Sunday, May 28, 2023

PHOTOS: Two ex-Team Penske legends at IMS

Gil de Ferrand and Helio Castroneves reminiscing in Gasoline Alley. (The Tomaso Collection)


This picture was taken sometime during this May’s Pole Day weekend at Mother Speedway. As No Fenders Offical’ Photographer CARPETS’ claims He asked Hulio’ if He’d gotten back at Gil and Penske Racing Boss Tim Cindric for the Speeding ticket prank pulled upon Him? And saying that Gil had a wry smile upon His face afterwards… 

INDY 500: Who’ll Win this Year’s race?

As will it be one of the predicted favourites, or somebody not expected to win?


This is just a lowly Cellar Dweller Blogger’s Unscientific Guess upon who’ll be Drinking Milk this Sunday, following the conclusion of the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500.


Naturally, the Smart money, and most easiest pick would presumably once again be Scotty thee Iceman 2.0 Dixon, whom seemingly is overdue for His second 500 victory.


Yet I’m beginning to feel that Dixon’s got the fabled Andretti Curse upon His shoulders, and will never win another Indy 500, and I’m sticking to that prediction I made before this year’s “Guns ‘N roses” Indy GP.


As my initial pick then was another of Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing stablemates, with Takuma Sato becoming a Three-times Indy 500 Champion. Which I still say is a strong possibility.


Yet how could I overlook my Numero Uno IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward? Especially since the young Mexican finished runner-up last May! Which I suppose is partialy why I did so, since it’s hard to replicate or improve your finishing position at Mother Speedway each year…


As it was just pure subjecture coming a day after this year’s GNR Indy GP. But it’s odd how the Penske’s really Don’t feel like a threat right now! Or Andretti Autosport, and certainly not Meyer Shank Racing! Since I’ve been telling No Fenders Offical’ Photographer CARPETS’ that Helio Castroneves is Toast! Or as the Aussie’s prefer saying Cactus for over six months now!


And I fear that Hulio’s MSR teammate Symone’, nee Pageantry’, aka Simon Pagenaud also seems to be at the end of His IndyCar career!


And not sure why? But prior to Sunday’s Fast 12 shootout beginning, I found myself picking Alex Palou as this year’s Indy 500 winner. Followed by Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi for my Top-3 picks. Although I’ll begrudgingly admit you can never count out Dixon…


As it seems like the obvious answer is that this year’s winner will come from either Ganassi or Arrow McLaren. But then again, that’s why they actually run the race!


While Monday’s practice saw the first incident of the month, when Thy Leggy Juan’, aka Katherine Legge unintentionally ran into the back of Stefan Stork’ Wilson’s racecar during practice. With Legge apparently saying that the line of Cars ahead had Checked Up and She was simply unable to avoid Wilson’s car ahead of Her!


And after a 40mins Red flag period to fix the Safer Barrier and Wall, Team Penske’s Will Power was the day’s quickest runner at 229mph-plus, now that the Boost has once again been Turned Down. Taking away those extra 100 “Ponies’. (Horsepower)


And did we really learn anything from the final Carb Day practice session? Other than it felt overly frenetic to Mwah! As Thar also seemed to be some concern over tyre blistering issues? Most notably on Alexander Rossi’s rear’s…


While poor Katherine Legge’s confidence has to be somewhat shaken? As She had to immediately lift after a rear wheel nut was spotted bouncing down the race track! And I believe it was Her right rear tyre trying to dislodge itself from Her racecar! Immediately bringing up mention of how that had happened to Graham Rahal when exiting the Pits during the race a few years ago.


Then late in the session Andretti autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco had a right front tyre seemingly explode upon Him on track! Although afterwards, “Sparky” said it was an old set of tyres they were going to use for the Pit Stop contest and they hadn’t felt right to Him during the lap…


The Top-10 on the Time Sheet following the end of two hours saw Takuma Sato P1 at 227.855mph. Followed by Scott Dixon, will Power, Alex Palou, Kyle Kirkwood, Agustin Canapino, Colton Herta, Romain Grosjean, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin.


Hmm, three Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti Autosport and Team Penske’s in the Top-10, with a rookie Argentine Juncos Hollinger Racing entry as the lone interloper.


As I’d say that the driver that made the most waves during the practice was Josef Newgarden, who could seemingly put His racecar anywhere He wanted!


While thee Great Santini, aka Santino Ferrucci reportedly wasn’t very happy with His A.J. foyt Enterprises racecar! Finishing P31, while His rookie teammate Benjamin Pedersen was 17th. As the only two cars slower than Ferrucci were Callum Ilott and Rinus VeeKay.


Jack Harvey was the quickest of the three Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entries in 13th, with Conor Daly one place ahead  as the fastest Ed Carpenter Racing entry.


Meanwhile TK’, aka tony Kannan was the quickest of the Arrow McLaren quartet in 11th, with Rossi and Pato O’Ward P14-15, and Felix-the Cat’ (Rosenqvist) was 28th. Whilst defending Indy 500 race winner Marcus Ericsson was P18.


So I’d say it’s anybody’s guess on who will be victorious Sunday, as we’re just a Skosh’ under 120 minutes from the Green Flag flying!


“Gentlemen and Lady, Start your Engines!” 

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Night Before Indy 500 Tradition

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Uncle Bobby giving Tomaso directions which way to Pose at the IMS Flagroom, circa 2012. (The Tomaso Collection)


As Thars Nonthin’ like Robin Miller being Master of Ceremonies for a Hilarious Roasting of Uncle bobby!


