every week but Eddie Cheever can't get to ESPN's booth soon enough. I really believe he will knock some reality back into the booth and honestly will spark good conversation between Goodyear who is obviously being brought down with only Marty to bounce off of.

The current ESPN/ABC team has gotten too comfortable with themselves as EXPERTS and we're about to add on top of that, resurrected Danica Mania. They weren't entirely horrible at Motegi or Long Beach but there are still some pretty sore spots while the IMS radio broadcasts are running laps around them. Basicly the are falling victim to NFL broadcaster's disease in which they think the people watching can fill in all the blanks themselves and not doing much actual play by play or analysis. There was no coverage or replay of Marty or Vitor's crashes (which involved another car), too much Danica in Long Beach, too much personal opinion on what the IRL should take from Champ Car, and still not enough coverage of the field. I think Arute may have been low on sleep by the end because "When are you going to win again?" was possibly up there with the worst timing post-race questions in history along with the billions of psychologists that the pit reporters have become after the race with the "how do you feel?"

It was however very nice to see them gearing up coverage on Carpenter when they did the math in their heads and realized while in 5th he was in line to win... and then also very nice to see them genuinely excited when Helio went to saving mode and couldn't defend against Danica. They're getting better as we get into the season but I think Cheever will give them the kick the broadcast team really needs.

All in all, a great week of racing, and with Schekter testing already tomorrow, this weekend at Kansas is looking like its going to be a giant ball of excitement...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Night is Day, Day is Night

Cats and Dogs living together....

ok maybe not mass hysteria...

but for those of you interested in the conditions at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan,


is a live webcam from the track... feel free to watch it anytime and attempt to figure out when things are or aren't happening at the track and when its like the middle of the night, how they still seem to light up a good bit of the pits...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sweet Ride

I realize I'm usually pretty harsh on red-white-blue cars but thats only when its in your standard flag red white blue be it USA, France, UK, Australia, New Zealand whoever's flag, they all use those same hue.

Sarah Fisher's new car however looks mighty sweet with the light ocean, aspen-ish light blue which I'm sure goes more with the new sponsor but also seems like a throwback to Sarah's first cars. If you missed the news, Sarah officially announced today that her new team with their sweet looking car will be racing Indy, Kentucky and Chicago, with the possibility of other added as sponsorship dictates.

Wish it were more but I'll take what I can get, now here's hoping the Scheckter ride come Kansas shows up in chrome silver or Dragon scale green....

Monday, April 7, 2008

Notes from St. Pete

As you may have already gotten the news, Graham Rahal has become the youngest winner ever in the IndyCar Series at the ripe ole age of 19 years 93 days and also only the 4th person to win their very first race. Awesome!.... simply awesome really. As there are many great in depth summaries around, here are some quick notes:

-Races (or only road course ones) must finish on time, no matter what, because it was terribly important that we start SportsCenter's clip highlight show on time...

-In case you hadn't known, apparently Marty Reid thinks Danica is the smartest driver on the track... I'm not saying she's dumb or anything, but that is quite the compliment to a driver who time after time gets killed on starts/restarts, spins, and has horrible in-out laps in general.

-There is no Big 3 on road courses! There were 8 different leaders on Sunday.... 2 were from Big 3 teams. We already knew Hornish and Wheldon weren't exactly polished on the roads, but with Briscoe coming in it looked like we were set for more big 3 fun. Instead we were treated to a race that if run under the full length, most probably would have been won by none other than Ernesto J Viso.

Viso was great to watch, actually so were Vitor Meira and Darren Manning all 3 of whom made minced meat of the field by going to slick tires before everyone else. Vitor unfortunately got taken out by an overly aggressive mistake by Frank Perara (the move wasn't terrible, but should have been avoided). He was then fully taken out by a un-cautious Townsend Bell, which just strikes more to the truth of what Dr. Olvey speaks in Rapid Response...

-Speaking of Briscoe above he did log some leader laps looking solid before making a mistake and then blaming the car in front of him for...umm..being in front of him?...umm...making him actually race for position...? I mean, I know its normal to just assume a Roth Racing car is a lap down, but I think soon drivers will start to realize its not Marty in that car.

-It was a great race to watch and the rain made for a great spectacle in watching 26 different strategies play out, but the 2 biggest notes of the night were simply that like I said, the Big 3 don't have a monopoly on road courses anymore, and secondly... that ESPN's coverage absolutely sucks.

I could go on about Reid praising Danica for no reason, or both announcers missing multiple passes, and at least twice missing passes for the lead happening right on the television (imagine John Madden just telling his favorite Brett Favre story in the middle of a team scoring a touchdown without Al Michaels interrupting him), I could talk about how absolutely poor Brienne Pedigo is as a reporter of any kind as she never seems to know who she is talking to, talking about, or what she is supposed to do (like not having a follow-up question for the race winner, or talking about how much Servia spent at the gift shop while standing in front of Kevin Kalkhoven who was waiting to be interviewed)... I could talk about how no one asked Bobby Rahal wtf happened to his car, or why he seemed to not care that his car went from 3rd to 17th....I could talk about how we literally watched the Coyne crew rolling Bruno's car away behind an interview with Dixon yet no one bothered to tell us why Bruno's car was being rolled away....I could talk about how ESPN STILL continues to miss re-starts while in side-by-side... I could talk about how absolutely AWESOME Davey Hamilton and Mike King are on the radio broadcast and how badly they not only put people to shame but how they control their pit reporters to go get information for them... but none of that would compare simply to the best moment in ESPN/ABC Indy Car broadcast history...


We are just past mid race (lap 47-50ish), with a lot of strong racing going on up front, yet the top 5 has shaken down to Ernesto J Viso, Enrique Bernoldi, Vitor Meira, Darren Manning & Jay Howard... ALL of them racing for the positions, and not just picking them up by being the last to pit (a la Kosuke).

All of the guys are racing each other extremely hard and Marty and Scott are stumbling bad to say anything... anything at all... anything coherent (how about showing or talking about Viso's GP2 crash/career, Bernoldi's F-1 time, Vitor's winless streak, Manning's career and resurgence back from Ganassi, the fact that he actually gets along with AJ or about Howard as the former Indy Lights champion or the recent good showing from the new Roth Racing)....

No... instead Marty busts out this gem:

"These are 5 guys we don't normally talk about"


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Just a Clue that Something May be Askew...

Alex Rodriguez earns more than the entire Florida Marlins team

"Boosted by his new deal with the New York Yankees, A-Rod tops the major league baseball salary list at $28 million, according to a study of contract terms by The Associated Press. The 33 players on the Marlins' opening-day roster and disabled list total $21.8 million."

I'd comment on this, but I don't think I'd say anything you aren't already thinking...

instead I'll just poke at Furious for some good analysis and especially metaphors for this...