Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Short Track Fever

Whale, has another two Indy Car Oval races already sped by? As I decided to lump the two shortest Short Tracks together, as although they provided some entertaining racing… They’re NOT on my list of true Indy Car racing venues… I mean, let’s leave them to the Midgets, Sprint Cars, etc.

Yeah, I’m a died in the wool Road Course fanatic…

Iowa Cornfest 250
As the weather continued to play havoc upon the Midwest, Iowa’s Friday practice and Saturday qualifying were RAINED OUT… Which was NO great relief to the waterlogged bayou’s where Charlotte and all of her friends *Oinker’s) were doin’ their best to stay dry…

Thus qualifying was arranged according to the current driver’s point’s standings which saw Scotty “Got Milk?” Dixon on point with Helioe “Blue suede shues” Castroneeves filling out Row 1… (Hey, I can’t stop myself, as My Name is IRL said we needed to give ‘dem IRL drivers some nicknames, eh?)

And thus, I found it good timing to notice that during the first commercial break of ABC’s (Huh?) half hour pre-race show… The race was being sponsored by the Midwest Farmers… Who grow Corn, by gum-it! As I found it refreshing to see a commercial playing about how Corn’s good for you… As this brings back memories of riding thru the massive acreage of Corn fields in Iowa, which I did in 1994 on the state’s famous RAGBRAI bicycle ride across Iowa, where you start by dippin’ your tire in the Missouri River and “Juan” week later traipse down a Red Carpet and do the same procedure for the “Mighty Mo. (Mississippi River) As we were informed on our bike ride that if you saw a “TP” (Toilet Paper) roll on a Farmer’s field ‘O Cornstalks, then it was fair game to go to the bathroom there, but I digress…

As it was also noted that 300 local Farmers were hangin’ out in the Turn 1 hospitality suite and were rootin’ for their boy Ryan “The Dude” Hunter Reay… You know the guy who drives Booby Ruble’s Eethanol machine.

Back from commercial break and there was an entertaining piece about whether or not; “Racing Drivers are Athletes?” UH DUH!!! Of course they are… I mean just wearin’ a Nomex fire suit in blazing sunshine will give you an idea of what they have to endure, but I digress even further… As it was time for the OBLIGATORY Princess Danicker and Marky Mark (Andretti Junior) interviews.

So, I was gonna turn off the boob tube and tune in Mike King & Davey Hamilton, but decided to gut out the TV broadcast, because suddenly I was very curious to see how LONG it would take for them to mention ANY of the ACK! “Transition” Drivers, after all, this is a unified series now, right?

As I screamed at the Telescreen, you’ve only interviewed; Danica, Marco, Dixon, Wheldon, Helio and TK (Kanaan) NOT “Juan” single Transition driver at all! NOPE! It took an amazing 48 minutes until none other than Rusty “Bark at the Moon” Wallace first mentioned any ex-Champ Car refugee, although it was some sort of comparison of Graham Rahal to Joey Lagano… Crikeys! So, we’ll keep countin’ Going’ to the 65 minute mark when Mario “NOT so Super” Moraes was mentioned as the leaders came upon traffic on Lap 99 and Enrique “I’m too Sexy” Bernoldi was next up as we went to commercial break.

Justin Wilson got a shout-out for moving from P23 to P8, while “gentleman John” Andretti was another big shaker, moving up 14 places in Jay “What me, Worry?” Howard’s rent a race car… Yet, Wilson got a real nice segment about how the Mic Dougal’s car was steadily improving… Hmm? Me thinks I smell a corporate Rat here, eh?

And in the overflowin’ trivia department, it was made known that The Captain, a.k.a. Roger Penske was missing ONLY his third race ever, in over 40 years of attending races… First race missed was for his wedding. Second race missed was because of some ‘lil thing called 9/11! And this third time was due to him recovering from a minor medical procedure… NOPE! Ain’t gonna touch ‘dat one kids…

And then the floodgates opened on the Transition Drivers shout-outs, but oh yeah, was there a race goin’ on or somme-thun? As after Helio had led the way for 91 laps, with TK leading the second most, Danny “SPIKE” Wheldon, a.k.a. Birthday Boy, who Scott Dixon busted for sayin’ he was only 26 on his BIG THREE-OH… Took over the point by staying out during one of the numerous yellows, but earlier Eddie Carpentier had retired with a broken right rear suspension piece, as he was the third car of the weekend to experience the results of excessive G-loading, as the drivers were experiencing 4.9 G’s twice a lap which took only 17 seconds to complete.

But back to Birthday Boy, as both Marty Reid and Jack “BRUT” Arute mentioned; Can you say Motegi? As Dan-Dan-Danicker is on a similar fuel stratch-ity along with Wheldon and Hideki Mutoh. And who’d uh thunk it? (Certainly NOT Hunter Reay) but Marco raced his rookie teammate cleanly and they didn’t collide while jockeying for second place as B-Day Boy took the chequered flag for his second win of the season, with Mutoh finishing a career best second ahead of Marco.