Arse-sumin’ we won’t have any T-Storm Cells that Knock out the power this year, a la last year when I lost my internet connection…


When your Humble No Fenders Scribe Tomaso was trying to “Watch,” Err listen to The Roast of Bobby Unser. For which I’ve only ever seen the first part of Uncle bobby’s roasting, which weighs in at 47mins.


Although I can only find a slightly altered version from what I remember “watching” the past two years…


Yet this year, when “googling” the Roast of Bobby Unser on Youtube. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Marshall Pruett had uploaded Part 2, which I’ve never “seen” before. Which weighs in at 52 minutes, so guess it’s gonna be another late nigh, Eh?


Since say what you want. But I sure miss ‘Ol R’s, aka Robin Miller, Ye Curmudgeon of Indy Cars unique style of “Delivery!” Not to mention the Wise-domes” of ‘Ol Uncle Bobby!


Photo C/O No Fenders Offical’ Photographer CARPETS’ 

Some of My Countless Indy 500 recollections

Dan Wheldon standing on the Yard of Bricks by the Pace car following His victory lap after winning the 2011 Indianapolis 500. (The Tomaso Collection)


Be they from Ye ‘Ol Memorex or being Thar live…


Not really sure why the 1973 Indianapolis 500 stands out so strongly for Mwah as the worst Indy 500. For which we’re celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year…


As what makes it worse than say the 1964 Indy 500? When Eddie Sachs and Dave macDonald both lost their lives in the race. Or what about the 1955 event that we All know saw the demise of “Vukie”, aka Bill vukovich.


What makes this even more strange for Mwah, is that although I know I’ve scribbled about it here before on No Fenders many, many Moons ago. That being a Wee lad’ riding in the back of my Grandfather’s Buick Riviera over to the family’s summer vacation cottage on Hood Canal. (WA) And getting to watch the ABC Wide World of Sports tape delayed TV Broadcasts of the Indianapolis 500. Surely I wouldn’t have been allowed to watch the carnage of 1973? Not to mention that the race didn’t actually finish until Tuesday, May 30, 1973.


Don’t wish to belabour how Bad the ’73 event was, for which others on Ye blogosphere have written about. As I’m just Happy that Borg Warner and IMS gave ‘Ol Gordie’ Johncock a Baby Borg’ trophy this year to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of His first Indy 500 victory that He didn’t get to celebrate!


My current memories are that the first 500 I remember watching when I still had relatively “full” vision, is the legendous’ 1985 “Spin ‘N Win” of ‘ol Hollywood’, aka Danny Sullivan’s!


Whilst I know for certain I watched Bobby Rahal pass poor ‘Ol Coogan’, nee Kevin Cogan and Big Al’s (Unser) epic wins the following two years…


But what’s funny to Mwah is how much the 1982-83 races stand out to me for different reasons, albeit they’ve just become Folklore for Mwah having watched various snippets via Youtube over the years.


As the 1982 race stands out for being one of the Best ever for the fantastic duel between Johncock and Rick Mears. With ‘83’s race being special since it was local Boy Done good Tom “The Gasman” Sneva of Spokane, WA being victorious! For which I still recall Goofy of Walt Disney being Hired to inject some “looseness” into that Bignotti-Cotter campaign.


While it’s most certainly a poor memory of how vehemently I was opposed to ‘Lil Napoleon’, aka TG’ or the man I used to call Ronnie’ George! As thinking now how much of a wasted decade-plus, or as the past RUSH song Between the Wheels comes sweeping across my radar; “Another Lost Generation!”


“You know How that Rabbit Feels Underneath your Spinning wheels

But the Wheels of Time just Pass You by!”


As I still fondly recall the QFC Grocery store cashier Bob bellowing Eddie Who? When asking me who’d won the 1998 Indy 500? Or reveling over Robby DirtMann’ Gordoun’s running out of Methanol in 1999 after Defecting to the Dark Side!


Or Juan Pablo Montoya kicking everybody’s Arse in 2000, when CART drivers took the first seven finishing positions, Yada-Yada-Yada…


And although I wasn’t thrilled over who won my very first ever Indianapolis 500 attended in person, that being Helio Castroneves who I much prefer calling Hulio’ in ’09. It was fun witnessing History and the fact that “The Band” was back together again, i.e.; the 2008 Mergification.


As I still like to believe in my mind’s “Eye” that I “Saw” a Hapless J.R. Holdebrand’s car sparking down the front straight as Dannyboy Spike’ Weldon flashed by for an improvable win! Or that’s just the collage I’ve painted into my memory…


Or Hearing for the only time ever Fans Booing Dario REO Speedwagon Franchitti on His cool-down victory lap in 2012! Not to mention the crowd erupting over TK’, aka Tony Kanaan’s victory a year later!


Or the total shock of rookie Alexander Rossi winning the 100th running in 2016. Along with Will Power’s emphatic Show Me Some Respect Motha Fokkers! Upon crossing the Yard of Bricks in 2018! Since it’s hard to believe that it’s been five years now since my last 500…


Whilst I still enjoy the memory of Tacoma Bureau Chief Mary ellen’s rendition of listening to the final laps in 2019 from our local Bumfiddle’ Florence Grocery Outlet parking lot and Who’s It gonna Be? Pagenaud, Rossi?


