Saturday, May 30, 2009

Indy Wrap IV: Final Wrap and Remainders

Yes, this is late, given that Milwaukee is well underway (Briscoe, Rahal front row). Better late than never.

First, I endorse most of what Miller wrote before TG-Gate, esp. on the foolishness that is Brian Barnhart. Things will never greatly improve with him in charge. That said, I don't think the race was QUITE as awful as he thought.

Vitor Meira's horrific wreck leads to teh best pairing ever.

Tomas Scheckter lives for one more race.

Ultimately, the 500 and it's soap opera aftermath was disappointing. The ratings were HORRIBLE. The race itself was no "game-changer." And now, the fate of the sport is uncertain, according to RM's response.

To some extent, this moment was inevitable. Unification was merely the 1st step. But now, we arrive (or we will) at the "sink or swim" moment. There will be an Indy 500. Will there be an IndyCar? That is what the next few years will settle.

The field at Milwaukee (post-Stanton Barrett wreck) is not encouraging.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So, WTF REALLY Happened Today?

I think THIS AP piece sums it up. Read here, listen here (2nd link) for RM's response.

In short, I THINK, given the careful IMS wording, that Robin Miller got a lot right. Big changes are coming, butttttt he jumped the gun a little.


We interrupt the 2009 Indy 500 wrap for a bombshell: Tony George OUT at IMS! Wow. It's hard to know what to say. Yes, Miller says George will still run the IRL, given the symbiotic relationship between the IRL and IMS, I wonder how much power he'll truly have.

Personally, I wish he'd NEVER ran the place to begin with, but just in terms of IMS, he modernized the place greatly. In the process, he dealt a serious blow to the sport by forming the IRL. My only concern is that all aspects of IMS will return to utter provincialism. That would kill the sport for good.

UPDATE: Or not???????

UPDATE2- 3:15: From IMS:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

At a regular meeting of the board of directors of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, May 26, board members asked Tony George, chief executive officer of the IMS companies, to devise a plan for management of Hulman and Company, the Indy Racing League, Clabber Girl and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that would allow him to focus on the business which requires the greatest attention. This plan is to be presented to the board at a meeting later this year.

IMS Chairman of the Board Mari Hulman George said: "There was a general discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing all of our companies and where most of our energies need to be spent. All of our properties are doing well, given the challenges of the current economy. The Indy Racing League represents our greatest growth opportunity and therefore deserves the most attention at this point."

Tony George said: "Contrary to published reports, I continue to serve as CEO of IMS. Our board of directors met yesterday, and we did discuss how to best confront challenges and exploit opportunities facing our businesses. This is nothing new and is something that we continually do as a board. But no changes in leadership or responsibility have been made. We don't normally comment on board deliberations concerning our family business. However, the widespread, inaccurate reports and rumors caused my mother and me to conclude that it was necessary to set the record straight. If changes are made in the management of the company that are newsworthy, we will announce them when they are made."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Indy Wrap III: Dan, Danica, and Townsend

Ultimately, the 2nd-place (and so on) finisher of a race is "first loser," the driver we talk to about why they didn't pull it off. This is esp. true of a race like the Indy 500. But some words about Dan Wheldon, Danica Patrick, and Townsend Bell.

Prior to Carb Day, Dan Wheldon had a sub-par month of May. He crashed on Pole Day and struggled to find "balance." Evidently, Panther found it in time. Thanks in part to phenomenal stops, the National Guard car finished 2nd for the second straight year, besting 2 Penskes and 2 Ganassis. Hell of a job.

As for Danica, I realized what struck me most. Four yrs. ago, when she finished 4th, she had NO idea how it happened. Her knowledge of the car was non-existent. Today, she's become a racer, with s much, much better understanding of what her car needs and is doing at the time. Her 3rd place run was well and truly earned.

Unfortunately for Townsend Bell, his stunning 4th-place at Indy may be his only ride of the yr. The economics of the sport just prevent some talented guys from partaking. Still, if that was his only race, wow, what a drive! More remarkably, he did it on a 2nd-week program w/ limited practice. If his pit crew had been a regular, more experienced one, he could have finished 2nd.

Indy Wrap II: WHY ABC Sucks

Versus might get a tiny audience, but we were reminded on Sunday why ABC sucks.

The (only) Good:

A decent intro honoring the 100th anniversary of IMS. Vanilla, in my view, but not bad.

Pre-race was acceptable.

Jamie Little and Vince Welch

The Bad:

Everything else. Goodyear and Cheever? Horrible and BORING. Marty Reid? Utter tool. Arute? Go away. NOW!!!

The race wasn't great certainly, but ABC made it worse by obsessing ONLY on the lead, Danica, and a touch of PT. In so doing, they missed action in the pack.

And that's the problem: ABC tries to make the racing fit their pre-conceived coverage, not the other way around. So, Townsend Bell runs in the top 10 most of the day, finishing 4th, after starting 24th. How did he get there? We don't care and none of your business anyway!

ABC has tried to manufacture stories in this sport for yrs. As a result, they will always miss the REAL stories.

Indy Wrap I: HelioX3

Let's get this out of the way: This is a different era from that of Unser, Mears, Rutherford, Foyt, Andretti, etc. Arguably, the fields aren't quite as deep with star power as those years, and the month seems diluted in comparison. We need not review the reasons for this.

Still, at about 4:30 on Sunday afternoon, Helio Castroneves joined elite company by winning his 3rd Indianapolis 500. In the final 18-lap stint, he showed the speed he had all month long by pulling away from Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick to win by 2.0 seconds. He made no mistakes all month, unlike ALL of his main rivals. To be sure, his Ganassi rivals helped him on pit road, but that's what will happen during 500 miles at Indy.

6 weeks ago, Helio was facing serious jail time, maybe deportation. Today, he's now a 3-time champion of the Indy 500, with a true chance at more. A phenomenal achievement in overcoming adversity.

Given his hyper and emotional persona, given "Dancing With The Stars," we forget, or overlook, how talented a driver he really is. I hope that ended on Sunday.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quick thoughts

Helio wins his 3rd 500.

Congrats to Helio and Penske! Redemption.

Great, gutty run by Dan Wheldon in 2nd. In trouble for most of the month, but found it when it mattered.

Townsend Bell in P4?! Wow. Great run. Ditto for Tagliani in 11th.

Wayyyyyyyy too hard to overtake. Too spec, too even, too much dirty air.

Oh, and, um, Danica, yeah, sorry about giving you no shot. Great job to finish 3rd.

Oh, ABC sucks.