Sunday, April 8, 2007

Vegas Crap Shoot

Champ Car finally kicked off its 2007 season on the streets of “Sin City” today...

And I was pleasantly surprised to have the “Peacock’s RASSCAR” crew (minus recently departed Benny Parsons) filling the announce booth alongside Jon Beekhuis. Yeah, that meant I didn’t get to listen to Rick “Insert $sponsor here” Benjamin who must have been busy hunting for chocolate eggs…

Unfortunately the Panoz DP-01 is struggling thru some “New Car Blues,” as all nine Champ Car teams thrashed to make repairs to the fueling system. Apparently Elan Motorsports flew in brand new fuel cells/venting systems for replacement, which took approx. 11 hours to swap out. And several teams had troubles during the actual race with refueling as they simply couldn’t get the race car tank to fill completely. (This had something to do with venting of the tank)

Also the DP-01’s had troubles with gearbox issues, taking Justin Wilson out of the race. And the new onboard starters refused to work on-track. This appears to be a heat related issue. Yet overall the new Panoz looked pretty damm good for its race debut!

And I squealed in delight when they announced that Sebastian Bourdais had made an uncharacteristic mistake in qualifying… “Sea Bass” would be starting 16th… While Will Power took the overall pole away from “homeboy” (Paul Tracy)

I hope it’s not a sign of Champ Car’s future but I found it a bit embarrassing that NBC couldn’t clean-up the pre-race “canned” features as I swear it sounded like a “Cossie” (Cosworth) being warmed up thru half of the Wally Dallenbach Jr. on-track race course segment…

This was followed by a cheesy segment of Jay Leno “playing” for the cameras as the “Big Man” was on hand along with Bon Jovi (Bon who?) for race weekend activities. And what’s up with the movie Red Line being a race sponsor? I’d think they’d wanna be promoting a RASSCAR event instead! (Of course I’m sure the advertisement prices are MUCH HIGHER for Nextel Cup airtime)

And it was funny to hear Bill Webber giving Dallenbach Jr. some “Shtick,” about pronouncing drivers names… As he gave Scotsman Ryan Dalziel a new moniker, calling him Ryan “Diesel.” Or was it “Deezhaul?”

There was also a quick segment on the new seven speed paddle shifting steering wheels costing $10,000 a piece, which is far less than the spaceship steering “instruments” used in Formula 1. As I recall Bob Varsha discussing how the steering wheel that the “Iceman” had flung across the garage went for a cool thirty grand a pop…

And even though I’m not a fan ‘O “Whiney-Bags” (Bruno Junqueira) it was great to see him doing so well for Dale Coyne. The little team “That Could” appears to have a brief chance of actually winning a race…

Then it was time to start the race. Well OK, may be? As previously mentioned, standing starts have been abandoned for now and Champ Car asked the drivers to begin the race in a staggered start. Whatever that means? As I enjoyed Dallenbach Jr’s comments that race car drivers are NEVER gonna hang back on a start.

And what gives with Champ Car events being timed races? I mean this is just plain LAME! I thought this was “top level” racing? So today’s event was a 1 hour 45 minute timed event and they had to wave off the first start as “Sand Dune” Tracy wasn’t in formation.

Then Graham rahal got “squeezed” by “Speedy-Dry” Dan Clarke off into the marbles… Or as David Hobbs would call it, “Clag!” Rahal ended parked against the wall and they couldn’t even get one green flag lap in… After finally getting his car removed several laps later, the camera showed rookie Alex Figge parked sideways on the track as they threw the green flag. Uh, you might wanna throw another yellow before the entire field runs over the stricken Panoz…

For a full race report including who WON, see: Vegas Grand Prix. Overall it was a pretty good event, although Champ Car still needs more entries…

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