Monday, April 8, 2013

INDYCAR: Racing at the Oh So Beautiful ‘Barbers...

While I enjoyed the “Show” Friday, I can’t say that it was overly scintillating, albeit I was purely just listening to it via the Internetz and hence couldn’t really take in the ambience of the sights ‘N smells racing cars produce from what I’m told is the Augusta of Motor Racing... Or as thee O-L-D-est IndyCar Blogger Geo. Phillips would say; its ‘BUTE-EEE-FUL; Hya!

Enjoyed Nicky ‘Salt Yeoman’s interview with Mad Max Papis who was running in the Grand Am series GT category over the weekend for AIM Motorsports in the No. 61 Ferrari 458 Italia - Retelling his early morning prank on his good buddy Dario Franchitti, who apparently isn’t a fan of early morning wake-up calls... As Papis snuck into Dario’s motor coach at 7:30AM, got into bed with him and said Good Morning Sunshine! Before making a  bee-line outta there; to which Max said Dario was pretty surprised by his new bedmate; Hya!

Also enjoyed hearing the interview with A.J. Allmendinger, who was sitting out most of  the second practice session due to what he called a STUPID rule,  having failed to run five-laps upon his set of tyres, saying he’d done ‘bout 4.5 and hence had to give ‘em back and thus was one set down to the opposition.

Asked about the track, ‘Dinger replied: “Its Kicking my Butt! And if it was easy, then EVERYONE would be out there doing I-T!” Yet I really liked his attitude and oh yeah, he seemed ‘Bloody Quick on Day-1, winding up P9 in the morning and P8 at day’s end after being away from Indy Cars for seven years.

 Wasn’t nearby the ‘Confuzer when they interviewed Sam Schmidt, but I thought I’d caught him saying how Honda had been experimenting last weekend and he thinks the problems solved as they’ve been doing a “Shitload” of  analysis. As I’m guessing this answer was somehow related to both of his Honda powered cars retiring from cracked exhausts at St Pete, which I’d surmised the Schmidt-Hamilton-Peterson Motorsports team was up to something by having both cars retire from the same engine related malady...

And oh, by the way, there was some track action too, as several drivers broke the existing track record on the primary, read “slower” black Majik Rings - which means ‘Qualie times should be even quicker when they all bolt on the softer, stickier red alternates.

Helio Castroneves wound up quickest with a 1:08.554 lap which compares favourably to John “CCR” Fogerty’s 1:18.949 Pole position for the Grand Am race aboard his No. 99 “Red Dragon” Corvette DP. As the first eleven cars down to Justin ‘BIG UNIT Wilson’s Boy Scouts mobile were all in the 1:08 zip code.

Nipping at ‘HULIO’s heels was ‘TAG, aka Alex Tagliani with the Sam Schmidt ‘Boyz Tristan Vautier & “Symone Pagenoe” (Simon Pagenaud) P3-4 respectively and Will Power filling out the Top-5; with the ‘Cheapster’s, nee Ganassi Racing cars  winding up with Scott Dixon sixth and Dario P14; while the Andretti Autosports gang saw E.J. “What, Me Worry?” Viso leading the way in seventh, even after spinning off-track, Ryan Hunter-Reay 12th, James Hinchcliffe 15th and Marco Andretti P19 - with the KV runners ‘TK “Follow your Schnoz” (Kanaan) 16th & “Symona-Symona” (di Silvestro) 17th respectively...

Instant Gratification?
So for humour, on Saturday morning I tried reconfirming when the qualifying time was, although I’d mentally locked 8:25AM into my Noggin’, since I think I heard Mark James say it was at 10:25AM Central, which would be 11:25 NY/INDY/ET time, right Dave? Dave? Dave’s NOT here; Oh Never Mind!

Thus, I wasn’t overly impressed that TSO didn’t mention I-T in their morning post, and all that indycar(dot)com said was that the Firestone Indy Lights Qualifying was going on now! At 10:25AM Eastern... As I fumbled around le Internetz looking in vain, as I found links to Monaco GP trip packages, the ‘Offical Honda website, tyres, some car company sites, etc, GEEZ! As sorry Indy Cars, but I DON’T ever trust your website for information - as fortunately I scrambled back “Justin-time” to hear the majority of group one, Round-1 and beyond. And let’s NOT get me started on the fact that NBCSN cannot figure out a way to actually R-E-A-D off the entire starting lineup prior to the green flag...

Although I missed a ‘Wee bit of the first group’s running, or did I? As its pretty sad how the cars all stay OFF track until there’s less than half of the session remaining, and thus, a la Formula 1, it appeared to be a bit of last driver standing as Mark James kept reading a new leaders name every three-plus seconds as the cars passed the timing stripe.

Yet most impressive was Scotty “Iceman2.0” Dixon throwing down a New Track Record....  By loping off some 3.1-seconds off of Will Power’s record lap time from last year...