For which I felt something slightly akin to Jack Harvey this year. Since I was Happy for Symone’, aka Pageantry’, nee Simon Pagenaud who once was my favourite IndyCar driver after Justin Big Unit’ Wilson’s demise. But I had wanted Rossi to win His second Indy 500 that year, just to Shut Up the Neysayers!


Or reveling over Taku-san’, nee Takuma Sato’s two Indianapolis 500 victories. Doin’ my Takuma Sato You’re the Man Ickey Shuffle victory Dance after Defeating Castroneves in 2017! Along with His second win over a seemingly stumped Scott Dixon! Along with weirdly rooting against my current Numero Uno IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward last year, wanting Marcus Ericsson to win.


And now being “totally” Blind! Have I mentioned I’m Blind lately? My yearly tradition is to spend the Month of May listening to first the “Guns ‘N Roses” (GMR) Indy GP. The week of practice and Qualifying, and then the race all via the IndyCar Radio Network thru my Confuzer’s very impressive Soundbar!


Since being on radio, for which I always Hear Ye Curmudgeon ‘O Indy Cars, nee ‘Ol R’, aka the late robin Miller writing me: Why would Anybody wish to listen to an IndyCar race  on the Radio?


Yet being Blind, this is far superior for Mwah! Since they actually have to call the action vs. Leigh Diffey and Company Arse-suming the TV Viewer can See what’s going on!


As it’ll be one year exactly since I was forced to “watch,” Err listen to my last IndyCar race on NBC this Sunday, after a Lightning storm the evening before knocked my Interwoods’ service Offline…


Photo C/O No Fenders Offical’ Photographer CARPETS’ 

Friday, May 26, 2023

INDY 500: Graham Rahal makes the Race After All

As what a long, Strange Trip it’s been at Mother Speedway this May!


By now it’s old news, even if it’s only 72 Hours Old since the following Day’s Press Conference. But we All know about the first incident of this year’s Indianapolis 500 practice and qualifying. When Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Katherine Legge was unable to avoid crashing into Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports Stefan Wilson directly ahead of Her, when the large group of cars suddenly Checked up!


As both cars heavily impacted the Safer Barrier during Monday’s final practice session before Carb Day. With Wilson getting the worst of it, when His No. 24 Dallara/Chevy’s Nose made Heavy contact with the Wall! Which ultimately led to the 33yr Old Englishman suffering a broken vertebrae and being ruled ineligible for this year’s 107th running of the Indianapolis 500.


As Racer’s Marshall Pruett mentioned earlier how He’d noticed Stefan’s elbows being Bloody Raw from the way that I believe the Six foot Three and One-half inches tall? Driver had to Accordion Himself in order to fit into the Uber tight confines of the Dallara DW12 chassis. And how His older brother, the late Justin Wilson had also suffered a broken back after a seemingly mild crash at Mid-Ohio years earlier!


Yet when did the driver’s Height become akin to State Secrets? Since I cannot find Stefan’s listed Height anywhere on Ye Intrawoods’, Urgh! Even though I know He was taller then His older brother Justin…


All of which makes me wonder why Dallara and IndyCar Don’t require larger Tubs? Even though I’m sure it’s a weight issue to what a longer chassis would incur, Not to mention Aerodynamics and longer wheelbase racecars. But taller drivers shouldn’t be punished for their Height!


Although as I’ve said many times before, I’m Not an Engineer. And reportedly Stef’s tub was substantially damaged during His Turn-1 Wall impact! Requiring a new tub regardless. So I don’t know if a Shorter driver would have incurred the same injuries or not? And you have to say the resiliency and overall “Survivability” for racecars entering Turn-1 at approximately 235-238mph with the Boost turned down is remarkable!


Which ultimately leads to Graham Rahal having accepted DRR and Don Cusick’s offer to replace Stefan Wilson this Sunday in the team’s No. 24 entry. Since ironically Graham is also one of the taller drivers in the IndyCar Paddock, along with His new teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay Me Thinks…


Yeah, I’ve probably been somewhat Harsh against Graham over the years here upon No Fenders, where I tend to just let my raw emotions fly! Having previously noted how much I was rooting for Jack Harvey to knock Graham out of this year’s Indy 500 field, for symmetry’s sake, being the 30th Anniversary of His father Bobby not qualifying.


Yet I do feel that Graham is definitely one of the “good Guys” in IndyCar. And His classiness in handling the devastating situation of being Bumped from the Indy 500 was impressive. Along with His emphatically proclaiming He wouldn’t Buy His way into the 500 or Deny any of His teammates their ride speaks volumes to Mwah!


As I tend to forget how Graham was the one leading the charge for the Wilson Family Charity auction after Justin’s Death, which raised nearly $640,000! Along with knowing of two private situations where He provided Indy 500 accommodations for somebody with Cancer. Along with donating a set of racing tyres for a struggling driver…


Although one has to say that it’s a very weird way that Graham Rahal ultimately made His way into this year’s Indianapolis 500 field! As Kudos to everyone making this happen, including Honda, who Graham’s been a longtime partner of. Don Cusick, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Chevrolet and everyone else!


Two of the more obscure trivia tidbits divulged on Sunday’s Pole and Last Row Shootout were that Graham Rahal would have become only the third driver with 15 consecutive Indy 500 starts to Not Qualify. Joining Johnny Rutherford and Tom Sneva.


Also, with Jack Harvey starting 33rd and last. Harvey would have become only the third driver to start last two years in-a-row, joining Billy Boat and Marty Roth…


But Graham will now start 33rd and last aboard the No. 24 DRR/Cusick Motorsports Dallara/Chevy instead.


