May 18 was me and mrs. pdog’s 28th wedding anniversary and she surprised me with a quick jaunt over to the Iowa/Wisconsin border for some Mississippi River scenery and two days without the normal weekend stressors of children, dog, house cleaning and work obsessing.
So I was out of the loop, but for a good reason. I followed from afar here and there mainly via the magic of Twitter. But now I’m back and fully caught up, so let’s have some dark roast and emote about a couple of things …
Ed Carpenter About Gave me a Twitter-based Stroke — So imagine this scene: I’m reclining in spacious comfort in the Lincoln Suite of the AmericInn in tony Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, around Fast 9 time in Indy. (Tidbit: Prairie du Chien is allegedly a French phrase meaning "prairie of the dog." Named for a Sauk Indian chief. "Dog" refers to the gopher species of marmot. No extra charge.)
I’d been racing round with the Mrs. for all this time and lost track of time, etc. So I check the Twitter just in time to see Ed Carpenter go P1 in the Fast 9 by putting up a blazing 228.762 average. Insert mirthy chortling here, but Ed went early (if not first) in the order, so I didn’t get too frothed. He had only been fifth fastest to get into the Fast 9.
BUT THEN, right there in the recliner in the Lincoln Suite, I see it all unfold. As we were just hanging out waiting to go somewhere for a large steak, I had some time to monitor the (Howard Cosell voice) developing situation. Of course I leaped up to see if the AmericInn got the NBC Sports Network on their TV offering. Guess what? NO. I couldn’t have been more shocked if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.* (*Denotes sarcasm.) The do get SPEED FYI. So I’m stuck with my twitter lifeline, which I BORED HOLES INTO via my intense stare.
From all tweeted reports, rookie Carlos Munoz drove the living shit out of his car getting a 228.342 mph average out of it and causing commentator Gil de Ferran to say he had to go to the infield care center just from watching it. At least that’s what I heard via Twitter, because the spacious AmericInn does not get NBC Sports Network, as I mentioned earlier. I always thought De Ferran did a great job in the booth. Lots of insight there. Viewing (when I can see it) enhancement.
So there I aim, in the recliner, constantly refreshing Twitter on the DROID X. One by one they can’t touch ED. EDDDDDIEEEEEE. By the time Will Power got on the track with one last shot to dislodge Ed, I could seriously feel my heart rate throbbing in my neck just sitting there.
And then … Ed won it. Won the pole at Indy. I nearly peed myself. I just raised my hands in the victory signal in the couch and said “ED!” My wife “did he win?” Me: “the pole.” (She goes back to reading her book.)
I marked the event with these Tweets:
“ED EFFING CARPENTER”
“pdog is in the @FuzzysVodka. Pretty sure the police are on their way to my motel for a "disturbance". Woooohooooo.”
“Big team Death Star shrapnel raining down on @IMS. Glorious, glorious.”
I wasn’t the only one watching via The Twitter and other online means. Ed’s parents, Tony and Laura, and sister Lauren were in South Bend preparing for Lauren’s graduation from Notre Dame at the time. "We were kind of huddled around the iPad," Tony George told USA Today. "Conveniently the Mass ended (in time) to see it."
I celebrated by asking the restaurant we went to in Prairie du Chien if they had Fuzzy’s Vodka. “No, sorry, we don’t.” SHIT. I KNEW I should of packed my own. Anyway, thanks for the near heart attack, Ed. Now win the thing on Sunday. And thanks to the Twitter posse who kept me posted all weekend. More on Ed winning the pole here. My interview with Ed from late March 2013 is here.
Katherine Legg About Gave me a Second Twitter-based Stroke — I also totally missed Katherine Legge showing up at Indy on Saturday, even though I got the emailed news release from Sam Schmidt Motorsports. I was at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo, Iowa, learning about Iowans in wars from the Civil War forward. If you go there, check out the kick-ass laser map!
When I figured it out and checked the DROID-based email, I found the news release that contained:
"I'm very happy that we were able to give Katherine a shot at her second Indianapolis 500, which is a lifelong dream of hers," Ric Peterson, equity owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, said.
Legge finished 9th in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., the only other 500-mile race on the series' schedule.
"Katherine's top-10 finish in Fontana last year showed me that she has the speed and endurance to finish a 500-mile race, which are the most grueling conditions our drivers encounter," Sam Schmidt said. "Our team is working very hard to build her car and give her the equipment she needs to qualify and race competitively at Indianapolis."
I was surprised to hear Katherine say during our interview way back on April 27 that she still hadn’t given up on finding a ride for the Indy 500. I admit to a mental snort at that point because by the end of April, with opening day just a couple weeks away, if you haven’t got a deal going you’re usually screwed. It’s possible Katherine was further along in her quest to get a ride for the 500 than I thought or she let on at that point.
But there she was on Saturday, waiting to practice on Sunday and try to qualify, which she did, after turning only 20 laps in the car.
