2008 IndyCar GP Sonoma

IRL IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma
Anchor: Marty Reid
Analysit: Scott Goodyear
Pitlane: Jack Arute, Vince Welch & Brienne ‘Petticoat’ Pedigo

80 laps of a dustbowl. Hungaroring mk2?

Fast Six: Helio, Briscoe, Power, Kanaan, Dixon, Servia
The rest: Wilson, RHR, Patrick, Andretti, Dominguez, Moraes, Bruno, Viso, Rahal, Wheldon, Scheckter, Meira, Bell, Mutoh, Manning, Rice, Carpenter, Foyt 4, Roth, Camara, Bernoldi.

Bernoldi set no time.

Luczo Dragon have been advertising in Autosport magazine for the last 3 weeks for a race engineer and mechanics, hopefully this means they are expanding for 2009. Good to see them (and Bell) back here.

Warm-up laps. They seem to be using a different configuration of track to last year, up the drag strip into a sharp right.

A quick mention of using the NASCAR bit at the end but only when the IRL feels like it. Bet the timing and scoring guys just loved that idea.

GREEN: 80 to go

Penskes lead them through. Piss-poor formation after row 3 but better than waving them off because it was untidy.. just send ’em and have a stern chat after.

Wilson fighting nicely. Go Justin! Got to beat the sponsor and driver thieves at KVR.

Dust kicked up by Bruno.

Made a move on Wheldon but was pushed wide.

Firestone have painted the tyre sidewalls white for the 4 drivers who can still mathematically win the title, for easy identification.

Scott says the drivers love the paddleshifters.

L5 Petticoat: KVR say there are no more ‘them and us’. They are the best of the rest, best non-Big 3 team. I call bullshit. Maybe on road courses but not on ovals, got to be both to be true BOTR. I nominate Panther.

Photos of Penske’s truck fire including heavily damaged cars. Great job from Penske to run 1-2 with their t-cars after that. Marty they said they managed to save their tractor which must be American for ‘truck’ because over here tractors work in fields. They seem to think the pickups in NASCAR are trucks.

L10 Not much going on here at the moment. Formation flying. Taking lessons from F1 circa 2000-2005. Vitor pits. Scratch what I said about them being best of the rest, that’s a stupid strategy. Always go long on a road course unless you are qualifying with race fuel or you are reacting to someone who’s already stopped.

L11 Wheldon in. Are they trying to beat the phantom safety car? Vince says they are trying to make the fuel last. That’s nuts. This is lap 11. ELEVEN. Run long and do a short stop halfway through. L11, 69 to go, how do you know what’s going to happen?

Now they insert a pre-record with Helio. That’s fine but just play the audio. I want to see cars on the track, that window over his shoulder is tiny. Bah.

L15 Vince says Penske’s luck got worse, a PR rep had their bag stolen with their laptop and other stuff.
I wonder what’s going on behind the top three? We haven’t been allowed to see it yet. One thing F1 does well (these days – very recently it wasn’t so) is they move back through the field if something is happening, or even if it isn’t, just to mix it up a bit.

YELLOW black car around, is that Roth? What’s he doing here? I thought was only doing ovals and leaving this stuff to the professionals.

Foyt also got into the dust. Roth gets refired and rejoins. In F1 he’d be DQ’d for ‘outside assistance’ which is potentially the most stupid rule in the world.

Scott talks about the different approach to turn 7 now. Explains the layout but doesn’t tell us why. Scott, WHY did they change it? To get more passing? Was the other way too dusty?

Yellow pitstops. Dixon up a spot, RHR up 2, Manning up 3!


Brisoe leads from Kanaan, Patrick, Rahal, none of whom stopped under yellow. Top 8 didn’t stop, maybe more.

We seem to be using a different pronunciation of ‘Jaime Camara’. RHR spins, rejoins. He took the Foyt line on to the dust, saved it, but the dirt on the tyres made him slow through the corner and Wilson pushed him around.

L23 Onboard with Power which is immediately obscured by the biggest graphic in the world.

Up To Speed
Vince: Briscoe on pole here in ’05 for Ganassi. Did not pit during the yellow. Can go to L27 or so.
Brie: Kanaan stayed out, working on fuel strategy. Q4 but has a loose car, bottoming out.
Danica similar strategy, also struggling with the car. Track temp is 126deg [that’s in old money].
Jack: Rahal is 4th and took Wilson’s setup for his car. Moraes is 5th, had some differences with Bruno last night (?).

Brie: Ed Q23 is now 6th [not bad but he’s not stopped, many others have]. Has Bryan Herta as road course advisor.
Jack: Viso pitted early to get out of sequence. Received visit from some guy I’ve never heard of who is apparently famous for sports somewhere.
Vince: Wheldon can do 9 more laps before he has to pit again. Missed a practice session, feels he’s behind compared to others.

Jack: Dominguez Q well, better than hoped. His pit bloke needed 50(fifty!) stitches after an ‘industrial accident’.
Brie: Vitor’s team not sure where their speed has gone.
ESPN’s pit crew are on fire!
Danica pits. No changes. Rahal in, wing adj. Jack Arute calls the car ‘specials’ as if this is a 1950s Indy 500.

L27 Briscoe and TK pit. No changes to either car. Wow big train as they exit. Brisoce beats most of them, TK does now, his pit guys were slower. Wilson takes Power! They are all stuck behind that slightly slower Conquest car, F1-style. Bernoldi I think, and he has the position legitimately.

Viso leading by way of pit sequence. Arute: Viso has been criticised by others but one high ranking person in the pits said under anonymity ‘if I were looking to hire a driver, I’d take Viso, you can teach a fast guy to slow down but not a slow guy to speed up’. Hello Marty Roth.
Dominguez is 3rd now.

L32 Bernoldi is defending well from the faster cars behind. He did this for an entire Monaco GP in an Arrows against Coulthard in a McLaren. DC had to start down the order, don’t recall why, it was expected he would slice through the back of the field like a hot knife through butter. Didn’t happen, Bernoldi held him. The rest of his F1 career was not notable for anything at all really.

L33 Bernoldi in, as is Manning. Briscoe got a warning from IRL officials for blocking, which is nonsense, this isn’t “after you, Claude”, this is racing, and solid defending is acceptable. Weaving and brake testing is not; changing lines taking air away is not. If you take the line early it’s fine isn’t it? These are oval rules applied to road courses and it doesn’t make sense.

I think Viso is auditioning for Pressdog’s circus clowns, Marty says he has been practicing his unicycle skills!

L35 Wheldon and Dominguez pit.
L36 Viso in, Helio now leads.

Notice how the cameras are completely ignoring the stands. Anyone know the attendance?

L39 Viso 12th after his stop. Power in. Power ran 13 laps, strategy change from KVR.
L40 Briscoe on a good strategy, says Marty. Scott says Briscoe knows ‘a-boat’ pit strategy and knows a-boat patience from his ALMS experience with Penske last year.

For some reason ESPN can’t keep a steady lap counter, either incrementing up or incrementing down. Pick one and stay with it please!

37 to go: Helio stops. Wilson also in, an ex John Herb car. Is that good or bad? I’ve never heard of him so I am assuming bad, although with N/H/L on the case it will surely get better. Dixon is in, Vince calls him ‘the champion’ because he’s so far ahead in points. RHR catches Wilson as Justin exits the pits. Good racing.

