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Notes taken during the CBS broadcast of the West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick on 7/23/06.
We're diving right in from the opening seconds of the broadcast with Edmonton Oilers (hockey) coach Craig McTavish saying: "Katherine and gentlemen, start your engines!" Canadian fly over.
Welcome to the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford (BPCCWSPF). Rick Benjamin and Derek Daly are in strictly voice-over mode. No air time for either of them. When they do this I wonder if they are really there or back in some studio somewhere. Rick: can AJ Allmendinger make it four in a row? AJ saga recap: fired, engaged, hired, win, win win. Rick -- can anyone stop him.
Sebastien Bourdais wins the pole.
Starting lineup: Sebastien Bourdais, Paul Tracy, Justin "World's Tallest Open-Wheel Driver" Wilson, AJ Allmendinger, Oriol "Shake well before" Servia, Nelson "Lion's Mane" Philipe, Will Power, Andrew "Lone" Ranger, Bruno Junqueira, Mario Dominguez, Alex Tagliani, Jan "Van" Heylen, Charles "Chuck" Zwolsman,Cristiano "What's" da Matta, Katherine "Show Some" Legge, Nicky Pasterelli, Speedy Dan Clarke, Tonis Kasemets.
Montage to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion."
Bridgestone ad. Can someone explain these to me? The wheel goes round and round. So what? Hip people like the Bridgestones? People who dance in the rain like Bridgestone? Not getting it.
Points battle -- Bourdais leads. AJ is 25 back, Wilson is 22 back. Ranger 83 back.
Derek -- This is an airport course. "Very, very fast." Turns 13 and 14 "are almost frightening" to see a car go through there ab-so-lute-ly flat out.
Onboard cameras. Nelson Philipe Cam (from the nose looking back at Nelson), Justin Wilson Cam.
Ford GT pace car. Sweet. Daly says the weather is perfect for racing.
Pit window is between lap 17 and lap "tirty five." Video of Tracy going ass-first into the wall and getting de-winged. Tracy was second quick in practice before the race.
Let's light this candle. Green green green.
Cue the circus music, here we go into turn one. We're only five or six wide as opposed to 10 wide in other races. We got cars around. Bruno and da Matta are toast. Replay -- Bruno spins, Tag and Dominguez go outside. Da Matta then has no place to go and goes nose-first into the tires. Derek: Christiano is starting his 100th race and "he didn't make it 100 yards." Derek is clearly getting warmed up. So many people spun on the track this weekend.
Michelle Beisner deployed. American Sensation AJ Allmendinger got to shave his team boss, Neil Mickelwright's head because of the wins. Video. Neil does not look that great with no hair, but then again who does? Michelle needs to talk a bit faster. I could only get every fourth word or so she was spewing on so fast.
Restart. Lap 3. Green. Single file this time. 160 mph through the S-curves. Double D says it's "frightening to see them come through there." Clearly Derek was shaken by the sight of it and can't get passed it.
Jan Beekhus with Christiano da Matta -- He was committed to the outside. Had to try and go around the outside. Wasn't enough space.
Yellow Yellow Yellow. Nicky gets around, stalls. Legge comes around the corner and locks them up to avoid T-boning him and backs it into the tires. Knocks off her rear wing.
Lap 6 -- Jan Heylen is into the tires now. Caution again.
Double D says Katherine is talking on the radio. Silence. Apparently Derek thought we could hear what she was saying when, in fact, we didn't hear anything.
Replay of Jan Heylen. "Speedy Dan Clarke or Desperate Dan has been action-packed this year," Derek says. Derek says Dan "drop kicked" Jan into the tires. Derek calls him "Van Heylen" about five times here and I can't figure out if Double D was trying to be funny or really forgot it's JAN Heylen. Rick gives us a lead in for the Speedy Dan Carnage montage. Video of Dan darting and hipchecking people all over the place.
Cameron Steele -- Working on Katherine Legge's car. Video. Putting a whole new wing on it.
Lap 9 -- Still no full lap under the green as yet.
Restart. Green green green. Bourdais jumps on it. Tracy not fooled. Here's on it too. We're onboard with Nelson Philipe. AJ started fourth and is currently fourth. Jan - AJ is battling a bad case of the flu. Wondered if he could go the distance. Thinks maybe the adrenalin, etc. will get him through.