Whilst I won’t even dwell upon the irony of it being another “One Off” Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver who ultimately put Graham back into the race! Although it’s just ironic and nothing else!


While apparently in the press conference. Graham said with a smile on His face, You Haven’t gotten rid of Me yet Jack!


Thus having been a Huge Fan of Justin Wilson’s for several years, and feeling like Stefan’s never gotten a proper “Crack” at His IndyCar racing aspirations. Naturally I have to feel disappointed for Stefan’s injury and missing the race!


Yet I can only Hope that He comes back stronger than ever like His late brother did! And that better days for both Cusick Motorsports and Stefan Wilson are near on the Horizon!


 Get Well soon Stefan! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

INDY 500: Searchin’ Far and Wide

As the yearly Hunt for the perfect, Classic Tenderloin Rolls On…


Every May, the Media likes to Salt ‘N Pepper us with stories of People’s yearly Indianapolis 500 traditions, since after all it’s the Gurr-Reatest’ Something Ruther…


And although I can No longer recall if I’ve ever Had one? Since I only remember paying $9.00 for a Steak Sandwich during the 2006 USGP Formula 1 race instead, but I digress…


Thus for over a Decade Now, I’ve lived vicariously thru the written and spoken word  of one such person with the tradition of Hunting for the elusive, perfect Classic Tenderloin Sandwich at Mother Speedway every May! For which this ‘lil Ditty’s in regards to and Good Hunting!


Testing Testing, 1-2, 1-2, Is this Thingy’ On?


“The Searcher”

I looked Under Stand J

I looked Behind the Museum

I Asked around the Pagoda

But They couldn’t Help Me either


They Call Me The Searcher

I’ve been Searchin’ Far and Wide

I Won’t Get to Taste what I Came For

Until I’m Trackside


I Asked Doug Boles

I Asked Mark Miles

I Asked Jay Frye

But He Couldn’t  Help Me either


They Call Me The Searcher

I’ve been Searchin’ Far and Wide

I Won’t Get to Taste what I Came For

Until I’m Trackside


People ten to Scoff at Me

They Think I’m Crazy lookin’ for the perfect Tenderloin

Always interrupting Me to Say Hi George

When I’m putting Mustard on my Bun


Finding A Classic Tenderloin

I’ve been Searchin’ for Miles


Because I’m The Searcher

And I want A Real Tenderloin


And I Won’t Get to Get What I’m After

Until I’m trackside


I’ve learned Not to Stop at the First concession Stand

But Yeah look at My Face, Ain’t that A Smile


I’m Happy when I’ve found My Classic Tenderloin

Cause I’ve Got Values and I Won’t be Denied


I’m lookin’ for Mine

You’re lookin’ for Yours

We’re Both lookin’ together, But we don’t Know where to Turn!


They Call Me The Searcher

I’ve been Searchin’ Far and Wide

I Won’t Get to Taste what I Came For

Until I’m Trackside


This Lyrical Prose was Shamelessly inspired by The Who’s The Seeker song, which Y’all can listen to in the Youtube link below…


(Originally written by Tomaso on May 15, 2022) 

Monday, May 22, 2023

INDY 500: Pole Day Overshadowed by Last Row Shootout!

Hildebrand’s (Panther Racing) Pit crew standing on wall on Lap-199 cheering as JR takes the white Flag seemingly headed for victory! (The Tomaso collection)


As where’s the late Jim McKay to say “The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat!”


Suppose it’s just Mwah? But I was far more sintilated by the outcome of the Last Row Shootout vs. Fast Six Shootou for Pole position at Mother Speedway on Sunday!


Have never had anything against Jack Not Bloody Nige! Harvey, just that He’s never moved thoust proverbial needle for Mwha. Making it Uber Funny that I was rootin’ so vehemently for the Englishman Sunday!


As I know it’s probably wrong, as I flash back to Gory Ought Nine (my first Indy 500) and riding in the IMS Elevator with Daniel Banes Cooper and Graham Rahal. With Danny commenting upon Graham’s “Air Jordan-like” Sneakers.


Whilst to Graham’s credit. He’s the only IndyCar driver who took a question from this  lowly No Fenders Blogger about Portland International Raceway during a long ago IMS Teleconference…


But I simply wanted Graham to Not Qualify for this year’s Indianapolis 500! Especially since the symmetry was so grand! Being the 30th Anniversary since His father Bobby Rahal failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500!


As it’s strange how vividly I can still remember three decades later, a lifesize cardboard cutout of “Stash Senor”, aka Bobby Rahal resplendent in His Miller High Life Firesuit. At a local Portland, Oregon “Watering Hole” during that year’s G.I. Joes Budweiser 200 Portland IndyCar race - that some clever Patron had attached Wanted, Two Tickets for Indy underneath His right Armpit!


And although I’m Arse-suming it was simply programmed for sometime during the broadcast, since they place the same Promo every broadcast. I found it Uber’ ironic hearing good ‘Ol bobby Rahal’s voice promoting the IMS Museum whilst two of His drivers were fighting to Bump each other out of this year’s Indy 500!


As Harvey went out on track with some 16mins remaining, I found myself crossing two sets of fingers for bloody Jack! Even though it was simply a cooling down lap at 170mph…


Thus I found myself feeling the “Agony of Defeat!” thinking that Jack Harvey had simply Shot His Wad! Saying Bye-Bye Jack, you’ve just lost your Job!


