Liveblogging the Indy 500

May 30, 2010

It’s the greatest spectacle farce in racing! It’s the 94th Indy 500! I watch this stuff so you don’t have to!

12:03 pm – We’re reminded that Helio Castroneves has a chance to become the 4th driver to win 4 Indy 500s, joining Al Unser, AJ Foyt and Rick Mears as 4-time winners. I’m sure ABC would be over the moon if Helio won because it would be a wonderful story and they’ve probably written all sorts of talking points for it…in addition to stocking up on tissues for when Castroneves inevitably starts weeping. Seriously though, the dude weeps at the opening of an envelope.

12:05 pm – There’s four women entered in today’s race: Patrick, Sarah Fisher, Simona deSilvestro and Ana Beatriz. That’s the most estrogen that’s ever been on the track at one time.

12:11 pm – And we’re recapping the Helio Castroneves tax-evasion saga AGAIN. I would again like to point out that he only got away from those charges because his lawyer used the “my client is an effing moron” defense. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to keep yourself out of federal pound you in the ass prison. Helio’s kid is cute, I’ll give him that much.

12:21 pm – Robin Roberts interviews Danica Patrck in Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC. I can’t figure out why Danica appears to have her makeup gun set to “whore” for this interview. Or maybe the extreme soft focus (aka “Vaseline on the lens) is making her makeup stand out. I dunno. Either way, this interview is a lot of damage control for the Princess, since she can come across as aloof and bitchy, and the fact that she was booed by a reasonably loyal Indy audience this month indicates that her fan support may be waning.

12:25 pm – The Andretti family – Mikey, Marco & John – are spotted strolling out to the starting grid. Papa Mario Andretti is walking Jack Nicholson – today’s honorary starter – around the track. The Andretti family, despite all their racing talent, has been cursed at the Speedway. Mario is the only winner of the race, winning it in 1969.

12:35 pm – Well, eff me running. Danica was booed during driver introductions. That’s never happened before. I’m putting on my tinfoil hat and saying that a Danica win would be in the cards today so that the league’s so-called “Most Popular Driver” can regain her title.

12:46 pm – The race hasn’t even started yet and I’m already tiring of the repeated airings of some of the ads. Hey sponsors, it’s called ad burnout! Look into it.

12:55 pm – I like Jewel’s flower printed dress, but I do not like her wimpy, breathy version of the national anthem. The anthem is meant to be sung by someone with a powerful voice and with gravitas. Jewel, unfortunately, doesn’t quite have it on this one. The anthem rendition is somewhat redeemed by the flyover from 4 F-18 Hornets. Hoo-rah.

1:03 pm– An Army bugler playing Taps and a 21-gun salute serve to remind us that though this weekend may be comprised of three days off from the office, that there’s a bigger reason for all of this. We do need to remember all of our soldiers, both here and abroad, on this Memorial Day.

1:04 pm – It’s GOMER! Jim Nabors shows up for the traditional singing of “Back Home Again In Indiana.” Dude looks good, considering there were a couple years that he looked like death on a Triscuit.

1:12 pm – Seriously? The field had managed to lineup in their traditional rows of 3 while on the backstretch of the final pace lap and was heading towards the green, when polesitter Helio jumps the green and yet the flag is waved anyways. In all seriousness, that start should have been waved off, since Helio had such a large jump on the field.

1:12 pm – The field manages to make it all of two-and-a-half turns before Davey Hamilton gets clipped and spins off into the wall. Caution is out and we go to commercial. Have I mentioned how much I hate that the screen is divided in half to show the “race” one one half and the ad under yellow? I hate it from both the advertiser and fan perspective.

1:20 pm – Jack Nicholson must be having a grand old time on the starter stand, as he is still up there and waving the green flag for this restart.

1:23 pm – Lap 9 and we’re under yellow again as Bruno Junquiera spins and whacks the outside wall. There’s some pretty spectacular driving from about 8 drivers so they don’t get caught up in the wreck as well.

1:34 pm – Mario  Moraes heads into the pits after whitewalling the car. However, he is going to be on a delayed pit stop as his suspension is a bit bent. The crew needs to fix that before the IRL official will let them back on the track.

1:46 pm – Green flag pitstops are underway. We’re told that this is the first time in three races that we’re having green flag pitstops. I’m not sure whether they’re referring to three IRL races or three Indy 500s. Unclear stats are a pet peeve. Why throw around numbers if you don’t make sure the context is fully understandable? Regardless, green flag pitstops are the racing equivalent of changing on the fly. It’s barely organized chaos all around.

1:47 pm – Will Power departs the pits with part of his fuel rig still attached to his car. That’s disastrous on so many levels: if the piece flies off the car while he’s on the track it could fall off and whack a car or fly up into the stands. And he’s broken his fuel rig, which is something that’s kind of necessary to finish the race. The replay shows that the communication between Will Power’s pit guys just broke down. He was cleared to leave the pits before his fueler had completed filling the tank. On the bright side, at least the car didn’t go up in flames when the fuel rig was broken.

1:53 pm – Dario Franchitti is bitching about being blocked by Graham Rahal. And while Rahal was technically blocking Franchitti, I’d like to remind Dario that he’s blocked a fair number of drivers in his day. People who park their cars in glass garages should just STFU.

2:09 pm – And Andretti slows on the backstretch! John Andretti thumps the wall at the end of turn 2 after losing grip through the turns.

