First, a Female Rookie Sensation Roundup:
Not much action this week. Rookie Sensations Sarah Fisher and Erin Crocker didn't race. Rookie Sensation Katherine Legge started fourth and finished fourth at the Toyota Atlantic race in Montreal.
ESPN opens with pit reporters and Scott Goodyear stationed around Infineon to point out some of the features of the track we'll see over and over today. 16-story climb, yada yada. Nice shot of Jamie in her pit suit with white shoes.
Video of Dario going ass-around during qualifying. Right here, if ESPN wanted to make it interesting, they'd have interviewed Dario's crew chief who would then, on camera, bitch out Dario for being "unacceptable." After all, Dario did it to his crew last week. ESPN shows video of Dario going off on the crew boss after last race. Ah, um, nice. Hey Dario, unacceptable for the goose is unacceptable for the gander, baby. You screwed yourself. Go blame the track or something.
Todd Harris makes "picture-perfect" reference number 1.
Jamie and rookie sensation and pole sitter Ryan Briscoe. I think Ryan has better hair than Jamie, actually. Ryan says he decided to start outside. Better lines. Helio starts inside. The great unspoken question is, "Will he roll it?"
Dario interview. Says the qualifying spin-o-rama was his fault. Thought they had the car for the pole. Failed to apologize to the posse who he dissed last week. Dr. Punch shows us the Dario Nose Cam on the front of his car. We'll have a great look at the rest of the field when he starts, that's for sure.
Todd Harris gives us "picture-perfect" reference number 2! Going for a record. "Turn the trick" has to be coming soon.
Goodyear says there are no walls at Infineon so drivers may get even more mental than usual. Look for them cutting through the grass.
Practice video montage: Video of Danica getting popped. In-car of Scheckter coming over a hill and taking the dirt to avoid Vitor who was sideways and dead on the course. Here's video of Chippy's new driver Giorgio Pantano going through the dirt and mashing through signs in a cartoon-like fashion.
Chip has had 24 crashed cars and millions of dollars of damage. Target must have a seriously huge budget.
Rahal gets air. His drivers are starting 6th (Rice), 11th (Vitor) and 16th (Danica). Video of Rice and Danica in downtown San Francisco driving around on the streets.
Grand Marshal Al Unser Sr. says "lady and gentlemen, start your engines" with all the passion and excitement of a guy ordering a hot dog from a street vendor. Says it, gives the mic back and walks away. Impressive.
Fly-over time. Looks like a C5 but Todd says C-130. Where's the Air Force guys when you need them?
Scott/Todd tells us drivers will shift more than 3,000 times during the race. Pit reporters outline the crazy pit set up. Pits spread apart. Much circus potential on the blend line, etc.
Scott Dixon has Shift Cam! Camera that shows the gear shifter. Looks to be about a 10-square-inch space. Target has managed to slap a target logo up in there so you can see it from Shift Cam.
Let's light this candle. Green-green-green.
Harris: "Stomp the grapes and mash the accelerator, they Argent Indy Grand Prix is on!" I predict some kind of Windy City thing next race in Chicago. Free material for Todd: "Buckle up because the Indy Racing League is blowing into the Windy City!"
ESPN goes to side-by-side with the regular camera shot of the start and the Dario Nose Cam. Horrid. You couldn't see anything from either camera. So, by going side-by-side, you actually saw less.
Hornish goes ass-around. Something screwy with the engine. Much consternation and replays. Screws his already remote chance to catch Wheldon for the points championship.
Rice passes Tony Kanaan! An actual televised pass!
Danica watch: starts 16, down to 18th by lap 3 (Hornish's yellow) Stays there through lap 10.
Dario goes from 21st to 14th on the first lap. I suspect he took the grass. Scottish accent: "Get these slow bastards out of my way!" No video fo him passing people that I can recall. It might have been interesting to see how he did it. None of our business, I guess.
Yellow pitting during side-by-side with a commercial. As Todd says, "We miss nothing!"
Visor Cam from Dario's helmet. Dario is carrying more cameras than a network intern.
They've towed the Hornish carcass back to the Penske pit so let's go green-green-green (lap 4).
Danica ensconced in 18th. Hornish back to the garage. Something is screwy with the car.
Shifter Cam adds value. It appears that you pull the lever toward you to shift up in an Indy car and push away to shift down. Nobody tells me this, but I can see it from Shifter Cam. I did not know that. Not sure if they have to hit the clutch every time they shift of if it's kind of automatic either. And I watch the IRL all the time. This is none of my business, I guess, what it takes to shift an Indy Car, even though the drivers will do it 3,000 times during the race.