Now ESPN switch back to x of y laps.. that’s amazing, I didn’t plan that at all! L46 Bruno pits.
Jack: N/H/L had trouble getting the seat into this new car for Wilson. Same story for every new team with Wilson, heard it several times. Servia pits, exits between Dixon and Wilson, who is still fighting RHR.

L49 Great battle between TK and Helio but we can’t see it because ESPN are playing a prerecorded interview with TK. Ah here we go. Gets VERY close on several occasions.

One thing I hate about taking the US coverage is that they take a commercial break every 3 laps. I want to watch a race, not be sold to. I get that you need to sell ads to make money but please, there’s taking things too far.

L53 Briscoe pits. Emerges behind Viso but almost loses it on the hill, slows, gets going.
L54 TK pits. Nasty bump on pit entry. The whole pitlane is fairly bumpy. Patrick pits.
L56 Wheldon pits, a lap later Helio comes in. Helio beats Meira and Manning, Briscoe is behind that pair.
L58 Dixon is in. Penskes are catching a Conquest car. Dixon beats a train of cars coming up fast along the main straight.
L59 Power to get a drive-thru penalty for not coming to a complete stop when missing the chicane – for the third time! Wilson is in. Doesn’t take a full load of fuel, he doesn’t need to with 21 laps to go. Power takes his penalty.
L60 (20 to go) Viso pits from the lead. Penske now 1-2 again.

Marty says if positions remain as they are the points lead will drop from 78 points to 41. Personally I think that’s more to do with the fucked-up points system they use! Helio does get the bonus for leading most laps.

L63 I’m officially fed up with Side By Side as an excuse to run ads every 3 laps. I might switch back to the Intl feed next time because they are just taking the piss here. Has it always been this bad or are they pissed at losing to Versus? We should get a bonus for watching most commercials.

L66 Cars are fairly strung out now, not a great deal of racing going on. Not sure how Wilson dropped back to 12th, maybe a bad strategy. He was running well.

Another Up To Speed! 2 for 1 deal special offer

Vince: Helio will set a new record for wins in 7 consecutive season, ties Scott Sharp. So that’s not a new record then Vince, that’s a tie. Briscoe lapping Power. He has a comfort level to prevent overdriving.
Brienne: TK is getting lonely, wants team to talk to him.
Vince: Wheldon 4th (where’d he come from?). Avg road course finish of 15th, Vince says not good enough. Contract renewal time.

Brienne: For Patrick, 5th would be good enough. Best finish on road/street course this year.
Jack: Bruno needs a splash/go for fuel. Can’t make it (not for the first time this year, Jack). Meanwhie Viso is full-rich.
Brienne: Vitor – wonderful finish considering tough week they’ve had.
Jack: Rahal to go the distance, will not pit. Auctioning a helmet.
Brienne: Rice Q22nd now 10th. [not bad!]
Vince: Series points leader Dixon is 14th, car not running well. Complained that Briscoe ‘chopped him down’ when they were running together earlier. Goal: get the most from today. They don’t feel like they’ve done that.

L70 Another nice job from the team.

L72 Wow they did half a lap after ads, then went to more!! That’s nuts. There are actually rules against that in this country.

L73 Oh, a spin from Dominguez, drops from 12th rejoins 17th.

L75 Vince at Penske: a mention for the team, the men who don’t get the recognition for working long hours and put in the hard work.
Agree completely, avery good job to recover from their setbacks this week.

Dixon has made up a place or two through other cars having to pit for a splash of fuel. Points diff is now 43. He’s chasing Buddy Rice who is stretching the fuel mileage.
People have been congratulating him for the championship win but it isn’t official yet!

Question: The ticker says Marco is 14th but I don’t remember seeing him at any stage. Did you?

L77 Those same stops have moved Wilson up to 9th.
Helio hasn’t won in 29 races, this will finally end the streak!

L78 BANG Power hits the tyre barrier on the chicane runoff, the one he went through earlier. Brake issues? He’s off the racing line so we go local yellow only as the white flag flies at the line to signal L79.

Carpenter spins off at speed!

Fence-climbing time once more, and its about time too! Briscoe 2nd, Kanaan 3rd.

Vince with Tim Cindric, Penske: Wasn’t easy when the yellow came out. See where we end up at the end of the year.

Helio climbs OVER the fence and in among the fans! Excellent.
Back down, Vince catches up. Roger: You’re the man. This group of guys are racers, I want to thank everybody who helped us the last several days.
A VERY EXCITEABLE Helio, I can’t catch what he’s saying at machine-gun speed. I mean I understand it but can’t transcribe, too fast.

Brienne with an irritated Dixon: Everything we did was wrong. Not sure why we didn’t pit when stuck behind a slower car and couldn’t get past.

Okay I gotta post this and get going, late now and need to be at work in the a.m.!

Helio, Briscoe, Kanaan, Wheldon, Patrick, Viso, Meira, Rahal, Wilson, Moraes, Rice, Dixon, Mutoh, Andretti, Servia, Dominguez, Bruno, RHR, Bell (-1), Foyt (-1), Bernoldi (-1), Manning (-1), Carpenter (-2), Camara (-2), Power (-3), Roth (-4), Scheckter (-24)

Rahal 8th and Wilson 9th, a good day for N/H/L relatively speaking. Can still do better. Anyone know why Tomas was so far back, I didn’t catch that on the coverage?

Dixon 578
Helio -43
Wheldon -124
Kanaan -130
Briscoe -186

Only two drivers remaining in the title race.

Up next: Detroit this weekend. Last year was boring as hell, the ALMS race was more exciting and that’s not supposed to happen. Year 2 of the Belle Isle Resurrection may just be better.

Okay I’m out of here, see ya Saturday for some words about the BTCC.

Just appeared on Autosport.com: Brisoe to rejoin the ALMS team for Detroit and Petit Le Mans. He’ll race both IRL and ALMS at Detroit!

F1 – European Grand Prix

2008 Formula 1 Telefonica Grand Prix of Europe
Valencia, Spain
Round 12 of 17
5.440 km (3.38 mile) street circuit
Race distance: 57 laps, 310.08 km, 192.66 miles

The Grand Prix of Europe, because we’re all one big happy European family!

Coverage: ITV1 *LIVE*
Anchor: Steve Rider
Analyst: Mark Blundell
Commentary: James Allen & Martin Brundle
Pitlane: Louise Goodman & Ted Kravitz

You can read my race preview here. I was unable to take notes live by computer when I watched the race, so my notes are hand-written. It’s now Monday and I’m trying to decipher them.. Quotes are paraphrased!

The info comes thick and fast on the ITV pre-race, they do an excellent job which is only really let down by their main commentator (this is strange as he was one of the best pit reporters I’ve ever heard) and their over-emphasis on Lewis Hamilton. Coverage switches to the BBC in 2009, it’ll be interesting to see how they approach it.

12:05 British Summer Time / 13:05 local time in Valencia

Steve: “This is Valencia’s first F1 race, the track took 9 months to build. It is a high-speed layout with two or three potential passing places.” The track is around several America’s Cup racing yacht bases.

Mark: “This is the first time in years we’ve had a track with a flat out turn 1. I’m looking forward to it. New circuit, new race conditions. The warm temperatures should suit Ferrari. Brakes could be an issue.”

This is because like Montreal and Bahrain, there are several fast sections leading into tight, slow corners.

12:10 Interview with the guy who built the track, didn’t catch a name (not Tilke):
“This circuit cost 70m Euros to build but we’ll save money from now on, now we have the facilities. “
It took 700 workers 270 days to construct the circuit, they relaid the asphalt so we aren’t on normal streets, this is racetrack.

