Indy Japan 300

As much as I’d like to be headed to Japan right now, I’m not sure how well I’d fit in there. No, I don’t mind eating on the floor and yes, I prefer my massages to have a happy ending. However, my language is limited to “Toyota,” “sushi” and “everybody Wang Chung tonight.” And I don’t think that would get me anywhere near the racetrack. So Versus coverage it is.

It’s probably better that I stay here anyway, to continue my Milwaukee Mile celebration. I haven’t stopped drinking since last Friday. I’m tipsy and my liver is doing the running man but hey, that’s how we do it in Wisconsin. Cheers.

I’m really not sure whose bright idea it was to have an all-road-course schedule leading up to the 500, with Brazil immediately preceding, but survey says… FAIL. Not that the snooze-fest in Kansas was a great lead-in this year, but Brazil is ballsy. And while I’m excited about the double-header in Texas, part of me thinks that dividing the points and calling it two races makes more work than sense. We shall see. And I heard a rumor today that there’s talk of a Saturday-road-course-Sunday-oval season finale in Las Vegas. I dare you to mention that to a crew member and see the look of horror at the mere thought of flipping that setup overnight. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, I do enjoy the schedule and look forward to a splendid 2011.

Let’s finish 2010 first though, hmmm? It was about this time last year that Mario Moraes went from pinball to professional. I was impressed. But if you think that means I’m going to pick him this week, you’ve thought wrong. KV is on the fast track to purchasing the entire Dallara plant and I wouldn’t bet on those odds even if Roger Penske was writing the check. I’ve seen the crash count, but lost track of how many times I’ve been present to witness this: BAM. Shit. KV? Yep. Shocking.

Huge congratulations to Ed Carpenter for an amazing weekend in Kentucky. Can’t imagine a single fan in the stands who was rooting against the Fuzzy’s car in that race. By the way, I don’t know what the crap happened with the Firestone Tire-iffic voting, but I understand. Helio definitely deserved to win over Carpenter. And Kanaan’s drive from last to fourth wasn’t anything to write home about. Plus, Penske can really use the extra $10,000. FACEPALM.

On to the picks. Not gonna lie… I’m stumped this week. On one hand, you’ve got your top five in points – all Penske and Ganassi. Power seems like an obvious choice but his fuel debacle in Chicago and eight-place finish in Kentucky tell me otherwise. Then you’ve got Helio who won on a fuel strategy over the Vision/Panther brigade, which – despite my picks – I honestly didn’t expect THAT would happen. Dixon won at Motegi last year but hasn’t shown up on the last two ovals. I’d like to see an Andretti Autosport victory but sweet Jebediah, don’t let it be Nascar’s own Danica Patrick. So you see the pickle I’m in.

Here we go: Franchitti, Briscoe and a surprise performance by Hideki Mutoh. Done. Now please excuse me whilst I brush up on my Japanese. “California roll, edamame, shrimp tempura…”


Kentucky Indy 300

Last year, this race was called the Meijer Indy 300. So either their marketing team didn’t see Marco’s commanding performance last weekend, or we’re not doing our job as fans and buying more random homegoods. We’ll wait while you go out and get some stuff. I recommend a new recliner, a bird feeder and a package of brats. And if you’re feeling really saucy, one of those fountains of a kid peeing. Go.

We’ve found ourselves smack in the middle of Ovalville and I likey. Chicagoland Speedway – as always – put on a hell of a show. Which is why it makes sense to take it off the schedule completely. See this cake, fat kid? It’s delicious. You can’t have it. I completely understand. In marketing, history shows that not giving people what they want is the key to success. FAIL.

Here’s my dilemma for this week’s picks: I can’t decide whether to follow my head or my heart. Since it’s the 200th race of the IndyCar Series, it’s okay to get all nostalgic and smooshy, right? So my heart says this…

First pick is Kanaan. He has a strong record here, including a pole/victory in 2007 and a podium finish (3rd) last year. He’s been strong on the ovals this year – with a win in Iowa – and seems to be getting back into his old groove, despite the fact that his bitter-meter is just about topping out. TK is a fan favorite, and to hear him say that he didn’t enjoy racing in Chicago was a tough pill to swallow. But then again, he has to work with Danica. You do the math.

