Sunday, May 25, 2008

INDY 500: The Line Of The “Fine Nine”

The famed "Yard Of Bricks" at the Start/Finish line of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Image Credit:

A Live Blogging Effort Observing The Progress Of
The Teams That Are Transitioning Into The IRL

INDY 500: The Line Of The “Fine Nine”

American Open Wheel racing has always captivated the interest of motorsports enthusiasts throughout the world and this weekend hosts a race that has been held for 92 years in the state of Indiana.

Each year, on the final weekend of May, powerful cars, without fenders, with their wheels sticking out to defend the four corners of the space they occupy, speeding around a large rectangle for 500 miles (200 laps), yellow flag sessions during the race bunch up the field of 33 cars, pit stops throughout for tires and fuel can lead to an advantage or setback given a smooth result or a malfunctioning airwrench, 400,000 spectators line the pavement strip where the cars can fan out three to four cars wide, where, at the end of the race, the winner is treated to a swig from a quart of milk to become one of the names in the world of automobile racing few will forget (more recognizable than annual series champions) … this is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the race that defines American motorsports, The INDY 500.

This year is the first year since the formation of CART back in 1979 American open wheel racing is unified under one annual competitive series of races that, in the end crowns a champion – one champion, one series, and this one race. At the heart of this series of races is the fourth race of the 18 that will be held here in 2008.

Nine drivers of the field of 33 cars in the race are from the former CART/ChampCar World Series and through unification, these nine drivers represent an infusion of new talent to this fabled racing competition. Racing with equipment the teams of the nine drivers received in the merger agreement, some with parts that needed to be upgraded to 2008 specifications, equipment that is new to the learning curve of the chassis engineers and specialists on each team that helped to qualify these nine drivers to a new track beginning on the fifth row.

At the wave of the checkered flag, after two warm-up laps performed by the 33 rows of three cars side-by-side, that starts the 92nd INDY 500, the “Fine Nine” are placed in the field in the following order.

POS./Car # Driver (Speed), Team, Sponsor

Row 5
13/06 Graham Rahal (222.531), NHL, No Sponsor
15/18 Bruno Junqueira (222.330), DCR, Z-Line

Row 6
16/02 Justin Wilson (222.267), NHL, Mc Donald’s

Row 8
23/ 8 Will Power (221.136), KVRT, Aussie Vineyards

Row 9
25/ 5 Oriol Servia (220.767), KVRT, Visit Mexico City/Plantronics
26/33 EJ Viso (220.356), HVM, PDVSA

Row 10
28/19 Mario Moraes (219.716), DCR, Sonny’s BBQ
29/36 Enrique Bernoldi (219.422), CR, No Sponsor
30/34 Jaime Camara (219.345), CR, No Sponsor

Julianne Hough sings the National Anthem at 9:55 AM PDT and four jets fly-over the yard of bricks. It’s time for the drivers to get into the cars and show a moment of silence for those who have died so that we may remain free on this Memorial Day (TAPS).

Back Home Again In Indianana, as sung by Jim Nabors – “Oh how I long for my Indiana home”.

Mari Hulman George, “Ladies and Gentelman, Start, Your, Engines!”

Good luck to Helio Castroneves on his attempt to win the INDY 500 three times; Is this the race that Danica Patrick breaks through and has a woman win the 500 mile race … or will it be Sarah Fischer, or Milka Duno?

Orrrrr, will it be one of eleven rookies with the overwhelming number of them coming from the ranks of the former ChampCar World Series?

The Perfect Storm … And there’re off at a few ticks after 10:12 AM PDT – “Green, Green, Green”

Clear!, still clear! – off to a great and clean start.

YELLOW Flag flies for debris on the racing line on the track – LAP 8.

Bruno Junqueira’s Dale Coyne Racing Dallara looses a mirror at speed and he will have to come in and have it replaced. He had moved up in the order before the incident to Position # 13 and was the lead driver in the “Fine Nine” at the time of the incident.

Sarah Fischer spins while on scrubbing off her tires in the corner while waiting for the field to go back to Green on LAP 13.

LAP 18 re-start and Buddy Rice followed by Justin Wilson of NHL take the Checkered Flag.

LAP 20 sees Dan Weldon taking over the overall lead with Justin Wilson passing Buddy Rice for 3rd.

At 25 laps the Fine Nine are struggling to maintain pace … after Wilson at Position #3 we see the next Fine Nine driver at Position #20 being EJ Viso, #23 Will Power, #23 Mario Moraes, #24Rahal, #26Bernoldi, #27 Camara, and 17 laps down after having the mirror replaced, #33 Junqueira.

Pit Stops and Buddy Rice gains a position on Justin Wilson.

YELLOW Flag – Graham Rahal of Newman/Haas/Lanigan hits the wall on LAP 37 while avoiding a car driven by Alex Lloyd that had slowed down to enter the pits.

One Fine Nine driver OUT and one down 17 laps with Bruno Junqueira.