Alonso was fined 10,000 Euros for crossing the pit exit (or entry?) white line during practice. Can’t cross that line, not even an inch.

Trulli: “I like the city, I like the circuit environment, it doesn’t feel like a street track.”

A reported 112,000 fans are in attendance, later we learn the capacity is 120k and the promoters were disappointed not to get a sellout.

Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren test driver), interviewed because he is Spanish: “Great track, a great effort, safety is good. It will get stronger and better.”

Mark (who raced in CART for several years): “It’s like Montreal or the US street tracks. The teams are prepared, McLaren has a laser wot scans the circuit so they can put it into their computer.”
European street tracks are tight, fiddly affairs, there aren’t many in the US mould of wider more open layouts i.e. Long Beach or St Pete. There aren’t many European street tracks at all actually.
He was also referring to McLaren’s scanning system, we learned in qualifying that McL sent a team out several weeks ago with a scanner for their race simulator.

12:15 Here’s James with a quick report from qualifying, blink and you miss it, I did.
Talking to more drivers. Massa, Hamilton, Vettel.
Lewis: “Surprised there have been no shunts yet.” Only in F1 Lewis, the support race guys have been crashing everywhere. Who will win? “Whoever looks after their tyres and stays off the walls.”
Seb Vettel: “I made a mistake in turn 12 so could not improve, but I wasn’t going to be on pole anyway!”

Qualifying order:
Knocked out in Q2: NAK, ALO, GLO, WEB, PIQ
Knocked out in Q1: BUT, COU, FIS, BAR, SUT

Steve: Surprises in qualifying?
Mark [I’ll summarise]: “Massa outstanding job. Vettel. Topsy turvy until the last session when the order returned to normal. Toro Rosso outpaced Red Bull.”

Now we go onboard with Felipe Massa during is pole lap yesterday, commentary from Martin Brundle who talks us around the corner entries, racing lines, gears, etc. I always look forward to this.
Martin: “5.44km, was very dusty but has improved as rubber down. Flag marshals will have to be on their toes as there are a lot of blind-entry corners at speed. The pole position spot was only moved to the clean side of the grid this morning.”
The cars are laying rubber on the racing line, over one half of the grid. The other half is still fairly dusty – same as Hungary. Pole was supposed to be on the dirty side. Later we learn it was changed before Qual but they weren’t given the info in the commentary box.

Feature: After quals, Red Bull drivers from both teams were taken out on an America’s Cup racing boat, the one Red Bull sponsors. While there they talked to Louise.
Bourdais: You’re used to this sort of track from America? “Not actually much like the USA. It’s unique. It’s an interesting track.” He’s referring to it being a normal racing surface but around streets.
DC (sitting next to Bourdais on the yacht): “The atmosphere will build over the coming years. We’re definitely not in America, I don’t see anyone eating hotdogs and hamburgers!”

12:24 Unusual that there are only grandstands here, no general admission. Even Monaco has a little GA section.

The America’s Cup is in a legal dispute over where to hold their event, so they might not even return to Valencia despite them building facilities for them. So they need to find another use: F1!
Bernie was interviewed before quals yesterday and said it was his idea.

DC again, this time on a balcony in pitlane: “It will be better in 5 years when the local redevelopment is complete.” Says something about being a dockyard.

Ted Kravitz: “This is like Monaco but with less money and more room to spread out.”

12:29 Team personnel are now on the grid and engines are firing up in the garages. As Steve and Mark babble about something, the first cars head out on their sighting laps.
Mark had tipped Massa for the title a few weeks back: “I’d better stick to my guns. Out front nobody can touch him, he struggles when he’s behind, and he’s starting on pole. Watch Hamilton, he always starts fast.”

Lewis: “We’re fast and consistant, happy to be on the front row.” About Massa passing him in Hungary: “No-one ever usually overtakes me, if they do its on the inside! Outside won’t happen again.” And Valencia? “Very wide, don’t get close to the walls, it’s like a car park!”
Have you sent a message to Team GB in Beijing to support them? (FFS what sort of question is that?): “Very proud of GB [looks at camera], very proud of you if you’re watching. Usain Bolt, gobsmacked at the speed of the Jamaicans.”

12:39 Martin’s gridwalk!
“Valencia has character, an unusual first corner, sitting on the grid they are looking at a wall. Corner feeds into the braking area for turn 2. GP2 got through there and they drive like its their last day on Earth. There is no perimeter road, no space for cranes so Safety Cars are expected. No F1 cars in the wall yet though.”
“Superb lap from Massa. Hot temps favour Ferrari. [why Martin, why?] 10-12 guys working on the cars on the grid.”
Michael Schumacher (honestly) is standing talking to Mario Theissen of BMW. No, he’s on the phone! Martin interrupts him anyway.
“Michael, sorry didn’t realise you were on the phone”
Schuey: “Honestly” [hah, his first word was ‘honestly’!] “Honestly, the cars and tyres are sensitive to temperatures.” Short answers today from Michael, there was that and some one word answers..
Martin asks if he’d like to drive here? “Maybe on a bike! Martin: “But you keep falling off! Isn’t it unsafe?”
“I thought so too a few years ago.”
“I know what you mean, I ride a road bike myself, thanks Michael and sorry for interrupting your phone call – Mario!” He grabs Mario Theissen who is talking to someone else. Michael says goodbye to Mario…
Mario: “Kubica in a good position, good chance. 1 stop for the cars at the back, 2 stops further up.” Martin: “Sorry to butt in!”.
Bumps into Bernie who is with the Mayor of Valencia, tries to motion Martin to talk to his esteemed guest but he ignores her completely. Bernie: “I’ve wanted a GP since my first time here. That was 14 months ago.” Martin: “I’m sure you’re pleased and so is the mayor, well done ma’am”. [words to that effect]
Walks along, finds Heidfeld: “Track is quite grippy, not our own rubber but should be nice. We took the safer option on brakes which is more comfortable anyway.”
Out of a break, into gridwalk, into the next break.. Commercials bunching means nearly race time.

12:47 Button with Louise: “Disappointing qualifying, we chose the wrong tyres.” Plan? “Go fast, don’t crash!”.
Ted with Alan Permaine, engine guru at Renault. Ted: “Seems to have become an engine circuit with long straights, you struggling?” Alan: “Don’t want to go into that too much for obvious reasons!” He said more but I didn’t take it down in my notes for some reason..

Almost ready to begin, one final ad break before the start, now we join James and Martin upstairs as the official F1 track graphics are rolling.

Barrichello and Sutil will be starting from the pit lane as they had to work on their gearbox after qualifying. That breaks the new ‘your gearbox has to last for 4 races’ rule. I’m not sure why they don’t just put them at the back.

13:02 Cars away on the Formation Lap
James: “This race is 57 laps which is 192 miles, the longest race of the year.”
My comments: F1 races last either 2 hours or 300 km, whichever is soonest. The scheduled laps are normally based on the 300 km but this one seems to be 10km more for no apparent reason. We don’t yet know how long this will be in terms of time, depends on SC. The next race (Spa) is long in terms of time, not sure on distance, the one after (Monza) is the shortest in time.

Grid forms up.


57 to go: Everyone gets through the first turns, they are taking it carefully. Amazing sight through T1. Nope – someone in the wall at T3. Alonso is slow. Nakajima has a damaged front wing. DC has also dropped back.
Replay: Nakajima hit Alonso’s rear wing, both wings damaged. James: “Rear wing is structurally attached to the gearbox and will take up to 5 minutes to change. Front wing is easy – change the nose.”