First was the #9 of Scott Dixon at 1:06.775, followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, Sebastian Saavedra, Charlie Kimball and A.J. Allmendinger sixth; besting the likes of Pagenaud, Tagliani, Franchitti, Kanaan, Bourdais, Rahal and Beatriz - which is a pretty stout group of drivers, eh?

Leading the way for group two was rookie phenom Vautier, besting Wilson, Power, Castroneves, James Jakes and Marco Andretti, with the likes of di Silvestro, Hinchcliffe, etc not making it thru.

And although I was rootin’ for Allmendinger to make it into the Fast Six, I’m kinda glad he didn’t, ‘cause then how much SHIT would we be hearing ‘bout a ‘RASSCAR boy kickin’ our ARSES...

Thus the shootout for pole was split 50-50 with the Honda’s of Vautier, Kimble - making his first ever Fast Six Shootout and Dixon vs. RHR, Power & Castroneves, seeing effectively four teams represented with Andretti Autosport, Ganassi, Penske and Schmidt-Peterson in the final dance.

Surprisingly it wasn’t Power on top, being bested instead by Hunter-Reay, while Vautier shown in third, ahead of Dixon followed by Kimble and Helio bringing up the rear...

Bo Knows Racing...
Funniest ‘Quip of raceday was Leigh Diffey asking this year’s Grand Marshal Bo Jackson what’s better: Running over Brian Bosworth or riding in an IndyCar with two time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk? Uh Duh, Leigh... OUCH! That hurts me, bringing up ex-Seattle Seahawk star “the ‘Boz” like that; Hya!


W-O-W! Is about all I can say for that race, as why do I feel like I’ve just had a severe case of ADHD strike me? Although I suppose any Adderall jokes right now AIN’T funny, eh? As what’s up with Will Power? Who surely didn’t seem like thee ”Toowoomba Toranadoe” today.

While I think A.J. Allmendinger did a very impressive job the entire weekend, as I think there was so much DAMN pressure upon the guy to do good! Not to mention all of the reported pressure he cast upon himself over the 72-hours... As it appeared A.J. managed to somehow not dump the electronic hand clutch properly upon his final pit stop - which reassuringly roger Penske told him “That’s Ok” over the radio, as I really enjoy the opportunity The Captain’s giving him... to which I had an epiphany about late Saturday evening, which I’ll scribble in a separate post shortly, as this one’s becoming monstrously L-O-N-G, right?

And what in the HE Double Hockey Sticks was the Dealio with leaving thy Mayor ‘O Hinchtown (James Hinchcliffe) in the car stranded on the race course for some 75+ odd laps??? As even Wally Dallenbach got in on the act of making fun by saying ‘Hinch was waiting for his pizza to show up; Hooah! Whilst ‘Offical No Fenders Photographer ‘CARPETS wants to know why “Mikey” couldn’t order Viso to crash, as its not like he doesn’t have  any experience at that, right? Hya!

While the drive of the day definitely belongs to Charlie Kimble, who even out-braked Will Power for fourth place, as I found myself ponderin’ out loud how it seems like Power’s always got an excuse when he has a bad race, eh? While the other hard charger was Vautier, who although faded towards the end, did claim his first Top-10 finish in only his second race - keeping le ‘Hamburgular, nee Sebastain Bourdais behind him for tenth, albeit ‘SeaBass musta done ‘Somme-thun wrong since he dropped further behind his Countryman, while ‘TAG wound up on Vautier’s gearbox, while Pagenaud rebounded with a sixth place finish. Andretti was seventh with Wilson P8, although he’d dropped down to 19th at one point I think?

Meanwhile, Dario Franchitti suffered what is Honda’s third failed exhaust pipe retirement, which I’d presume was the header pipe? While teammate Dixon claimed to suffer a blown wastegate at St Pete, so Y’all gotta wunder what the Honda ‘Boyz are trying to do - something to boost horsepower I suppose? As Dario’s season certainly isn’t starting off the way he’d like I-T too with back-to-back 25th place finishes!

And inquiring minds wanna know, will Joseph Newgarden’s debutant Top-10 IndyCar career finish cause Sarah Fisher to continue wearing the “lucky” bumblebee (yellow ‘N black) Dollar General earrings? As Newgarden came hone P9.

And oh yeah; Whoa Nellie! What a finish of a horse race we had, eh? As Hunter-Reay held off a ‘Uber hard charging Dixon, who claimed his fourth consecutive runner-up finish at the Barber’s, with Castroneves blathering on ‘N on about some sorta snail on his racecar this weekend upon claiming the podium’s final step with Power rounding out the Top-5 with Kimble the meat in the Penske sandwich.

WHEW! Why do I feel like I need a shower, as I’m totally ‘Knackered,  as ‘Ol Darren ‘Dangermouse Manning would say - after watching the race, albeit I didn’t spot Michael Jackson’s Ferris wheel which I’m told was in the opening montage...