Round 3 – Grand Prix of Alabama *live* race blog

It’s a beautiful, sunny day here, and a glorious sunny day there. Let’s get this show on the road!

I am in sunny T.O. at my office for today’s race. Someday I will get to travel to all the races on the circuit. I’m making that my goal.

The buzzwords for this race… “beautiful” “picturesque” “challenging”

It is gorgeous, no doubt. But very little room for significant passing. Or so we are being told by those who should know best, the drivers.

Clean start. Viso went off roading. Baguette toiling around on and off track at the back. (a little over his head this weekend me thinks)

Dixon driving backwards… apparently he got a penalty for jumping the start and had to drop back. This is news to the IMS radio guys as they are throwing a party in the booth celebrating a pass by Castroneves on Dixon.

wow… they are reeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaallly spread out. This is a disaster!

The race is so exciting (not) that they are already doing random lifestyle pitlane interviews and cutting to non essential pitstops from the “racing action”

Pit window is open, and the mid/back backers are coming in to try to gain an advantage. I have to say I really miss actual pit windows, when you knew who was in the lead at all times, and when the race was won/lost ON TRACK or on a bad stop, not on some bogus strategy of hoping for yellows.

Speaking of yellow. Sato is dead stick. KV needs to check the expiry on their gearbox parts. Let the pitting begin.

WOAH! Conway drag races to the end of pitlane, squeezing past Power. Unfortch for him, Power beat him to the cone, so BACK OF THE LINE BOY!

The impostor driving Marco Andretti’s car this season, got the jump on Castroneves on the restart (they are all on their own strategy now… :bangsheadondesk: ) throwing a huge subsequent block party in “Charlotte’s Web” and running twinkletoes into the rough.

Conway is all over the back of Power like a fat kid on a chocolate bar

I think I just dozed off…

ok… so the current top 9 have yet to pit. Thus the panty creaming over Marco leading. Since I have no idea about fuel strategies (cause I hate them) I don’t know what the ramifications are for everyone if there is a yellow.

Power is making mincemeat of the “already pitted” group. and has put 2 cars between himself and Conway (who is truthfully his only threat for the podium)

So… Helio was the last to come in to the pits. Curious. If he had such good fuel saving, why the hell did they bring Power in so early?

Hey, I just saw the Lotus car back on track. Cool.

The crowd is amazing. Gotta give them that.

The second round of pits is well underway for the first pitting group. Apparently Power is on a 3 stop strategy, so burn it if you got it. He is cycled in at 6th and I’m sure will start picking people off post haste.

Vitor Meira grew some serious stones over the winter too, pulling off a gutsy pass on Tags earlier.

Maybe there is something to the whole breaking your back thing as he and Power are definitely driving like different people. Hey… did Parko break his back over the winter and not tell anyone? πŸ˜‰

Power is now up to 5th. Just got around Simona. (gotta be wickedly impressed by her. Going extra long on fuel then cycling back out into the top 5. I just love watching Shamica’s stock plummeting.

Justin has also been quietly making his way forward. Go CC boys Go!

Marco pits and gets back out just ahead of Power.

Ooh… speaking of Marco, the just got around Dashley, putting a car between him and Power.

so… if Helio is soooooooooooooo good with Fuel strategy… HOW THE FUCK DID JAPANICA WIN MOTEGI?? just sayin…. moving on…

I’m standing by my twitter comment. The big boys are pussies! The FIL drivers had the stones to make it interesting.. It’s called racing. Not “playing it safing”

Ok… we are on lap 73 of 90. Apparently AA fucked Marco’s chances due to fuel. Danica tried to crash Lloyd, but apparently he didn’t get the memo, and kept it on track.

I’m pretty sure Penske screwed the pooch with Power’s strategy too. Guess they needed to give the older kids some attention and love, cause the new adopted kid has been getting it all since the start of the season.

Ok… 11 laps to go, Marco stuck behind Rahal, which in turn is sticking Helio, Dixon, and Franchitti in the train.

Power needs to make a move around Franchitti if he hopes to be on the podium.
*edit: of course at this point we didn’t know from the feed or commentary that there were a stack of off pace cars inbetween them…*

Marco gives up the battle with Rahal and his fuel gauge and goes in for fuel. Ends up out behind Power.Rahal then conveniently pulls aside for everyone else. Interesting. No animosity there huh? LOL

Woah! Simona spins and stalls on track. FCY! (damn girl!! so close!!!)