Second pick: Ed Carpenter. Raise your hand if you want to see Ed on the podium this weekend. If you didn’t raise your hand, we can’t be friends anymore. Carpenter finished second last year at Kentucky. And it wasn’t your average second-place finish. He and Briscoe BATTLED IT OUT til the checkered flag dropped. In fact, I’m pretty sure if you look up “barn burner” in the dictionary, there’s an image of the photo finish. Maybe.

Finally, my third pick goes to Alex Lloyd. I haven’t picked him yet this year, but until now, it didn’t make much sense. He’s been strong, but not a contender… until now. Despite a series of incidents throughout the race at Chicagoland, Lloyd looked strong and confident in his car. I think this season, his problem has been in securing a good qualifying position. If he can do that in Kentucky (which could be foiled if the rain comes and they grid according to points), I’m expecting great things.

So that’s what my heart says. My head says Power, Briscoe, Castroneves. You make the call.

Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil 300

[Deep, movie-announcer dude voice]

In a world where Will Power is unstoppable… where the mere sight of the IZOD Trophy Girl makes men inexplicably retarded… where KV Technology can rebuild a car faster than you can say, “Brian Barnhart must be sleeping with someone at Dallara”… where you could bet your kids’ college tuition that Milka would finish last…

Until now…

Just when you thought nothing could possibly be slower than the 18, along came…

Frankenstein Dracula. Frangelico Dramamine. What the hell is that guys name? Ahem. Francisco Dracone. HOLY BALLS.

Now I’m all for trying new things. Hell, Wheldon decided he might try a new, inverted maneuver to shake things up a bit in Sonoma. But Dracone brought a whole new meaning to the words “shit show.” At which point, Conquest did the right thing and brought in a new driver. This is the point in the show when I would normally draw an obvious comparison between Dracone’s fate and Milka’s, but you’re a big kid. You can do it. I saw a tweet this week saying that making fun of Milka is no longer funny. To which I say… FALSE.

And so we welcome Scheckter back to the festivities. T-Scheck, orange is not your color, but I’ll take it. Honestly can’t say I saw that coming, but it can only mean one thing – silly season is right around the corner. Insert weird clown-car horn.

It took all of one lap here at Chicagoland for me to remember why I’m an oval girl. Crank up the hurdy gurdy cuz we got four ovals to end the season – two under the lights, no less. Christmas has come early, kiddies.

For my first pick, I’ll take Ryan Briscoe. The defending champ was fastest in the first practice and he’s got a pretty stellar track record on the ovals.

And now for a little déjà vu. I’m feeling strongly about the Andretti Autosport squad again this week. The AA cars ran P4 (#26), P5 (#7), P6 (#37) and P7 (#11) in the first practice. I can’t bet against that. However, I have a feeling that Marco is going to get too anxious too soon, so my second pick is Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Finally, my dark horse pick this week is E.J. Viso. I had several in mind but the tiny stallion ran eighth in practice and let’s not forget that he finished third at the last oval (Iowa).

I leave you with a friendly race gIRL public service announcement: Did you know that “epic FAIL” has a sound? It does. It sounds just like the NASCAR Truck Series. My ears are bleeding. Hide your wives and children. You’re welcome.

See you under the lights!

Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

If ever there was a moment to need a glass of wine – or seventeen – this is it. Perhaps then I could begin to accept the memories of what I learned in Mid-Ohio:

1.    It is a possibility that during practice, Ryan Briscoe forgot just how tall Justin Wilson is. But I will never forget the sight of JW rising slowly – all Frankensteiny – out of his car to tower over Briscoe as if to say, “Um, what was that? I couldn’t hear you all the way up here.”
2.    Mid-Ohio dudes: Under no circumstances are cutoff jeans and a half t-shirt acceptable as attire. This is not debatable.
3.    Screens are a necessity at any non-oval track. Contrary to popular belief, even people like God and Roger Penske don’t have the ability to see every angle on the track. And even the temporary street courses have grasped this concept. But not Mid-Ohio. It’s more of an “everyone scrunch together around the one tiny screen” mentality. Precious.
4.    As part of KV’s effort to break the all-time record for wall stuffs and general car part replacement, it was no surprise that Sato cruised off track in the esses. But it’s only in seeing the replay from Dixon’s on-board camera that you realize just how effing hilarious that maneuver was.
5.    Mid-Ohio parents: If your children are large enough to carry thirteen hot dogs by nestling them against their fat rolls, you might want to consider setting some limits.
6.    Being at the races is just not the same without my partner-in-crime. Who else am I supposed to point out the violations mentioned in #2 to and then curl up in bed with at night to slather ourselves with a ginormous piece of carrot cake? I’m JUST sayin.’
7.    Some tracks have people walking around yelling stuff like, “Beer!” and “Peanuts!” Mid-Ohio has dudes on golf carts selling Dominos Pizza. Mid-Ohio FTW.
8.    Justin Wilson would be having a fabulous season if his luck would stop getting in the way.
9.    Milka Duno would be having a fabulous season if her driving would stop getting in the way.
10.    I don’t even remember who won the race, (I’m kidding, Franchitti. Simmer.) but I know I woke up that morning and said, “Boy, it’s been a long time since Penske or Ganassi won. I hope THAT happens today.” Sigh.

One can only hope that Sonoma offers such great life lessons. We shall see. If not, plan B is double-fisting the wine. You know, six in one hand… Here are my picks:

First, I’ll take Franchitti. He won here in 2009 and was fastest in the first practice today. If there’s anyone to beat the almighty William Power (throwing arms in the air), I guess it will have to be Mr. Judd.

For picks two and three, I have a good feeling about Andretti Autosport this weekend. Not Danica… oops, I mean, “NASCAR’s own, Danica.” Barf. I’ll take TK for my second pick. Despite only running a few laps in the first practice, he looked solid.

Andretti or RHR? Hmmmmm. It’s like a hot boy conundrum. I’ll take Andretti for my third pick. You know when you go to your buddy’s house and his wife says, “I like the Detroit Lions cuz their uniforms are pretty?” And then you tell her that the Lions were 0-16 two seasons ago, but that means nothing to her? You’d think I have a point here, wouldn’t you? I don’t. I’m just excited for football season.

So I raise my wine glass(es) from Infineon Raceway, a track ranking extremely high on the list of “gorgeous facilities,” which Pressdog will tell you can only mean that the racing will be good. Here’s to a great race, good friendship throughout the IndyCar nation and the realization that after this race we are finally… finally… back to ovals. FINALLY. Cheers…

Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

The hills are alive… with the sound of horsepower. Yodel-ee-i-odel-ee-i-odel-ee-i-hoooo.

Before we go any farther, we have to talk about the block heard ‘round the world. It’s taken a few weeks and I’m finally ready to talk about it. Partly because I wanted to let it sink in, but mostly because it took that long to stop laughing at the image of Mr. Castroneves’ tiny little hands embedded in the 4XL polo of one Sir Charles de Securidad. I don’t know what Helio was thinking – aint that the $60,000 question – but I can tell you for damn tootin’ that it’s just what the IICS needed. Can you feel that, NASCAR? Your era is over. There’s a new sheriff in town, and the 7.2 seconds of coverage on ESPN is proof. I remember it fondly – SportsCenter came on. Half the nation turned to their neighbor and said, “What is this IZOD IndyCar business and who the hell is Helium Castroneeevus?” And I thought, “Yessss. We made ESPN.”

The best part of that whole debacle actually had nothing to do with Helio. And the Oscar goes to… Scott Dixon for doing the post-race interview as if he actually deserved the win. Congratulations, Dixie. Normally your interviews are just boring, but this time you managed to look like a douche. You can pick up your award in Barnhart’s office.

You want my opinion? A car that’s blocking makes a sharp cut. A car that’s moving out to turn in looks a lot like the #3 car during that restart. With that being said, I agree that the call followed the rules. I just don’t agree with the rule. In addition, I think a drive-through penalty for a block is sometimes (but not always) excessive at any given moment in race. But to TAKE AWAY THE WIN is… well, it’s… supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I learned as a kid that that’s a word to say when you don’t know what to say. My parents would be proud. But I can’t let it go. Mom and Dad – cover your ears. The call was effing bullshit. [Insert innocent schoolgirl smile.]

