The 500 Mile Race

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
ESPN's got a couple classics on demand - 1985 (Danny Sullivan's spin and win), 1992 (Little Al beats Scott Goodyear by two feet, Michael wonders who he has crossed in a previous life), and last year, along with a profile with the A-Rod of Indycars. Too bad they didn't have 1982 (Johncock vs. Mears) and 1995, Bonger's first 500 and an absolute cracker where Scott Goodyear jumped the pace car and Jacques Villeneuve won after a 2 lap penalty (also the last 500 with CART). So I'll give them to ya:






Obviously Indy isn't what it used to be since Tony George napalmed American open wheel racing, but the big day doesn't just stop being a big day - there'll be 400,000 as usual - and there's an awful lot of talent in this year's 500. Helio Castroneves is on pole and is looking to join the immortals as four time winners of the 500: AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears. While there's no doubt Helio didn't have the competition Foyt, Unser and Mears faced, there's also no doubt he's the best around and in a Penske he's got to be the favorite. Will Power and Ryan Briscoe are also in Penskes, and the Ganassi duo of Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon are probably going to put up the best fight against Roger Penske being in Victory Lane.

Graham Rahal qualified 7th, the top American and a pretty good performance from a 21 year old without a full-time ride (even if he's driving for dad as part of Rahal-Letterman). Marco Andretti's way back in 16th, and the heir to the throne seems to have gone backwards from his strong 2006, when he won a race and nearly won Indy, losing it to Sam Hornish on the last lap.

A total wildcard is Tony Kanaan, a former IndyCar Series champion, qualifying 33rd and last. There's a decent chance he could be in the top 10 at the end of this. The joy of Indy is that it is an endurance race, and guys like Kanaan can really move up through attrition and a good pit strategy. Winning is probably out of the question (though what a story) but he could wind up with a very successful race.

Finally, we have four women in the race this year, a record. To my immense pleasure rookies Ana Beatriz and Simona de Silvestro outqualified Danica Patrick. Sarah Fisher also popped up in 28th, pretty cool when you consider she runs her own team at the age of 29. Danica's fall from grace has been a feature of this year's IndyCar season. She's been a complete snot to her team, publicly blaming them in an interview with the IMS Radio Network for her poor qualifying in the 500, a huge no-no that got her booed. She's having a pretty poor season for the Andretti Autosport team and the whole thing is just getting ridiculous. She's won one race, she's got one top-10 finish this year, and there's been way too much hype around someone who a lot of people around Indycar don't like anyway.
 
Aug 15, 2009
82
Concord, NH
QUOTE (Spacemans Bong @ May 27 2010, 06:15 AM) index.php?act=findpost&pid=2992232
Obviously Indy isn't what it used to be since Tony George napalmed American open wheel racing, but the big day doesn't just stop being a big day - there'll be 400,000 as usual - and there's an awful lot of talent in this year's 500. Helio Castroneves is on pole and is looking to join the immortals as four time winners of the 500: AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears. While there's no doubt Helio didn't have the competition Foyt, Unser and Mears faced, there's also no doubt he's the best around and in a Penske he's got to be the favorite. Will Power and Ryan Briscoe are also in Penskes, and the Ganassi duo of Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon are probably going to put up the best fight against Roger Penske being in Victory Lane.

Graham Rahal qualified 7th, the top American and a pretty good performance from a 21 year old without a full-time ride (even if he's driving for dad as part of Rahal-Letterman). Marco Andretti's way back in 16th, and the heir to the throne seems to have gone backwards from his strong 2006, when he won a race and nearly won Indy, losing it to Sam Hornish on the last lap.

A total wildcard is Tony Kanaan, a former IndyCar Series champion, qualifying 33rd and last. There's a decent chance he could be in the top 10 at the end of this. The joy of Indy is that it is an endurance race, and guys like Kanaan can really move up through attrition and a good pit strategy. Winning is probably out of the question (though what a story) but he could wind up with a very successful race.


Hey, an open wheel follower. Kind of suprising considering where Indy racing stands these days.

