Monday, May 25, 2009

"Rainout Morning Matinee at the Brickyard"

Behind the scenes at the official photo shoot with the Indianapolis 500 winner, Helio Castroneves of Team Penske. Joie Chitwood, Speedway President, poses with Helio and the Borg Warner Trophy for all the other photogs lensing it up, while the Indiana skies opened over the Speedway. So the rain-shortened Coca Cola 600 was not the only facility affected by weather on Memorial Day.

Point of Personal Privilege: I thought the Memorial Day tribute at Lowe's during the 600 was sincere and appreciated, but a few years too late for some of my contemporaries who served in the US Army during the Vietnam era. I hope those who spat on the soldiers as they came through San Francisco during that time reflect on what they did as much as our brothers in arms do and learn from the mistakes of the past.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Could You Write a Better Script for May at Indianapolis?"
From left to right: Penske Racing President, Tim Cindric, three time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, and 15 time Indianapolis 500 winning car owner, Roger Penske.
Castroneves led early fell back and relied on his crew and his usually heavy right foot to get past the wreckage of eight caution periods for contact...getting past runner-up Dan Wheldon and third place finisher Danica Patrick to become the most recent of six drivers to win the Indy 500 three times.
The scariest moment came when AJ Foyt racing driver Vitor Meira and Luczo Dragon racing driver Raphael Matos hooked wheels in turn one and Meira went vertical with his wheels riding the SAFER barrier. Meira was admitted to Methodist Hospital with a fracture of the L1 and L2 vertebrae. Indy Car Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger says the plan is for Meira to be treated with a back brace ("non-surgical management"). Dr. Terry Trammell will keep tabs on Meira during the recovery. Meira is expected to be at Methodist for two days. Vitor felt well enough to call the team on his cell phone after being examined at Methodist.
We will be here for the front row photo and maybe try to chat up our pal Helio some more.

"Race Morning from the Pagoda"
Still early at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and no upsets, drama or other untoward incidents so far--unless you are trying to drive in to one of the spectator entrances on 16th Street or on Georgetown Road. We've heard reports of people waiting in line; and some where the wait was ten minutes or less. The average lies somewhere between the low and high figure.
The building from where I watch the race is next door. If you see any shot on ABC television with the words "100 Years of the Greatest Race Course in the World" that is where the deadline writers, broadcasters netsters and bloggers ply their trade.
Let me make a bold prediction: The winner of this year's Indianapolis 500 will likely come from this group of drivers. In order: Polesitter Helio Castroneves can join six other drivers as three time winners--with all the off track drama and complete vindication in the Federal Courts, and a win in the Pit Stop Competition--a fence climb is not out of the question and would cap a great story.
Last year's winner Scott Dixon is the driver who can spoil that Hollywood ending for Helio.
2007 winner Dario Franchitti is not to be counted out.
Ryan Briscoe starts second, and has Roger Penske calling his race strategy.
Tony Kanaan from Andretti Green leads the best of the rest.
Graham Rahal would like to join his dad, Bobby, on the Borg-Warner Trophy.
Upset special: Scott Sharp in the Patron Tequila car.
We'll be a little busy for CBS News and their affiliates so we'll blog afterwards. Tweets, of course, as events break.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Early Weekend; Carb Day Fans at the Speedway"
Some of the Friday crowd getting an early start to the weekend's festivities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the view is of the Pagoda Plaza just before the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race.
The final on track checks for the Indy cars are complete...33 cars ran laps during the final practice, known as Carb Day. The fastest driver on Carb Day is the fastest qualifier--Helio Castroneves, who ran a lap at 223.9 miles an hour (his pole speed 224.1) Penske teammate Will Power clocked in at 223.5 mph.
Later on this afternoon, the Pit Stop Competition takes place after the Freedom 100 concludes.
I'll tweet on Twitter (MSRnet) with updates from the festivities.
By the way, we're scheduled to visit an Indianapolis institution for dinner Friday. The quintessential neighborhood bar and burger joint called the "Workingman's Friend" is about a mile or so from the Speedway--a burger from there is always in order--and requires a good appetite. It is certainly not as fancy as St. Elmo's (Steakhouse), but it is a lunchtime legend.
UPDATE: The Workingman's Friend is a place to get good burgers at a great price.
Keep Tweeting in the meantime.
"Veteran Scribe Honored at Carb Day Lid-Lifter"

We start our Indianapolis blogging with a note about one of the legends in the auto racing journalism business--Mike Harris of the Associated Press, who wraps up an active 40 year career next weekend at the IndyCar race at the Milwaukee Mile. A scholarship in Mike's name for the sports journalism program at Indiana University was announced by Indianapolis Motor Speedway VP Fred Nation. The recipient will have the opportunity to intern with either the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or IndyCar Series media relations staffs. Donations from the Speedway and the IndyCar Series got the ball rolling.
Mike's been a friend and mentor to many in the press room; his presence will be missed once he and his wife Judy go gently into retirement.
We'll post some further observations later on.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"Birthday Boy Sweeps Action Track"

The rains stayed away and the fans who made it to Richmond saw a rootin' tootin' short track special that saw Kyle Busch reverse an early season victory slide with his third win of 2009. It came on his 24th birthday. Busch joins Cale Yarborough as the only two NASCAR drivers to win in the top division on their birthday.
Multiple stories this evening: Jeff Burton looked early like a pinball getting knocked around. He finished 3rd, behind Tony Stewart and Busch. Ryan Newman took a strong 4th, which pleased Stewart--his boss and teammate. Jeff Gordon also showed strength, leading laps and notching an 8th place finish, which put him back into the Sprint Cup point lead over Kurt Busch who dropped to second--10 behind Gordon. Stewart-Haas Racing has been a pleasant surprise with their steady progress toward the top ranks of Sprint Cup teams--pundits predicted the progress but not as quickly.
Denny Hamlin led the most laps, and was on pace for a hometown win. The rule change with lug nuts for this night anyway, flummoxed Hamlin's crew. Hamlin ended the race 14th.
The snapshot with crew chief Steve Addington, Busch and Coach Joe Gibbs came during their post race news conference.
We'll do this again next Saturday night at Darlington Raceway--the "track too tough to tame"--for the Southern 500.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Rain at Richmond

Just a few moments ago, we felt the first few drops of what the weather prognosticators are predicting for later on this afternoon and evening. The Mark Martin crew thought they could take down the awning on the pit box--but not so fast, as you see above. We're hearing the rain on the roof here in Richmond's Media Center. The race is slated to start around 7:45 pm +/-.
Brian Vickers and Jeff Gordon are on the front row, qualifying 1 & 2 for the Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Event that begins the professional racing season at Richmond's "Action Track". Gordon trails point leader Kurt Busch by five point.
The weather forecast is not promising for Sunday either.
You may have seen the Tweet about the passing of veteran NASCAR scribe David Poole. It's still the topic of many conversations in the infield. The guy could flat write, no question. There's a picture of David and a place reserved for him in the press room as a small memorial. RIP, David.