Indianapolis 500

Peter Kim

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If you haven't seen the race (and want to remain in suspense), don't read the following.



Pretty damn fine race. It was tough to be a leader all day long (Junquiera, Kanaan, & Scheckter), and almost afflicted Castroneves. But, like at the cinema, it's been Spiderman's year all along. And it's no different at the 500.

So, regardless of the CART vs. IRL running contention, this race proved to live up to the 500 pedigree. Scheckter especially impressed me. And so did Tracy. While it looked as if there may be some finish order controversy (possible passing under yellow), it looks like the finish order has been put to rest. Nevertheless, Tracy surprised me with his steely, calm demeanor.

Too bad for Hornish, though. This 2nd-year-in-row crash/smash could be foreboding for a 500 exercise in futility for him.

Enough of this...gotta run. Possibly the best racing day of the year - the GP of Monaco is on now.
 

Peter Kim

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Anyone at all familiar with Tracy's CART history, he's infamous for his ragged edge driving. It's gotten him into many crashes and even suspensions in the past.

In today's 500, he led a relatively quiet race for the first 150 laps. Even though he believed he was passed under yellow by Giaffone, he kept an uncharacteristic cool - he didn't crash into Giaffone or anyone else.

Looking at the face is the least effective measure in determining a driver's cool. If you listened to the radio communication between Tracy and his pit, along with watching a race that was marked by patience, it was evident that Tracy was a different driver today. Almost won him the 500.

I've watched Tracy since his inception into CART and always thought of him as promising. If he could've coupled his immense talent with a less explosive temper, he would've had a brighter career.
 

Michael St. Clair

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No damned-fine race ends under yellow.

The accident definitely happened before Tracy's pass, but IRIS transponders showed Tracy .19 seconds ahead at the instant the yellow lights were thrown. They are still reviewing this and tapes.
Overall, it was a good race, but that's no way to end a race. I say when stuff like this happens they should red-flag it and turn it into a 510 mile race.
 

Peter Kim

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No damned-fine race ends under yellow.
Yeah Michael, you're right. But a lot before the yellow was fun to watch.

Did you catch the rules on ending the race under caution. That is, when do the positions lock - when the yellow is physically thrown or when the accident actually happens?

Anyone - has any Indy 500 been decided post-race? I seem to remember an Unser Sr. losing to Foyt (or visa versa) over a protest.
 

Michael St. Clair

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Did you catch the rules on ending the race under caution. That is, when do the positions lock - when the yellow is physically thrown or when the accident actually happens?
When the yellow is thrown, I'm almost sure.
But one thing I'm not sure of is if in the IRL the positions are supposed to revert back to the last full-green lap. I heard this on the radio an hour ago.
I'm happy to admit I would have rather seen Tracy or De Ferran win, but the whole yellow flag thing just stinks regardless of who is racing for the lead.
A while ago ESPN Sports Center showed footage (NOT the incomplete footage from a different angle that ABC showed after the race) that certainly looked like Tracy was leading before the yellow lights went on.
Here are some interesting articles.
http://espn.go.com/rpm/irl/2002/0526/1387175.html
http://espn.go.com/rpm/irl/2002/0526/1387196.html
It is nice to see ESPN unbiased in matters like these. They scored some points with me today.
 

Peter Kim

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Likewise. The ringing battle cry has been that Castroneves is good for the sport. Mainly because of his bubbly enthusiasm.

But I prefer the quiet, zen-like approach of De Ferran and especially the ragged edge mindset of Tracy. De Ferran reminds me of Bjorn Borg, my favorite tennis player.

Both De Ferran and Tracy strike me as more substantial drivers. But with 2 500's under his belt, I suppose you cannot really refer to Castroneves as a lightweight.

When will the final outcome of the protest be determined?
 

Peter Kim

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It is nice to see ESPN unbiased in matters like these.
Good to hear, but after seeing the article on rpm.com, where the head of ABC (uncle to espn) portend the end of CART (even proclaim the need to end CART for the sake of open wheel), I still feel wary of their fairness.
 

Michael St. Clair

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, but when you take into consideration as well the race control frequency and the dash lights. And putting all that together, we didn't find anything that would make us change our decision from the original unofficial posting.
Q: So just to be clear, do you have some evidence, some indication that's conclusive, like could you get the sector timing and do the calculation, or do you have something that's empirical that says that he was definitely …
BARNHART: Clearly at the last time line at the end of the backstretch and the entrance of Turn 3, car 3 is clearly ahead of car 26, and that is well after the impact had taken place in Turn 2. It's well after the call for the yellow has taken place; meaning that that is out on the race control frequency that we are going yellow because of the accident in Turn 2. And all of that is taking place long before the 26 car has gone on the outside of the 3.
Q: Is that is conclusive?
BARNHART: Yes.
Q: And if there were to be a protest, what's the time line? When would it be heard? How long would we have to wait?
BARNHART: They actually have an hour to file the protest from the official posting, and I think I posted it at 7:40. We would set a time to have a hearing should they choose to protest the official results.
Q: Where?
BARNHART: They would have to protest to us in our office this evening, and we would set a time for a hearing sometime in the near future.
If it is NOT conclusive when the yellow lights came on, how can any analysis of anything be conclusive? When they sent Paul back behind Helio, what was the basis of the decision?
 

