Welcome to Eddieville, the cavernous Texas Motor Speedway operated by Eddie Gossage. pressdog® Beer of the Race is Alpha King from Three Floyds Brewing in Indiana.
The big question (for me, anyway) going into this one is how much the speeds will drop off during the fuel run. Last year IndyCar reduced the downforce on the cars. Less downforce equals more tire wear and by the end of the stint cars were going a lot slower than the beginning. Insert debate here whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
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Standard ABC posse is in effect: Marty Reid, Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever in the booth, Rick DeBruhl, Vince Welch and Jamie Little in the pit. Happy to report that Jamie Little has the man-killing ponytail cinched high and tight for this one. Reckon so …
Let’s light this candle. We’re …. green green green
Lap 4 -- Festival of obscenities! Pippa’s engine is BLOWN UP, sir. We got a little fire in the back now. Pippa drives around to a safety truck location and parks it. Not much in the way of fire. The safety peeps have it out quickly and she’s taking her time getting out. Probably needs to finish her 17-curse-word sentence first.
Now we’re yellow yellow yellow as Pippa is parked on the apron. Replays of the classic engine blow plum. Fellow part-time Coyne driver Ana Beatriz who suffered multiple mechanical failures sends Pippa a text: “welcome to my world.”
Lap 14 -- After a nine-lap yellow, we’re green. ABC joins the restart in mid-DeBruhl report. Not real elegant.
ABC montage tells us in the last 22 IndyCar races there have been 14 winners from nine teams, three first-time winners and six points leaders.
Replays of Dixon closing fast on Ed and fish tailing a little to try and dive under Ed.
Lap 17 -- Marco leads. Marco, RHR, Power, Helio, Viso, Newgarden, Dixon, Kanaan, Kimball, Ed.
Dario is fading. Now P12.
Lap 19 -- Eddie (I think) tells us Marco ran the final practice on old tires to see how the car drove when the tires were crap. Viewing enhanced.
Lap 23 -- Discussion of the terror of driving at TMS. Eddie says “sometimes when I raced at Texas I wished I had my mom’s telephone number.” I laughed, but then I thought “Eddie didn’t have his mom’s telephone number?” Oh, I get it. He wanted to call her from the car during the race. Jocularity.
Lap 24 -- Lot of steering in put into the cars. Festival of dirt track wheel sawing out there.
Lap 25 -- Dario started P4, now P13. Simona has gained eight spots to P14.
Maro, RHR, Power, Helio, Viso, Newgarden, Dixon, TK, Ed, Hinch.
Vince says tires on Dario’s car are shot. Festival of lifting. Seems like about 25 laps into a run the tires start to go to crap, speeds reduce dramatically and drivers have to NASCAR it into the corners (lift). I won’t be surprised if we don’t start to see braking into the corners, honestly.
Simona gets some monster air here. Marco has led since the green. He’s .7 seconds ahead of P2.
Lap 34 -- Marco leads. Viso has faded to P12.
Lap 35 -- We go onboard Dario as he inhales Viso. Viso is overtaken by Simona a couple laps later. He’s slowed to the speed of smell on the crap tires.
Lap 37 -- Jamie reports that Viso reports the car’s handling is “going away.”
Lap 40 -- Marco, RHR, Helio, JoeNew, Power, TK, Dixon, 27, Jakes, Dario.
One thing about it, the tire wear -- clearly The Story Line of this race -- causes some dramatic changes of position for some cars, with speeds dropping as much as 10 mph from start of the fuel run to the finish. Viso, for example, was P5 after the first yellow on Lap 14 and P14 by Lap 42. GERONIMOOOOOO.
Vince says Saavedra reports his weight jacker is trash. Rahal had a bad stop and was lapped on Lap 33.
Jamie reports that RHR was asking to come in for the last five laps. Once the tires are gone, it’s a wild ride.
Lap 44 -- Jamie says “weight jacker” so … DRINK, ye BASTARDS.
Festival of pitting breaks out.
Lap 50 -- 11 cars on the lead lap.
Lap 53 -- Dixon is toast. Marco pits. Dixon creeping around the track …
Yellow yellow yellow. Dixon replay, sounds like the gears stripped of drive shaft blew or something. Engine running but zero drive.
Lap 56 -- 10 on the lead lap. Mike Hall with Jamie. Mike tells us the car has lost drive. Appreciate the news flash. Dixon stays in the car and gets towed back to the pits. Lots of pitting.
Cue the circus music! … Ed is driving around with a glove stuck to the nose of his car. It’s hooked on the wing adjustment handle deal. Ed has to pit again to get the glove off the nose, but it’s still yellow so he comes out in P14. Could have been worse. Ed pitted on Lap 58 under yellow and came back in on Lap 62, last lap before they went green. Probably topped off as well.