First, I'll say I'm pretty disappointed in the month the Andretti team has had. I figured Marco, Hunter-Reay and Kanaan would be up front, disrupting the Penske and Ganassi juggernaut. Hell, even Danica runs respectably at Indy. Not looking that way.

Safe to say Rahal is the fan favorite. Americans with a decent level of talent have been hard to come by since the open wheel driver ladder stopped running through USAC. The loyalists see this and are pissed. I say go get em Graham. You start 7th, and who knows when you'll be driving again.

Somebody else who has to be pissed, Paul Tracy. He should have won in 2002, but was screwed by a bad "freeze the field" rule. People were reak excited for him getting a ride at least for this race, and he promptly fails to qualify.

We'll see what happens, but it looks like Penske and Ganassi will once again settle this mano a mano.
 

czar

fanboy
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Jul 16, 2005
4,195
Ann Arbor
I'll be sitting in the top row of the NE Vista again this year. Lucky with seats, I guess since I'm not one of the 100,000 old, white, men that renew their tickets year after year. Pole Day and Bump Day crowds were the biggest they've been in a while, and with good weather forecast, I'm expecting race day attendance to take another tick up over last year (any progress is welcome).

I was standing about 10 feet away when both Tracy and Howard made the fateful decisions to fire their cars, which left a lot us shaking our heads before they even took the green. Honestly, I thought Howard stood a chance, but Tracy had been going backwards in the heat all day, and the fact that they were trying to chase the setup in the qualifying line is never a good sign. However, the beneficiary, Bryan Herta, is one of the "good guys" of the sport, and I was beyond ecstatic to see him and his 6-7 FT employees "back into" the 500, even if it was at the expense of Tracy. They had by far the smallest outfit there and I'm a sucker for the underdogs. Bit of a bummer former Formula Ford driver Jacques Lazier couldn't get a car in the field, even if he only had a handful of laps of practice on the last day of qualifying.

The real feel good story of the month has to be Alex Tagliani and FAZZT. I heard rumblings a few weeks ago from a few of my friends on another team that they were behind on payments and really struggling to find enough dough to run one car at Indy, let alone two. Hopefully the guaranteed half a million that they'll get from just STARTING the race with two cars goes a long way towards helping get this team back on the financial fast track because they have easily been one of the quickest "out-of-the-box" startups in some time in either open-wheel series. As mentioned, I fully expect to see Penske/Ganassi clog up the top spots, but anything in the top 10 for either of Tags' cars would be a rousing success.

I won't touch the Danica debate, but I'll tell everyone the female to watch is actually Simona de Silvestro. I have a few friends who work for HVM, so I spent a lot of time hanging out with them in the garage this week-- she's young (21?), fast, smart (she's fluent in five languages, although I still don't think German and Swiss-German count as two ;)), and has a minor league track record (originally cut her teeth in Formula Renault 2.0, big winner in Atlantics last year) that puts half the field to shame. HVM is still well behind the big names in the ICS in terms of aero work and personnel, and she's still very new to ovals, but I expect them to be somewhere between 10-15th if they can stay out of trouble which would be an immensely impressive finish given the circumstances.

Another darkhorse to watch; Townsend Bell. I'm a bit biased because I'm a Skip Barber guy (he raced in Barber Dodge in the late 90's or early 00's) but he ran very well with KV last year and is racing for a Ganassi satellite team (albeit a single-car op) in Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Should have good equipment.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
Generally what I've been reading about Danicagate is that she might have a point - Andretti's not been great this year, Danica generally does run well at Indy, and most incriminating, a champ like Kanaan puts two in the wall at the same point. But throwing your crew under the bus publicly is a huge no-no and I thought a remark from her was telling. When one of the IMS Radio Network guys asked her what she could do, her reply was that she didn't know because she wasn't an engineer. That's not going to cut it. The best drivers are often capable of being their own engineers and some of them, like Schumacher and AJ Foyt, loved to grab a wrench and fix their own cars.