Last year, AJ had his first career win locked up but then had a late wreck at Edmonton. Video of practice this weekend he backs it into the wall. Much hand gesturing from AJ. Next day he did a 360 spin-o-rama in practice but no contact.
Lap 12-13. Onboard with Tag. Ranger is the meat in a Team Australia sandwich. Power crashed on Friday.
Lap 14. Zwolsman is up to 10th. Dan Clarke takes a break from taking people out to turn the fastest lap.
Derek flashes back -- It's frightening to stand in the S curves and watch the cars go through there.
Jan -- AJ and PT dynamic. Tracy is a right-foot braker. AJ is a left-foot braker. Different setups. Tracy is good at Edmonton because you have to be brave here, according to Derek.
Bourdais Edmonton 2005 Montage. Came from 10th to first.
Lap 17 -- Double D: "That was Derrick Walker on the radio with Well Power saying (something)." Sorry, Derek, we can't hear anything.
Video of Will Power going ass-first into the wall at about 150 during practice. Right under the camera. Camera man "held his ground" as the car came in. Derek gives the brave camera man a shout out for hanging in there and getting the shot. Give that man the pressdog medal for valor for this race.
DD -- Racing driver is an unusual animal. He is paid to go fast. Can get into a wreck and get right back into the car.
Wilson third. Wilson may be starting to get frustrated at his five-ish second-place finishes.
Legge is back out with a new rear wing. Been in the pit for a while, it seems.
Pit window is open but cautions have helped extend it.
Visor Cam activated. Visor cam is the most useless camera angle ever, IMO. You can kind of see the side of the guys helmet. I think it's on Justin Wilson who is carrying more cameras than an ESPN intern.
Lap 25. Dan and Bruno are about to get lapped in P13 and 14.
Jan with Craig Hampson, Bourdais engineer. He's scurrying down to Bruno's pit to maybe ask him to get out of Bourdais' way. Hampson says "we got two cars on one team and both have opposing requirements." They have to get Sebastien past Bruno because Sebastien's requirement involves going fast.
Bourdais montage. Long Beach, Houston, Monterrey and the bitchslapping of the field at Milwaukee. Four in a row.
Lap 28 -- Speedy Dan lapped. Dan fails to take out the leaders.
Bourdais on video -- AJ had a tough beginning of the week. Edmonton is demanding technically and physically. Have to have both nerve and muscle. Derek -- have to be BRAVE.
Lap 30 -- AJ faster one lap then Wilson is faster the next.
Jan with Michael Cannon, AJ's engineer. Mike says the pace is a bit slower so the flu isn't kicking AJ's ass as hard. Saving fuel at the moment. When the leader backs off you have to too.
DD -- Tracy is 25 pounds heavier than AJ. Tracy is a "muscle man." Because of his "sheer physical size" he had a disadvantage compared to AJ.
lap 33 -- DD says Wilson is a "late braker." He breaks later into turns than others. Tracy video -- Edmonton. Learned a lot. Some teammates he's had he's had no trouble out-pacing them. AJ is super fast and I had to step up my game. Now I've gotten faster.
Jan -- Bourdais is coming in to pit. He'll be the first of leaders to pit. Not that good though, since the leader generally wants to stay out a lap longer than everyone else.
Ranger in. Gets blacks.
Bourdais had a 6-second lead when he came in, that will help. DD says Bourdais "ran like a scalded cat" for a lap before coming in.
DD -- Champ Car merchandise guy brought three times the normal amount of stuff to Edmonton and sold it out by Saturday at noon. Sold 120 Forsythe shirts at $100 a pop in five hours.
Legge -- into the tires again. No rear wing. That's wing number 2. Keeps it going and goes around to get another wing.
Lap 38-ish. Pitting. Wilson short filled. Beat Tracy out. A PASS IN THE PITS. Holy cow!
Beisner deployed. Bold Moves Moment. Fans got to drive the Ford Fusion on some kind of coned course. Beisner called it the "opportunity of a lifetime" which may have been a bit much.
Bourdais leads. Cycling through has ended. Rick -- Fuel economy may be a factor today.
Tracy is 5th. Servia passed him. Thanks for showing us the pass. Jan said Tracy reports maybe his right rear is going down.
