Yup, I’m actually blogging today. I know, I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. You can’t blame a girl for stepping away from the keyboard for a bit. It’s no coincidence that my hiatus from blogging hit during the Sabres January swoon. There’s only so many different ways that one can say “for the love of god, these guys suck.”
So today I’m back, and I’m writing my annual live blog of the Indy 500.
11:15am – ABC is showing a tribute to last year’s Indy 500 winner, the late Dan Wheldon. Wheldon was killed in a horrible wreck in last year’s Indycar season finale in Las Vegas. The network sat down with Wheldon’s fellow drivers and widow Susie for an emotional and powerful interview to discuss his career, Indy win and life outside the track with his two beautiful children Sebastian and Oliver. I’m not ashamed to admit that it brought tears to my eyes.
11:50am – After a lunch break, I return to watch the debut of James Hinchcliffe’s ad campaign to succeed Danica Patrick on the GoDaddy homepage. (Hinch took over Patrick’s GoDaddy sponsored Indy car this season after Patrick left to chase her NASCAR dreams.) I highly approve of Hinch’s effort as this dude is charming, witty, Canadian, has a great social media presence, and has no problem making a complete and utter ass of himself. I mean, how many athletes do you know that are willing to film themselves going through a dog wash?
12:00pm – Driver introductions include a special guest – Bullseye the Target dog. I apologize to Mr. Bullseye, but he is in no way the most famous dog in the great state of Indiana. That honor goes to the tweeting bulldogs of Butler University – Blue 2 and Blue 3.
12:05pm – The persons at ABC that are responsible for the features during this broadcast deserve a ton of kudos. The visit to Arlington with a veteran’s mother to visit her son’s grave was incredibly well done. It put into proper context what this weekend is about. I would be remiss in not thanking all of the veterans out there for their service.
12:10pm – In case you were wondering, a fire suit can be made for a pregnant lady. ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little is pregnant and is wearing a maternity fire suit so she can work in the pits safely.
12:16pm – Green. green, green! The drivers make it through Turn 4 in eleven beautiful rows of three before snarfing it all up on the front stretch, as the grid becomes a free-for-all as they pass the start line. Ryan Briscoe takes the green flag in first position before engaging in quite the duel with James Hinchcliffe.
12:23pm – The first pass for the lead occurs as James Hinchcliffe passes Ryan Briscoe.
12:29pm – The first yellow occurs as Bryan Clausen spins on the front stretch on Lap 14.
12:32 – Pit road ruckus! EJ Viso punts Dario Franchitti in rear on pit road, sending Franchitti spinning into another pit box, luckily not hitting a person, just a tire. Franchitti requires extra time in the pits to put a new nose on the car. Estimated price tag of that carbon fiber nose & wing assembly: $12,000. Franchitti drops to last place on the grid.
12:36pm – The restart from this yellow flag leads to a five wide stampede down the front stretch. It’s a miracle they all made it to and through Turn 1 without someone going on Mr. Toad’s wild Ride.
12:42pm – Broadcaster Eddie Cheever gives us our first physics lesson of the day: two cars driving together move faster than one car driving on its own.
1:11pm – Brett Mussburger brings up “The Andretti Curse,” discussing the numerous ways that the Andretti family has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I feel that bringing up The Curse this early in the race is a way of tempting the racing gods. (If you think the hockey gods are vicious, they ain’t got nothing on the racing gods.)
1:20pm – More pit road shenanigans. Mike Conway comes in for a penalty after hitting two of his crewmen during a pitstop.
1:21pm – While exiting the pits after his penalty, Conway gets loose while getting back up to speed and spins, collecting Australian driver Will Power along with him. During the wreck, Conway’s car gets up on his side and skims the top of the outside retaining wall. I shudder when Indy cars get airborne, as so much of the driver’s head and torso is exposed and ready to make contact with walls, fences, etc. Thankfully, both Conway and Power are ok.
1:25pm – Conway’s car owner AJ Foyt reports that Conway got squirrelly (technical term) on the track as a result of a broken front wing from colliding with his fuel man. I guess I’m a little confused as to why Conway couldn’t come in and fix his front wing before serving his penalty for colliding with his fuel man? You would think that safety would come before penalty, but what do I know from racing rules?
1:36pm – Scott Goodyear continues his “Racing Commentary for Dummies” lesson by explaining that oversteer means that the back end wants to pass the front end. This insightful commentary comes during an explanation of how Brazilian driver Ana Beatriz spun out. Scott Goodyear is like the Pierre McGuire of racing, but with 50% less creepiness.
1:37pm – Its shocking to see how much of the pit road grandstand is empty. The broadcasters assure us at home that the seats were sold, but it’s just so horribly hot in Indy that people are looking for any shade possible. Now, I’ve sat in races in hot weather and gotten the sunburns to prove it. Most people don’t get up and leave, preferring instead to sweat it out, knowing that the burn of hot aluminum will be much worse than any sun, sweat or grossness that will result from staying put.
1:46pm – The camera finds Dan Wheldon’s widow Susie on pit road. She’s watching the race on a computer monitor from the relative shade of a war wagon. Good for her for making it to the track today for the race.
1:53pm – Marco Andretti reports at just over the halfway mark that it’s so hot in his car that his boot is starting to melt to his metal gas petal. The weather in Indianapolis is just over 90 degrees, and the race reporters are sharing that both the air temperature and the track temperature are increasing.
2:55pm – Ed Carpenter spins from the third position and miraculously does not hit the wall or any other cars. That spin was a “hang on for dear life and ask for a clean pair of shorts when you get back to the pits” kind of spin, as at least four cars came incredibly close to hitting him mid-spin.
3:01pm – After one hell of a chaotic restart, Brazillian driver Tony Kanaan pole vaults from 6th place to the lead of the race. He holds the lead for one lap before being overtaken by Dario Franchitti.
3:05pm – The Andretti curse strikes again, as Marco crashes hard into Turn 1. It appears that his car hit the white line and he just spun out. Marco’s wreck happened just as Tony Kanaan made a beautiful pass for the lead (and the crowd went wild).
3:12pm – The restart after Andretti’s caution allows four cars to get around Kanaan, putting him back in fourth place.
3:19pm – A battle for the lead between Takuma Sato and Dario Franchitti ends in Turn 1 of the final lap as Sato spins it out trying to make a pass. Franchitti wins the 500 under yellow for his third Indy title. That’s right, he came from DFL after the first pitstop to win the race.
3:24pm – After racing 500 miles, Franchitti’s hair in Victory Lane is perfectly coiffed. He pulls on the traditional victor’s wreath and dumps the bottle of milk over his head. As I sit here in the comfort of my air conditioned living room, I can’t help but think how nasty his fire suit has to smell between the sweat, milk and other body fluids that shall remain nameless.
3:27pm – Franchitti’s wife, actress Ashley Judd, arrives in Victory Lane for smooches & celebrations & weeping. There’s also a nice touch of bagpipers playing in the background. I would expect nothing else for a gentleman from Scotland.
I have to say that it was refreshing to see an Indy 500 without the umpteen updates discussing what/where/who Danica Patrick is doing. I’m glad to see Franchitti win even though a last lap wreck is not how I wanted to see him win.