It seems most people in the Indy community are tired of the act, and to have two talented youngsters in Ana Beatriz and Simona in the field and the lovable Sarah Fisher, who's come out and qualified in her own car, just underscores that she's not all that unique, and that she might need to produce a little more than she has. Less petulance and celebrity appearances, more driving the shit out of her car.
 

czar

fanboy
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Jul 16, 2005
4,195
Ann Arbor
I was there, top row, apex of T3 (NE Vista). The heat really contributed to a slick race track and it showed with almost all accidents (until lap 199) being of the single-car variety. Disappointed in the runs for some of the darkhorses, though Carpenter, Rahal, and Bell all probably would have been running in the top 8 at the end of the race had it not been for black flags for blocking (Barhart's micromanaging again causing an uproar among drivers). Dario was easily the class of the field; and I actually think Power was the fasted of the Penskes-- shocking they made some very crucial mistakes (Power's fuel probe getting stuck, Helio stalling the car on pit road, Briscoe pushing high out of T4 and into the wall). Dixon's car was never fast after his pit lane snafu, and listening on the scanner it sounds like they had some damage to the nose and the undertray which surely hurt aero. Danica (who got booed quite lustily again during introductions) backed into a good finish (like she did last year). Her lap times were poor (only ~18th best) but I do have to give her credit for driving a clean, mistake-free race. Her 6th place finish shows that if you battle attrition, you can do just fine at Indy.

The Conway crash at the end was extremely frightening. I heard the initial impact and turned to see his car in the air right before it impacted the catch fencing. I immediately picked out the tub as it spun down the track and the first thing that came to mind was Brack's crash at Texas a few years ago, although it is exactly the same place Tony Renna had his fatal crash a few years ago in testing (similar thing, car spun and became airborne, Renna struck his helmet on a support pole, Conway is VERY lucky he did not flip headfirst into the fence). He's "OK" (as in his life isn't threatened) although one of the guys I know with HVM said that his injuries were actually quite severe. The mass media is hyping it as a "broken leg" but it sounds like it was a severe compound fracture of the lower leg, and significant damage to ankle/knee ligaments. Supposedly the carbon fiber tub was punctured allowing debris to come into the bottom of the cockpit and strike his legs. Two fans were injured by debris, but it could have been much worse-- the wheel and tire actually went THROUGH the fence and ended up under the grandstands (I walked by it, I'm sure pictures of it will come up soon). This coupled with NASCAR's ridiculous run of cars going into the catch fence and scattering debris (Edwards at 'Dega, Kesolowski at Atlanta, etc.) I wouldn't be shocked to hear about some new fence designs or at least a talk of closing off the few bottom rows of the grandstands (oval spectator isn't like baseball-- you want to be higher up to get a better view of the track and see the cars as something other than a giant, loud blur).

The spinoff of THAT is that the push for a new chassis design (2012) might be strongly influenced by this. There has been a lot of backlash against designs trying to go away from open wheels, but accidents like these are why the series absolutely should go to at least a fairing setup, if not enclosed within the chassis core (ala the Delta Wing-- the most radical and divisive design, which I support for a variety of reasons). There has been some discussion of a cockpit "bubble" over the driver as well; and although I don't see THAT happening in the near future, I wouldn't be shocked if the cries for that grow louder as well. It'll be interesting to see if anything comes out of it-- it's impressive timing (the new chassis is to be chosen in ~30-45 days per Ben Bowlby when I spoke to him last week) at least.

EDIT: As I post this, it looks like the overnight ratings were down to 4.0 from 4.2 last year. Tough to sell both those numbers and trend to sponsors. I know there was a lot of hope they'd push 4.5-4.8 this year, so these numbers would be a huge disappointment.
 

Domer

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Apr 21, 2010
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An Indiana ABC affiliate thought it would be a good idea to preempt the finish of the Indianapolis 500 for weather coverage. Their facebook page is hilarious right now. http://www.facebook.com/abc57?sk=wall
 

Domer

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Apr 21, 2010
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#Indy500 finish is under review. No, I am not kidding. Looking to see when the caution came out and where Hildebrand & Wheldon were.
http://twitter.com/RyanMcGeeESPN/status/74921611668619264
 

Greg29fan

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Jul 14, 2005
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The Chase is terrible but green-white-checker is better than when they used to arbitrarily red flag the race with a few laps to go.  I do think 3 GWC attempts is two too many but in the interest of attempting to finish the race under racing conditions, I think it's great. 
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
The reason I don't like GWC is that it artificially lengthens the race so we can have a finish for television. Also, in a race like Indy where so many guys are running on fumes at the end of the race, it would be catastrophic if a leader ran out of fuel while going around so we can have one green lap. Nobody likes ending under yellow of course, but there's more integrity in Tony Kanaan ending lap 200 as the winner rather than being forced to have a green lap 203 so TV can get a better finish.
 