L55: Massa is 8 points back from Hamilton with 6 races to run. Kovalainen gets Raikkonen on the start.

L54: Alonso is out of the car. He’d been told to wait while they fix it, looks like he’s done. Replay: He had to get out of it to avoid another car. Naka didn’t get out of it.

L53: DC runs at Piquet and gets him, nice move!
L52: Heidfeld lost a spot to Rosberg at the start for 8th. Sutil radio: “I’m faster I need to pass him!” Talking about his teammate Fisi.
Louise with Alonso: “2 races in Spain, 2 retirements. We tried to go out for the fans, they came to see me, too much damage to suspension and gearbox so impossible to go out now.”
L50: DC makes a run at Sutil, hits him and spins! Sutil continues.

L48: Kubica in 3rd is now 8.5s behind Hamilton, lost some time. Struggling with oversteer will fix it at next stop. Bourdais has a broken front wing element.

L46: Rubens runs wide, DC goes by him. Vettel is fast.
L45: Kimi 5th 17.8s back from Massa after 12 laps but may be quicker than Kovy. James talked about ‘field spread’, cars spread out more easily at some tracks due to configuration of straights/corners.

L43: Allen: “In F1 if 3 people gather they’ll end up talking about Massa. Is he good enough?” Championship material? Brundle: “He’s beating Schumacher and Raikkonen in the same car, he’s fast.” Massa pits! That’s early and unexpected even by McLaren. Expected 2 laps later. He’s out ahead of Kimi! Massa running heavy is ahead of a light Kimi, he’ll hold up Kimi, that’ll annoy him.
ITV are saying Big Mistake.

L41: Hamilton pits. Lots of dust. Is out behind Raikkonen. Vettel also in, back out 9th.
L40: Now the turn of Kubica and Raikkonen.
L38: Trulli in. Hamilton only gained 1 second over Massa on his stop.
L37: Kovy pits as does Rosberg. HK comes out alongside Heidfeld who hasn’t stopped.
L35: Nick pits now, out 11th, not great but some one-stoppers are ahead.

L34: They are saying Renault is generally down on power compared to the other manufacturers, and that Red Bull aren’t happy with the situation. Glock is asked about his tyres.

L31: Piquet has wing damage. Fisi hasn’t stopped yet, neither have Webber, Piquet, Glock, Button or Sutil.

L29: Hard tyres are getting better lap times as we go through the stint. Webber overshoots his pit box on the dust, hits his jack man. Everyone has to shuffle down a bit. Martin: If you go in too hot that can happen, but if you’re too careful you lose too much time.

L28: Team checks in with Glock again. No wing adjustment for Timo, he’s happy. During the next few laps he pits while we’re in an ad break. He’s 1-stopping and looking to beat Vettel who’s 2-stopping.

L25: This is fairly uneventful. I’m not gonna lie, I’m flipping between this and the Olympic Closing Ceremony which is just starting because a) this race is boring and b) I want to see London’s handover segment. If I miss anything tell me later ‘k?

L22: Hamilton struggling to match Massa’s pace, has he settled for 2nd and the championship points? Raikkonen is catching Kovy. The Ferraris *are* faster in these conditions. If I were McLaren I’d be hoping for cloud cover.

L19: Massa pits and is released into Sutil. Traffic already in pitlane has priority! You can try and beat him but once he’s there you’ve got to give way. Ferrari’s error, no doubt about it. Not Massa’s fault, he goes when the team tells him.

Incident involving car 2 under investigation.

L18: Hamilton pits. Emerges behind Massa. Vettel in.
L17: Kubica in.
L15: Sutil into the wall. Okay the tyre wall. Yellow flags at turn 2, they should be able to recover that without the SC as he’s in a runoff area.
Incident with car 2 will be sorted after the race.
Rosberg now into a runoff, continues.
L14: Kimi hit a man! He left his pit box with the fuel hose still attached, it took a guy with it. Kimi stops immediately. The mechanic is stretchered away to the medical centre. Replay: Kimi goes on the orange light. Ferrari have a light system rather than a man with a stop board. Supposed to wait for green, the orange lit and he went.

L11: Now his engine! Kimi’s engine has gone. Boom! He’s on the pit straight in front of everyone as well.. pulls to the side. This doesn’t help his points battle, and he might be relegated to Massa’s Helper.

L9: Kovalainen 4th is much quicker than Kubica 3rd. Catching him fast. Enough laps left? Fisi gets it wrong on the kerb.

L7: Louise with Kimi: Oh, she’s not got him, he’s walking past everyone, not talking. Will try to get him later.

L6: Team to Glock: “Rosberg catching you.” Shot of people on the funnel of the ship!

L5: Ferrari man to Ted [on Massa incident]: “Nobody lost time”.
Allen (bloke can’t hear him): “That’s not the point! It was an unsafe release, as the caption said.”
Massa’s conception was an unsafe release.

These last laps are really tedious. Where is the passing we were promised? Can I at least have a close battle? Some form of intrigue? No? Nothing?

L2: Brundle cottons on: “Not much overtaking. Hopefully the 2009 car regulations will bring overtaking back to F1.”
Allen: “Vettel is 10 km/h faster than Trulli on the straights here.”
Salient point there James..

L1: Brundle: “Great drive but rules are rules.” He’s been complaining for a while now that Massa should have been given a penalty. Expects a grid penalty next race.

Chequered Flag – Massa wins!
Hamilton 2nd then a biiig gap to Kubica 3rd and the chasing cars.

Finishing order:

MAS, HAM, KUB, KOV, TRU, VET, GLO, ROS, HEI, BOU, PIQ, WEB (-1), BUT (-1), FIS (-1), NAK (-1), BAR (-1), COU (-1)

Martin’s Driver of the Day? Sebastien Vettel.
I’d choose Glock because he had a much lower starting position and finished one place back from Vettel. Martin gives it to Vettel because of his ablity to run up front at speed.

Rob Smedley, race engineer for Massa: “We released him and he backed off [to let Sutil through]. Silly little incident let’s not dwell on it.” Then into the usual ‘great race’ platitudes the engineers give their drivers when they win.

James Allen says it: “Not a thriller but lots of drama.”
Martin Brundle: “Yes and Kubica is only 2 points behind Raikkonen now.”

This year has seen good racing and an even better points battle. Let’s look at the tables:

Hamilton 70
Massa 64
Kimi 57
Kubica 55
Kovy 43
Heidy 41

Ferrari 121
McLaren 113
BMW 96
Toyota 41
Renault 31
RBR 24

Full tables at www.formula1.com as is the transcript of the press conference, I haven’t read that, this is from the TV:

Massa: “Chose the right tyres yesterday. Pole, race, fastest lap what more to ask for? Start was just great, car improving lap by lap. Sutil not clever, should have let me by. I was the leader and he was the lapping (lapped) car.”
Uh, no, there has been a precedent for some time… you’re stopped and a guy is coming past, if there isn’t room for two wide you wait until he’s through.

Hamilton: “Strong weekend, problems healthwise. Nice new circuit, solid weekend. Track not too physical but hot.”
ITV decided that hearing from Kubica was none of our business so cut away to Steve and Mark babbling again, because that’s what we all want to hear.
Louise got a very quick comment from Sutil: “Car just appeared alongside me.”