2 lap shootout.

What a bullshit end to this race. Fuck.

LOL… could they be more forced in their mock excitement in the bootch? Shootout my ass! How challenging is it when there are 5 off pace cars between the leaders and the real challengers? They need to have a rule to move them all to the back in proper order in this situation and make a real race of it!)

Bullshit. Meh. Fun sucked out completely.

Glad I don’t have to write this one up.


18 responses to “Round 3 – Grand Prix of Alabama *live* race blog

  1. Leigh O'Gorman

    Well, I enjoyed that. I watched the web feed and it was much better than the TV feed.
    I had fun at least.

    • Oh I enjoyed it! I just don’t like bullshit fuel strategy races. I watch racing for racing. Mano e Mano, head to head, ON TRACK, competition. May the best man, or woman, win.

      and the web feed Rocked! (I didn’t want to say anything and jinx it! LOL!)

  2. Yeah, it was a snoozer. Not very compelling at all. All pit stratagey based. No talent required. Well some is, because Danica and Milka were horribly off pace.

    I turned and watched MotoGP, where the riders actually had to RIDE and, you know, win on the track, and not in the pits. 180 degrees differance. Plus, they could actually pass!

    Too bad there aren’t other tracks avaible in the spring, oh wait….

    • Those not consumed by the need to save fuel or protect their points actually made passes, we just saw them in replays.

      The Lights kids showed that it could be done consistently if you just went out there and raced.

      Word of advice? Get over your hate of Barber. That HUGE crowd guarantees it’s on the schedule to stay for a while.

      Hopefully now that they have been on the track in race conditions, the drivers can give some feedback on changes that can be made to improve the racing.

      • True, the crowd was great. But so was Surfers, which was my favorite street course. But yeah, I’m pretty sure Barber will be a fixture for a long time. Maybe time for a refueling ban? Possibly with the spec cars that would work out better, and no team would end up with a car that couldn’t make it to the finish…

  3. I enjoyed it. It brought in the fuel strategy that F1 has removed this year. The late yellow took the fun out of it a little, I was wondering if the remaining top four would make it, sort of assumed they would but we won’t know now.

    It wasn’t the out and out parade that many had feared, it was tough to pass but the ballsy drivers made turn 5 work and that’s good enough for me. This isn’t midget racing on a short track, this is top flight open wheel, it is *supposed* to be hard.

    • that is exactly it! It felt like the fun was sucked out at the end. The whole edge of your seat “do they have enough fuel” thing was gone. Then it was just… meh.

      I agree. It could have been a lot worse. At least as the tires wore out and the fuel drained, the field bunched up a little, giving those with cajones the opportunity to pass

  4. You guys are pretty hard to please. Or you haven’t watched many IndyCar races, because every one is a fuel race. Always is, either because of yellows or pit problems, or the scheduled race length.

    Castroneves and Dixon are nose to tail with like 8 to go, what more do you want? It sucked that Matos blocked him, and Dixon got new life thanks to Simona’s spin. Two to go on a restart, Dixon didn’t have anything for Helio but it was a battle for 1-2 right to the end, so was 3-4.

    If you want to bitch, question why IICS let Penske keep the third sway bar setup that nobody else has. Their cars are superior on road courses because of it: no way Helio is a better road racer than Dixon. And Power probably gets Dario, if there were enough good passing zones and he wasn’t counting points for his championship.

    The announcers were wrong about the stops, and it sure seems like most of the strategists were too. If you started on reds, and could get 3.25 MPG, it was a two stop race. You can blame the IICS if you want: the fuel cell size is a constant, the mileage is pretty predictable.

    So you have to set the race length where there is no way you can make it on two stops, that’s all. You knew what was going to happen when Helio and Dixon got to lap 30. Same as last year at Homestead, when Dario was the only one to make it to 50.

    Add 5 more laps to either race, and everything is different. The only thing which could mess that up would be like 15 laps under caution.

    That’s three pretty decent ones for 2010 in my book, the concern will be the ovals. Then it’s Chippy’s turn.

    Today was as good as could have been expected, since IICS didn’t get the track changed or do anything about the wimp overtake assist. They pointed to changing both when they first went to Barber in 2009. Oh well.

    There’s some F1 experts who have watched both series, and point to the IICS races this year as better by comparison. So what do you call a good race, exactly?