Lap 64 -- green. Running order: RHR, Newgarden, Marco, Helio, Power, Sato, Wilson, Viso, Sevedra, TK.
Kimball overtakes RHR on the restart get his lap back. It’s that kind of race. Newgarden begins a dive down the ranks. He’ll level off at P8.
Lap 65 -- Tag gets loose in p 17. Marco working lapped traffic.
Lap 66 -- Onboard Marco who is working on overtaking Bourdais who is a lap down at this point. Marco gives him the one hand up in the air Italian salute (not the finger, though) … twice. A WILD SHOW OF EMOTION. IndyCar will probably issue forth a fine for discourteous hand gestures today.
Lots of Knoxville like dirt tracking out there.
Lap 69 -- Marty uses the term “gaggle” to temporarily recapture my waning attention.
Lap 71 -- RHR has a one second lead on Marco. RHR, Marco, Helio, Viso, Wilson. Going from P10 to P3 and back to P10 isn’t strange in this race. Insert tire discussion here.
Lap 81 -- Replays. Crew working on the back of Dixon’s car and then … POOF. Some smoke/steam like substance fires out of the back sending the crew guys scattering.
Lap 86 -- Eddies says you need grip and courage to run the highline at Texas. I believe Texas was where Eddie originally declared the racing “LUNACY.” Those were back in the four-wide days of TMS, which are long gone (insert argument over whether that’s good or bad here.)
Vince says Marco is “frustrated” with Simona who was making it hard for him to get around here. Simona was right in front of Bourdais in the running order. “Frustrated” in racing is often a euphemism for “pissed.” In Marco’s case it probably also meant he was f-bombing up a storm on his radio.
Lap 92 -- Rahal is now three laps down. Crappy day at TMS.
15 cars on the lead lap. The difference between the cars that don’t eat tires as much and those that do is dramatic.
Lap 97 -- Onboard Marco vs. Helio for P1. Helio high, Marco low. Helio right-up-against-the-wall high. Replay of Marco screaming on the radio something about “who’s officiating this race?” That would be chief steward Beauxford T. Justice (Beaux Barfield), Mr. Andretti.
Replay of Marco and Simona having issues on the track is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
Lap 101 -- Marco pits. Eddies says Marco should just chill.
Lap 104 -- Helio, Viso, Jakes, Wilson, Sato, Newgarden, Carpenter, Power, Servia, Dario, RHR (RHR is a lap down).
Much pitting. Helio’s speed is 10 mph slower than when he started the stint.
Lap 111 -- Helio has 12 seconds on P2.
Yellow yellow yellow. Servia does a spinoramma, doesn’t hit anything, but stalls. Marco is hating life because Helio will now pit under yellow. Marco was actually a lap down when the yellow came out but he’ll get his lap back.
Marty says the top six cars have gone 50 laps or more on their tires. Who can best manage tires is the story of this race. F1-ish.
Goodyear says Servia needs to come in and buy a lottery ticket due to his luck not hitting the wall. Eddie recommends he come in and change his shorts as well.
Lap 115 -- Helio will pit under yellow. Marty tells me Helio went 54 laps on the first stint and a freakish 61 laps on the second stint. Viewing enhanced. Ed stays out and does not pit with the leaders. Mistake there, but he pits a lap later and that may have cost him some track position.
Lap 116 -- RHR pits again with 21 laps on his tires.
Helio was a bit too close to the wall on his pit stop making it difficult for the tire changer to get in there.
Lap 123 -- Green. Helio got a massive jump or P2 (Power) was sleeping.
Lap 124 -- Simona gets a 30-second penalty for passing the pace car. She has to pit and sit for 30. Beauxford rules with fearsome authoritah. Replay is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS so we don’t know if SHE GOT SCREWED. http://pressdog.typepad.com/Boles.mp3. Video of this passing the pace car is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
Lap 125 -- Viso gets a drive-through penalty for hitting a tire in the pits.
Goodyear calls Power a Road Course Specialist so … DRINK, ye BASTARDS.
Lap 128 -- Marco and Bourdais renew their friendship on track. Bourdais is severely traffic this time. Now TK inhales Marco who is loose.
Lap 139 -- Goodyear says “use your tools” so DRINK.
Lap 146 -- Jamie says “tools” … slam round.
Goodyear reminds us that the reason IndyCar took downforce off the cars which caused this Festival of Tire Degradation is that drivers wanted the race to be back in their hands, as opposed to having the car stuck to the track and just running wide open all race. I’d say they got their wish. Insert heated debate as to if fans wanted that.
Helio has a seven second lead on Power in P2. Vince says “tools.” DRINK.
