Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Wiiings Over The Irish Hills--Brian Vickers Wins The CARFAX 400"
Our winner's snapshot is of Brian Vickers' Red Bull Toyota Camry getting fueled after winning at Michigan International Speedway. This happens as part of the post race inspection. As you saw by our Tweets (you did sign up to follow us at ,right?) Vickers won when then leader Jimmie Johnson's gamble on fuel came up a few laps short. Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr finished 2nd and 3rd.
This is the first ever win for Red Bull Racing in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition. It's Vickers' 2nd career win in Cup racing, and more importantly, it brings Vickers to within 12 points of 12th place Mark Martin (finished 31st) for the post-season championship chase. It will likely help move Vickers' negotiations with Red Bull supremo Dieter Mateschitz along.
Other Notables: Pointleader Tony Stewart finished 17th...and has a 284 point lead over Jeff Gordon (3500 to 3216) who's now second. Jimmie Johnson (three time and defending Sprint Cup Champion) is third in points. Martin has four wins.
The Daly Planet ( had two interesting days of live blogging on the quality of ESPN's coverage of Nationwide and Sprint Cup racing. Those who watch that coverage are very vocal about their likes and dislikes. John Daly is a TV veteran who's been on our Race-Talk program before, and runs the blog, where strong feelings are expressed in a manner that's safe for the family--hard to do in the blogosphere. If you have ever been frustrated by the quality of the coverage (or perceived lack thereof), this is your blog.
We are back in the office on Tuesday evening and will be staying close to our base until the last race to the Chase, at Richmond's Action Track on September 12--three races away.
"No Dents or Dings in Practice"

One of the great story lines in the 2009 season has been the ability of the Darian Grubb-led #14 Old Spice/Office Depot Stewart-Haas Racing team to battle back from adversity and turn it into a top 10 or better finish. That, and a bunch of driving ability, is why Mr. Stewart is presently leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup points. Not having to roll out backups, jack in the track setup and otherwise stress out whether the setup was right goes a long way for Grubb and "Smoke's" crew, and bodes well for Stewart improving his 18th place starting position.

Blue Funk for the Blue Oval Gang--Bill Elliott has the best starting position of all the Ford Fusions entered in today's contest. "Awesome Bill", a 7 time winner here in the Irish Hills, starts 9th. Next closest is Greg Biffle, starting 17th.

Back-benchers: Kyle Busch starts 39th. After his dust-up with Brian Vickers in Saturday's Nationwide Race, "Shrubby" will make things entertaining, no doubt.

Ram Tough Beer Wagon Battle: Kurt Busch in the Miller Lite Dodge starts 6th for Roger Penske; Kasey Kahne hopes the 10th place Budweiser Dodge will run faster than the beloved Clydesdales.

More later; Tweets as events dictate; and definitely a last snapshot of the CARFAX 400 Sprint Cup winner from the Joe Dowdall Media Center, before the wrecking ball strikes on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Triple H Day in the Irish Hills"
Looking at the hauler of Mark Martin, you see what will be needed today and tomorrow--stacks of Goodyear racing rubber, and even more stacks of water, waiting to get dunked into a tub of ice. Welcome to Michigan International Speedway, and "Happy Hour" for the Sprint Cup cars, headed by polesitter Brian Vickers. The aforementioned Mark Martin (with five wins here on the 2-mile D-shaped Michigan oval) starts alongside Vickers.
Weather forecasts call for heat in the mid to high 80's.
We'll keep our eyes and ears open, Tweet when events dictates, and rejoin you on the blog tomorrow.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

"The All Time IndyCar Series Victory Leader--Scott Dixon"
By taking a dominating (by time) 29.7 second lead over challenger Ryan Briscoe, Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon accomplished a number of feats:
  1. Achieved career victory number 20 in the IndyCar Series, breaking a tie with Sam Hornish, Jr. at 19
  2. Won his 4th race of the 2009 season
  3. Retakes the series point lead, 460 to 457 over challenger Ryan Briscoe (finished 2nd, 6th time he's done that in 2009 for Roger Penske)
  4. Reminds us that he has a figurative and literal "Target" on his back for Briscoe and his teammate, Dario Franchitti as the defending series champion and point leader. In 13 races this season, the points lead has changed 12 times.