Buddy Rice and Justin Wilson stay out while the rest of the field comes into the pits for tires and fuel. Danica Patrick has a long time in the pits.

FIRE in AJ Foyt IV’s car while in the pits on LAP 39 … the second fuel incident for Foyt IV in the past full week.

After all of the incidents, the shuffle has the “Fine Nine” in NO fine positions at all … its dismal.

The highest position any T-Team driver occupies at the restart on LAP 46 is Will Power of KV Racing Technology at Position #16.

Positions Of The Fine Nine After 50 Laps

POS./Car# Driver, Team, Sponsor

16/ 5 Oriol Servia, KVRT, Visit Mexico City/Plantronics
17/33 EJ Viso, HVM, PDVSA
18/ 8 Will Power, KVRT, Aussie Vineyards
24/02 Justin Wilson, NHL, Mc Donald’s
28/19 Mario Moraes, DCR, Sonny’s BBQ
29/36 Enrique Bernoldi, CR, No Sponsor
30/34 Jaime Camara, CR, No Sponsor
32/18 Bruno Junqueira, DCR, Z-Line
OUT/06 Graham Rahal, NHL, No Sponsor

LAP 60 – Marty Roth hits the wall in his Lids sponsored car in a similar accident that befell Graham Rahal. Car slowing into the pits and catching the trailing car off guard and by the time the driver reacts, he is in the marbles and into the wall.

Helio Castroneves hits some of the debris and crunches a front wing.

Everybody into the pits. Servia climbs up to #14, followed by Viso #16, Wilson #17, Power #18, Camara #24, Moraes #25, Bernoldi #26, Junqueira #31

LAP 73 – Green Flag

Crash and YELLOW Flag for Jamie Camara on LAP 81 as Jamie gets too high into turn one, hits the wall and slides the length of the short chute and smashes into the wall at turn two before sliding to a stop. OUT, Jaime Camara Conquest Racing, No Sponsor.

Pits open and Danica Patrick picks up two more spots to position #9.

Re-Start GREEN Flag on LAP 92 and EJ Viso climbs to #11, with Servia, Wilson, and Power at #15, #16, #18 respectively.

Tony Kanaan splits the Target Chip Ganassi Team cars driven by Scott Dixon and Dan Weldon then passes Weldon for the lead on LAP 96.

Marty Reid, the announcer suggests that approaching the half-way point is beginning to see a page turn as it relates to tactics.

Andretti Green Racing team members are making a move as Marco Andretti climbs into the top five at 100 laps.

Positions Of The Fine Nine After 100 Laps

POS./Car# Driver, Team, Sponsor

13/33 EJ Viso (220.356), HVM, PDVSA
14/ 5 Oriol Servia (220.767), KVRT, Visit Mexico City/Plantronics
16/02 Justin Wilson (222.267), NHL, Mc Donald’s
20/ 8 Will Power (221.136), KVRT, Aussie Vineyards
25/36 Enrique Bernoldi (219.422), CR, No Sponsor
26/19 Mario Moraes (219.716), DCR, Sonny’s BBQ
29/18 Bruno Junqueira (222.330), DCR, Z-Line
OUT/34 Jaime Camara (219.345), CR, No Sponsor
OUT/06 Graham Rahal (222.531), NHL, No Sponsor

YELLOW Flag on LAP 105 - Tont Kanaan, and Sara Fischer collect each other after Marco Andretti cuts into Tony’s line in the corner forcing TK into the marbles and the wall. Team owner and Tony Kanaan are not very happy.

Everyone pits on LAP 107 – Servia passes Viso in the pits to take position #11 before the restart.

LAP 112 - Something breaks on Jeff Simmons AJ Foyt Racing, ABC car and has him first hit the outside wall then the inside wall on the front straightaway.

GREEN Flag Restart LAP 117 – Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti, Dan Weldon, Tomas Schecter, and Ed Carpenter in the lead.

The next two laps sees a mix of aggressive driving by all cars in the top 15. Danica Patrick warned about blocking Helio Castroneves.

Marco Andretti passes for the lead with 79 laps to go.

LAP 128 has Ryan Hunter-Reay pass Dan Weldon for position #6. Biggest mover up the field is Oriol Servia up to position #10.

Justin Wilson into the wall with 67 laps to go … there will be no finish or win for the Newman/Haas/Lanigan team for the 92nd running of the INDY 500.

Pit Stops for all. Ed Carpenter suffers gearbox problem in the pits and looses a lot of time and is the last car on the lead lap - 23. Mario Moraes Dale Coyne Racing does not pit and assumes the lead of the race … mark a moral victory to the T-Team Fine Nine proud! Helio Castroneves moves up three spots to #7.

61 LAPS to go and Scott Dixon moves from third to first with Mario Moraes is a sitting duck. Moraes just misses the wall in the short chute between turns one and two.

