Monday, May 19, 2008

Qualifying's over

Whale! That’s the most Indy “BOOMP DAY” coverage I’ve watched in a long, long, time… Having decided to spend the majority of the day planted in front of the Telescreen… Listening to the sardonic voices of Messer’s Reid, Goodyear and Cheever call the action after listening to the IMS Broadcast’s first hour prior to the television coverage. And on a SUNNY day in the Pacific Northwest no less, as we’re in the midst of a mini HEAT wave…

Apparently I missed the “Shout-out” from the IMS’s Mark James to the small cadre of (Cover your ears, Mr. Olson) Bloggers crooning for Sarah Fisher support… Which would have been cool to hear, so I really shouldn’t give Mr. James too hard of a time, eh? But how ‘bout his prediction of who’d be the hardest pressed to make the big show this year… Recall that James thought that: Jaime Camara, Milka Duno, Mario Moraes and Marty Roth would be the four drivers hardest pressed to qualify, although he almost got the last one correct.

It was nice of “The Deuce” to give Sarah her do, by talking about her and actually showing her qualifying run, albeit one day late, but hey! Better late then never, eh? As Sarah solidly made her way into her seventh Indy 500 by qualifying 22nd, while I found it most ironic that I was rooting for Mario “BOOM BOOM” Dominguez, NOT once, but twice during the last hour of final qualifying… As I must admit, I was pulling for this ex-Champ Car, Err, Transition team to make the race… You know the one that had the audacity to ride skateboards in Gasoline Alley! Before Tony George put out a memo banning skateboarding. As I’m sure we’ll never know all of the personal sacrifices individuals truly persevere thru in order to make the big show. But the $50,000 final qualifier bonus check could have come in handy for the various PCM crew members who maxed-out their credit cards in order to get to Indy.

Interestingly, Phil Giebler was trying to make this year’s Indy 500 in a Panoz chassis, which seems odd after hearing the sentiments of Buddy Lazier’s team owner Ron Hemelgarn, who claimed it would have been a HELL of a lot easier and cost LESS if they’d just purchased a brand new Dallara instead of trying to bring their old car up to date… Which I’m a little unclear on since I thought I caught Jack “BRUTE” Arute telling us that you could no longer run a year old chassis, since the rules changes made it prohibitive?

And according to Mr. Cheever, the hit that Giebler suffered on Saturday would have definitely broken his back 10yrs ago, to which Mr. Goodyear was quick to tell us about the time he’d broken his back… As Giebler would spend the night in Methodist Hospital under observation for a bruised lung, along with a sore neck obtained from whiplash during the violent crash, as Giebler has since been released and team co-owner Eric Zimmerman says the team will acquire a Dallara chassis for Jacques Lazier to race at Texas on June 7th.

So, at the end of the day we had a “Kuh-nuck” making the show, albeit Marty “TURTLE” Roth, (NOT the Thrill from the West Hill) who’s bubble speed of 218.965 was a full 7.4mph SLOWER then Pole sitter Scott Dixon’s 226.366 mph.

Meanwhile, the hard luck story of the month has to go to AJ Foyt IV, who was the very first qualifier today, initially bumping Mr. Roth’s “Tail-gunner Charlie” four lap average. As I thought perhaps initially it was just a cruel way of getting back at Davey Hamilton for being so outspoken about the current Qualifying procedures, when I heard that his Honda engine had gone “KABLAMOE” during practice and the crew wasn’t in any big hurry to replace the lump. Yet, Foyt number Four, who’d previously spun and had a gearbox go south on him during the final minutes of Day 3 qualifying… Was the hapless victim of having the fuel bullock come loose, with flames erupting before slamming into the wall after having finally qualified! As there was apparently some slippery liquids squirted onto his rear right tire. And why in the HELL wasn’t he wearing his balaclava? Will he be fined for this? As he was lucky to get away with just singed hair and neck…

Thus the final 30 minutes of “Happy Hour” centered around Roger Yasukawa, Max Papis and Mario Dominguez, while the Torontan resident Mr. Roth nervously paced the pit lane, biting his nails after having re-bumped his way into the field by knocking out Buddy Lazier’s first qualification time… As Yasukawa was in and then bumped by Dominguez, who in turn was bumped out by Lazier’s stellar run before Dominguez spun into the wall after the team had dialed more wing out and he’d just laid down a speed of 219.7mph with two minutes left to go… Saying he wasn’t gonna lift! As Eddie Cheever declared this time period to be the cruelest in all of Motorsports in N. America, while also noting that hopefully the gun would fire today? As the previous day’s shooter had been unable to make the closing gun fire, yet when asked the night before if he’d be able to get any sleep? Yasukawa explained how Japanese people can sleep standing up, something their akin to doing on subway trains.

And with the wet weather Indianapolis has had, all of the teams were nowhere near using up their allotment of 35 sets of Flinstone rubber for the month, nor would I assume close to the maximum mileage permitted on their Honda engines, thus several drivers took advantage of this by running extended laps, with KV Racing Technology’s Will Power running 114… Which he seemed quite content about while being interviewed and even showed off his snazzy driving boots… Which of course Spike (D. Wheldon) had a quick quip about as he was next in the interviewing queue, as the funniest clip of the day had to be AJ Foyt, the elder’s “Senior moment” as driver Jeff Simmons called it upon seeing the tape for the very first time when ‘Ol Super Tex forgot to waive the green flag for his qualifying attempt. As AJ deadpanned; Oh, was I supposed to waive the flag? I’m sorry! As Simmons said he didn’t know what Foyt was doing as it looked like he was waiving to him as he went by… Thinking perhaps it was Tex’s other driver Darren Manning having just finished his run?

Of course there was also another funny bit about a prank pulled upon Helio Castroneves several years ago, just after he’d won the pole in 2003… As Helio was the victim of a staged traffic stop for reportedly going 40mph in a 30mph zone… And as Castroneves pleaded with the cop, who said I don’t know who you are… It was entertaining to hear Helio trying to bribe his way outta the ticket as the cop said, oh I recognize you sir, and you’re Gil De Ferran, correct? As even Tim Cendric got in the act before they finally showed Helio where the hidden camera was. And that’s a wrap folks, as we now await next Sunday’s running of the Greatest Spectale, which will see three females competing for the second consecutive year…

Final Qualifying Results for the 92nd Indianapolis 500