Saturday, May 19, 2007

Three card Indy

While my esteemed Indiana Bureau Chief Danny B. was busy drinking creame soda’s inside the IMS media center, I couldn’t resist putting in my two cents worth on today’s coverage of Indy’s Day 3 Qualifying.

And I have to say that its interesting how different the media coverage was as once again for humour I tuned into the IMS Radio Network for hour one of today’s action, since it wasn’t on TV. It was great to have the radio coverage go PAST their allotted time to cover John Andretti’s run completely, including a live interview immediately afterwards. Even better was getting to hear the wave of emotions flowing over Andretti as he tried to answer all of the questions after a 13 year absence from Indy.

And then I started laughing again while pondering if it was “Groundhog Day?” As I feared a repeat of last weekend’s travesty when the LPGA overran the final hour of Day 2 Qualifying on ESPN2.

These thoughts came about since “The Deuce” once again had another scintillating round of Women’s golf preceding the Speedway TV coverage. And once again since NOBODY was trying to qualify during the “Heat” of the day, ESPN2’s announce crew (MINUS Rusty L.T.O. Wallace) quickly got us “Up to Speed” upon the day’s happenings.

“Sure ‘Nuff” there was Milka Duno getting prime billing as she was the very first competitor to qualify. With the TV coverage showing her getting instructions before leaving, both warm-up laps along with all four qualifying laps and an extensive interview afterwards. Yet John Andretti got third rate billing, showing only 75% of his run and NO interview.

Recently I’ve been “Wunderin” how much does it cost to run a limited program at Indy? So I enjoyed the venerable pit reporter Jack Arute throwing out the following figures while awaiting qualification attempts, as the “Heavy Hitters” AGR, Ganassi and Penske were busy circulating in race day trim.

If you sign-up for a full month program then you’re allowed to run 1,200 laps for the entire month, while second week only contestants are limited to a lower lap count. (No figure given) All entrants are limited to 35 sets of “Flinstones” (Firestone tires) for the entire month of May which cost $64,000.

A full month Honda engine lease will cost $225,000 vs. $95,000 for a second week only package.

A preferred current spec Dallara chassis will cost you $300,000 vs. $145,000 for a year old G-Force/Panoz chassis.

I found all of this extremely interesting after the big “guffhaw” over the NFL forbidding PDM racing to run their #18 entry painted blue & white with the words Go Colt’s emblazoned on the side pods. This was after a sponsor had paid $7,000 for the paint job.

Yet the Playa Del Racing team secured Indiana Ice sponsorship for it’s #21 Jaques Lazier piloted entry. The two full width side pod logo’s cost a cool $150,000. Today ESPN2 made a big deal out of it by pointing out how the Indiana WNBA & Pacers were both quick to jump onboard Lazier’s entry.

And Arute further chimed in on the costs of Indy in regards to rookie Phil Giebler’s crash during qualifying. Unfortunately the rookie crashed on his final lap while making a solid 221+ mph attempt. Stating that the wrecked rear wing would cost $30,000 while the damaged gearbox would set the team back a further 85 grand.

During Robin Miller’s OTB video segment on SPEED TV this week, Jimmy Kite’s owner quipped to Miller. “You know the drill, its $30,000 a corner!” (For repairs)

Yet the days best TV highlight came after the 6PM gun had been nervously fired as pit reporter Sam Welch helped set-up Dario “REO Speedwagon” Franchitti on his 44th birthday. Innocently beginning the interview with birthday wishes while Dario’s teammates came racing in and completely plastered Dario’s mug with a chocolate cake!

And Franchitti stood there completing the interview with his wife Ashley Judd eating cake off of his face, while telling the story about cutting Tony Kanaan’s custom made bicycle in half while TK was in the midst of an interview for ESPN a few years ago. Dario promised that paybacks would be forthcoming, especially to his rookie teammates Marco and Danica…