Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Singing in the Streets of St Pete

I found it a bit surprising that I chose to watch the Indy Car race ahead of the Formula 1 race, being an F1 Diehard… but, I was more intrigued to see if the Champ Car boyzs could kick some tail over the IRL veterans… OOPS! I keep forgetting it’s the “Unity Carzs” series now and we’re all one big happy family…

And my apologies to the IMS radio crew as Marty (My hero’s named Tiger) Reid explained how the driver Ernesto told them he wanted to be called EJ, which seems a bit silly to me. I mean isn’t that who referee’s between Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on TNT’s Basketball show? Or is he worried that Ernesto will be shortened to Ernie, as in Bert “N Ernie… Or that the tag EJ will make us think of that plucky Irishman better known as Eddie Jordan? But I digress…

Ah, it looked like it was gonna be a REAL Street race, I mean those cats were gonna have to run in the rain… Which they never do on an Oval, eh? And by jeez, there was even a fair amount of passing during the days spin-dry induced festivities, which saw several drivers practicing their victory doughnuts prior to getting to the chequered flag… (And look everyone, NOT even a single peep ‘bout the Princess’s multiple pirouettes…)

Yet the wet conditions caught several drivers out even after they’d gone several laps behind the pace car trying to dissipate the standing water at the end of the circuit. (Turns 11-14) as Brian “Huff ‘N Puff” Barnhart chatted with TK and Helioe over their in-car radios…

And wasn’t it funny seeing Brienne Pedigo standing in-between Justin Wilson and Will Power as Justin towered over both of them… Which was funny to hear David Hobbs comment on how in the earth did Justin ever squeeze into a F1 chassis, upon commenting on how Robert Kubica is fairly tall along with the Kimster and Mark “Shrimp on the Barbie” Webber… As Justin had a brief go in Formula 1 for Paul Stoddart’s under funded minnow Minardi before briefly driving alongside Webber at Jaguar…

Thus, talk about your poor segways… As the race encountered the first of it’s record six yellow flags, when none other than Justin “Buckshot” Wilson took over the lead by not pitting and thus became the very first “Transition” driver to lead a lap of the Indy Car World Series. Although I’m assuming Justin’s race strategy went out of the window due to his pit stop timing plus changing weather conditions…

As the mad gamble of who’d roll the dice first to switch over to slicks on a drying racetrack, made the race highly entertaining, as the front five was a cast of non-regulars, as EJ; You can call me Ray, Jay, Bob, but just don’t call me Ernesto… Led his teammate Enrique “Suave” Bernoldi, followed by Vitor Meira , Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jay Howard, as Scott Goodyear quickly quipped; “When had you ever seen a Marty Roth vehicle running that high before?”

And speaking of Mr. Goodyear, I found it funny to hear him taking a swipe at Darren Manning, who’d gotten the AJ “Flinstone’s SUCK! Foyt entry as high as fourth place, claiming that perhaps Darren should take a break from the golf links as he’s never letting his hands rest and was driving with bruised thumbs after loosing a fourth place finish last year at St Pete due to blistered hands… While Super Tex reported all he could hear that BLOODY Brit sayin’ over the radio was “I’ve got blisters on my fingers.”

With stealth-like race strategy, as the #06 had worked it’s way steadily forward, we were suddenly cast with the un-official IMS chief Jack Arute shadowing Bobby Rahal who’d earlier confessed to being conflicted over who’d he’d rather see in victory lane, his son or his team car as suddenly young Graham was leading the pack with Hunter-Reay nipping at his heals in second place…

And very impressively, the 19yr old pulled away from the entire pack, pulling out a lead of almost five seconds over Team Penske’s lone remaining charge; Mr. Blue Suede Shoes, who’d worked his way past the slowing Hunter-Reay, who ironically was having to conserve his remaining cargo of Ethanol… Before another yellow flag came out, as apparently Townsend Bell had forgotten what double waving yellow flags mean, as he mounted the somewhat hapless Meira.

Yet, with just a few laps remaining, Rahal 2.0 pulled away easily from Castromeves, to take a most impressive debut Indy Car race win. Apparently Newman Haas Lanigan took a page out of Paul “Chrome Horn” Tracy’s Cleveland playbook, after young Messer Rahal spun out early in the race to come back and claim victory in his very first Indy Car start… The only thing different was that Graham didn’t hit anybody enroute to winning, becoming the youngest ever winner in the Indy Racing League, beating Marco Andretti for the honours. Rahal also joined a very exclusive club of first time victors, as this list now has just four names on it; Buzz Calkins, inaugural IRL event in 1996. Juan Pablo Montoya, 2000 Indy 500 and Scott Dixon at Homestead in 2003.

And as glad as I was to have somebody other than the “Earle’s” big three; Penske, TCGR and Andretti Green win… Having broken the string of 37 straight victories by that trio, I’m still waiting to see somebody else besides Newman Haas Lanagin be the “Juan’s” to do so, ACK! To think I’d like to see Kevin “Boss Hawg” Kalkhoven’s squad join the fray… Nah, how ‘bout either the Conquest or HVM teams upsetting the apple cart? Yeah, I know it all comes down to those dreaded greenbacks…

As for the overly astute Marty Reid’s comments towards the Tiger Woods victory lane hug-fest… All I can say is FOUR!

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