I think his bit was edited because we’re quickly into the ITV F1 competition then dumped out into adverts and an old Carry On film. Seriously? I can understand Coronation Street, biggest soap in the country. But this shit? Nothing like cutting a post-race debrief short for a 1967 “comedy”.

I really hope the racing gets better next year because Valencia was a fantastic venue! One I would be tempted to visit.

Okay, so that concludes my notes for this event. Sorry if this is too long for you, whaddaya gonna do. Feedback is appreciated.

I missed the IRL at Sonoma on the big fuck-off TV, had to go elsewhere. I’ll catch it later in the week.

GP2 Series from Magny-Cours, France

GP2 Series [series website]
Circuit du Nevers Magny-Cours, Nevers, France
Held: 21 & 22 June
Watched: 14 August

Anchor & interviews: Charlie Webster
Commentary: David Croft & Chris Goodwin

I wrote some notes on the GP2, as promised. These notes are for my own writing practice and I don’t know if I’ll do the same for the following races (unless there is a demand – hit the comments if you are interested).

I’ve been storing these up unintentionally, you know how it is, you keep meaning to watch something but never get around to it, I’m the same with DVDs. This is why I’m only as far as France when the series has since visited Britain, Germany and Hungary.

GP2 has two races per weekend, a long Feature race with a pit stop on Saturday, and a short Sprint race without stops on Sunday morning before the Grand Prix. All races this year are on the F1 undercard whenever F1 is in Europe. There are 20 races at 10 events, France saw rounds 7 and 8 of the 2008 series.

Points after rounds 5 and 6 in Monaco:

Senna 24
Pantano 24
Grosjean 19
Parente 19
Buemi 14

Senna and Grosjean have been hotly tipped to be the main title fight since the winter, but Pantano has something to say about that while I’ve tipped Parente as a talent for a while now. Red Bull (company not F1 team) have chosen Buemi for their never ending conveyor belt of talent.

I’ve rambled enough so let’s skip the pre-race and go straight in.

(41 laps, roughly 1 hour, inc. 1 mandatory pitstop for at least 2 tyres and no fuel)

Start order has changed between the graphic and the start line, due to grid penalties for infractions in qualifying. ITV didn’t update their graphics. All I know right now is that there are 26 starters and GP2 paint schemes are impossible to identify.

Beverage selection: Kronenboug 1664 with the new fangled device for the little bubbles. Kroney is one of the best mass market lagers going although frankly I prefer the bigger bubbles so I’ll not spend the extra money on that again.

Valerio stalls on the formation lap and will start from pitlane.

Lots of drivers have changed teams for this race due to injury, not gelling with the team, or sponsors failed to poney up. Too many changes to go through now as the cars line up!


Action everywhere, don’t know where to look. Dust at the back.

Kobayashi didn’t get away, pushed into pits.

Fillipi passes someone but so do a lot of people.

Order at start of L2, top 8:
Senna, Pantano, Grosjean, di Grassi, Maldonado, Petrov, Zuber, Buemi

di Grassi has returned after time away, this is his first GP2 race of the year. He was a frontrunner last year and has been testing F1 cars for Renault.

Fillipi runs through the gravel.

L3 – race is settling down now. GP2 paint schemes are very vague and the driver helmets don’t really stand out, add in that half the grid is unpronounceable, making it difficult to follow when there is a lot of action at once. But we love it anyway.

12 months ago Ernesto ‘EJ’ Viso (now in IndyCar) had an almighty shunt at this track. Look it up on YouTube.

L7 – Pit stop window is officially open. You’re not allowed to take your mandatory stop in the first or last few laps of the race. Only applies in Feature, not Sprint. Need to change 2 tyres at least. If you pit before the window, you’ve gotta come in again. Durango car runs wide.

They are using F1-style lap counter so at L8 they show 33/41. I’ll say 33 To Go (TG).

33TG – Buurman in, he’s way back so we don’t stick with it.
Maldonaldo locks brakes.

32TG – Cars are running close together but seem unable to pass. For the last few years passing has been exceptional in GP2 but they changed the aero this year which seems to have killed a lot of it.

31TG – Chandhok in 9th is being caught quickly by Conway.

27TG – Pitstops began while ITV were in break. d’Ambrosio passes Buemi who had just pitted.
Zuber stops. He emerges in front of a lot of guys but clear road ahead. Well timed.

26TG – Grosjean in. And out okay, no problem. emerges roughly 8th. When will Senna stop?

Chandhok in a lap later, he’s Senna’s teammate so maybe the crew are warming up.
3 wide through the hairpin!

23TG – Senna stops. JUST out in front of Grosjean, retains his lead and only just. Grosjean tries a move on warm tyres in to the hairpin, can’t make it stick. He’s pushing hard through this lap whilst Senna is on cooler tyres.

A lap later, Grosjean has the momentum along the long straight and dive bombs Senna inside, gets him! Senna saw him, didn’t turn in on him, others wouldn’t even have seen it coming.

Conway leads but hasn’t stopped, then Grosjean, then Senna who both have, as has Georgio Pantano in 4th who is also quick.

Oh! Senna slows on the straight. iSport guys hands in the air. Continuing. What happened there?

Grosjean passes Conway who is on worn, old tyres. Why hasn’t he pitted? Conway concedes to Pantano almost straight away.

Senna brings the car in and gets out. Lack of drive, or a gear selection problem?

18TG Conway is in.

Jean Todt looks on at the ART pitwall, his son runs that team and is also Felipe Massa’ manager. What conflict of interest?

Senna’s retirement puts Pantano 2nd and he just set Fastest Lap on L24.
Aha we have a pit report from Charlie, she’s with Senna. “Clutch failed. Car was brilliant but then the clutch went.”

Conway emerged in 10th. Ought to have pitted earlier before his old set were too worn.

13TG – Gap from 1st to 2nd is 0.7sec. Pantano gets it a bit wrong in the next to last corner. Buemi pits from 18th and they aren’t in a hurry to attend to it, he’s done. He’s not getting out though…

So far we’ve had six races and six different winners. This race will end that run – but last year we went nine races! That was until Glock repeated in Germany. This year Grosjean will end the run. F1 drive for him next year?

10TG Valerio passes Asmer and someone who’s name I can’t spell, in one move way back in the field. Asmer might be a lap back at the rate he’s going there. [EDIT – he’s not]

TV focussing on battle for 14th despite a close fight up front. Commentators a bit frustrated as it isn’t in ITV’s control which pictures we see.

9TG Fillipi defends from Nunes. Didn’t think I’d write that ever. Nunes locks up and drops back. Commentary tells us he went testing and found pace last week.

Grosjean slow!! He skips the chicane and he’s at walking pace. Cars flashing by at speed. Pantano leads! Car is in the rev limiter. Clucth problems again? Sounds like it. He pits. This is his home race, he’s gutted.

5TG – Pantano now has a clear lead of 9 seconds over di Grassi. Maldonado is 3rd, Petrov 4th.
Charlie with Romain Grosjean: “Gearbox. Hydraulic pressure problem, it was fine but suddenly I exit the hairpin and the car was not working. I was leading at the French GP which is something special for me.”

3TG – Good fight between Buurman, Soucek and Villa back in the field. Two of them lock up and go wide, cut back in, Villa couldn’t get through.

FLAG – Pantano wins!
I can’t recall if he won earlier in the year so don’t know if the winning streak is still unbroken.