Some Attaboys: Ryan Hunter-Reay gets a 4th place finish for owner AJ Foyt. Hideki Mutoh upholds the Andretti-Green Racing honor with a 5th place finish. The "Thrill from West Hill", Paul Tracy, gets a top 10 (7th) subbing for Mario Moraes. Justin Wilson for another stellar road course performance leading early, but burping out of contention with a late race pit stop with lower than low fuel, finishing 13th.

We'll rejoin you from Michigan International Speedway next week with blogging and Tweeting, and radio next weekend with "Race-Talk".

"A Movable (or Moving) Feast"
Dawn overlooking one of the general camping areas at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, pretty full in some spots, plenty of room in others. One item not on the dance card today is rain--which our friends at Watkins Glen are dealing with even as we post. No race track is pleasant when it rains. And NASCAR does not have the equipment and skill (with the exception of Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, Robby Gordon, Boris Said, Max Papis) to put on a competitive race in the rain. IndyCars do.
Mid-Ohio has been pleasant all weekend once settled in. Sometime after 4 PM, we will learn how pleasant the 2.1 mile natural road course has been been to the IndyCar drivers, led by polesitter and point leader Ryan Briscoe of Penske Racing.
Temperatures are scheduled to be in the 90's around race time. So any "loaded for bear" cloudy setups will be saved, perhaps for later in the season.
We will Tweet during the race, and post up our usual winner's snapshot afterwards.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

"Emotional Weekend for deFerran; Briscoe on IndyCar Pole at Mid-Ohio"
On top, Gil deFerran, principal of deFerran Motorsports after winning his 4th American LeMans Series LeMans Prototype 1 race of 2009. That is 4 in a row. It is also Gil's first victory at Mid-Ohio (in Champ Cars and ALMS LMP Prototypes). You may see a Tweet with a quote from Gil on "mind management"--he credits Sir Jackie Stewart--his mentor--with that concept. deFerran and co-driver Simon Pagenaud had that eventful start in the warmup--with a spin and a half when the morning sprinkles came out. Some of those sprinkles appeared during the race--they left as quickly as they came.
Below, polesitter Ryan Briscoe, who used another kind of management--tire management--to notch his third pole of the season. The IndyCar series point leader will start on the right side of the front row, because the start of the race is actually on the backstraight of this 2.1 mile natural road course. Alongside Briscoe is Watkins Glen winner Justin Wilson. 3rd is the defending series champion, Scott Dixon, of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Between this and the tweets--we hope you get an insight into what goes on. You'll always hear a bit of what goes on on our Race-Talk program.
We'll catch up with you tomorrow with blogging, Tweeting and some radio to fill our Sunday morning.
"Rain Makes For Soggy Mid-Ohio ALMS Warmup; May Soak IndyCar Fast Six"
Pop-up showers kept the dust down overnight at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. During IndyCar practice, some of what Weather calls a 70 per cent chance of showers fell, and caused a lull in the action. It kinda picked up during the American LeMansSeries warmup...where the pole winning car did a spin and a half on the start finish straight. And that's where we are right now...with GT2 and other cars making off course excursions and more spins.
We will Tweet from IndyCar qualifications, and blog a pole winner snapshot later, along with a ALMS Race winner snapshot when that action concludes.