As Harvey’s second run during the Last Row shootout with some ten minutes remaining in the One Hour session wasn’t Quick enough to Bump Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal from the field!


With the Englishman originally needing to find what I thought Davey Hamilton said was some eight tenths of a mile per hour! Although apparently it was only 0.68miles per hour to advance…


Thus I felt that IndyCar Radio Driver Analyst Davey Hamilton was correct when Harvey’s crew thru on a third set of Firestone tyres, which came from Christian lundgaard’s supply. That Harvey simply wouldn’t have enough speed to Bump Graham from the field!


And only Harvey and His team will know what was the true difference? As Harvey pulled out onto Mother Speedway with some 2.5 minutes remaming as Graham sat in His cockpit with No chance of responding! As was it the tyre pressure adjustments or something else? Or simply Jack Harvey driving the four laps of His life to potentially save His Job as an IndyCar Driver?


But whatever it was, Harvey did the unthinkable by knocking Graham out with a four lap average of 229.166 vs. 229.159 miles per hour after four laps or ten miles! Which I believe is a difference of seven One-thousand’s mph?


For which I cannot believe how ecstatic I was! And how loudly I Kackled over Graham’s demise! Since I know it wasn’t the same. But I hadn’t felt that same amount of euphoria since Kyle Kiser Bumped some Smarmy Spaniard named Fernando Alonso out of the field in 2019!


Thus for Mwah, and with No disrespect towards any of the Fast six Pole Shootout competitors, including my Numero Uno IndyCar Driver Pato O’Ward. With both eventual Pole winner Alex Palou and second place Rinus VeeKay throwing down monster first laps of 235mph-plus, aye Karumba! It really simply didn’t matter to me!


As I’d gotten what I wanted; being for Graham Rahal to Not make the Show! For which I have to say that both Graham and father Bobby both handled most professionally! And Didn’t shy away from All of the unwanted Attention and Scrum for interviews…


As even more classy was Graham apparently shaking Harvey’s hand in Congratulations immediately afterwards!


Since not sure why? Especially since it was a different circumstance. But I found myself Flashing-back to when Big Al (Unser) Defeated His son ‘lil Al’ for the 1985 CART/PPG IndyCar World Series Championship! When Al Unser said although He Didn’t want to Beat His son, He owed it to His team and sponsors to do His Best…


Whilst I believe it was IndyCar Radio Pit Reporter Alex Wolff who interviewed Bobby Rahal before the Last Row Shootout warm-up session began. To which bobby answered that He was Proud of Katherine Legge and that She deserved to be in the race! And that RLLR wouldn’t “Pull” Her from the cockpit no matter what happened during the Last Row Shootout!


For which I’m also glad that RLLR won’t deny Jack Harvey from starting this year’s race in favour of Graham Rahal! And that Graham, bobby and the rest of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will simply face the music come this Sunday. Although perhaps Harvey’s, Lundgaard’s and Legge’s cars will carry some extra “Associate” sponsors from Graham’s car upon them now?


Picture C/O No Fenders Offical’ Photographer CARPETS’ 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

INDY 500: It’s Pole Day, Sorta, Not!

Since we All know it’s now Bass Ackwards with the Made for TV Drama occurring Sunday. Even though Saturday was pretty G-Damn Exciting!


Managed to listen to a portion of the early Hours of Fast Friday via IndyCar Radio. Where Nicky Salt’ Yeoman and Jake “The Riddler!” Query mentioned multiple times how Takuma Sato had the day’s top speed of 234.753mph before He aboarted His four lap Qualie’ simulation after flirting with almost Hitting the Wall! Whilst Rinus VeeKay held the fastest four lap average, but All of that was before the Halfway mark of the day’s six hours running…


As I’m not sure how much the single lap results mean? Since it seems that the four lap average mock qualifying simulation speeds are more important, righto? Nevertheless Here’s the day’s Top-10 runners, with Sato’s lap remaining quickest.


As I’d say it’s definitely a surprise that Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti was second, with His teammates Kyle Kirkwood eight and Colton Herta ninth. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay was third fastest, and final driver in the 234mph range.


Sato’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Marcus Ericson was fourth, with Scott Dixon tenth. As Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’ward was fifth, followed by Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden sixth and A.J. foyt’s Santino Ferrucci an impressive seventh.


As Jake Query noted, the two IndyCar teams struggling the most were Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLLR) and Juncos Hollinger Racing! (JHR) With All four of the RLLR cars towards the bottom of the time sheet with surprisingly Katherine Legge leading the way in 29th with a speed of 231.420mph. Yet teammates Jack Harvey, (231.166) Christian Lundgaard (231.153) and Graham Rahal (230.669) Were P31-33, Youch!


Whilst the Nightmare continued for JHR’s Kallum Ilott, for which you can obviously say that the team simply got it wrong! And Thars really No reason to Bash them about the decision to not decide to finally switch to an alternate chassis for Ilott until Friday afternoon. Meaning the talented Englishman, who other drivers marveled over His skill of keeping His Wandering Matilda Off of the Walls! Was the only driver unable to crack the 230mph barrier! Only capable of dragging His recalcitrant Dallara to a 228.942mph speed.


While His teammate Agustin Canapino was in 20th with a rock solid speed of 232.920mph, nearly four miles per hour faster than Ilott!


As JHR will thrash over Friday night to get teammate Canapino’s April Open test mount ready for Ilott to Shake-down during Saturday morning practice before attempting to Qualify.