Pantano, di Grassi, Maldonado, Petrov, Zuber, d’Ambrosio, Chandhok, Conway, Parente, Fillipi, Nunes, Buurman, Soucek, Villa, Valles, Iaconelli, Asmer, Valerio (+ 2 laps), Grosjean (DNF), Rodriguez (DNF), Buemi (DNF), Hanley (DNF), Senna (DNF), Herck (DNF), Tung (DNF), Kobayashi (DNF)

Points go to the top 8 positions in this race, plus a bonus for Fastest Lap which goes to Pantano. Note that you have to finish in the top ten to claim that point, all through last year guys at the back pitted for fresh tyres and did qualifying laps to get that point, hence the rule change.

I’m skipping through the podium ceremony and Conway interview to get to the winner.

Pantano: “Great win, great start, we tried to push Senna working together, lose a bit in the pit but was quicker than them. Difficult to stay close in turn 2. This weekend I have the luck. It’s good. I have so many problems like those in the past and this year is going well for me.”

Long interview which I really cut down. Also talked to Maldonado. They are all saying the race was very difficult, tough on gearbox and brakes.

I’ll skip the points and do that after the Sprint race.

(28 laps, no mandatory pitstops)

Starting order: The grid is decided by the finishing order of the Feature race but with the top 8 positions reversed. Conway is on pole, Pantano is 8th and positions from 9th down are as they crossed the line yesterday (or how many laps they completed if a DNF) – that puts Grosjean and Senna at the back.

Cars are on the grid which is damp, some guys have intermediate/wet tyres and some have dries, this could be interesting!


D’Ambrosio and Petrov away very quickly, up to P2 and 3. Slick-shod guys are slow away and dropping back. Grosjean picking off three cars in a hundred yards under braking for the hairpin!

Chandhok slides very wide, luckily no gravel there.

27TG – Conway, D’Ambrosio, Petrov, di Grassi, Zuber, Maldonado, Pantano, Nunes.

D’Ambrosio goes bouncing along the kerbs, loses many places, now 15th.

A car through the polystyrene distance markers! It was Valerio. Quelle surprise! Marker disintegrates, drivers will just have to remember where 50 metres is because unlike computer games it doesn’t magically reappear next lap.

D’Ambrosio pits and engine off. He’d hit another car with his front wheel later in the lap and must have damaged the steering or suspension.

Laptimes are 18 seconds slower than yesterday’s race due to the wet – but it doesn’t look all that wet out there, it isn’t raining and the track is only damp with dry areas.

25TG – Valerio pits, he’s done.

Two wide at the end of the lap!

On the onboard camera you can see it is very wet in turn one. Rest of the track seems okay. Conway sets fastest lap.

23TG – Pantano tries it around the outside of Maldonado but there’s no way that’ll work there.

Cars are pitting from dry tyres. Grosjean, Chandhok, who else is there?

22TG – Conway pits for dries as does di Grassi. Petrov now leads, then Maldonado, then Pantano.

Woah someone off quickly into the gravel – it’s Grosjean on his dry tyres!!

21TG – Senna started on dries, so did Buurman. Both are moving up the field as other pit and struggle to get temperatures up.
Maldonado pits for dries.

20TG – Pantano pits. This puts Buurman in 2nd but he’s under pressure from Parente and Buemi all on slicks. Pantano weaving in the pits to get heat into the tyres.
Asmer spins 360 and continues. Buemi sets fastest lap and passes Parente.

19TG – Petrov pits, Buurman leads and sets new fastest lap which is immediately beaten by di Grassi. Everyone now hopes it won’t rain again.
Senna spins! Rejoins.

17TG – Petrov passes Zuber for 11th. Pantano is now running 14th.

16TG – 2 very slow cars which Zuber flies past at huge speed – he’s at racing speed and those two were crawling, no idea why.

15TG – Pantano t-bones Petrov at the hairpin, slow-speed corner so hopefully not too much damage. Looks like Petrov might have turned in on him, didn’t see him there or didn’t expect the move. No, Pantano’s suspension is damaged he’s struggling. A win and a no-score for him. That’s GP2.

13TG – Parente goes off and drops back. Got his braking wrong, lost a couple of seconds but no positions. Valerio is back in the race but we only know that because there he is running through the gravel! Pressdog talks about clowns jumping out of cars and disrupting race cars… Valerio is that clown! The Great Valerio!
Zuber takes an unknown car.

11TG – Pantano had suspension damage, but his radio had already broken so he had to make the call to pit for tyres earlier, no info from team.
Laptimes are more like it, only 6 seconds down on dry times now.

10TG – Zuber takes Villa for 10th and Kobayashi follows him by. Parente slow on the pit straight so loses a place to Senna. Replay: He spun on the chicane kerbs and is now back up to speed.

8TG – Teammates Buurman and Buemi fighting for the lead. Parente has retaken Senna who looks like he has more gearbox trouble. He may continue running.

Buurman ran wide, Buemi alongside all down the long straight! Buemi takes it at the hairpin. Nice move. Clearly no team orders at Arden!

4TG – Parente is dropping places again, he’s slow rather than spinning.. Technical problems. Meanwhile Petrov in 13th runs off track through the gravel, manages to get out. Hanley then into the same patch of gravel but has beached it, he’s out. Local yellows.

3TG – Fillipi passes Senna who is struggling on the straight. A lap later di Grassi gets him in the same way.

FLAG – Sebastien Buemi wins from 21st on the grid! Good choice to start on dry tyres when most of the field were on wets.


Buemi, Buurman, Fillipi, di Grassi, Senna, Conway, Maldonado, Zuber, Kobayashi, Villa, Asmer, Valles (+ 1 lap), Iaconelli (+1), Tung (+2), Herck (+2), Rodriguez (+2), Valerio (+2), Petrov (+3). DNF: Parente, Hanley, Nunes, Pantano, Chandhok, Grosjean, Soucek, D’Ambrosio.

Fastest lap point goes to Kobayashi.

Championship Points after 8 of 20:

Pantano 35
Senna 28
Buemi 20
Grosjean 19
Parente 19
Maldonado 18

Pantano and Senna are building a lead over the others, can Grosjean make amends next time out?


iSport International 41
Racing Engineering 38
Piquet Sports 35
Barwa Int’l Campos Team 29
Trust Team Arden 25

Amazingly, the previously dominant ART Grand Prix are only 6th in the team standings despite Grosjean’s standing. The reason is his teammate Fillipi only got his first points of the year at the Sprint race in France.

The next race (for me at least) is at the British Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone. The next race in real life is at the European GP in Valencia, Spain.

I hope you enjoyed reading. Hit the comments box if you’d like me to continue covering GP2 in this way. I’ll make a decision next week when I watch the races at Silverstone.

Comments on the Meijer IndyCar 300 from Kentucky

Meijer IndyCar 300 Presented by Pepsi and Edy’s
Kentucky Motor Speedway, Sparta, Kentucky, USA
200 laps of a 1.5 mile oval
Held 9 August 2008, watched 11 August 2008

Coverage: ESPN2
Commentary: Marty Reid & Scott Goodyear
Pitlane: Jack Arute, Vince Welch, Brienne Pedigo

I managed to catch this last night, earlier than I’d expected, so no GP2 notes for now – maybe I’ll do them if I think I need practice but I won’t normally cover GP2 in that way. That makes this my first attempt at blog comments – wish me luck!


Beverage of the pre-race: Tetley tea.

We start with a short season review.
Helio must finish ahead of Dixon to keep title fight open. It won’t be over if he’s behind, but it’ll be asking a lot.