In summary, I can only hope that something just as breathtaking happens here on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Something that makes the IndyCar nation blow up Twitter like it did on that fateful day. Something that has us all talking and debating until Sonoma. Something that makes the non-fans (hereby known as “the uncool” or more specifically, “jackwagons”) sit up and take notice.

Wait a minute. Shut the front door. Just happened: some dude just did a farmer blow on the hill here at Mid-O. I wish I was making this up. The hills are now alive with the sound of my giggles. So glad you guys are indirectly sharing this moment with me. For the sake of my faith in men, I’m going to pretend that did NOT just happen. Moving on…

Let’s do picks… really quickly. Let’s do something unprecedented, shall we? Just so that I can say I didn’t pick Power and Wilson again, I’m doing a 3rd, 4th and 5th place pick this week. Sometimes my brilliance is hard to fathom. Third – I’ll take Helio. Revenge. Bam. Fourth – Ryan Hunter-Reay. Fifth – Marco Andretti. Aaaaaaand… go.

By the way, thanks for your concern. My chassis-licious blog is coming. Keep your pants on.

In Case You’re Confused: Brickyard Edition

A funny thing happened on my way to nowhere yesterday. I hopped on the treadmill, which I hate, but it was hot as Satan’s nipples in Indy. Usually I turn on ESPN but as I flipped channels, I happened to catch a local news station’s pre-race coverage of the Brickyard 400. Lucky me. In the hour that followed, I was privy to some of the most breath-taking nonsense this side of the Mississippi.

And so I bring you… the top three interviews that make you proud to be an IndyCar fan:

Interview #1: The women of NASCAR.
I can only imagine that this story idea went something like this:
Dude 1: “We need some story ideas.”
Dude 2: “What? I wasn’t listening. There are girls here.”
Dude 1: “Here? At the Brickyard?”
Dude 2: “Yea. Weird. Let’s go talk to them.”

So here’s the premise for the story: The reporters went around asking women at the track about why they were there. The questions ranged from “How long have you been coming?” to “Who’s your favorite driver?” As you can imagine, in true redneck fashion, the women were beautiful. And none of their answers made them sound like flippin’ idiots. Psych. It was a modern-day marvel.

The women liked the drivers because they were cute. They didn’t really enjoy the racing but the cars were “cool.” And then, low and behold, came my personal favorite. When asked about brand loyalty, and whether the advertising mattered at all to them, not one of the women said it did. ARE YOU HEARING ME, MARKETING DIRECTORS? For the thousands of you who are spending millions on advertising in the NASCAR market, the decision-makers of the house are tuning you out. Compare that to the extremely brand-loyal, higher-educated, higher-tax-bracket demographic of the IZOD IndyCar Series and let’s see some of that money roll in the right direction. Just sayin. Man, this soap box is high. Can someone get me a step stool?

IndyCar – 1, NASCAR – 0.

Interview #2: When beer is more important than your friends…
So we move on to the next interview, which takes place in what can only be described as a regular-tent-turned-beer-tent. The shot is of five or six lonely-looking people who have about $750 worth of ribs cooking on their grill. The backdrop is 40+ cases of beer, neatly stacked as if they were building some kind of Coors Light compound. Pfft. Your first mistake is the Coors Light. When building a beer fortress, always go with imports. Rookie mistake.

Anyway, here’s the theme of this gem: These people used to have a HUGE group of party comrades who united at the Brickyard each year to drink and enjoy the race (really, just drink… let’s be honest). This year, because of the economy, most of their friends just couldn’t afford it. Three things that come to mind: 1) Racing (despite the fact that it’s NASCAR, which I’m willing to forgive) is life. If your friends don’t recognize that, get new friends. 2) I heard that general admission Brickyard 400 tickets are $40. You can get into the infield at the 500 for $20. Something is wrong here. 3) You losers have clearly spent more than a grand on meat and beer. You couldn’t have donated some of that money to your poor friend’s outreach program so they can be there too?

IndyCar – 2, NASCAR – 0.

Interview #3: If your perception of reality is THIS far off, you might be a redneck.
The bad news is that I never caught the name of the guy in this last interview. The good news is that he’s so far removed from reality that it doesn’t really matter.

