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!

Prerace

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
etc

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.

L89 GREEN

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.
Bernoldi.
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.

Postrace

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.

Results:

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.”

Points:
Dixon 558
Helio -78

Wheldon -138

TK -147

Briscoe -208

etc

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.

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All Quiet..

There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of news around at the moment, racing news, though the Autosport.com Paddock Life for Hungary noted that a lot of the non-specialist racing press (i.e. the newspaper people) were heading out to China for the Olympics rather than show up in Hungary. Can’t say I blame them given Hungary’s reputation for tedious races. OTOH there’s the big buildup and expectation for the Olympics only to get there and realise that most of the events are completely boring, too, since most of us only give a crap about the track events. Maybe that’s the just the racing fan in me but I don’t think so.


Oh, one completely off topic note:

I’m writing this with the aid of a pint of Carlsberg (it’ll be red wine in a minute), dimmed lights, and the band Yndi Halda, particularly the song Dash And Blast which is nearly 17 minutes long with no words and contains maybe the greatest riff/hook/whatever you call it I’ve heard. Go to the second link there and hit the big play button in the flash player on the right, wait for the long quiet intro, then carry on reading with ears open. Hopefully it’ll carry on playing into the 2nd track.

BTW these are links to Last.fm. I’ll probably link there often as it is the best site on the internet, you can see my profile by clicking the appropriate bit in the red box to the right.


Okay back to it.

So the specialist F1 press has continued albeit seemingly quieter than usual, apart from the big Mosely interview on Autosport.com (and in the mag) which I’ll read later because it is fucking long.

All the news at the mo seems to be in IndyCar with the apparent bluff/double bluff of Kanaan playing Ganassi via Robin Miller, so that he (Kanaan, not Miller) secures better terms with AGR.
Clever him. It brings into light the fact that perhaps we don’t always know what the hell is going on behind the scenes, how people manipulate the press to get the result they want.

Also around is the ’09 IRL schedule, which is fine, not spectacular but fine. The longterm Champ Car fanatics love the addition of more road/street tracks – although not necessarily the good ones. The longterm IRL fanatics hate that fact and want to return to the roots of the IRL – all ovals, or 80-90% ovals minimum. Hopefully these idiots on both sides will die out soon, or at least shut the hell up.

The more reasonable fans appreciate good racing wherever it is. They also recognise that Homestead and Belle Isle are shite and should be dropped forthwith. I really hope the IRL isn’t taking or keeping some venues purely to fill an oval/road quota or ratio because that would truly suck especially with some excellent venues currently missing out.
Elkhart Lake, Mont Tremblant, the Michigan oval. I don’t really care for street tracks so let’s not go the Champ Car route, just have three solid street events and leave that there.

And it looks like by the time of this year’s race or just after, Surfers Paradise will get announced as an A1GP event for ’09. They dropped Eastern Creek near Sydney for the upcoming season. All of which is great for A1GP who will be in the 2nd year of their relaunch by then and will be bigger than now, but that ought to be an Indy race.

The other thing around is the US TV deal to move from ESPN to Versus, a smaller channel. At first this looked bad. Then people on other blogs started commenting that the focus Versus will give might actually help. Seems to be helping NHL, they say. I have no idea about that. I just hope it works, and I hope they get the international deals right whether that means staying with current deals or moving on.

That’s all for now, more in a day or two. I’m disappearing for a bit to avoid the news and blog sites spoiling the IndyCar Kentucky race which I think is happening right now, and which I won’t get to see until midweek. If I get the chance I’ll write some test notes on GP2 as a prep for the upcoming IRL and F1 races.

You’re probably at the bit where they go “lalala” near the end. I told you they were good.

This Week in Racing w/c 4th Aug 08

I thought I would write a weekly post with short comments on the racing I watch every week. Some weeks this is more than others. Some weeks I don’t see much at all during the week. This wasn’t one of those weeks, this was a Catch-Up Week.

I tend to concentrate on watching F1 and MotoGP live, with IndyCar very shortly after the event. In many weeks I don’t watch anything else. I prefer IndyCar to MotoGP, I just don’t have immediate access to live coverage of IRL. I might even do Pressdog-style notes. I tried taking notes for the British GP and it is harder than it looks, big up to the ‘Dog and any of the other bloggers who do this.

Anything else I want to watch goes into a backlog. Mainly, this is to see me through the barren winter months and that’s how I started collecting so much of it in the first place, this time last season. F1 has a 5-month offseason and IndyCar is worse so you need to pass the time. But the pile can get too big, and when F1 and IRL aren’t running I need my fix, so I do a Catch-Up Week where instead of watching TV or what have you, I watch racing. Yes, I said I was a nerd, look at the profile.