Marty really has too much makeup for HD. I take the US coverage because it is better than the international feed (yes, really).

Quick flashback to Edmonton.
Dixon with Vince Welch. “We always go for wins. TCGR are 1-3 on grid. Meira will do well.” Vince says he’s always a threat.

Helio with Jack Arute. “Do the opposite. Be cautious if need to. Hopefully Meira and others can steal some points from Dixon.”

Points going in:
Dixon 505

Helio -65
Wheldon -115
Kanaan -118
Briscoe -181

Flashback to Edmonton again, this time focus on AGR.
Radio to Danica harshly: “you’d better let TK pass you”. Unsaid: “..or else”.
Didn’t move over, didn’t reply on radio. Marco runs up inside and takes both out.

AGR team-mate crash montage. This could take a while.
Stupid echo on Goodyear’s commentary during montage as if he’s Obi Wan Kenobi!

AGR shut themselves in the truck after the race, team bigwigs and the four drivers, because of all the incidents this year.

Vince with TK: “A lot of yelling, team owner really upset. Did some laundry, now understand each other very well. I wasn’t happy but now we’re good.” TK signed again as he doesn’t want to leave a team that’s struggling, a team he’s been with for years.

Brienne Pedigo (keep wanting to hear ‘Petticoat’ when they cross to her) is with Danica who’s wearing stupid bugeye sunglasses: “Need to have good teammates. Great news TK with us. Lot of help from Tony.”
Will start last due to practice crash.

Marty and Scott doing a talking heads bit, I wasn’t paying attention – I’m accustomed to ITV’s F1 talking heads bit with Mark Blundell boring the pants off everybody, so my brain now automatically tunes out two men in suits with microphones in a race paddock. Read more about this in my upcoming F1 notes.

Michael Andretti: “A little upset at Edmonton race. Nobody working together thru weekend. Need to all work as one for the results.”

Goodyear asks why Graham Rahal drives for a team other than his Dad’s, and suggests Marco should do the same. Scott Goodyear expressed an opinion! This after they finding they aren’t covering many races next year – connected?

Briscoe now. Marty: “Go thru the lows to get to the highs.” Replay. MASSIVE crash a few years back in the Ganassi car. Amazing he survived unscathed.
Came back to IndyCar because “the opportunity to drive for Roger Penske meant the world to me.” Helio says he’s FAST and that they looked to their sportscar programme first, as soon as they knew Hornish was leaving his IRL seat.

I’m not sure why ESPN uses the radio commentary in replays rather than their own TV guys. What’s going on there?

( EDIT – I wasn’t really paying attention to the Penske love-in montage. And I like Penske! I’ve even forgiven him for ditching CART first, I realise now he was trying to end the split from the other side ‘cos CART wasn’t listening when he tried it there. )

*Race Coverage*

Command to start engines from Miss America, she’s not that into it. Marty says the same just after I thunk it!

Engines up.

Two pace cars apparently.

Goodyear: Don’t forget guys are also racing for points in the top ten, not just the title fight here.

Start order:

Dixon, Meira, Wheldon, Mutoh, Briscoe, Helio, TK, Carpenter, Andretti, Foyt the 4, Roth, Servia, Power, RHR, Rice, Fisher, Manning, Duno, Wilson, Rahal, Viso, Camara, Moraes, Bernoldi, Bruno, Patrick
Roth on the nitro in quali?

My tips: Roth to fall back or crash. Wilson to get a good oval finish. Meira to fall back despite what thingy said earlier.

Replays: Edmonton pit miscues. Cue dramatic music. Dramatic music suddenly ends.

Meira’s rookie test and his first start was at Kentucky some years ago. This is his 90th race now and he has a chance. Runs well here.

Cars move two abreast for the start: Sun is setting, glare in eyes at T3+4.

( EDIT – Key to notation: L = lap; S = start position or Q = qualifying position; P = current position; T = turn; )

START – 200 laps to go

Crowds are waving white flags or something. Are we in France? Looks more like old women’s underwear.

Wheldon jumped start, move back a place. TK on move.

L2 Power hit wall – YELLOW

Wheldon passed Meira before the start line. Can do that on restarts but not the race start. In European-based racing you can’t do that EVER.

L4 Power pit. Danica pit.

Power steering broke. Will Power’s steering broke not the power steering broke. Both maybe. Something broke and he only glanced wall. Sending him out.

Showing DP practice crash. Goodyear says wheelnut fail?

GREEN on L5 – Not too long a yellow. They’re learning. Laps go thick and fast here will try my best!

Power back in. Hope these engines get changed with the new car, that buzz is annoying.

L8 Tight, close racing.

L11 Mutoh vs Penskes.

L13 Meira going fast, looking to pass. Must keep Dan back else he’ll help Dixon.

L16 Carpenter Q8 now 5th.
Rahal Q20 now P13.

L18 Rahal pits. Ed Carpenter around Mutoh.

L23 Marco racing Briscoe. Going high..Not quite. Then ran wide. He’s already ahead of Helio.
Roth 17th.
Fisher 18th.

L25 Rahal now out.
TK falling back. Has to lift, car not working. Can’t hold it in the turns, turn-in understeer.
Crashed the race car in testing so using backup.

Teams will do 3 stops if enough yellows help them out, else it will be 4 stops.

Bit about Danica. Fisher racing Duno for position, looks faster than Danica, both ahead of Danica who is still working through the field.

L40 Dixon/Meria/Wheldon running V CLOSE, all are well ahead of the field.

L41 Up To Speed.
Dixon struggling to hear engineer Mike Hull.
Wheldon in Polaroid colours. Wants to know fuel mileage. Car a bit tight.
Marco 4th +3.5s leader, understeer.
Mutoh 5th, understeer, wing adj coming.
Ed 6th – he’s going under Mutoh.
ESPN lost Up To Speed here when the track action got dicey.

L45 Meira around Dixon through Bernoldi – nice move! Dixon had to lift.
Lapping commences.

Back to Ed, still fighting Mutoh, Briscoe catching both of them.

L50 Helio 11th but “I’m stuck”, can’t go faster “even using all of the tools in the car” as Goodyear says. Needs adjustment at next stop.

L51 Green flag pitstops commence with Meira in.
Wheldon beats Vitor out.
Dixon in. Pitlane very busy. TK in. Penskes in.

ESPN missed where Dixon emerged. Eventually we learn he’s leading but we had to see Princess Danica’s stop first despite her running no higher than 20th so far today.

Switching to Guinness.

This side by side box during the ads is a good idea but it’s fuckin tiny. Why all the borders? Ditch the borders and make both screens bigger, you can do that while retaining the leaderboard and still remain within the 4:3 dimensions.

I’m convinced TV people don’t actually watch TV.

L61 15 cars on lead lap. Dixon 1st, Dan 2nd.

L63 Ed, Foyt, Helio 9-10-11
Rahal is back out. Was dropping out of gear, 25th 9 laps down. Getting oval experience (and points if there’s a huge smack).

Mmm, cold Guinness and racing,
Moraes 3L down – why?

L66 Foyt went high, Helio and TK go by, then Foyt way high! Good save to keep it out of the wall. Surprisingly we don’t go yellow.

L71 Arute compares fuel strategy to Olympic rowing… okaaay.. Sidenote: Britain always does well in the rowing so that’s always one of our best hopes for Gold medals.

We keep jumping between Dixon’s fight and Helio v TK, and whoever is around them, which is understandable given the points battle but it would be nice to see the other 20 drivers.