Lap 45 -- Wilson is catching Bourdais. Bourdais' car is starting to pig out in the second stint. Wilson has less fuel thanks to the short fill. Lighter. Faster.
Justin Wilson Shift Cam! Interesting angle lets you see the shifter lever as Justin grabs it. Up to shift up, down to shift down. Interesting angle. Shout out to CBS for Shift Cam.
Lap 47 -- Dan Clark holds up Bourdais. Now Wilson. Much swearing. At least he held up both of them for a while. Keep it fair.
Lap 48 -- Bourdais up by 2.2 seconds. Wilson has chopped a few seconds off in the last few laps.
Cameron with Derrick Walker of Team Australia. Power passed Nelson in the pits. Try to close in on Tracy. Done some fuel conservation.
Lap 49 -- Bourdais now leads by just one second. Wilson is working on him
Craig Hampson -- After the pit Bourdais' car has gone really, really bad. Massive understeer. Hopes that Justin short filled and they can hold him off until he has to pit.
Beisner -- Canadian Snow Birds air show team have a simulator at Edmonton. Michelle gets tossed around in it for a while.
Wheel goes round Bridgestone commercial. Again, I don't get it.
Lap 53 -- Wilson now 6 car lengths back.
Jan with Bridgestone's Al Speyer. It's hotter than expected today. Tires are about 230 degrees. Holding up well. Jan -- some like blacks, some like reds, what up? Al -- Depends on driving style. Would like to have more difference between reds (softer) and blacks (harder) but durability is key. Durability has been good. Plus we have great TV commercials with dancers and stuff. (Sorry. Made that last sentence up.)
DD -- confesses he was in a go-kart race with a Bridgestone exec on Wed. and "got waxed." I bet Derek had a bad set up. Come on, Derek, blame the engineers. Get into the spirit of things here.
Lap 56 -- Bourdais has been passed. While we were yakking with Bridgestone guy, there was an actual pass for the lead on the track that we didn't get to see. Nice. One of an estimated seven passes for the lead on the track in all of road/street racedom for 2006 and we were talking to the Bridgestone guy.
But let's go to the video: Derek -- Wilson comes up behind Bourdais "like a freight train" and goes under in the braking zone. Pretty easy pass. Bourdais doesn't "defend." (a.k.a "block").
Cameron -- Tag pits on a different pit strategy. Prays for a yellow.
Lap 56 -- Bourdais fading. Wilson up by 2.2 seconds now.
Wilson -- video -- What will it take to win? Wilson -- good car and no mistakes. Anything can happen at Edmonton.
Rick -- AJ and Wilson like to face off on the mini golf course. (I think he said "mini" it could have been regular golf course.)
Bruno. Out. Gear box is bloooown up, SIR! Double D says that's rare because the gear boxes on these cars are "almost bulletproof."
Lap 61 -- Wilson pitting. Early. 8.5 seconds. Justin likes the Bridgestone blacks. Led by 5.5 when he pitted. Should be the last pit stop. He's out and behind Kasemets who is about 13 laps down by now.
24 laps to go -- Jan -- Bourdais will pit in 2 laps. Could go longer but the car is such a pig he has to come in and hope for some changes.
Bourdais up by 7 seconds ahead of Humdinger. Wilson 2.3 back of AJ.
Tagliani is into the tires. Boudais hipchecks him out of the way. Left rear to right front. Bourdais then runs over a piece of wing laying by the wall. Rick and Derek says it's a rear wing from Katherine Legge which would be rear wing number 3. Confusion. Where did that red and white wing come from? Rick and Derek have no idea. They think it's from Legge. So I'm asking myself, well, is Legge in the pit or running around with no rear wing? None of my business I guess since nobody explains where the wing came from. It was just laying there. The wing fairy may have just dropped it there. Who knows?
22 laps to go. Bourdais will get the reds. AJ in. Tracy coming in. I think he's like 4th now (and probably swearing). Jan breaks it down for us. Double D -- "Jan, I can tell from your voice it's hair 'um scare 'um time down there." I wonder if we should hold onto our hollyhocks. So far Derek hasn't instructed us to.
21 to go -- Yellow yellow yellow. Wilson is in the lead. I think this yellow is for Tag in the tires. Slow mo of Bourdais and Tag smacking and Bourdais going over the mysterious red-and-white wing. Rick and Derek wonder if it was the wing that Katherine blew earlier and someone just left it lay there.