Greg29fan

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Greg29fan said:
The Chase is terrible but green-white-checker is better than when they used to arbitrarily red flag the race with a few laps to go.  I do think 3 GWC attempts is two too many but in the interest of attempting to finish the race under racing conditions, I think it's great.
Hey look there's IndyCar arbitrarily red flagging the race with a few laps to go

and Michael Andretti is dead on the money. No red flag last year but this year they do it. Pick one.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
Greg29fan said:
Hey look there's IndyCar arbitrarily red flagging the race with a few laps to go

and Michael Andretti is dead on the money. No red flag last year but this year they do it. Pick one.
 
Cool story bro. Noticed the hole in the wall?
 
Ryan Hunter-Reay drinks the milk for the USA by about two feet. Awesome.
 

Greg29fan

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Yes, I saw the hole in the wall but if the race ends under caution like has been the precedent at Indianapolis forever, what difference does it make? They could have fixed it whenever.

Great finish anyways.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
Greg29fan said:
Yes, I saw the hole in the wall but if the race ends under caution like has been the precedent at Indianapolis forever, what difference does it make? They could have fixed it whenever.

Great finish anyways.
 
If they went nuts on cleaning the debris, they might have got a lap or two under green, in which case the hole is in play.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
tulse_luper said:
ABC sure loved that Hot-Girlfriend-Cam in the finale there.
 
The partner cam is a 500 tradition, they've been running that for 30 years since they realized dudes liked to see Rick Mears' wife in race overalls.
 
Since you're in the UK can I get some agreement on how unforgivably bad BT Sport are? This bimbo presenting it knows nothing, they've got two mediocre sports car drivers who look like they want to date-rape the entire audience, and a dorky virgin. Katherine Legge looks embarrassed to be there.
 

tulse_luper

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Feb 7, 2008
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Spacemans Bong said:
 
The partner cam is a 500 tradition, they've been running that for 30 years since they realized dudes liked to see Rick Mears' wife in race overalls.
 
Since you're in the UK can I get some agreement on how unforgivably bad BT Sport are? This bimbo presenting it knows nothing, they've got two mediocre sports car drivers who look like they want to date-rape the entire audience, and a dorky virgin. Katherine Legge looks embarrassed to be there.
You can, very awkward viewing. Free Keith Huewen.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
The big race is today, watching this classic while I have my coffee:
 
[media]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxgNywvxWygp[/media]
 
This is about as wide open a 500 as I can remember, you could genuinely see 14-15 people in the Winner's Circle. Scott Dixon is on pole, Helio is 5th, and Marco is the best qualifying American at 8th.
 
Some American darkhorses are Sage Karam (20 year old phenom for Ganassi who grew up down the street from the Andretti clan, qualified 21st but was showing some good speed all May), JR Hildebrand (qualified 10th, famously crashed out on the final turn in 2011), Ed Carpenter (always runs well on ovals) and Graham Rahal (has been absolutely driving the shit out of his car for the past two races but qualified 17th). Marco, 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden (finally won at Alabama this year) are just flat out contenders.
 
The most interesting driver to watch could be Simona de Silvestro - she's like Danica but with some substance, but always seems to struggle for a ride. I'm also going to predict it doesn't work for Will Power, I just don't see him keeping it up for 500 miles. And good, because fuck Will Power.
 

Carmen Fanzone

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Dec 20, 2002
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I'll be at the race today. Turn 1. My first time in 5 years. Weather supposed to be perfect. Beer already cold.
 

Greg29fan

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Juan Montoya has now two Indy 500 wins, a win in the Grand Prix of Monaco, and two Cup Series wins plus a CART championship, two top 3s in the F1 standings and an eighth in the Cup Series standings.  
 
Hell of a resume.