Lap 10: Briscoe, Helio, Quasi-Rookie Sensation Tomas Enge, Kanaan, Rice, Herta, Wheldon, Dixon, Vitor , Baron.
Briscoe is stretching it out. Leads by about five minutes, it seems.
Garage interview with Sam. Not a gearbox issue. Taking the car apart to figure it out. May go back out. Hornish feels bad for the team. Dario radios to say the team's effort was "unacceptable." Kidding.
Danica still 18th. Talk of how she probably won't lock up the Rookie of the Year points this race. Can't clinch it. Later they show a graphic showing Danica a massive 10 points ahead of Briscoe for the Rookie of the Year award. She may be ready to clinch in Chicago (so tune in!).
We're onboard with one of the three cameras on Dario's car. He's in 13th. Dr. Punch says Tony Kanaan is being patient. Punch says Kim Green says you can't win the race at the start but you can lose it. Sound advice.
Vince reports that Quasi-Rookie Sensation Enge is very comfortable. They are into the ethnic pronunciation of "Enge" (Enga). Very nice. Very comfortable. Has many years' experience road racing.
Yellow Yellow Yellow. Ed Carpenter spins.
Chip gets air with her personal interviewer, Jamie Little. Talking about Briscoe's chances for winning. Chip says it would be "a breath of oxygen, team-wise."
Tim Cindric of Penskeville gets air. No changes for Helio. Helio is feeling good in second. Much comfort.
Pitting. Briscoe in. 7.5 seconds. Helio in, no changes. TK out. Helio out in first.
Dan Wheldon has to come back in. Fueling issue. Didn't get fuel into the car during the first pit.
We had a few cars stay out, so lap 19 looks like this: Herta, Dixon, Giorgio Pantano, Dario, Scheckter, Danica, Helio, Briscoe, Kanaan, Enge.
Yellow-yellow-yellow. Briscoe goes through the dirt on turn 7 on the inside and punts Danica into Helio. What the? Who's idea? Danica on the radio: "Stupid idiot." Booth announcers agree. Many replays, but none from Briscoe's point of view or behind the crash. No in-car from Briscoe? Where was Dario's Nose Cam when you needed it?
Briscoe roundly dissed. Impatient rookie mistake. Harris leaps in and declares Danica was completely blameless.
Video of Bev Patrick being pissed! She's ready to go! I wouldn't let her be around Briscoe right now. She might grab him by the impressive hair and kick his ass!
Rahal calls it a desperate move. No way Briscoe makes it through there.
Chippy with Jamie. Chip says it's not desperate. Hasn't talked to Ryan. Don't know what happened. (Onboard cam from Briscoe? Anyone? Does he have a camera on him or what? Apparently not, because we're not seeing it.)
Pitting. Wheldon needs water so someone off camera lobs a bottle at Wheldon. Just chucks it at him and hits him in the helmet with it. Wheldon is all like, "WTF?" Then he has to wait for the crew to grab the bottle before he takes off out of the pit. What was that? ESPN gives it the most-excellent slow-mo replay. I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. "You want water? I'll give you water." If it was Dario's crew, I could understand it, but Captain Hairdo (Wheldon)?
Jamie with AJ. Totally unintelligible interview. Something about taking Quatro out of the car because he's at some school or something. No idea. Jamie cuts it off because we are green-green-green.
Vince tells us Sam is coming back out.
Helio post-crash interview. Helio is pissed. Not smiling. "Lot of lack of patience on Ryan's part. I don't know what the heck he was thinking." Punch says maybe it was a rookie mistake. "Come on, that's would be a lame excuse." Well said, Helio.
Briscoe post-race interview. Pretty big mess going up into there. In tight going to turn 7. Had to take the dirt and then had no control. Thought he had an opening. Have to see the replay. Sorry he wrecked the car and took out the other people. "Probably my mistake but hopefully I can learn from it." Right now Darren Manning is on the phone saying, "Come the (really bad word) on! I get canned and this wanker gets to keep his job?"
Todd says "can Giorgio Pantano or Scott Dixon turn the trick?" Dude, you gotta stop saying that. It means having sex for money, OK? A hooker turns tricks for a living. You're killing me here.
Green-flag pit stops. Pantano and Dixon will have to turn the trick in the back of the pack now.