On to the comments.. I’m going to insert logos here and this could look embarrassingly amateur.


Greece
, 1hr highlights
Took place: 1 June
Watched: 3 August

I’m not a huge fan of rallying but I’ve been giving it a shot this season. These are the most talented, craziest drivers in the world. A little less since Marcus Gronholm retired but they are up there. So I put the WRC on whilst I was sorting some food. I can’t say I paid much attention – it was yet another gravel rally in some dusty faraway place. Seen several of those this year already. Unfortunately my expectations were met. I just can’t get into it. What’s wrong with me? So far I’m only watching for the car control and the excellent TV coverage, but for sporting contest – I’m struggling.

I can’t remember who won.




EuroSpeedway Lausitz (‘roval’), Germany

Took place: 18 May
Watched: 4 August

Now the DTM is an entertaining championship. Big powerful V8s with star drivers and enough aero grip to get good speed through the twisties.
This particular instance wasn’t the best example but I think that was due to the silly pit rules this year. DTM races last an hour and a bit. Drivers must make 2 compulsory pit stops in which they have to take on a bit of fuel and change at least 2 tyres. Great, no problem here, makes for good strategy races.
The problem is the pit window. This year they have to pit in the middle 1/3rd of the race when previously they could stop on lap 3 and lap 50, if they thought that was the best strategy. This means everyone is forced into almost the same strategy. If that’s the case, why force the pitstops at all?
I understand the rule has been changed for subsequent events in response to critisism from drivers, teams and fans – I look forward to seeing how that pans out.

Paul di Resta won for Mercedes, he’s a very good driver and should be in single-seaters. He’s Dario and Marino Franchitti’s cousin.

Throw some ALMS in here from Utah, the SPEEDTV coverage. Not sure I agree with P2s beating P1s on outright pace so it was nice to see the P1s stretch their legs for the time it lasted..
The only two reasons I didn’t watch this closely was because a) it was after work and I needed to clean the flat and cook food, and b) the race is so fucking long! And this is only a 2h 45m race, not like the 5h LMS races in Europe. I tend to only half pay attention to these races which is why they make good Catch-Up Week or Off-Season fodder. Hmm I could put music on instead..


Croft, North Yorkshire, England
live recording

Okay so this one was a strange event.

Race 1
Two red flags caused by heavy monsoon-condition rain flooding the track. Race abandoned. Doesn’t look good.

Race 2
Possibly the best BTCC race of the season! Turkington coming up through from near the back, started 18th and passed almost every car to finish 2nd. The other BMWs made it to the front but they were visibly slower by a long way.

Race 3
Also entertaining in a BTCC-type way. Wheels banging, cars passing.

I never usually like Croft but this was a good one, even with the first race red flag. I’ve become a fan of Jackson’s – and of Adam Jones in the independent petrol SEAT outclassing the superior diesel factory cars. I always root for the underdog.

Coming up this weekend:
IRL at Kentucky
Since this isn’t an F1 week, in that timeslot I will hopefully get a chance to catch up with some GP2.

Hello!

Welcome to my blogthing!

I’m still not sure why I’m doing this or if I’ll think of enough to put in here to make it worth reading – we shall see. Maybe I’ve been too influenced by some other blogs and thought “hey, I can do that”. Maybe without so much of the humour but I’ll give it a shot. Truth is I have no idea how this will turn out. A decade in newsgroups should hopefully help.

So a little about me:

I’m 28 years old, a menial office worker in a small town in Dorset, a county in southern England. I work in accounts and am about to embark on the 3rd year of a three year part-time accountancy course, so blog posts could be intermittant especially near exam time.

I’ve been watching F1 since I was a small child. Earliest motorsport memory is the Marlboro McLarens dominating the racing and my constant disappointment that Mansell couldn’t always keep up. Later, in the mid-90s, that changed to Hill and the awful reliability of his Williams when he was in the #0 car.

Since 1998 I’ve been reading Autosport magazine and can therefore be classified as a motorsport nerd. A little later, 2000 I think, I got access to Eurosport and watched my first CART races – and my first oval races. Blown away, been a fan of US open-wheel ever since but haven’t always been able to watch due to moving around and not being able to afford the satellite/cable setup.

Then in 2007 I discovered the means to watch not only Champ Car (as it had become) and IRL (despite my opposition to it until that point), but a whole lot of other stuff. BTCC. DTM. Sportscars.

That’s when the obsession took over.

That’s when I started watching Too Much Racing.

For the record I am a fan of racing more than any particular team or driver.