Meanwhile, the Underdog Abel Motorsports entry with R. C. Enersen at the Keyboard slotted in at P30, with a best lap speed of 231.242mph. but it doesn’t seem like much is being said about this entry, which I take as a good thing! Since All of the Media’s focus seems to be upon the two aforementioned teams above…


Whilst not surprisingly, Chip Ganassi Racing drivers have led All three days of practice. With Takuma Sato P1, “Top of the Pops” on Wednesday and Friday. With Marcus Ericsson P1 Thursday.


As stay tuned for two days of action packed Drama! As who’s it gonna be going home dejected Sunday afternoon? And which of the Ganassi Boyz’ will be on Pole? Or will somebody else step up and steal the Show?


As I can only wonder if Callum Ilott’s unable to qualify for this year’s Indianapolis 500, will that be the Kicker that makes Him leave the team that brought Him to Indy Cars next year?


Day One: Fast and most definitely Furious!

What an Insane first day of Qualifying that was! With a record shattering 84 Qualie’ attempts! As I’m not sure where to begin?


Have to say I was far more interested over who’d be in the Last Row Shootout; which is why I suppose I began scribblin’ down every competitors four lap average. Having tuned into the IndyCar Radio broadcast at 7:58AM Pacific, with Ryan Hunter-reay being the very first qualifier. As I managed to keep track thru the first 28 runs before missing David Malukas’s first attempt when the IndyCar Radio broadcast stopped at 11AM Pacivic. Thus needing to scramble to tune into 1075 The Fan via Ye Intrawoods’.


And with Team Penske pulling both ScottyMac’, aka Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden’s first guaranteed attempts, I believe that it was Agustin Canapino who was the 32nd and last car to make Thar first Qualie’ attempt

Thus originally seeing Canapino’s teammate Callum Ilott slowest with a speed of 227.720mph, followed by Graham Rahal’s 228.526mph, for which the RLLR Team was completely flabbergasted!


Ironically nary a peep was made about R. C. enersen’s qualification run of 231.129mph. As Enersen and Abel Motorsports quietly made the Show in 29th


Then on Ilott’s second run, the Bloody Brit ‘ threw down a monster first lap of 232.4mph. Leading to a four lap average of 231.182mph, seeing Ilott qualify P28! And JHR making the right call to switch chassis.


Who’d Ah-thunk-It? That with three hours remaiing it would be the two DCr Boyz’ vs. half of RLLR’s entries, i.e.; Harvey and Graham Rahal being the four Slowest cars. As prior to 1PM Pacific, I believe it was Dale Coyne Racing’s Sting Ray Robb, David Malukas, Rahal and Harvey P31-34.


As Malukas and Christian Lundgaard became locked in a Mano e Mano duel over the 30th and final “Safe” position of the day. As “Little Spud” (Malukas) had it before Lundgaard reclaimed it five minutes later. Before Malukas ran a stout 231.769mph on His day’s final run to improve to the middle of Row  8 in P23.


Ironically it would be the Dane’ (Lundgaard) as the final qualifier trying to knock His teammate Katherine Legge out of P30.  With Legge sitting on a speed of 231.070mph, with Her crew giving Her Hugs as Lundgaard rumbled along after the Gun had been Fired. As who’d guess that Legge would be the only RLLR entry to make the Top-30 on Day-1? As I began singing,


Three Rahal’s and a Dale Coyne Racing in A Tree…


As it’ll be Lundgaard, Jack Harvey, Graham Rahal and rookie Sting Ray Robb in the Last Row Shootout Sunday.


Meanwhile it was Arrow McLaren’s Felix-the-Cat’ (Rosenqvist) knocking His teammate Alexander Rossi off of P1 at 1:45PM Pacific. With Rosenqvist being the only driver of the day to record two laps in the 234mph bracket, with a four lap average of 233.947mph vs. Rossi’s 233.528mph average.


As All four Arrow McLaren’s and Chip Ganassi Racing entries made the Fast 12 shootout. With the surprise of the day bseeing both A.J. foyt enterprises making the Fast-12 field! With Santino Ferrucci ninth and Benjamin Pedersen P11! Along with Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay P4 and the lone Team Penske entry of Will Power in twelfth, matching His Car number…


As Team Penske provided more late drama when withdrawing Josef Newgarden’s time with just twenty minutes remaining. For which I thought for sure they were pulling another last year’s McLaughlin Blunder! But Newgarden only lost one position, sliding down to 17th, three positions behind McLaughlin.


Whilst obviously Andretti Autosport was disappointed not having a single entry in Sunday’s Pole shootout, which surely will be another day of drama! 

Friday, May 19, 2023

INDY 500: Who’ll Qualify for “the Greatest Race?”

And will it be “The Agony of Defeat” for somebody unexpected? Or fairly straightforward for who’s gonna miss the Show?


Since your Humble No Fenders Scribe Tomaso is a terribly slow t-y-p-er… I began my “Handicapping” of this year’s Indianapolis 500 field just days before what I prefer calling the “Guns ‘N Roses” Indy GP! Which is officially known as the GMR Indy Grand Prix.


Having read Racer’s Marshall Pruett’s piece upon Abel Motorsports efforts to make their maiden Indianapolis 500. The Team’s Manager John Brunner was saying All of the right things. And I’m fairly convinced that Abel Motorsports and R.C. Enderson will make this year’s field!


As Brunner notes that they’ve got a separate, dedicated veteran Indy 500 crew, including Engineer Mike Colliver, who previously guided A.J. foyt’s Sebastien Bourdais and Kyle Kirkwood’s entries.