Mario Moraes is loose, slow and needs to pit – DUAH!

Yellow Flag LAP 148 – Alex Lloyd crashes while holding position 17 from turn 4 into the entrance of the pit lane, taking out the speed radar sensors that help race management regulate the speed in pit lane.

Positions After 150 Laps

POS./Car# Driver, Team, Sponsor

09/ 5 Oriol Servia, KVRT, Visit Mexico City/Plantronics
15/ 8 Will Power, KVRT, Aussie Vineyards
18/36 Enrique Bernoldi, CR, No Sponsor
23/19 Mario Moraes, DCR, Sonny’s BBQ
24/33 EJ Viso, HVM, PDVSA
26/18 Bruno Junqueira, DCR, Z-Line
OUT/02 Justin Wilson, NHL, Mc Donald’s
OUT/34 Jaime Camara, CR, No Sponsor
OUT/06 Graham Rahal, NHL, No Sponsor

Pit Lane open on LAP 154 – Dan Weldon has trouble in the pits and gets bumped to the back of the field. Tomas Scheckter climbs out of his car … his race is over due to a broken half-shaft .

GREEN flag on LAP 159 – Vitor Miera Panther Racing Delphi/National Guard takes the lead.

LAP 166 sees Vitor Miera leading, Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi, Helio Castroneves Team Penske, Marco Andretti Andretti Green Racing, and Ryan Hunter-Reay Rahal Letterman Racing in the top five.

YELLOW Flag, Eighth caution of the race. LAP 167 has Milka Duno spinning through the short chute and into the grass out of turn 4.

Final pitstops has contact between Ryan Briscoe and Danica Patrick knocking out both cars. Ryan Briscoe of Penske Racing slides into Danica as he comes out of the pits.

LAP 174 has Scott Dixon takes the Checkered Flag and the traffic into turn 1 is like driving in downtown Boston at rush hour except that instead an inch a minute drag race in your rental car against a taxi cab, these guys are running at INDY speed. On the backstretch Dan Weldon gets into the grass on a little off-roading excursion and solders on at speed.

LAP 181 – Everyone is good on fuel … this is a sprint to the finish.

Scott Dixon looks to be in charge with Vitor Miera, Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, and Ed Carpenter in tow. The top five positions are within about one second of each other.

Ten laps to go and Marco Andretti is on the march and moves to third place. Marco has the fastest car in on the track with eight laps to go.

Marco can see the race leader and he is “flat-footing” it all the way. With five laps to go Marco is only two car lengths away … Vitor begins to pull away from Marco and is close enough to get a tow from Dixon.

Three laps to go and Dixon begins to pull away and begins to encounter traffic … and clears.

Two turns to go and there is nothing but track – Dixon brings it home to win the 92nd INDY 500 and the 2.5 Million Dollar purse. The 19th driver to win from the pole position.

Congratulations to Vitor Miera and Marco Andretti for their podium finishes.

Final Finishing Positions for the T-Team Fine Nine After 200 Laps

POS./Car# Driver (Speed), Team, Sponsor

11/ 5 Oriol Servia, KV Racing Technology, Visit Mexico City/Plantronics
13/ 8 Will Power, KV Racing Technology, Aussie Vineyards
15/36 Enrique Bernoldi, Conquest Racing, No Sponsor
18/19 Mario Moraes, Dale Coyne Racing, Sonny’s BBQ
20/18 Bruno Junqueira, Dale Coyne Racing, Z-Line
26/33 EJ Viso, HVM Racing, PDVSA
27/02 Justin Wilson, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, Mc Donald’s
31/34 Jaime Camara, Conquest Racing, No Sponsor
33/06 Graham Rahal, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, No Sponsor

A one-time race for the ages, a first for unification in the modern era after only 29 years.

UPDATE 5-27-2008:

Nearly 3 Million Dollar Payday For INDY Winner, Dixon

The Indianapolis 500 Victory earned Kiwi Scott Dixon a record $2,988,065 from a record purse of $14,406,580. This result should give a new meaning to the phrase – “The Thunder From Down Under!”

This excerpted from -

Dixon became the first native of New Zealand to win theIndianapolis 500. After starting from the pole position, he led seven times for a race-high 115 laps and beat Panther Racing's Vitor Meira to the finish line by 1.7498 seconds. The race featured 18 lead changes among nine drivers.

The previous record winner's purse was $1,761,740 awarded to Buddy Rice in 2004, while the 2007 Indianapolis 500 field was awarded the previous record race purse, $10,668,815. The event purse is comprised of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League awards, including the new IndyCar TEAM (Team Enhancement and Allocation Matrix) program, sponsor awards and other designated awards.

Meira's efforts in the No. 4 Delphi National Guard Dallara/Honda/Firestone earned $1,273,215, the first time anyone other than the Indianapolis winner has won more than $1 million, far exceeding the previous second-place record payout of $739,665 for Helio Castroneves in 2003.

... notes from The EDJE

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