Vince had Danica post-crash. Danica -- thought she gave Helio room on the outside. She thinks it was an over-anxious move this early in the game. Two fastest cars go out on a silly move. Shout out to Danica for keeping cool during the interview. Nice job. Bev has probably already been medicated to calm her down.
More green-flag pit stops. Dario about takes out a pit marshal coming out. Marshal had to bail out of there. Almost took the flag out of his hand. Dario could have slapped him five on the way by. Nice replay from ESPN.
Todd declares next Sunday to be Sept. 11. Tune in next Sunday for the Chicagoland race, even though it's in two weeks. He's a little confused. Still despondent over the Danica thing, maybe.
Enge does a spin-o-rama while leading. Shades of Danny Sullivan Spin and Win. He was so far in front that he didn't lose the lead. Continues on like nothing happened.
Buddy Rice is third. Buddy Rice! Third! I swear. Goodyear says what's changed from last year is no competitive setups on his car. Attention going to Danica and Rice getting lost in the shuffle.
Vince reports that Enge's car is OK. He spun, didn't say a word, continued on.
Lap 45 -- Enge, Kanaan, Rice, Vitor, Barron, Wheldon, Kosuke, Carpentier, Herta, Dixon.
Harris gives us "picture-perfect" reference number 3.
Wheldon dead on the course. No power. "Just cut out." Pit says he may be out of fuel. He's going to get a tow in.
Barron third and Carpentier fourth. Red Bull in the top 5. Jamie rushes to talk to Eddie Cheever who likes it, but is not in favor of this 30-lap caution we got working for Wheldon and thinks they should go back to green flag racing. "Let's go racing! Let's go!"
Scott Roembke says Rice is going to run to the end with no more pit stops. A bit of a dice roll, but Roembke says, "We either finish or we don't."
Kanaan leads, Rice is second. Video of Scheckter punting someone on the restart. He's into the pit. Left front is screwed.
Goodyear talks about driver fitness. How important it is. Extreme fitness of the drivers. Scott and Todd will spend many, many minutes talking about the importance of fitness since this race is over barring Kanaan rolling it.
Video of Sharp spinning and getting going again. Sharp is all over the place on the track. Scheckter says his car had no traction control, no shifting, no data back to the pit at various times during the race. Ready to go home. Dario radios in to blame his crew for it. (Kidding again.)
Kanaan is ahead by about five minutes. Goodyear says he's very fit. "Like a mini bodybuilder." Fitness is key.
Lap 65 -- Kanaan, Rice, Barron, Carp, Enge, Kosuke, Herta, Dixon,Vitor, Pantano.
Punch reports that Wheldon has a fuel system issue and is toast for the day. TK is now five seconds in front of Rice. He could stop for a Big Gulp and still win.
Harris says "Buddy is not known as the strongest road race courser."
Herta is sticking his nose under Kosuke's gear box about every lap. ESPN stays with the gaggle that includes Kosuke, Herta and Dixon and lets the leaders go. This is a good move, because it is interesting to see Herta jamming his nose under Kosuke's butt while it would be unintersting to watch Kanaan run four seconds ahead of Rice while we talk about fitness. We're wondering what the heck Herta is up to. Goodyear says Herta is going to get screwy and let Dixon behind him get around. They stay with that pack until, sure enough, Herta mangles his front wing under Kosuke's butt and Dixon goes around. Shout out to Scott Goodyear. He called it, ESPN stayed with it and it was one of the more interesting segments of the race.
Cut to video of Andretti using the F-word in the pit box as Herta turns his nose into a carbon fiber mess.
TK is now ahead by about a day. Rice should get second unless he goes mental. Michelle Noonan, Buddy's fiance, gets air! Uh-oh, it's time for a Significant Other Montage. Daniele Loiola Kanaan gets air maybe for the first time ever. (Announcers remind us that TK is very fit!) Ashley Judd must not be there. Danica's dad is probably confined to a closet somewhere.
Harris: Kanaan "started third and worked his way up to 11th" and now is about to bring it home!
Shocker! TK wins! Does 10 pushups in victory circle. He's very fit. Rice second. Barron and Carpentier get 3 and 4 for Eddie. ESPN which had about an hour after last race to interview everyone has about 19 seconds after this race. Long enough to get TK and then we're outta here.
Lap 80 -- Kanaan, Rice, Barron, Carpentier, Enge, Kosuke, Dixon, Dario, Vitor, Bucknam.
Note: Pressdog will be in the house at Chicago! Don't miss this first-ever in-person notes extravaganza coming to the blog on 9/12!©2005 Bill Zahren