Lap 159 -- Helio violently inhales Pagenaud.
Marty says “tires have been everything in this race.” Helio fast lap was 214 mph, now he’s going 200.
Lap 166 -- Jakes has gone 62 laps on his tires and pits. Probably not much left of those tires at this point.
Lap 175 -- final pit stops commencing.
Helio is four seconds ahead of TK in P2. Helio, TK, Marco, RHR, Newgarden, Power, Carpenter, Jakes, Sato, Franchitti.
Lap 178 (50 to go) -- Goodyear talks about the Fuel Knob.
Lap 196 -- Marty reminds us again that tires are key. Goodyear says new tires are good for 10 mph more in this race. Strategy appears to be get new tires, build a huge lead, then hold on as long as you can before pitting, not being distressed if P2 eats into your lead or even overtakes you knowing you’ll have freak speed coming out of the pits and be able to overtake many cars.
Right on cue, Simon, who is three laps down, inhales the leader (Helio) who is going 200 mph.
Lap 198 -- RHR is 12 seconds back from Helio in P2.
Lap 205 -- Six cars on the lead lap.
Lap 212 -- Helio has six seconds on RHR in P2.
Helio, RHR, Ed, TK, Franchitti, Power, Andretti, Hinch, Jakes, Viso.
Lap 214 -- Helio is going 198 mph. RHR going 202. Helio will win barring air strike.
Lap 218 -- Four cars on the lead lap.
Lap 219 -- TK closing on Ed. TK is going 204 and Ed is going 198. TK overtakes Ed. Helio has four seconds on RHR. TK was a lap down in P9 at lap 201. Unlapped himself and got to P4 by Lap 212. ABC missed this epic charge showing us Helio running alone. TK’s climb: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. TK will top out at P3 on lap 222.
White flag ..
Helio wins. Screams into his radio “GREAT JOB YOU GUYS! AWESOME.”
He’s out. Climbs the fence. Back in. Restarted and heads for victory lane.
RHR winds up P2 and says the car was varying levels of bad based on how loose it was. RHR little freaked out. Vince with Helio who is ON FIRE in the winner’s circle. Manic. Can’t say he doesn’t show emotion, that’s for sure. Tells Vince the key was managing tires and fuel.
Helio took the lead on Lap 97 and led the rest of the way. Marco caught a bad yellow, went a lap down and had to come back.
Three of Dixon’s crew had to be treated for the gearbox poof. Burns on faces and hands. Treated and released from care center so I assume they were relatively minor burns.
Finishing order ..
IZOD IndyCar Series
FORT WORTH, Texas - Results Saturday of the Firestone 550 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 1.455-mile Texas Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (6) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 228, Running
2. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 228, Running
3. (13) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 228, Running
4. (9) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 228, Running
5. (2) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 228, Running
6. (4) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 227, Running
7. (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 227, Running
8. (7) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 227, Running
9. (12) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 227, Running
10. (5) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 227, Running
11. (21) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 227, Running
12. (10) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 227, Running
13. (23) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 226, Running
14. (18) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 226, Running
15. (20) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 226, Running
16. (22) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 226, Running
17. (8) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 226, Running
18. (24) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running
19. (16) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 225, Running
20. (15) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 224, Running
21. (17) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 223, Running
22. (14) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 223, Running
23. (11) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 61, Mechanical
24. (19) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Honda, 2, Mechanical
Winners average speed: 177.257
Time of Race: 01:52:17.4594
Margin of victory: 4.6919
Cautions: 3 for 27
Lead changes: 4 among 5 drivers
Andretti 1 - 53
Power 54 - 57
Hunter-Reay 58 - 92
Andretti 93 - 96
Castroneves 97 - 228
Lap chart, start and finishing order courtesy of IndyCar PR.
That’s it from TMS. Honestly, kind of snoozer. The dramatic changes of speed and positions for some cars was hard to track on TV. Probably better in person when you could see the dramatic fall off of some cars and resulting festival of overtaking. Big debate over if this tire degradation thing is better than the old style TMS.
Many many have been pining for the days when "the race was in the driver's hands" and there was no holding it flat around TMS. To me that's pretty much what NASCAR is. So I say no (and will most likely be excoriated for it). TMS used to be quite exciting with two-wide driving for multiple laps, but the concern about “pack racing” (which never really happened at TMS except for a few laps on a restart) means those days are long gone. Honestly, Belle Isle kept my interest more than this race, which shocks me to the core. I’m also freaked that more areo changes will transform Iowa from an exciting race to this tire test stuff we got going on at TMS.
I await the comment flame. ..
Next race is Milwaukee, June 15, 4 p.m., NBC Sports Network.