And the team’s had Neil Enerson’s Dallara DW12 racecar, which previously ran in Oval and Road Course trim with Top gun Racing having received No upgrades since 2021. Has just receive it’s first Speedway Body-fit, along with new Speedway Uprights, Gearbox and Chevrolet engine updates. So I believe that the No. 50 is ready to “rock ‘N Roll!”


For my Off thee Cuff, First Take. Ill say that it’s two other Rookies who are on the proverbial “Hot Seat.” Mainly A.J. foyt enterprises Benjamin Pedersen and Juncos Hollinger Racing’s (JHR) Augustin Canapino. While I’ll expect JHR to have solved Canapino’s teammate Callum Ilott’s chassis issues from the Open Test.


I’d also say that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s (RLLR) Katherine Legge is a possibility for Not making the Show. For which I could add RLLR teammate Jack Harvey to this list


Also suppose that Sting Ray Robb could potentially struggle at Mother Speedway? Whilst we’re All Ah-Waitin’ to see who’ll be the surprise having issues this year. But cannot say I exactly like trying to predict who’ll be packing Thar suitcases this May?


Practice Begins, Sorta…

Whale’ lookie Thar Folks, it’s Mother Nature at the very top of the scoring pylon for the first day of Official Indianapolis 500 Practice, Shuhzamm! As rain washed out the long anticipated yearly running of racing cars Turnin’ Left at Mother Speedway…


Prior to Tuesday’s washout, I did learn that with the permission of IMS and Chevrolet’s assistance. Abel Motorsports had their 2.2-litre twin turbocharger V-6 Bowtie’ lump’ installed on Thursday prior to the Indy GP, and successfully fired the Chevy motor Thursday night!


And with No Disrespect to Top gun Racing, Abel Motorsports just feels like a far better prepared effort that I still expect to Qualify for this year’s Indy 500.


Practice Commences

One day later, Speedway, Indiana saw bright, clear skies, with R. C. enersen passing His Rookie Orientation Program Wednesday morning, before the entire 34 Grid took to the day’s six Hours of practice. But what do the speeds really mean?


Not surprisingly, Scott Dixon hung around the top of the Time Sheets until Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) teammate Takuma Sato bumped Him off of P1 with a lap of 229.439mph late in the day. As CGR would have All four entries in the Top-10, with Alex Palou fourth and Marcus Ericsson seventh. Followed by Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin fifth and Josef Newgarden ninth, and Andretti Autosport Colton Herta sixth and Marco Andretti tenth. With two surprises, seeing A. J. Foyt’s Santino Ferrucci third and Dryer & Reinbold’s Ryan Hunter-Reay P8.


So what were the Arrow McLaren Boyz’ up to? Since Alexander Rossi was quickest in P19 with Pato O’Ward P20. Followed by Tony Kanaan in 23rd and Felix Rosenqvist 26th. While Foyt’s Benjamin Pedersen was 21st (225.480mph) and Junco Hollinger Racing’s (JHR) Agustin Canapino was P22. (225.127) Both ahead of the latter two McLaren’s!


Also funny how in the battle of the two 48yr Old Brazilian’s, i.e.; Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, Tony won the day’s battle with Castroneves being 24th.


Slowest of the day was JHR’s Callum Ilott in 34th, with a speed of 223.409mph. As I caught Ilott telling IndyCar Radio’s Ryan Marin when tuning in briefly. That the first two runs were still “somewhat sketchy”, but now He felt they had a handle on the car and could start working forwards.


R. C. enersen was one position ahead of Ilott. (224.017) Whilst oddly Ed Carpenter was 28th. And Romain Grosjean was P30 (224.550) with Christian Lundgaard P32, (224.300) split by Katherine Legge at 224.461mph.


Day 2’s Practice saw many of the same faces in the Top-10, with All four of the CGR boyz’ Thar again. This time with Marcus Ericsson’s 229.607mph being the day’s quickest speed. Followed by Dixon in second, seemingly lurking! Sato P7 and Palou ninth. The only other team with multiple drivers in the Top-10 was Arrow McLaren. With Pato O’Ward eight and Alexander Rossi, who ran the most laps with 164 being thenth.


Surprises of the day have to be Meyer shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud in third, with Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly winding up sixth. With Penske’s Will Power (fourth) and Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta (fifth) sandwiched in-between.


Still have Zero idea if it means anything? But the day’s Slowest five cars were: ECR’s Rinus VeeKay, (225.028mph) and Ed Carpenter (224.906) P30-31. JHR’s Callum Ilott 32nd, (224.727) followed by DRR/Cusick Motorsports Stefan Wilson at 224.673mph and RLLR’s Katherine Legge last at 223.934mph.


Abel Motorsports R. C. Enersen was an impressive 28th at 225.112mph. Ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco (P29) and the other five slowest competitors!  


Whilst it’s worth noting that Legge was P14 on the “No Tow” list I believe. Which represents car speed without the Aerodynamic Tow once gets when running in a draft behind a pack of cars.


And now it’s time for Faux, err Fast Friday, when speeds are Artificially Inflated due to turning up the Boost! Albeit weather permitting… 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

INDY 500: One Off Entries

But will one of these drivers “Not look Like the Others” following this Sunday?


Here’s what’s hopefully a Quick look at the seven “Extras” comprising this year’s Indianapolis 500’s 34 Car field.


As will it be one of these seven drivers, or somebody else Not making the 107th Running on Sunday, May 28th?


