The Firestone Five Hundred and Fifty, at Fort Worth, TX. We're gonna get 228 laps, which on this highly exciting cookie-cutter one-point-five mile oval brings us to a race distance of 342 miles. Why is it that you Americans only use kilometres when you want to make the numbers look bigger/alliterate with your sponsor's name?
As every race fan (or tennis-watcher) knows, there's nothing quite like a sporting event with a long, unscheduled break in the middle. Think of it like Bob Dylan post-motorcycle accident: the red flag at Detroit gave the race time to go away and think about its career, its songs, its audience. And when it came back it had a new direction and new energy, and Franchitti worked his way up to second after some restarts. That analogy may not have worked but the important thing is that some of us were still watching the race at the end.
Last year the Texas race also had a long gap in the middle, although apparently in that case it was scheduled. The race was famously hijacked halfway through by the producers of Deal or No Deal, who made the drivers spin a plastic tyre around, the obverse of it revealing their grid position for Part Two. Here's a video of Will Power celebrating his good grid draw, while simultaneously wrestling with his awareness that doing so and claiming this feat of blind luck as his achievement is to scale the heights of ridiculousness. In a way, perhaps, a few Indycar winners at this methadone-for-accelerator-pedal-junkies speedway have felt this feeling, but with nothing like the intensity visible in Will's awkward, halting, slow-motion jumps and fist-pumps.
No breaks this time, though. If the other previous events are anything to go by, the racing is likely to be fast, close and continuous. Unless it rains. And there'll still be advert breaks. And though after the Debacle In Detroit we are some way above base camp in the Heights of Ridiculousness, it's possible that we might see some actual real racing at Texas. They're taking away a lot of the downforce for Saturday, and with the bumpy track surface we might actually see the best drivers doing their best driving. Or if that's not possible, maybe they can channel Robbie McGehee and Scott Goodyear.
It's a Saturday race. Friends don't let friends miss racing on unusual days.
Schedule below. (That's Texas time, bros and sistas)
Friday 8th June
12.30-13.45: Indycar practice one
15.30-17.00: Indycar qualifying
18.45-19.15: Indycar practice two, in the evening.
20.00: My union rep says I don't have to talk about anything NASCAR-related; look at OLB's thread. It's trucks or something.
Saturday 9th June (I'm going to pad this one out a bit)
19.00: NBC Sports coverage begins
~19.06: NBC Sports' first advertising break begins
~19.09: NBC Sports' first advertising break ends, we're back with our Indycar-loving friends Bob, Jon and Wally.
19.45: "Ladies and gentlemen! Start your engines!!"
19.50: Green flag
Sing His praises. Chip's team has recorded two consecutive one-two finishes. Chip Ganassi, I set you the target of three consecutive one-two finishes, which I will name in honour of Atari's greatest puzzle game (like me, it's 23 years old this year), Chip's Challenge. Chip, I challenge thee.
Tsingtao Watch, part II
Interesting news for all lovers of the lustrous Orient. Miller's Mailbag this week states that it's Robin's understanding that the old mayor was a big supporter of the Indycar race, the new one is not. However, there is a contract in place so the race is on. This is exactly the sort of sensible and professional business dealing that Indycar needs to build upon.
Interested in Aero Kits?
Marshall Pruett, Speed.com's Sundance Kid to Robin Miller's Butch Cassidy, has spoken to Honda and Chevy. (Surprisingly Lotus didn't return any of his calls. Soon they'll be able to go to the same parties and not flicker an eyelid, but right now it's still a little painful, okay?) Chevy are worried about the expense of complex aero development that has little directly to do with auto marketing; suggest instead styling modifications to differentiate the cars. IIRC Chevrolet had pretty precise styling requirements for their factory-supported IMSA cars in the '80s, as did Ford, so this is perhaps standard Detroit Thinking. The performance-orientated Honda, of Senna, Spencer and Parker Johnstone, want the aero kits to go ahead as a way of showing their in-house expertise. (Apparently they're in talks with Wirth Research, which made me go "Hmmm" a little. But they do turn out those nice Highcroft Acuras in ALMS.)
Both parties are agreed, however, that a decision needs to be made soon and that the decision must be final. Lotus would probably also agree, but they're too busy deleting all of Speed.com's numbers from their phone and preparing a big document wallet with "International Journalist Conspiracy" written on the front.
That's your lot
From what I've heard, Texas is a pretty interesting place. Post your Texas-related anecdotes below! vvv
Edited by Risil, 07 June 2012 - 20:47.