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!
CHEQUERED FLAG – HELIO WINS!
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?
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!