2:14 pm – Pit Follies, Round 2. Rafael Matos and Scott Dixon both lose wheels while exiting pit road. Cue up Kenny Rogers singing “you picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel.” On the replay, it looks like both gentlemen were victims of some bad pit crew-to-driver miscommuncation, as they were released from the pits before the lugnuts were secured properly.

2:21 pm – Ed Carpenter makes a fantastic pass for fourth place. We’re informed that this is Ed’s first time in a car since last year’s season finale, as his stepfather shut down the team he drove for. I’d like to add that this has to be the biggest bit of whitewashing that we’ve seen in a while, considering his stepdad’s team was shut down when his stepdad’s mother and sisters took a look at the family books and decided to stop the flow of cash that was being used to keep the team afloat.

2:22 pm – Yellow flag as Rafael Matos gets high on the track and spins, backing the car into the wall. Scott Goodyear & Eddie Cheever are hypothesizing that this is a result of Matos trying to be aggressive and regain positions after his pit road snafu.

2:25 pm – There’s plenty of good seats empty on the frontstretch pit road grandstand. I wonder how much of that is due to the economy versus how much is due to the fans dissatisfaction with the state of open wheel racing in general? Time was, you couldn’t get tickets to the Indy 500 unless someone died.

2:30 pm – Sweet merciful racing baby jaysus, this ethanol commercial is horrible. The drivers have stilted line readings, and did we really need to have Helio Castroneves singing about ethanol to the tune of “The Girl from Ipanema?”

2:33 pm – I wish my across the street neighbors would yell just a little louder. I don’t think the people on the next block can hear their business yet.

2:35 pm – Graham Rahal gets called to the pits for a drive thru penalty for blocking. Meh. It wasn’t as blatant a block as the announcers are making it out to be.

2:49 pm – We’ve just passed the halfway part of the race, and though Franchitti has been a dominant force in the race so far, the leader at halfway has only won the race 5 of the past 23 years.

2:51 pm – We’re now yellow as Vitor Meira brushes the Turn 2 wall and slows down the backstretch. By the time he hits pit road, his right front tire is quite askew. His day is done.

3:02 pm – Tony Kanaan passes for third on a restart, which means that TK has passed thirty cars today. It’s pretty effing impressive to go from the DFL starting position of 33rd to 3rd place.

3:24 pm – Pit Road Follies, Round 3. Castroneves stalls it leaving the pits. That’s two pit screwups for the Penske teams today. Roger Penske does not tolerate failure like that. Someone’s going to get a stern talking to after this one.

3;27 pm – And the Penske trio of effups is complete for the day. Ryan Briscoe crashes into the outside wall in Turn 4 and then thwacks the inside pit lane retaining wall.

3:46 pm – Yellow flag as Sebastien Savedra hits the wall.

3:57 pm – There’s some pit strategy shenanigans (to pit, or not to pit) that leaves the dominant car of Franchitti back in traffic, stuck behind some cars that did

3:58 pm – “Using the push-to-pass button will make your car go faster.” – Eddie Cheever. Really, Eddie? By virtue of the name, you would think it would help with passing.

4:08 pm – The drivers are all being told that they need to conserve fuel as most of the leaders are in danger of running out before the end of the race. Justin Wilson & Graham Rahal are the first ones in.

4:12 pm – Helio Castroneves comes into the pits as he will not have enough fuel to make it until the end. Will Franchitti and Kanaan have enough to make it as well? I hate when fuel strategy plays such a dramatic role at the end of races. Sure, it’s dramatic, but it’s drama in the same way the NHL shootout is dramatic. In this case, it takes the race out of the drivers hands and puts it into the hands of all the engineers residing in the pits.

4:15 pm – Tony Kanaan heads into the pits for a splash of fuel with three laps left, but he is still questionable on fuel. Second place Dan Wheldon has been told to put the hammer down, that he is good to go on fuel.

4:17 pm – Ashley Judd is fretting in the pits.

4:18 pm – Yellow flag on the final lap. The replay shows that Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay knocked wheels and Conway pole vaulted up over Hunter-Reay and into the catch fence. On the way down, Conway’s car just narrowly missed coming down on top of Hunter-Reay’s car. What a nasty, nasty wreck.

(Thanks to the peeps at OC for the link.)

4:19 pm – Dario Franchitti wins, which allows his team owner Chip Ganassi to be the only owner to have won the Indy 500 and Daytona 500 in the same year. Ashley Judd is sprinting down pit lane in her heeled sandals and and floppy hat towards Victory Lane.

4:25 pm – Franchitti arrives in Victory Lane and is greeted with the traditional winners wreath and bottle of milk. Apparently, he can drive a car, but can’t drink milk without assistance, as he dribbles it all over himself.

4:31 pm – And now for your daily Danica update. She finishes in 5th. She comments that it was tough to pass on the track. I didn’t see any of her teammates or any of the other cars having problems passing today.

4:42 pm – Marco Andretti is being whiny about being passed under yellow. His argument is that the field is frozen when the yellow comes out and when the yellow came out, he slowed down, but was passed by three other cars, putting his final finishing position at 6th. Marco, honey, talk to Paul Tracy about being passed under yellow unfairly and then get back to me. Capisce, sunshine?

One comment

  1. I’ve never really understood the Indy, but I’m looking forward to reading your take on this 😀

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