After bump day was over, Katherine said:
Yeah, I had less than 20 when I went out to qualify. But apparently so the team tells me I was flat on Lap 4 of being in after not being in one of these cars for several months. So, whatever, I was aware there was a condensed schedule, so I had to get after it, and we have done a bit today. Our race car is really nice. I feel really comfortable, ran in traffic a bit. We didn't have to trim out, so I have no idea what the car is like trimmed out. We'll have to go and do that, and there would have been another couple of miles an hour in it, so I think we were confident we were in the field. But it's never nice to get there like that.
I just feel bad for Michel because he had problems. I was kind of hoping for him that he would because it's always nicer when it's a fair fight, safe to say. Then I could see Buddy would be on the bubble and then it would be -- it would have been a hell of a Bump Day. As it is we created a ton of drama. But it's never nice to see somebody not get the opportunity to go out there and do that. So, I feel very bad for him, he must be devastated.”
Katherine is nothing if not plucky and maybe even indefatigable. I’ve been a fan of Katherine’s for a long time, and of course she’s a Woman of pressdog® and fellow introvert, so I cheer for her unabashedly. I also agree that what happened to Michael Jourdain was shitty. Seems clear his car was FUBAR in some way, so much so that he didn’t even make a qualifying run. Credit the team (Rahal Lanigan Racing) for not sending him out to try and do 224 in a car that has some kind of issue. I think everyone is with Katherine in that a fair fight would have been preferable. But, that’s racin’. Mechanical issues are part of the deal, unfortunately, whether it’s throwing a rod while in the lead or having some impossible-to-diagnose issue that makes your car a pig in qualifying.
By all accounts Jourdain handled the situation with class. He faced the press post-elimination which is always a sign of character in my book. You learn a LOT more about a person by how he or she handles defeat than you do about how the person handles victory.
Pippa’s Hard Work Pays Off — Anyone who is a fan of Pippa Mann or who follows her on Twitter knows how hard she has been working to find sponsorship for the Indy 500. She was “Indy 500 or Bust” long before it became a hash tag. I consider Pippa a friend and I’m obviously also a fan, so I had to take yet another moment when she was safely in the field. Not only does Pippa work hard, but she maintains her positive attitude in situations where most of us would lapse into profanity and hard liquor guzzling. And, as I’ve said repeatedly, if ever a driver was as fan-aware and fan-friendly as Pippa Mann, IndyCar would be immediately elevated as a whole. So put Pippa in the 500 on the list of manly tear-inducing moments this weekend too.
So … congrats to everyone who made the field. Given the mental, physical and financial challenges that come with making the Indianapolis 500 these days, just making the field is a huge accomplishment. Yeah, it’s not the old days when 40 cars show up and only 33 get in. Maybe back then it was more of a mechanical/driver talent challenge. But all the financial challenges around getting to Indy today make it a big very hard albeit in perhaps a slightly different way. Today’s reality is finding the cash to race at Indy is maybe one of the biggest challenges of them all for a lot of the field.
Starting lineup for the Indy 500 is below. You can see it in graphic format with speeds here.
1. Ed Carpenter (#20) Ed Carpenter Racing
2. Carlos Munoz (#26) Andretti Autosport
3. Marco Andretti (#25) Andretti Autosport
4. EJ Viso (#5) Andretti Autosport
5. AJ Allmendinger (#2) Team Penske
6. Will Power (#12) Team Penske
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay (#1) Andretti Autosport
8. Helio Castroneves (#3) Team Penske
9. James Hinchcliffe (#27) Andretti Autosport
10. JR Hildebrand (#4) Panther Racing
11. Alex Tagliani (#98) Barracuda Racing
12. Tony Kanaan (#11) KV Racing Technology
13. Oriol Servia (#22) Panter DRR
14. Justin Wilson (#19) Dale Coyne Racing
15. Sebastien Bourdais (#7) Dragon Racing
16. Scott Dixon (#9) Chip Ganassi Racing
17. Dario Franchitti (#10) Chip Ganassi Racing
18. Takuma Sato (#14) A.J Foyt Enterprises
19. Charlie Kimball (#83) Chip Ganassi Racing
20. James Jakes (#16) Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
21. Simon Pagenaud (#77) Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports
22. Townsend Bell (#60) Panther Racing
23. Ryan Briscoe (#8) Chip Ganassi Racing
24. Simona De Silvestro (#78) KV Racing Technology
25. Josef Newgarden (#21) Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
26. Graham Rahal (#15) Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
27. Sebastian Saavedra (#6) Dragon Racing
28. Tristan Vautier (#55) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
29. Ana Beatriz (#18) Dale Coyne Racing
30. Pippa Mann (#63) Dale Coyne Racing
31. Conor Daly (#41) A.J Foyt Enterprises
32. Buddy Lazier (#91) Lazier Partners Racing
33. Katherine Legge (#81) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
DNQ: Michel Jourdain Jr (#17) Rahal Letterman Lanigan