Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dario Franchitti--2009 IndyCar Series Champion

Saving fuel at 201.420 miles an hour? That (and a little bit of pit road strategy from the Ganassi Racing braintrust) won the 2009 IndyCar title and the Firestone Indy 300 season ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Dario Franchitti of Target Ganassi Racing--his second IndyCar title in three years.. Franchitti started the race from the pole...and got into a battle with Penske Racing teammate Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe. Those three cars were the class of the 201 mile an hour field--the first in the 14 year history of the IndyCar series to complete an event without a caution period, covering 300 miles in 1 hour and 28 minutes. At the checkers...Franchitti bested Briscoe by 4.788 seconds. Franchitti stopped earlier than Dixon and Briscoe--that made the difference.
Franchitti was emotional when he thought of his friend Greg Moore (who died 10 years ago this month in a racing accident at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California), and was also thoughtful when asked about winning the championship. He said that the team's disappointing finish at the Indianapolis 500 was a wakeup call and rallying point, and that those resu.lts galvanized the team to work harder. I guess five wins says a lot about the results.
In the Grand-Am Rolex Series Championship, Hurley Haywood and Joao Barbosa won the race...but by finishing 4th, Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney, won the Daytona Prototype title. Of the 100 laps of racing...a full 25 of include the last 8...under caution. Haywood was a last minute substitution for Barbosa's usual co-driver, the now suspended JC France, suspended for an off track incident in Daytona Beach, FL, where police charged hiom with possession of crack cocaine, DUI and street racing. If his last name sounds familiar, it should. JC is the son of Jim France of NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation. There was no official mention of the incident by Grand-Am.
The race was sparsely attended--unseasonably hot (90 degrees vs 80 degrees) weather and humidity held down the crowds. The tweets at MSRnet explain a bit more.
We'll get back to our headquarters to regroup and get ready to return to Homestead-Miami Speedway to cover the Sprint Cup Championship next month.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Championship Trio Sweeps Top 3 Spots at Homestead-Miami Speedway

The championship contenders from left to right: Scott Dixon, the point leader who'll start 2nd, polesitter Dario Franchitti, who took a point from Dixon and has a 4 point gap, and Ryan Briscoe from Team Penske starting 3rd and 7 points back from Dixon.
Below the contenders, the Indy Racing League Championship Trophy.
Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney are the Grand-AM Rolex Series point leaders and pole sitters. Brian Frisselle and Max Angelelli start 2nd, Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett are 3rd and the defending champions.
Homestead-Miami Speedway boss Curtis Gray thinks "there's something sexy about South Florida." That quote in the context of describing how South Florida is accustomed to having championships decided in the major sports, and for the last few years, in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. South Beach, and some of the other beaches in the area may bolster Mr. Gray's assertion. We'd suspect a good crowd--and an even better Saturday race--where ticket holders will get to see two closely contested auto racing series decide their champions in the last event, in the last few laps--will raise the sex appeal in this part of Dade County, Florida.
We'll join you tomorrow with double championship blogging.

Friday, October 02, 2009

BS Detector Alert
Something about the NASCAR admission on 10/2 that the Rick Hendrick #5 and #48 Dover cars were legal--but just barely--and that Hendrick's brain trust (crew chiefs Alan Gustafson and Chad Knaus were told to never run them again doesn't pass the smell test. On the face, it is the same thing as when the police radar indicates you are going 65.001 miles an hour in a 65 mile an hour zone--legal, but within tolerance.
Where the "bovine scatology" comes in is this--NASCAR can, under its catch-all rule 12.A-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing), do what it pleases (and can also do so because it is a private organization). If the violation was egregious enough to evoke that verbal warning-- then why were penalties not assessed? Isn't legal legal? Do the words publicity, sagging ratings on TV and controversy ring a bell? They ought to.
In the continuing saga of Jeremy Mayfield--celebrity attorney Mark Geragos has been hired to assist in the conduct of Mayfield's case. Geragos has defended some misbehaving Hollywood types in some high profile cases.
Is it not interesting that this admission was also revealed when the series was in Kansas City Kansas--a good size, but not major media market?
Again, do the words publicity and controversy ring a bell?
The NASCAR beat media is getting played like a snare drum on both these issues...and needs to call "BS"--"bovine scatology"-- on stories like this so it can once again be the fan's eyes, ears and the sport's mirror.