Marco Andretti

Age: 36, DOB: 3/13/87

#98, Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajanian

2006 Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League Rookie Of the Year

2020 Indianapolis 500 Pole Winner

Although Marco’s become the proverbial “Fifth Wheel” at Andretti Autosport, having switched to “One Off” IndyCar status in 2021. Nonetheless, you’d have to Arse-sume that Marco will once again safely Qualify for His 18th Indy 500. Especially since theoretically He’s got six other drivers Data to rely upon.


Whilst Marco’s definitely vaulted to P1 for longest Team Name, ahead of Dale Coyne and His various Alphabet Soup Brigades, Hya!


Ed Carpenter

Age: 42, DOB: 3/3/81

#33, Ed Carpenter Racing

Three times Indianapolis 500 Pole winner: 2013-14, 2018

Like many, I tend to believe that Fast Eddie’s better days of driving are behind Him. Yet who am I to tell Ed Carpenter what to do? Especially since He’s the Team Owner. And I believe Ed will be making His 20th start this May, as He continues His Ovals Only racing program.


Pretty certain that Ed made the Top-12 Shootout for Pole last year, and the ECR cars are always fast at Mother Speedway, albeit it’s been ECR teammate Rinus VeeKay who’s been the top starter of the team recently.


R. C. Enerson

Age: 26, DOB: 3/6/97

#50, Abel Motorsports

Richard Clayton “R. C.” Enerson is the only rookie of these seven drivers, hoping to be one of potentially four rookies in this year’s field. As R. C. has made a total of five IndyCar starts overall, and attempted making His first Indianapolis 500 in 2021 with Top gun Racing. Which unfortunately was an uphill struggle for this Minnowesqe, underfunded race team that ultimately saw Enerson as the slowest driver all of that May.


Yet I feel much more confident about this year’s entry with Abel Motorsports who seem to be putting together a quality entry. And expect R. C. to qualify this year, meaning somebody else’s going Home…


Ryan Hunter-Reay

Age: 42, DOB: 12/17/80

#23, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

2008 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Rookie Of the Year

2014 Indianapolis 500 Winner

When I think of whom I called Bully-Ray’ for many years, before becoming simply “the Dude!” For Mwah, Hunter-Reay’s synonymous  with the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Banana yellow DHL car, which we know is now occupied by Romain Grosjean…


Hunter-Reay’s not raced an IndyCar since the 2021 Long Beach season finale, His 239th IndyCar start. And I’ve got Zero clue of what colour scheme or sponsorship livery He’s running this year at DRR. Yet ryan didn’t have any troubles with His IMS refresher course, and finished P14 on the time sheets during this year’s IMS Open test.


As I’ll expect Hunter-Reay to make His 16th Indy 500 start, but don’t expect Him to win, while I’d Ars-sume a Top-10 finish is possible.


Tony Kanaan

Age: 48, DOB: 12/31/74

#66, Arrow McLaren

2005 Indianapolis 500 Pole Winner

13 Indianapolis 500 Winner

What can I scribble about TK’ that hasn’t already been said? Other than I do like the symmetry of TK’ retiring ten years after His Indy 500 victory.


 As Tony promises this is His last, last, last Indianapolis 500 race! And His last IndyCar start, Honest! For which I’ll Hope that the Fan favourite Brazilian goes out on top! Although it’ll be hard to replicate last year’s third place finish. Since after all, Kanaan’s the fourth “Arrow” in Arrow McLaren’s “Quiver”. But it will be interesting to see who comes out P1 for the team this May. And it sounds like Tony’s at least got a very good looking racecar for His 22nd and final outing at Mother Speedway, where Tony says He’ll be Crying like a Baby come race day!


Katherine Legge

Age: 42, DOB: 7/12/80

#44, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Seems like a really, really long time since I got whom I affectionately call thy Leggy Juan’s autograph as a Champ car rookie at Portland International raceway Wayback’ in Gory 2006!


As I guess one could stay that Katherine’s had a star crossed career, having driven a multitude of racing cars over the decades. Having made Her first Indianapolis 500 start in 2012 for Jay Penske’s Dragonspeed outfit before being unceremoniously Dumped by Jay! And then Her second and final Indy 500 start to date came a decade ago when driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, with finishes of 22nd and 26th respectively.


And although Katherine finished towards the bottom of the Time sheets during the Open test. I’ve got no idea what She or the team were working on that day? As Katherine and Linus Lundqvist tested at Texas Motor Speedway the day following this year’s race in order to help RLLR get “sorted” for Indy this May. As I’d like to Arse-sume that as RLLR’s fourth entry She’ll get similar equipment to the team’s three primary drivers. And I’d like to believe that Legge will qualify and make Her third start at Mother Speedway later this month.


Stefan Wilson

Age: 33, DOB: 9/20/89

#24, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports

As we All know, Stefan Stork’ Wilson is the younger brother of the late, Justin Big Unit’ Wilson. Whose struggled to find the necessary “Backing” to enable a Fulltime IndyCar career.


Stefan will be attempting to make His fifth Indianapolis 500 start, having found an enthusiastic “Backer” in don Cusick, who’s funded Stefan’s last few years Indy 500 rides.


Stefan finished sixth during this April’s IMS Open test, and hopefully these results will carry over for this year’s event. Although I Don’t expect Stefan to win. His best finish to date is 15th in 2018. When needing to Pit for Fuel with four laps remaining while leading the race. As I’ll expect Stefan to safely make the field this weekend…