L79 TK makes it around Helio.

L80 YELLOW – debris on the racetrack
Goodyear guessing Fisher/Patrick touched. Rahal back behind wall (unrelated).
Fisher came by Danica, wheel touched wing, possible debris.
13 cars on lead lap now.

Everyone pits.

Marco beat Meira out. RHR spins in pits! Ed up 3 spots. RHR spun his tyres too much, went around. Wilson being pushed down pitlane to his stall.

Viso, Servia, Camara, Patrick, Bernoldi stayed out to get their laps back.


Briscoe takes Meira
L90 Andretti under Wheldon
TK under Mutoh.
L92 Petticoat with Rahal: “20th to 12th in 10 laps. Gearbox broke, jumped out of 5th gear twice, looks like Wilson has the same.”
L94 Ed around Rice for P8. Ed’s passing a lot of cars but still lower than before, must be losing time in pits?
Marco caught Dixon.

3way camera! Outside, onboard Dixon, onboard Marco all at once. FOM (F1 world feed TV provider) needs to learn from this.

L100 we’re halfway

Roth slow in 3 & 4, pits. Scott: “Wait, you say Marty is slow?” Other Marty shoots back: “Roth not Reid!”

L100 Vince w/Power: suspension upgright broke, happy he didn’t hit wall.

L103 Marco getting a lot closer and has an overlap outside, can’t complete it.

L104 Bernoldi and Servia in. Oriol wants a good finish to build that Moe Mentum. Americans don’t say ‘mumentum’ like how wot we does do.

Leaders lap Viso, Marco struggles to do it. Viso not giving way! Goodyear advises him to blend out of the throttle. I wonder if EJ will watch the race replay.. half the field hopes so..

L108 Danica pitting.

L120 Dixon had to lift for traffic, Andretti speeds around. Slow car was Conquest car pitting.
Whedlon got by too. L122 Meria trying it. Can’t do it.

L132 YELLOW Duno major damage, hit wall. Mutoh had pitted, will drive thru and pit when it re-opens.

L134 pits open, leaders in. Will need to stop again.
Marco holds his lead. Or does he? Timing shows Dixon ahead. JUST gets it on the line on the replay. Has that pit advantage where he doesn’t need to swing around another team. I reckon they should move the teams down one or two boxes to prevent that, at venues where there is room to do so..

Foyt the 4, gearbox problem, behind wall. Goodyear/Reid: Why so many gearbox issues? This is an oval, they are in the top two gears. Maybe track is bumpy.

L140 TK 3rd. Was that in the stops? They need a camera at pit out, where the feeder lane rejoins the track not just where pitlane ends.

L143 Long yellow, could get within fuel window. Helio pits and tops off. Mutoh did it a little earlier.

L145 / 55 to go – GREEN Dixon leads the restart over Marco and TK

TK tries Marco, fails, falls back. Meira gets TK. It cost the Moe Mentum.

L149 Briscoe takes Ed.
Helio moved up to 10th on his high fuel strategy. A Penske with big fuel is faster than light midfielders. I know fuel costs less on an oval but even so…

L157 Mutoh in. I thought he was in under yellow?
TK vs Wheldon – close! Ed and Briscoe do same just behind briefly , but TK & Dan remain side by side…
L162 STILL they are side by side!
RHR now goes for Briscoe, HR recovering from pit spin.

L164 Marco passes Dixon for lead but they are approaching Viso again..
L165 Meira going for Dixon, backs out, spotter shouts, didn’t catch what he said.
Runs again, gets him! Spotter: “Go get ’em!”

Obligatory shot of Michael whenever Marco leads.

L173 TK and Dan at it again! This is for 4th. Dan gets him.

Nice save from RHR who got pushed high.

L179 Meira catching Marco.

L182 Green flag splash and dash stops will be needed for most of the top drivers. Rice blinks first from 9th. Helio is now 9th, last car on lead lap but will NOT have to stop.

L188 Fisher pits. Andretti AND Meira running nose to tail pit. Dixon stays out.
Meria beats Wheldon who also pitted, Andretti ahead of both.

L190 – TEN TO GO

Dixon trying to lap Helio before Scott pits.

L192 Briscoe pits as do TK and Ed.

L193 Dixon pits. Left wheel on grass on entry.

L194 Dixon pauses as Fisher unlaps from Helio, but she’s still a lap back.

FIVE TO GO, Danica unlaps from Helio – can he make it? He’s on mega fuel saving. Several lapped cars are catching him.

4 TO GO Rice unlaps from Helio, Dixon homing in FAST in 2nd

2 To GO Servia unlaps. Leader right behind him! Radio shouting: “Gotta go gotta go, white flag!”

1 TO GO – almost there, almost

last turn – he’s out of fuel! DIXON WINS!!!

Who said fuel strategy wasn’t exciting?

They dodged Sarah going walking pace into T3.

How’s that for payback for Chicago last year? Shades of Motegi for Helio. Twice in one year. It’ll work one day boys.


Mike Hull: “Scott is very very good at making fuel, fuel saving.”

Helio, helmet still on – “what can I say?”

Dixon: “It was crazy, team told me nothing about Helio. He ran me into grass on way to pits.”

Helio is smiling. Is asked – What do you have to do? “We took a gamble, saved fuel, didn’t have the car. Just hundreds of yards short. Incredible strategy. 2nd seems to be my place. We’ll keep trying! If there’s still points we’ll go for them. Flashback to Japan. Should I finish the race or what do I do?”

2nd 7 times this year.

Meira 4th, ‘raced all night’ (Arute): “Doing a very good job of improving.”
What are you lacking? “Consistency.”

Marco 3rd: Rough few weeks, satisfied with 3rd?: “We had 2 bad races, today it was myself or Dixon for the win, not a bad run today. Seem to be racing the same guys, Ganassi + Penske.”
Marco only JUST missed out on 2nd at the line, we see it on slowmo replay.


Dixon, Helio, Marco, Meira, Wheldon, Briscoe, Ed, Briscoe, TK, RHR, Rice, Patrick, Servia, Viso, Junqueira, Fisher, Camara, Moraes, Mutoh, Manning, Foyt (DNF), Duno (DNF), Bernoldi (DNF), Roth (DNF), Wilson (DNF), Rahal (DNF), Power (DNF)

Carpenter 6th: “Good handling car until sun went down, 6th place was good, beat the guys we’re racing in the championship.”
Sarah 15th: “Was 11th until bearing failure! [on final lap] Great fun, I think it went well, so excited about Chicago.”

Dixon 558
Helio -78

Wheldon -138

TK -147

Briscoe -208


Helio needs 26 points more than Dixon at each remaining event. Surely impossible?

Next IndyCar notes are for the race at Sonoma, California in a fortnight.

Things learned:
– I suddenly like drivers with short names.
– Ed is faster to write than Carpenter.
– I can’t spell ‘Meira’ at speed. I’ll call him Vitor from now on.
– Editing for spelling/grammar/readability seems to take almost as long as writing it in the first place!
– Blogger isn’t great at inserting images. There is a button to upload images but not to find one I’ve already uploaded.

I enjoyed that, it got me more involved in the race. Hopefully it wasn’t too similar in style to anyone else, and hopefully it was readable.

Okay that’s it from me, my next scheduled notes are for the F1 European Grand Prix around the marina of Valencia, Spain on 24 August. The Sonoma notes will be a couple of days behind those.

I may or may not do some other notes as practice beforehand, especially if I don’t have any other content to put up!

See ya.