Friday, August 07, 2009

"deFerran on pole, Announces Retirement and IndyCar Intentions"
As you read from the Tweets, team principal Gil deFerran took the opportunity of an ALMS pole winning news conference to announce his re-retirement from driving, effective after the American LeMans Series finale in October. deFerran will concentrate on team direction, and announced an expansion to field an IndyCar team.
You will hear him talk a little about this on next week's edition of Race-Talk.
#&^%!)* Hackers!
We join you this weekend from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where we will see IndyCars and American LeMans race cars compete on one of the most bucolic and park like circuits anywhere.
The Corvette has made its return to ALMS, transitioning to GT2 from the GT1 (where it won just about everything in sight. If the rest of Chevy was as successful as Doug Fehan's road racing operation, they would have never been bankrupt.
The Twitter site, as you are aware, has been hacked by some ignoramus, who should be drawn and quartered once caught. Blackberry tweets are as of this hour nigh impossible.
More later.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

"Penske Stronger than Rent Money; Aero Rules Rule, Power Boost the Ticket at Kentucky"
Our late friend Paul Harvey would say something about the "rest of the story". And so we shall, sans snapshot.
The order of finish will show that Ryan Briscoe won by .0162 seconds over Ed Carpenter. Yes, the stepson of Anton H. "Tony" George came that close to delivering a win for the Vision Racing squad and sponsor John Menard, under some very trying circumstances--the cancellation of an entire day of practice and qualifying, with new aerodynamic rules for ovals designed to make passing easier, and a power boost option for extra RPMs for the Honda Indy V8. As you read here earlier, water seeping through the racing surface ("weepers") cancelled all Friday's activity.
Carpenter started 13th (entrant points) and led five times for 34 laps. He was not credited with leading the last 10 laps...but Briscoe could see Carpenter's day-glow Menard livery in his side vision. Briscoe tried low, then high and held on at the checkers. The power boost helps drivers get a few extra RPM's which translate into a small boost of speed--not the neck snapping push-to-pass of the Champ Car Turbo Cosworth days. That speed can make the difference getting back on the gas out of a corner or on a straightaway. When you have Roger Penske's voice in your helmet telling you to use the pass button, you use it and in Briscoe's case, use it to win the second fastest race in Indy Car history--200.893 miles an hour. That win was Briscoe's second of 2009, and jumps him into the point lead by 8 over defending series champion Scott Dixon (finished 7th but led 95 of 200 laps), as the series goes to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next week.
That is where we will rejoin you for race blogging and Tweeting. We'll break in with developments if necessary.
"Bruton in Kentucky"
The Chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc and major domo of Sonic Automotive, O Bruton Smith, came into the Kentucky Speedway press room to speak with reporters.
  • 2010 Indy Car Schedule and the ratio of 9 road/street to 8 oval races--"History's gonna repeat itself, so I don't know who's making them (decisions), but they will find that that was not the proper decision."
  • On A NASCAR Sprint Cup Race here in 2010--"Months ago, I really thought we'd be able to run a (Sprint) Cup race here next year. That is a disappointment."
  • Naming Rights for Charlotte (Lowe's) Motor Speedway--"We'll be working toward something else. Asked if the 9-million dollar figure for those naming rights was accurate, he said that he had heard the figure. He said that that was a "Marcus Smith" (son, President of the Speedway) decision, and that he would get with Marcus on that issue (said that with tongue firmly planted in cheek and a Brutonesque smile.)
  • Weepers at Kentucky Speedway--"We will not change the configuration." In one of our Tweets, we quoted Smith as saying his crew would install a system that would solve the "seepage" problem.

You will hear more comments from Smith on our "Race-Talk" program next weekend.

Now time to find out about the Meijer Indy 300.

Here in Sparta, Kentucky, the Speedway was bushwhacked by a couple of stray raincells and the skies opened up just as I finished taking my TwitPic of the lap leading Ford F-150.
There are some major questions on whether a race can be conducted tonight or tomorrow other than the weather. To wit:
  • Where does this rain drain to? Yes, the rain will follow the slope of the banking, but what about the rain elsewhere that has been finding the weepers?
  • When would the race be rescheduled? Not much leeway on schedule.
  • What about practice with the new rules envelope?

One thing--Versus has shown flexibility in working with the series to televise events--sure any rescheduling will not pose a problem.

We are on hold here at Kentucky Speedway.