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Indy 500 Live Blog

May 24, 2009

This is my attempt at liveblogging the Indy 500. If I make it through the race without hurling something at my TV set due to the overexposure of Danica Patrick, the shameless weeping of Helio Castroneves over being acquitted on tax evasion charges based on the “my client is a fucking moron” defense, or any other story that ABC chooses to beat into the ground, it will be a good day.

And away we go..

12:11pm – Yes, Helio missed going to federal pound me in the ass prison for a very long time. Again, would you really want your legal defense to be “my client is a fucking moron?” I know it worked, but let’s move on already.

12:18pm – How did ABC manage to get Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske in the same interview at the same time? I look outside to make sure pigs aren’t flying around, as these two do not like each other.

12:19pm – The technical monkeys at either ABC or WKBW are having fun interrupting the Penske/Ganassi interview with interjections of random commercials.

12:21pm – We have the first Ashley Judd sighting (aka Mrs. Dario Franchitti) of the race. Someone should tell the poor dear that wearing a ginormous hat on her head probably isn’t the best way to go incognito in the pits. She really should look to the late Paul Newman for examples on how to go incognito in the pits. Mr. Newman just looked like your average senior citizen while riding his bike through the pits. He had no special apparel or anything to disguise him from the public. He was who he was, and if a fan recognized him and stopped him, he was always willing to talk racing with that person. He didn’t play the “I’m a Big Hollywood Star” card.

12:25pm – Am extremely traumatized by the Boost Mobile commercial featuring Danica Patrick’s pit crew dressed in heels and short shorts to promote the idea of better cell phone service. These guys don’t have the legs to pull this apparel off.

12:30pm – Jamie Little interviews the guy with the best name in all of motorsports: Will Power. Seriously, how can you not love a name like that?

12:31pm – Driver intros and the HD feed is making me nauseous, it’s so pixelated. Are the WKBW/ABC techs hitting the sauce? And the “fans” in attendance boo Paul Tracy, winner of the 2002 Indy 497.5. This is PT’s first return to the Brickyard after losing the 2002 race on video appeal, after management determined that he did indeed pass eventual winner Helio Castroneves under yellow on the last lap (despite video evidence to the contrary). Anywhoo, here’s hoping PT breaks out the chrome horn (or les toot toot de chrome for the French Canadians in the house) at some point during the race.

12:35pm – Ladies and gentlemen, start your nausea. The broadcast is now showing a feature about Danica Patrick’s racing career and how she’s really just a daddy’s girl at heart. Blech. I refuse to write any more about it, and go off in search of some Oreo cookies.

12:41pm – A shot of three generations of Andrettis – Mario, Michael and Marco – shows just how much Mikey has plumped up since he stopped racing, and just how much Marco looks like his grandfather did when he was young. Marco could easily pass for a young Mario Andretti.

12:49pm – An interview with Marco Andretti reminds us that his grandfather won the 500 40 years ago this week. The Andrettis do not have a good record at the Brickyard. The entire family (Mario, Michael, Marco and two others) has had over 100 combined starts at the Speedway, but only one win. For longtime racing fans, the phrase “And Andretti slows on the backstretch” will never not be funny.

12:50pm – The ACME brain trust of Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear blather about something or other. I have no problems with Eddie Cheever, but Scott Goodyear annoys the snot out of me. He always has to explain things like the viewing audience is a pack of morons. Example:

SG: “This is the gearshift. Drivers use this to change gears as they navigate the course and pit road.”

Viewing Audience: “Duh.”

12:54pm – Either there’s a ton of people at the track wearing gray, or there’s plenty of good seats still available, especially in the grandstand behind pit road.

12:55pm – A b25 bomber flyover is pretty f-in cool. In celebration of the Memorial Day weekend, the pre-race ceremonies also include a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps by a lone bugler. It’s a solemn reminder of just what this weekend is about. It’s not about the picnics and the barbecues, it’s about remembering those men and women that have paid the ultimate price in service to our great nation.

12:56pm – Despite the international flavor of the starting grid, I’m sad to report that Goggles Paisano is not a part of the field. Darn.

103pm – Jim Nabors performs “Back Home Again in Indiana,” one of the major traditions of the race. You don’t expect it: from looking at him, but his voice is simply stunning.

1:04pm – Mari Hulman George gives the command to start engines. Hoorah. Let’s get this party started.

1:09pm – Pit reporter Jamie Little reports that Samantha Lloyd, wife of driver Alex Lloyd, is 9-months pregnant and having contractions while sitting in her husband’s pit box. However, if she does move into more active labor during the race, they will not be telling her husband, so that his focus can be kept on the race.

