Monday, March 31, 2008

13 Things of note from Saturday's Race Day

While some people do some great live-blogging from the race activities, I figured I'd stay clear of adding yet another one to the mix for the day. Instead I filled the day with following as much action as humanly possible without actually being there... and even fit some home remodeling between the events.

Here are 13 things to note from the day in Homestead-Miami.

1. Vision DQ'd - ok so everyone knows this happened already if you watched the race or read the news; pretty much everyone is certain it had to do with rear wing angles, but more importantly is this a good (Vision is making all efforts to go faster), or bad (Larry Curry isn't exactly redeeming himself with this addition to his track record) sign? Guess only time will tell...

2. Sean Guthrie Lights it up! - If you like to wait for the ESPN re-broadcasts of the Indy Lights Series (Indy Pro) then I suggest skipping this item.. umm...and the next two as well. Yes that is a picture of Sean Guthrie completely sideways in the front straight..... For those of you interested in the series, keep an eye out on Sean Guthrie in his good looking blue and yellow #4 this year. Guthrie was warming up his car from the inside of row 2 (3rd) and made what he called "a rookie mistake" by spinning the car on a warm up lap. After spinning Guthrie had to come in to the pits to replace the nose of the car while outside on the track everyone was getting ready to go green. When Guthrie got back on the track he was a lap down and and lapped by most of the field. Guthrie then proceeded to not only make a charge through the field, but fought the leaders and outpaced them to get his lap back... when a late yellow finally came out and he was able to make his way back around to the end of the field, he used the rest of the race to make his way up as high as 8th position, finishing in 11th place. Effectively Guthrie Went from 15th to first (on the track) then spotted everyone ahead of him and went from 25th to 11th. no question he was probably the winner without the "rookie mistake."

3. Indy Lights not so PC moment? - This probably won't make ESPN's broadcast, though if like me you were listening to the IMS radio broadcast you got to witness a great quote from Bobby Wilson's team manager. Basically Wilson got totally screwed when ILS field bunched up badly on a restart (more on that below) and he had to go under the white line to avoid hitting all the cars in front of him and in the process passed one of them and got black flagged for passing under the white line... well his awesomely eloquent team manager busted out a gem saying there is no consistency if they get flagged and Ana Beatriz didn't get one for bad driving, but not referring to her by name but instead as: "the car with the girl"

4. Indy Lights notes - What to take from the race? Panther Racing is here to take ILS championship back from Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Dillon Battistini took the lead from Anntinuci (twice actually as he his first attempt was killed by a yellow flag) like it was nothing and cruised to an easy win. Battistini was only announced weeks ago and is a road course guy, so look for him in the top 5 each week after this performance. Brent Sherman may have finished 3rd but apparently the team played a strategy of conserving tires waiting for cautions only for the race to go green for the first 40, even with working against the grain of strategy he killed on the final restart with those fresh tires passing roughly 8 cars for 3rd. Raphael Matos on the other hand got killed on the last restart going from 3rd to 8th.

5. Who is running SPEED these days? - I'll just ask... who thought it was a good idea to tape delay the Grand Am coverage so that it actually ran into the IndyCar Series race?

6. Grand Am's in the sand, two in a row two on the day for Ganassi - for those of you who may not have seen, the Grand Am guys wanted to make sure you knew they were in Florida by constantly going three-wide in turns made for barely two cars sending at least one of the cars into the sand. The sand in general seems really stupid (though I have no idea its effect on track safety) but for the road course all it did was get cars stuck. On the other end of it Memo Rojas and Scott Pruet took the victory which gives them two in a row, and was the first of two in the day for Ganassi at Homestead.

7. Zombie Marty Reid - good lord what is that thing!? I know Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear had been joking about how HD will make them need makeup, but I think Reid's make-up artist really took it to task. The man's look for the night was basically: zombie. My wife honestly gasped when he first came on screen, "I know they are afraid of looking bad in HD but thats just creepy looking."

8. ICS Horrible Start Night - though it was a good overall race the theme of the day in general in both ILS and ICS were poor starts and restarts. The most notable thing about the ICS start was the initial wave off where it looked like half the field was in turn 3 while the first half of the field was on the front straight trying to go green, and the actually start used wasn't much cleaner. I know its the first race but this needs to get cleaned up real soon, along with warnings black flags to the guys up front who were checking up the field badly in some of the starts.

9. Dan Wheldon Cam - was quite amusing and I'm glad ESPN did this for the start of the race. Though ESPN's split coverage is good/great at most times, thy really need to expand the split screens to full size and get rid of all that stupid crap filling the screen. Watching Dan pass about 5 cars per lap was stunning to watch... espically considering that apparently Chip was pushing the take it slow route.

10. Lack of coverage - The HD in itself is magnificent, but the coverage itself was 'ok' at best for this race. Ed Carpenter went from last to 5th in this race and we never heard literally a single word about it the entire broadcast. AJ4 went 2nd to last to 9th and same thing. Oriol Servia went from "transition" car to contender by the end of the race; Marty Roth and Jay Howard both had some significant enough problems that they had to pull off, what they all missed in Hideki Mutoh's pit mistake was that he actually missed his pit while avoiding both the Penske cars coming out of their pit-boxes but even then why was he getting to his pit so late? and apparently there were more than 4 cars at this race but you wouldn't know it from ESPN's coverage.

11. Marco's missed opportunities - Its a shame Marco had as bad a season as he did last year, for the obvious, but also because Marco was easy to settle for 2nd. He wasn't pushing for more speed but better yet, couldn't recover from the Moraes accidental block, and definitely didn't show any of that Andretti blood when he easily could have complained about AJ4's unecessary blocking or Tony's unecessary check up of the field on the final restart.

12. Why was Kanaan allowed to lead the final restart? - The obvious big note from the race that everyone is talking about. Why was TK allowed to stay out o the track with only 3 wheels on the ground? Would they have let anyone else stay out in the field with only 3? Obviously it maligned the final restart to the effect that Marco got a great run on all the cars to catch Dixon only to have to slam on the brakes when the field never went, plus the same effect on Hunter-Reay, which actually cost him positions.

13. ICS Notes to take home - Overall Homestead seemed a little crazier than usual, I think ALL drivers were having problems with setups to a scary extent when it looked like Scott Dixon and MArco Andretti were literally going into the wall together cause Scott's car took a huge slide as Marco was passing him (both drivers were quoted saying they closed their eyes coming out of that) Questionable starts/restarts and an obviously glaring, why didn't they make Kanaan at least run in the warm up lanes were the overtones for the critical race-fan, but for the average fan it was the "always happens at Homestead first race of year disparity between cars" (last year I think Wheldon lapped basically everyone) but the MOST IMPORTANT thing to note from the ICS race was that by the end of the race everyone was looking good. It took a good amount of time and to finally put everyone on the track together but I think Kansas will be a much different race just based on everyone's speeds by the end of the race. Servia and Wilson were looking decently competitive, and Moraes got up to a decent speed by the end, and by Kansas more importantly, guys should have their new cars spare cars spare parts all ready and everyone won't be so conservative...

Look for some great racing at St. Pete next week as the danger goes down considerably, plus teams window goes to 2 weeks (3 for transistion teams) that the cars have to be ready again, and most of all, the track style goes universal to the drivers knowledge.

all pictures from and

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