And I’ll let you puruse le internets for various reporting upon Scott Dixon calling Danica a Menace and Carpenter callin’ her the new Scott Sharp of the IRL! Now onto Richmond, the SMALLEST track on the schedule…

Richmond Sun-BAKED 300
Saturday Nite’s ALL Right for Fightin’

Just finished listening to Davey Hamilton on Autosport Radio (Tuesday, July 01, 2008; As you may wish to listen to the Archived show) and I’m MORE ‘N MORE IMPRESSED by that Cool Cat…Who’s made his way up the ranks the ‘Ol Fashioned way! As Davey said; There just was a lot of BAD drivin’ at Richmond…

But I must tell yuh, at least the IMS Radio Broadcast knows how to put on a pre-race show, as they immediately talked to the “STARZS” i.e.; the Indy Car drivers and they interviewed both sides of the fence; Boom-Boom-Boom.. First up, Ryan Hunter Reay, then Oriel Servia, Buddy Rice, Graham Rahal, etc. And for some reason the Boyzs in the booth were still hammerin’ away on Darren Manning deciding to park ‘Ol Super Tex’s Hot Rod at Iowa, with Davey Hamilton saying he wouldn’t be surprised to see a different driver in the car prior to the end of the season… You just DON’T tell AJ Foyt you’re too knackered to drive!

And then it was time to get ready to rumble... As Hunter Reay would spin on the very first lap of what would become a Demolition Derby fest, as the strangest caution of the night occurred when Gentleman John shoved “Quattro” (AJ Foyt IV) outta the way and a piece of debris flew off of his car and Eddie Carpentier had nowhere to go and had to hit the piece of debris… Which Hamilton said looked to be Foyt IV’s attenuator, whatever the hell that is? And then it simply got UGLY!

As Marty TURTLE Roth was going too SLOW! And helped to bottle up traffic on the yellow flag re-starts, as we were already on our fifth caution by lap 79 and Davey quickly pointed out that Roth was at least a good 15+ car lengths behind the new race leader “Jamie Karnuba” (Jaime Camara, leading his very first Indy Car race) and was going only 149mph and that Indy Car would have to call him in as he was simply off the pace, (AGAIN!) before we had another yellow! As Mike King was simply dumbstruck by the fact that of the first 100 laps, 58 had been run under caution and we were only one third of the way done…

And then Mr. Roth who by this point was 5 laps behind, began to slow down as Davey called out his lap speeds; 128mph, 133mph, he’s simply way too SLOW! He’ll have to come in… Looks like Marty’s pitting (to change his shorts?) as it appears Roth’s done for the night. As another caution flag flew.

Gee whiz guys, I thought you were professional racing drivers? Ain’t ‘dem Roundy-round Boyzs supposed to be duh “Juan’s” running ‘dem Bombers? As lap 145 saw caution number 8 and I enjoyed Davey’s comments about how when two drivers are jawin’ at each other so intensely, uze may wanna put ‘dem in separate Ambulances, eh? As Hunter Reay was giving Mario “M ‘N M” Moraes a severe tongue lashing after the two drivers had collided… While Mike King pointed out that the record for cautions in a Non-Indianapolis 500 race was 11 at Pikes Peak Raceway in 1999, will we break that?

And in the useless(?) trivia dept. it was noted that The Captain was once again on Medical leave and missing only his fourth race in 40+ years… Although doctors ordered him to remain vigilant in his post minor “Medical Procedure recovery… I’m wonderin’ if perhaps his IRL rival The Cheepster co-erced him into goin’ out to Idaho for a few cold ones… As Chip Ganassi reportedly was quite surprised that some ‘lil ‘Ol bar in Newell, Idaho had HD TV! (Wonder if Davey clued Chip in on that one, eh?)

While my two pages of race notes center around the smorgasbord ‘O Cautions, as the ‘lil Richmond short track seemed to be awash in Yellow-itus, it seemed extremely PATHETIC that in normal racin’ circumstances a total of 16 cars would have retired, as three drivers; R. Briscoe, E. Carpenter and D. Manning were all able to return to the race after extensive repair jobs made to their stricken chassis… Good on you mate… (Manning) and manage to secure positions 11-13 before parking for the evening as they’d be unable to advance any further in the evening’s results.

And BOO HOO HOO! Poor Marky Mark (Andretti) had to pit for fuel prior to the final yellow coming out which effectively put him down one lap, with Tony “Follow your Snauz” Kanaan beatin’ Helio Dancin’ Fool outta pit lane and crusin’ home to his first win of the season, with Castroneves second and Scott Dixon finishing third after teammate Dan “SPIKE” Wheldon ran outta cough-cough fuel on the final lap to finish fourth with Oriel “Double Stuff” Servia finishing a season best fifth!

And so now, we’re headed off to Watkins Glen, a truly great permanent road course which should hopefully see a few less wrecks?