1:12pm – The start is waved off, as the drivers head towards the green flag in a 6×2 formation instead of the traditional 11 rows of 3 formation. I guess math and spatial relations aren’t the strong suit of most of the drivers. The second attempt isn’t that much better, but the green is waved anyways.

1:13pm – Marco Andretti and Mario Moraes tangle in Turn 2. Moraes gives Andretti the Brazillian version of the one finger salute as Andretti’s car limps by him. In the pits, it’s reported that Marco is out. Yay! One snot nosed punk down, a couple more to go.

1:20pm – Oh, shut up already Marco Andretti. I see that you’ve learned the fine art of whining from your Daddy. Just remember that people who drive in glass racecars shouldn’t throw stones. I remember a couple of boneheaded moves on your behalf there, sunshine. Moraes claims that it’s Andretti’s fault, and he wants to talk to him and get his side of the story. So we now have Moraes charging down pit lane, ready to confront Andretti. My money’s on the scrappy Brazillian if a slap fight breaks out.

However, the slap fight is not to be, as a few minutes later we’re shown that both Andretti and Moraes are sulking in their respective pit boxes.

1:28pm – Eddie Cheever tells us that the car in the lead burns more fuel than the cars riding around behind him. No Shit Sherlock, that’s like elementary physics.

1:33pm – Jack Arute shares the racing strategy of Paul Tracy and his strategist (and BFF) Jimmy Vasser. They will not be showing their hand until roughly Lap 150. The race is 200 laps long, so they’ll be chilling out for awhile.

1:34pm – The track goes yellow as Ryan Hunter-Reay wrecks in Turn Four, hits the outside wall, drifts down and whaps the inside of the pit road wall. He finally comes to a stop about 7 stalls into pit road. Thankfully, he exits the car with no damage done to him.

1:38pm – The first pitstops of the race. Most of the leading teams get 4 tires and fuel in under 10 seconds. I wish I could fill my car that fast when I’m at the pump. I hate pumping gas.

1:46pm – Back to green.

And it’s not racing related, but the Winnipeg Sun has a great article about why moving the Phoenix Coyotes back to Winnipeg isn’t just a matter of finding someone to buy the team and move them to Winnipeg or building a shiny new arena to house the team. It’s a matter of making sure that people can afford to support the team, and the article gives a good look at the economic fundamentals of Manitoba.

1:54pm – I’m mildy amused by the commercial featuring the Scottish Dario Franchitti being tricked into saying “they’re magically delicious.”

2:03pm – Robert Doornbos (aka Bobby D or Doorknob) has a master save as he turns what could have been a massive whack of the wall into a gentle tap. However, that maneuver was all for naught, as the car is damaged beyond repair (I’m guessing somewhere in the suspension area) and Doorknob is done for the day.

2:06pm – There’s a wreck in Turn 4 as Graham Rahal has found the wall. Poor little button. That means both Newman/Haas/Lanigan cars are out of the race within laps of each other. Despite the tremendous talent that the team has had over the years (Michael & Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais), the team has never won the 500. I guess there’s always next year.

2:11pm – During the ensuing pit stops, Justin Wilson comes into the pits a little too hot and does a near 360 in the middle of pit road. That had the potential to end horribly, as there’s crew members and most of the field on pit road at the same time. While chaos did most definitely ensue, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

2:15pm – Chaos really does ensue as a bunch of drivers try to go four-wide down the frontstretch. Newsflash: you can’t do that! Thankfully, the drivers come to their sense and pull back before someone wrecks out.

2:21pm – I stand corrected from what I said earlier. Marco Andretti is back in the race but is 59 laps down. There’s still time to hear “And Andretti slows on the backstretch.”

2:23pm – Why do I keep getting search terms regarding Alexander Ovechkin chilling the fuck out. The dude isn’t playing anymore this season. He can go be as exuberant as he wants and I won’t care!

2:30pm – Yellow again as Davey Hamilton wrecks in Turn Four. In the post-wreck follow-up, the genuises at ABC show the footage of the 2001 wreck that severely injured Hamilton. Not sure what that has to do with anything.

2:48pm – Tony Kanaan has a hard wreck heading into Turn 3. Once the car comes to a stop, he raises his visor and removes the steering wheel, which is the international motorsports sign for “I’m alright.” Judging from the in-car camera, it looks like something broke on the car, as TK just headed right into the wall.

2:58pm – We’re shown Danica sliding through her pits, which makes her crew dudes have to haul her back so that they can refuel the car. In a surprising turn of events, she takes the blame for the mistake.