    • Ok, since it’s a week later, I won’t go into as indepth a reply as I did before wordpress ate it. :-/

      Andy, (hello, & welcome to Shwit!)
      I’m not hard to please, I just have higher expectations than most because I’ve seen what has been and I know what could be, and what’s the point of being complacent and accepting of mediocrity? Changes are made because people speak up.

      Why oh WHY does everyone assume that if someone doesn’t like something about a race or the series, they are some ignorant couch quarterback that has never watched a race? I assure you I have watched 100’s of races, have attended many live, where I WORK doing coverage for them. nuff said.

      I don’t “want” to bitch. I’m just really good at it πŸ˜‰

      Thank you for all of the detail about the mileage and sway bars and all. You just illustrated my point exactly. I understand all of that. But what of the folks who are more casual viewers? You need to be a frickin engineer some days to actually follow along with the action. And if there is no “action” on track to keep them interested while their engineer friends are calculating the fuel strategies for them, then we’ve lost more eyes. The racing should take place on the track, not in the fuel tank.

      I agree wholeheartedly, the first 3 (and likely 4 with LB today) races have been awesome.But admit it, Alabama was lacking compared to the first 2 no? Can’t expect not to have a few groans if after 2 meals of filet mignon, you serve liverwurst. Just sayin…

      And yes, Alabama was actually better than I expected. Doesn’t mean it was a great race. It was good. It was o.k. But there is a lot of room for improvement.

      I call a lot of races good. I’ll let you peruse the archives on your own for that πŸ˜‰

  5. Yeah, fuel has always been a part of how the strategies play out. Not to sound anyone out, but overall I thought it was a good race. Tough to pass? Yeah, a little, but imo, it shouldn’t be “easy to pass”. And, despite all the naysayers about Barber, there were quite a number of either on-camera passes or clips of those missed while the live camera showed something else. Wilson strapped on the Big Set a few times, even passed (Hunter-Reay?) going down into the last kink before that last big right-hand loop that brings ’em back to the front stretch. Overall, I thought it was a fairly decent show, and Milka’s lack of pace provided some quite entertaining moments! Bummed for Simona with that late spin, she was rockin’ up until then.

    • I think because I am relegated to watching the feed, there is a bit of a disconnect between what is happening on track and what we are seeing/hearing. I’m going to try to find an online Versus feed today and see if that helps any. (although I am confident that today’s race will not be lacking for on track action πŸ˜‰ )

      ya, Simona’s misstep was heartbreaking. But she’s got a great attitude and learns with each race.

      • Lots of frustration for me watching online, seems the thing just continually goes into some sort of (may I say it?) ‘lockstep’…or just a total lockdown…and you lose the flow. Plus the audio only seems to connect with the video about 50% of the time. I empathize with you about that being your only means of watching the race. Lastly, Mike King and Bob Jenkins probably are using the same toothbrush or drinkin’ from the same spigot, because they both seem to wander off in the same manner too often to overlook. It’s so good that your blogsite active again! Feels like home…

  6. Mike, agreed about Simona. I hope she and Tags each get at least one podium this year…Maybe Toronto or the Glen?

    This might explain the strategies today: if everybody is running more downforce, the added drag drops their fuel mileage. So they saw 3.1 MPG in practice, and they know they can’t make it on two stops. But the fast boys can get away with just a bit less, and make 3.25 so they went for it. And won.

    That’s a case where the Penske mod helps them make better downforce from the tunnels, and run less wing. Might be the explanation.

  7. A snoozer?? I quess if you wanted it to be; it would then provide something to complain about.

    • I never said it was a snoozer. It was my live impressions of the race as it was happening. YES there were a few laps of “snoozer” type action. Even the booth realized this as they cut to one of those bullshit “lifestyle” type segments they usually save for FCY’s.

      IMHO, The only way any race or series is perfect and fantastic and without ANYthing to “complain” about is if you are one of those sycophantic “the series can do no wrong” type of fans, who preach “all is well” then stand around gobsmacked when the series disappears.

      This is an opinion blog. I give my opinion. Good, bad or indifferent. I make no apologies for it. There are a bunch of happy, fluffy bunny type blogs out there if you are a afraid of a little criticism of the series. If you want an honest opinion however, my door is always open.

      Thanks for coming out.

  8. Damnit! I wrote a bunch of replies an they disappeared! grrr… Will re-reply tomorrow.

  9. Great article. I love to hear honest commentary.

    This is officially my favorite blog!

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