Beisner deployed -- shows two guys who are on Paul Tracy's honorary pit crew. Holding that front sign deal that they hold in front of the pit box when the driver comes in so he or she knows where to stop. What's that called? TheBPCCWSPF is all bout the fan contests. Win a trip to the next race. Win a ride in a Ford car. Be honorary pit crew members.
Nelson's 20th birthday video. I think his birthday is today. Has a birthday hat on so the lion's mane is restrained.
Craig Hampson -- Black tires were bad in the middle stint. Back to reds. Hope they are better.
Cameron with Mike Cannon. How is AJ? Sick? Cannon -- Regained his strength now that he figures he'll be on the podium (most likely 3rd). Got his sarcastic attitude back. A bit snarky, even.
Derek thinks AJ will fight hard to get ahead of Bourdais because he needs to go gain points on him. Derek loves a snarky driver.
AJ -- video. Question about when he crashed in practice and made with the hand gestures. Frustrated? Shades of last year? AJ -- No. Just trying to get the last little bit out of car. I'm an energetic guy. I drink a lot of Red Bull so I have lots of hand movements. AJ is the master of the sponsor shout out.
16 laps to go -- Restart coming up. Bourdais cruises up beside Wilson under yellow to let him know he is there. Hoping to cause an AJ-esque Edmonton brain fade perhaps.
Green green green. Wilson is all over it. No mental fade on the restart. Three wide in the back of the pack.
Nelson is toast in turns 5 and 6. Birthday ride is over. Replay. Lots of sliding in one spot. Derek thinks their is oil on the track. Nelson goes straight into the tires nose-first at a pretty good clip. Car just didn't turn.
Philipe montage. Third at Milwaukee. Fried electrical at Cleveland. He nails Servia from behind at Toronto and they both go into the tires at about 130.
13 to go. Restart is none of our business. We come back from commercial (I believe) and they are under green. Derek declares the race to be a "straight dog fight" between Bourdais and Wilson. Different than a "straight street fight."
Double D -- "Tighten your belt AJ and take a deep breath because it's white-knuckle time" if you want to get points on Bourdais you have to find a way to catch and pass him.
Carl Russo, owner of RuSPORT gets air. Justin has a good car on the blacks. Don't know what the others have for him. In here somewhere was talk about Russo kissing Paul Newman on the lips or something. It was just too creepy for me. Seriously. Stop talking about that.
7 to go. Wilson cam activated. Video looking back at Wilson from the right side pod area. Wilson is 3 seconds up on Bourdais. Gonna take a missile strike for him not to win.
Power to pass graphic on the TV screen is unreadable. Seriously. It's like an eye chart. Highly informative. How about giving us only the top five guys and their power to pass remaining instead of the whole field?
6 to go. Down to Jimmy Vasser. Power to pass. Jimmy said he'd give Oriol $1000 if he used his power to pass on the start, which he did, and he got around Tracy for 4th.
Derek -- Vasser is likely done driving for the year, maybe ever, in Champ Car.
3 to go. Will Power gets air. 6th place and last on the lead lap. Replay again of Will going ass-first into the wall at about 150 right under the ultra-brave camera man.
2 to go. White flag. Wilson is 8 seconds in front of Bourdais and could stop for a Big Gulp on his way to the line.
Wilson wins. First win of the year. Doughnuts. Lola and Champ Car do much better doughnuts than the Indy Racing League guys in the Dallaras.
Jan with Bourdais -- The MAC-donalds car was good. Pulling away. Second sting was complete loss of grip and lost handling. Like to see what would happen if Alex didn't run into me.
AJ -- tough race. Got to fight through the flu. No excuses. Thanks Red Bull and Forsythe.
Jan with Justin who got towed in from the track after the doughnuts. Either he blew up the Cosworth or he ran out of gas. Justin -- Great job by the engineers. Got under Sebastien. Sebastien made a mistake and got by him. Four second-place finishes this season and now a win.
Final results -- Wilson, Bourdais, AJ, Oriol, Tracy, Will Power, Ranger, Dominguez, Speedy Dan, Chuck Zwolsman.
Season points. Bourdais leads. Wilson 24 behind. AJ 27 behind.
Tune in for the San Jose Grand Prix on July 30, 3:30 p.m. eastern on CBS.