3:06pm – Oriol Servia is out of the race due to a fuel pickup problem. I take this moment to set the TV so that I can flip to the Red Wings / Black Hawks game with minimal difficulty.

3:14pm – If the Black Hawks can’t win today – while the Wings are down Datsyuk, Draper and Lidstrom – they may as well just forfeit the next game and call it a series.

3:18pm – Mike Babcock put Chris Chelios in the lineup today. I guess that means Coach Babcock isn’t an anti-American so-and-so after all. And this noise during the anthem in Chicago still blows me away.

3:23pm – Danica checks in on the radio. Must not make joke regarding her comment of having vibration in the rear. This is a family show, after all.

3:24pm – Yellow again as Nelson Philippe hits the way. Good job, Froggy.

3:28pm – Chaos ensues on pit lane as Dario Franchitti loses a metric shitload of spots when he has fueling difficulties, and Vitor Meira catches on fire when he pulls away with the fuel hose still attached to the car. Thankfully, an ethanol fire can be put out with water, and water comes flying in from all directions on pit road. Amazingly enough, Meira is able to continue racing, but the team is trying to reassemble the fuel coupling so Meira can make future pit stops.

The IRL safety crew is using ginormous super shammies to mop up the water on pit road, since the Indy Car tires do not have treads, meaning they would have little to no traction on any water at the pit road speed limit of 60 mph. No joke, these shammies are huge.

3:38pm – On the restart, Castroneves takes the lead from Dixon and Dan Wheldon passes Paul Tracy for 4th place in Turn 3.

3:45pm – The ABC commercial featuring all the stars of its shows living in a house together is pretty funny. Mad props to Rob Lowe for destroying Ty Pennington’s megaphone.

3:49pm – So damn tired of these Danica Patrick Godaddy.com commercials. I mean really, one commercial per break is a bit much. Don’t make me go all media geek and pull out the research that shows the threshold at which people get burned out on you after seeing/hearing too many of your ads.

3:53pm – Caution AGAIN as Justin Wilson spins and hits the wall after being passed by Alex Lloyd. I go back to scratching off my lotto tickets.

4:06pm – Vitor Meira and Rafael Matos have a hard wreck in the entry to Turn 1. Meira ends up riding along the wall on his side, instead of on four tires. They are definitely taking extra care with getting Meira out of the car, with a stretcher and backboard at the ready.

4:12pm – During the commercials, I flip over to the hockey game and promptly flip back. I’d rather watch commercials than the ACME Brain Trust (NHL Edition) that is Pierre and Mike Milbury.

4:13pm – After the break, it’s reported that Meira is awake, but complaining of pain. Best wishes to the little Brazillian button. The race is going to be under yellow for awhile as the track crews repair the SAFER barrier that was damaged in the wreck. You know it’s a hard wreck when the driver breaks the wall.

4:21pm – We miss the restart because ABC is running those stupid “this race brought to you by” promos. Real good, Steve, real good.

4:29pm – Unless Helio Castroneves blows up, this is his race to lose. And at that point, something will be thrown at the TV set.

4:31pm – No, Scott Goodyear, the public is not willing Helio on. There’s been many a “break, Helio, break” chant coming from my house.

4:32pm – Crikey. Helio wins the 500 and the Hawks are losing 4-1. Could this be any worse of a few hours of sports? And to no surprise, Helio’s bawling like a baby. And again, I reiterate, the defense used to get Helio off was the “my client is a fucking moron” defense. It’s not like his lawyers masterminded this brilliant strategy. They called Helio an idiot and he was acquitted. The broadcasters really need to stop calling this a storybook ending. It’s not. It’s a joke of a travesty of a mockery.

4:40pm – Dear lord, there isn’t this much crying at a funeral.

4:52pm – There’s something very odd about Englishman Dan Wheldon being sponsored by the US National Guard. I would think that our government would have “American drivers only” as a condition of their sponsorship agreement.

4:54pm – Could there *be* any more commercials during this race? I lost count of how many breaks there were since 12pm, but it seems like there have been a ridiculously high amount.

2 comments

  1. I appreciate the comment at 12:55 — people often forget that for those of us “over here” in Iraq and Afghanistan there is no weekend off.

    Also, I think I agree about the Guard needing a “US drivers only” clause in its sponsorship contracts.


  2. Sharpie, thanks for the comment. Come back home safe!

    I’m not saying that Dan Wheldon is a bad representative for the USNG or is doing them a dishonor, it’s just a bit odd that our military is sponsoring an English guy. There’s some irony in there somewhere.



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