The reporters seemed excited to be able to introduce this guy, who appeared to be one of the higher-ups in the NASCAR executive team. However, he said he was spending his day going from suite to suite, encouraging people to keep coming out. They already have people to do that, sir. They’re called beer girls.

Best part of the interview: When asked about the Brickyard 400 and whether or not there had been talks of adding a NASCAR road course race, he says, “The Brickyard 400 is the crown jewel at IMS,” but there have been talks about the possibility of another race. Crown… effing… jewel. This just after they interviewed the traffic lady who said, “Surprisingly, the roads are all clear. Feel free to come on out – you shouldn’t have a problem. Or you can watch it on tv from the comfort of your couch and not have to worry about heat and dehydration.” That’s one way to advertise. Well, lady, if you put it that way…

And thus, the result was 150,000 fans in attendance (a generous estimate, according to the Indy Star’s Curt Cavin). Yes, clearly the 350,000 fans that come out for the Indy 500 are missing out on this “crown jewel.” How silly of us.

In comparison, Randy Bernard was asked almost the same question at the Carb Night Burger Bash this year. When the possibility of adding an IndyCar road course at IMS came up, he simply stated that it wasn’t likely, as he didn’t want to take away from the prestige of the Indy 500.

IndyCar – 3, NASCAR – 0.

Well, that about does it for this edition of “Why NASCAR Blows.” To sum up, you should be an IndyCar fan. Thanks for tuning in. Stay classy, San Diego. Back to you.

Honda Indy Edmonton

Well, shoot. That Toronto sure was a shit show, wasn’t it? Let me let you in on a little secret: If you’re actually going to attend that race next year, the ONLY place to sit is turn three. I’d like to apologize to all of the dudes around me for the excessive gasping and pointing that went on. And I’m sorry about your knees – I’m sure that some random chick grabbing them is probably not what you needed.

I’d also like to give a big thumbs up to Tags and Scheckter, but I don’t have big thumbs. I’m impressed with your child-like attitudes and frustration levels that make Mel Gibson look like a yoga instructor. Boys, I salute you. For you are what makes the IZOD IndyCar Series fun. And I’m sure yo mommas was proud when they saw your post-race interviews all over ESPN. Which can only mean that Edmonton should be the bearer of beautiful things. Let the madness ensue.

No, I still won’t give you my thoughts on the 2012 chassis. It’s coming. It can’t happen now because everything that happens now, is happening now. What happened to then? We passed then. When? Just now. We’re at now, now. Go back to then. When? Now. Now? Now. I can’t. Why? We missed it. When? Just now.

In case you were confused just then, you should know that no blog is truly complete without a Spaceballs reference. I knew it. I’m surrounded by assholes. Okay, I’m done.

Sweet Jebediah, can we please get back to racing? I’m going to go out on a LONG limb here and call a complete Penske/Ganassi domination in Edmonton this weekend. That would be shocking, no? Ugh. Make it STOP already. I’m tired of choosing red and black so much that I feel like I’m playing Connect Four. Who won at Toronto? POWER. Who was on the pole and won at The Glen? POWER. Who was on the pole and won last year at Edmonton? POWER. Last week, I banned myself from picking him on sheer principal. This week, I say, screw the principles. I’ll take Power.

Secondly, I’ll take Justin Wilson. Did you see that performance last week? Not only was he smokin’ the rest of the field on his black tires, but after the late-race debacle that put him way back in the pack, he managed to work his way up in the last few laps of the race to finish seventh. It was a spectacle.

Finally, simply for the fun of it, and because I refuse to pick another Penske, I’ll take resident evil Paul Tracy. He’s somehow whined his way into my heart and I’d like to see him finish well for the Canadian fans. Man, do they love that guy up there. I saw grown men acting like 14-year-old girls at a Justin Bieber concert. Obnoxious? Yes. Heartwarming? Eh, sort of. But you can’t argue with hometown pride. Just ask the Iowa corn-growers. Those are some crazy sons-of… older corn-growers.

Let the Canadian frenzy continue. I miss that place already. And let me know who YOU guys think will take the podium this weekend. This is, after all, your world. I’m just visiting…