Peter Kim

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Much like F1, some of the real drama happens in the post-race press conference. And much of the self-contradiction.

ABC/ESPN signed IRL on until 2007. In this era of diminishing sponsorship and ad dollars, this further sounds the death knell for CART.

Tony George's primary reasons for creating IRL in '95 - lower the cost of open wheel racing and repopulate the majority driver ranks with Americans. George also only had complete disdain for the Japanese engine manufacturers.

Fast Forward to 2002...Penske, Ganassi, Toyota, and (soon) Honda dominate IRL, bringing big money back into IRL and raising the bar to astronomical heights for what it costs to compete.

Putting aside the fact that the last 3 drivers to win Indy are foreign born (5 out of the last 7 since the split), the IRL driver ranks itself has a substantial number of foreigners.

I guess the self-contradiction evident in the press conf is a microcosm of what Tony George and IRL is all about. I wonder what cousin of the devil George had to sleep with to beat the Devil himself?
 

Michael St. Clair

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Peter,
You got it.
Foreign races bad.
Foreign engines bad.
Foreign drivers bad.
American drivers good, especially if they are short trackers.
Road racing bad.
Where has it all gone? Was it all just rhetoric?

There's a rumor buzzing about that Tony George wants to race at Road America. However, you can be sure that if the IRL runs on a road course or two that it is only to try to drive CART out of business - then they would surely stop, as it is more expensive to have cars that you can set up for road as well as oval.
I don't know. It's all gone insane.
Contrary to popular belief, ESPN/ABC did offer CART 3 million dollars for the rights to cover this season's races. Joe Heitzler turned it down, claiming to the CART board that he could do better. This is likely one of the reasons they are suing him. Is 3 million paltry? Maybe not, given how much open-wheel is suffering. How much does the IRL get? Who knows, but ABC is only buying all the other races in order to get the 500.
All this damage. Terrible oval attendance, mediocre TV ratings. It's only going to get worse. Open-wheel should be working together to get healthy fast, because the real storm is coming.
Target may be dropping all racing sponsorship after 2003, even NASCAR.
And all the tobacco companies are gone in 2006, period.
Come 2006, there may be no top-tier open-wheel racing series in the USA. Maybe just an Indy 500. At some point Tony's mom and the other Hulman heir's are going to get tired of him spending a rumored 100 million dollars a year keeping the IRL afloat.
 

Peter Kim

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Yeah, that's the reason I have a love/hate relationship with CART. They allowed/followed their dunderhead leadership to the brink of extinction. And in this dawn of fiscal atrophy, followed their greed to obsolescence.

Throwing away all of the political, open-wheel bickering over supremacy, this follows the classic story of King Solomon. Neither camp, IRL or CART, seems to understand or care about the welfare of open-wheel. Each wants ownership to satiate their/Georoge's own megalamania and greed. And while George is the single person who ripped the series apart, CART has exploded their chances to market their superior product as a viable alternative to NASCAR.

Anyway, I'm still happy that a Penske won the race. You've got to admire a self-made man, a man whose built up a $12 bil enterprise. George is a snivelling, I-don't-like-how-the-game-is-played,so-I'll-take-away-my-board child, one who got what he has through Daddybucks George and mommy Hulman.

It still speaks volumes that for every year that CART has participated in the 500 since the split, a pure, IRL driver has not won. For all of the George/IRL apologists, they're keenly aware of this non-coincidence (I can almost assure you that strict, IRL fans were not happy with Spiderman's win). And for their goldenBOY, Sam Hornish...he's plenty aware of the fact that all of the other IRL races and the 'coveted' IRL driver's title is completely vacuous without the 500.

Sam Hornish will become the Buffalo Bills of open wheel. Somehow, Michael, I think the sheen of his arrogance has instantly been worn through after today.
 

