SO much for Infine-Yawn at Snore-noma…
As much as track design and configuration plays a role in how competitive and interesting a race is over several visits. Today’s race yet again showed that circumstances, scenarios and situations can make a race. All the lead up to this race was about how bad the event would be. Not that this was by any means a classic, but thanks in part to some disappointments in quals, the first lap melee, and Versus’ coverage that made a point to find the compelling stories on the track the race that played out on TV was reasonably entertaining. It sounds like the race we were all expecting occurred a couple hours earlier in the day, when the Lights series ran.
Dario’s Last Hurrah?
For the season at least. With only mile and a half’s remaining, this looks like a two man race to me. Dario certainly is no slouch, but Briscoe and Dixon are masters of the genre. Briscoe can nearly close the deal, with a 53 point play in one of the last three races. The best Dixon could do in the same race would be to drop another 13 points to Briscoe. 33 points to make up in the other two events would be a pretty tall order for Dixon. Then again, he’s where he said he wanted to be, the stalker, no the stalked. I imagine when he said that, he wasn’t quite imagining the fiasco that was this weekend for him. For Briscoe, it would be a very nice story of perseverance and personal growth.
We have your size in stock, just not in the color you requested…
Or have you ever gone to the car dealership trying to decide if you should buy a car without certain features you want because there’s not a car on the lot with them and the special financing ends today?? As great of news as Danica’s apparent imminent signing is, one senses that the league will benefit a little less than what could have been. No matter the activation that Motorola or Boost has in mind, it pales to what an activated Target sponsorship with Danica in a starring role would have meant for the league. Judging from the Boost pig commercials airing during the race today, it will certainly be tackier.
With that said, it is GREAT news that Danica is back and there is nothing stopping her from being able to independently pursue some of the same types of activated opportunities that would have been nearly automatic with Target. Perhaps she could do for Hanes for Women what MJ has done on the men’s side. She would be the only person in the world who could pitch tools, automotive and women’s wear at Sear’s. Here’s to her management team getting VERY creative (but NOT nearly so tacky) in taking Danica to some new endorsement deals.
We don’t care about the 9 car…
Don’t remember what the exact words the Chipster actually said during his in race interview, but it struck me from the tone in his voice, that this is what he meant and he wasn’t just talking about just the run today. Dixon has started to become vocal about the potential of not being at TCGR next year (for more, download the Trackside podcast for last week). This has the taste of something getting personal. Presumably, of course, this relates back to money. Specifically, what Scott has accomplished in his time with the team, what the team may have been prepared to offer Danica and the chasm between the flip sides for both of those coins.
Dixon is credited for originating the “Cheap” Ganassi moniker, and the prospects of Gil DeFerren starting a team that has the presumptive appearance of being run with all the efficiency and success of Penske or TCGR seems to have Scott thinking of new challenges, and a thicker wallet. As much as we thought the big domino this off season would be Danica’s decision, this has the potential to be bigger, much in the same way as Wheldon’s departure from TCGR last year. You gotta wonder just how much of a hurry Graham Rahal, Will Power or potentially RHR would be to sign a contract knowing that a seat could open up at Ganassi. Just imagine what you are thinking if you are Alex Lloyd…
If neither Chip nor Scott blink, there could be an impact on Scott’s ultimate place in the history books. Two more years at TCGR with the same competitive formula probably gets Scott to 30 wins by his 30th birthday, ahead of where anyone running today would be (Tracy, Helio, TK and Dario could all have as many wins but they would be at the end of their careers). Scott would be left with his entire 30’s to chase the 10 additional wins that would put him into racing immortality passing Micheal Andretti’s total. (Yes, I know, AJ and Mario – but for the same reasons that some people argue that Richard Petty’s 200 wins should be put into context relative to Jeff Gordon’s career, I would argue that there are modern and Post modern era’s that need to be separated in open wheel racing). On the other hand, to take a startup team and lead them to competitiveness and ultimately a championship would also be an achievement of note.
A Sure Sign of the Apocalypse – A Feel Good Story in F1.
I woke up early this morning with enough cognitive skills intact to observe that Rubens Barichello won today’s European GP in F1. Two weeks ago we all thought that the story here would be the Red Baron’s return to the sport and it turns out to be the triumph of his former wingman. Rubens is 37 years old which in F1 years translates to 117 years of human aging. Good for Rubens.
What I found interesting during the race was Bob Varsha mentioning a conversation he had with Rubens where he asked what Rubens intended to do when his F1 career was over. Varsha reported that Rubens seemed interested in possibly racing in the Indianapolis 500 or some other form of racing in the US. I don’t think he was talking nascar.
So what else could there be? Thank goodness for Gil DeFerren and all the speculation we get to indulge ourselves in courtesy of his efforts. Both Rubens and Gil are Brazilian (And as any typical American surely knows, all Brazilians must know each other!!). Gil has stated the intent to continue his ALMS program next year. Given Gil’s retirement from the car, if Pagenot fills one of the IndyCar seats at Gil’s new team, it leaves the ALMS effort without drivers… Rubens in Gil’s ALMS car with Gil running a third car at Indy dovetails nicely into the comments Varsha provided.
A Good Outing for Conway
I was happy to see that Mike Conway had a good outing this weekend ending his afternoon on the podium. This season was deep into a spiral that didn’t seem to have a happy ending for the lad. He had two chances to show his quicks on street circuits before he took a deep long trip into the brave new world of American Open wheel Oval racing. I saw him in person at both Milwaukee and Mid Ohio and the change in his demeanor was pretty pronounced. At Mid Ohio I tried to offer some verbal encouragement, but not being very nimble with my vocabulary on the spot what I said undoubtedly came out as “Maybe today you won’t suck as much as the past couple months”. Certainly not what I meant.
Mike has shown speed on all the road courses. He has also shown the impatience of a young man trying to prove his worth and the incidents that accompany such efforts. The Ovals beat him down and I gave thought to writing a post criticizing the D&R team for putting a guy in the seat w/o some ovals in Lights under his belt. As things went poorly, it was commonly thought that Mike was another incompetent who had bought a ride. When Cavin suggested that he was hired for his driving potential many seemed surprised. Mike developed a rather unkind nickname and was the butt of many one liners in the blogosphere. In perspective, has he done any worse in year one than Viso or Moraes have done in year two?
It is an interesting fact to note that the last time D&R was on the podium, they got there with a guy named Briscoe.
Who’ll Sign JR??
In case you missed it, JR Hildebrand classed the field in this morning’s light race. With four victories under his belt, he needs merely to finish 13th or better next race out to claim the Lights title. With Raphael Matos, Hideki Mutoh and Richard Antinucci acquitting themselves well as rookies and sophomores, perhaps the notion that the Lights series is not a good feeder for the IndyCar series can be dismissed. Hopefully in the future, we need not worry about a Lights champion getting a shot in the big cars as it has been recently been a struggle for both Alex Lloyd and Jay Howard. A little later into the silly season I have a post planned to comment on this, but the league needs guys like JR. Hopefully this season’s success will translate to a decent opportunity next year.
Get well soon Nelson and Will – Godspeed. As much as people complain about the current chassis, when I saw the accident Saturday afternoon, thoughts of Paul Dana and particularly Alex Zanardi came to mind. Injuries from this sort of collision probably can never be completely avoided. The Paul Dana crash involved the same car at nearly twice the speed, but if racing an “ugly” car with “Exotic materials that are too expensive” means I get to see these two drivers race again next year. I will take the “Ugly” and “expensive” car.