Peter Kim

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BTW...who could've envisioned Scheckter to dominate as he did. Escpecially coming off of a suspension.
When you look at the key players that played a dominant role in the race, you've got the following:
1. Bruno (CART)
2. Kanaan (CART)
3. Tracy (CART)
4. Giaffone (Foreigner driving for recently departed CART genius, Mo Nunn)
5. Scheckter (all right, not CART, but using IRL as a feeder back into F1)
6. Castroneves CART

While not as delineated as last year's CART/IRL matchup and eventual humiliation of IRL at the hands of CART, this year still proved that despite CART's fait accompli, the real racing of CART entirely trumps that of the minor league IRL clones.
It was very amusing to see Michael Andretti gingerly sidestep a flailing Sarah Fisher. It should now be obvious to any IRL owner why Sarah was never supported by her own IRL brethren through most of this year's racing season. If she continues to race in IRL, I seriously believe she'll be the death of another driver.
Bottom line...there is not a single IRL driver out there that reminds me of Mears, Emmo, Foyt or Unser (even little Al in his prime). Their bar of Ray and Lazier, and now Hornish, all IRL champions, are amateur in comparison. Hmmm, just where are Ray and Lazier in IRL's own driver rankings this year? And the very few exceptions, like Stewart and Brack, both former IRL champions (Brack also winning the 500) bolt the IRL. Why leave, if for the love of the sport and the racing expertise found in IRL?
I wonder - while IRL is gloating over the eventual demise of CART, just how fulfilling will it be when they finally win the 500 without any competition from CART? Well, they'll probably look toward their overlord George and glee like a little child.
 

Michael St. Clair

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It should now be obvious to any IRL owner why Sarah was never supported by her own IRL brethren through most of this year's racing season. If she continues to race in IRL, I seriously believe she'll be the death of another driver.
Talk in the paddock for over a year has been that Sarah is incapable of providing meaningful feedback to her engineer. A good driver can give specific feedback to help the engineer get the car set up optimally. All she can do is say it is too loose or not. As long as this is the case, she'll be putting the car into a wall or another driver about half of the time.

Ever notice how she is always complaining about bad cars and bad engineers? She refuses to accept that she has part of the responsiblity in helping to get the car set up.
 

Peter Kim

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Defending IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. was behind the action and radioed into his crew that Tracy had, indeed, made the pass prior to the yellow light.
Equals scam, which cheats the fans and ultimately cheapens the pedigree of the 500.

If the first two criteria can be confirmed (the first is IRL's own rule, so that's irrefutable, and the second can be definitively measured), how can IRL not reverse their official decision? Do they want to lie in the pits with NASCAR?

Side note: Michael, for our case, I'm glad rpm.com doesn't charge a subscription fee. I've always enjoyed Robin Miller's commentary.
 

Michael St. Clair

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Peter,
Barry Green showed up for the appeal this morning with lawyers this morning and says he has aquired additional evidence.
And figure this one out for me. Junquiera's engine blows and oils down turn 3 and they don't throw a yellow. But very late in the race they extend a yellow for a beercan somebody threw on the track?
 

Peter Kim

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Your wire-style coverage is amazing, Michael. Which site/radio/tv station are your getting this detailed, near-real-time info?

Perhaps we can find precedance in the Bobby Unser controversy. But at that time, the director of operations wasn't a former Penske employee.

But very late in the race they extend a yellow for a beercan somebody threw on the track?
Yeah, I had a chuckle when I heard this yesterday.
 

Michael St. Clair

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Peter,
Seventhgear.com and http://www.motorsportforum.com/forums/ have lots of peole who keep up on things. Sometimes some insiders post at seventhgear, like Parker Johnstone and an RPM2Night producer who's name I can't remember.
I'm off to Taste of Cincinnati for the remainder of the day. Will check back in this evening.
 

Seth Paxton

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very late in the race they extend a yellow for a beercan somebody threw on the track
Well that could take out a tire, the response team truck had to come on course to get it, and Bruno was SUPPOSED to use the run off lane, not the freaking track. Kanaan was in that oil before the immediate danger was known, it had just happened before Kanaan came around. It's hard to be totally sure when smoke is coming out and I've seen them let smoking cars go MANY TIMES in many years, depending on what track spotters can see.

I've never known the track to let anything other than paper to remain on course. I've seen many yellows for other debris however.


Also as I mentioned in that other thread, I was right across from Gordan's pits and that explosion scared the hell out of all of us. It was really loud and when I looked I just saw metal flying and a guy falling backward. For a second when they started to spray toward the fuel tank I thought we were going to see someone killed. Very scary moment.

That came right after Hornish went behind the wall. In fact that whole sequence around lap 85 area was just weird and we were all saying so.

Think about this too, at least 2 drivers had their fuel hoses stay engaged as they pulled away (Giaffone, Gordon) and 2 drivers missed getting a 4th tire on (Buhl, de Ferran). And we had Bruno stalling his car which cost him 20 positions. Our seats were over the end of pit lane and I got to see all these moments happen. Really crazy.

I'll try and put up some photos.
 

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