Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fisticuffs, Fuel, Cautions, Color Blindness, Boos, Drama, and Other Inspiring Notes from the Toronto Grand Prix

In the words of the great Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, Good News Everyone!

We finished a race this season, and I'd say we're 95% talking about track & driver activity after the race! This is where we need to be my friends. So what do we have to talk about, what crazy, silly, interesting things do we have to note from the Toronto Grand Prix?

-Hunter-Reay & Foyt complete 2 laps!
In fact they completed them all. For some reason its not really getting any mention, but before the race, A.J. Foyt claimed he was not happy with the car's engineering and so he took over; and I'm not sure if that was the key, but the car was faster, and it got RHR away from some of the more erratic drivers at the start.

-Scheckter takes the gloves off the fists...
to throw them at Tagliani. I never get tired of guys like Tomas, good, aggressive driver, not afraid to show emotion, yet still can give a colorful but controlled interview after. The incident was clearly Tags' fault with a little help from Mario Moraes; but the better question is why the Safety Crew made Tomas get out of his car even though it clearly only nudged into the tires... and sure they got him out and then realized it was ok... at that point why not let him jump back in?

-Unfortunately ABC only accidentally showed us a little bit of it, but what I saw of Dixon vs. Wilson at the end of the race was masterful racing from both.
I honestly wish we had just a camera on those 2 guys (& Tracy) the whole race as an option. Those guys all make great calculated, yet still aggressive moves, and to see them make the moves on each other is even better.

-How about Paul Tracy pulling the exact same move on Mike Conway twice in a row!?
Tracy drove a great race, and I think had a car to match Dario's speed; but man, Conway had a fast car too. Its really just unfortunate, cause Conway clearly has the talent to go fast and learn courses very quickly to get speed out of them. He is just going through a little bit of turbulence in the rookie season, I'm just hoping he can stay away from, what are actually very small mistakes (marbles for passes) and he'll easily be a road course contender every week.

-Viso & Moraes take it to Fisticuffs!
We've all seen Mario Moraes this year; he's be incredibly quick, and very aggressive... and with that aggressiveness has come some ill-advised or sloppy attempts at passing. To this point in the 2009 season, I really think Moraes has had contact & incidents with more drivers than he hasn't.

Gee this sure sounds familiar.... almost identical to another series newcomer recently tried this out... This same newcomer, in fact, being the latest of Moraes' victims. I am of course talking about E.J. Viso, who had finally started to battle out of the #13, green car, bad luck when Moraes not only hit viso in Toronto, he hit him twice... and the 2nd hit came well after the race was over. Not like Dario's mistake in Kentucky which happened right at the checkered, no... Moraes hit Viso a good 8 turns after the checkered, while Viso had his visor up and was about to take a sip of some Herbalife and likely thinking about plans of base jumping off the CN Tower or something.

We all saw the post race interviews where Mario, yet again this season, claims no fault (sound familiar to last years Viso enough for ya?) E.J. then posted a comment on his Facebook page about not understanding why the league allows a "Monkey with a bag of money" to race. People, we have the beginnings of a great rivalry/tension whatever, and thats what we need on track. What I'm curious about though, is that a few people I know who were at the track have told me that the action didn't end on-camera; that there may have been some shouting, pushing, shoving and even hair pulling back at the trailers after the race. Obviously I don't want fisticuffs to become a regular thing, but you know what Mario & E.J. did this weekend that no one's seem to have been able to do in the past 3-4 seasons. They stopped being PC, and let their emotions show; and that is something that has been a little too lacking since, wow... maybe Danica-Wheldon?

-Not to be outdone, we got Tracy vs. Helio; Vasser vs. Race Control, Graham vs. whatever mistake he makes & Marty Reid vs. logical thinking.

-Lets start with Helio-Tracy.
Here is the ONLY conclusion you can come to: it was a racing incident. Paul was aggressive with the move, Helio was too aggressive with trying to keep the position, and the street narrowed at the exact point they both tried to do this; don't believe me, check out the aerial shots. No other guy really encroached on the other, they just ran out of space (which is a reason I'm really glad we're headed to Edmonton next, plenty room).

Both guys were stand up about it after, and while you can't point fingers about the actual contact, you can note that Helio was on fuel strategy, on crappy tires, and already conceded first place to Dario.. At the point Dario passed Helio, he should have been committed to fuel and not contended so hard with any of the other guys on the 1st/2nd strategies; that said you can't tell a guy to not compete, but Helio had been wiggly all race, it seemed a bit much for him to suddenly try and make the car stick when it hadn't yet in the race.

-Then we got Tracy-Dario & the fun of yellow flag pitting.
Now for those of you that followed me on twitter; you noticed I hammered Race Control a bit; but what I may not have clarified, is that I was NOT hammering them for the Dario-Tracy pit order incident. (I was hammering them for repeatedly allowing the leaders to brake-check and pull away 5 turns before the green flag on restarts). As far as the Dario-Tracy who should have been in the lead incident, all you need to think about are 3 simple facts.

A) Jimmy Vasser was at least halfway, if not more, down pit road and likely couldn't see the blend line. He also spoke on camera in the heat of the moment without having seen a replay of it yet.

More importantly what do you really think is more plausible?

B) Brian Barnhart and the league are covering up a conspiracy to give Dario 2nd place? (remember Helio was in the lead at the time).

C) ABC simply messed up yet another thing by not covering the pit out, and got the explanation from Race Control wrong, and then never considered going back to previous video to show us the answer? In fact here is ABC's best shot (end of video), you can conclude nothing from that.

Seriously are you going to base a conspiracy on the same broadcast team that was mixing up Mario Moraes, Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal, EJ Viso, Tony George's segue and a 10 year old kid's paper airplane for Paul Tracy?

-And speaking of ABC; I'm not going to write a ton about it, I've hammered them before and they deserve every bit of it, but how many ways can you say they screwed up?
We miss passing, we talk about things that aren't the action on camera, we ask if cars pitting are taking fuel, but the worst is really just the lack of correct camera usage & being at commercials for things like restarts or going to pit coverage right when we are about to see a pass for position, they install a nose-cam on Marco's car to use it for a whole 10 seconds during the race.

Look, I know we all love to hate Marty, and some like Will & myself can even appreciate a John Madden like quality in the silliness... but the difference is that Madden has always had Pat Summeral & Al Michaels to correct him when he was horribly wrong, and for whatever reason Scott Goodyear feels no need to shut Marty up when he's obviously wrong; and that is a huge disservice to the people watching. So far Marty has confused Paul Tracy, Mario Moraes, Alex Tagliani, EJ Viso, Tony Kanaan & Graham Rahal in just the past 2 weeks... and NO 2 of those cars look remotely alike.

Even better, he gave us a great new line regarding Hideki Mutoh's red/blue formula Dream car: "I get my White and Red's mixed up."

Last year at St. Pete I thought Marty hit a stride I never thought he'd be able to reach again when he said "These are 5 guys we don't normally talk about." While I still think that is Marty's best line to date, he came very close twice this weekend. #1 came in his pre-race online chat on ESPN, where a fan asked who he thought could be our next first-time winner. Marty replied "either Mario Moraes or Graham Rahal." His 2nd highlight for the weekend came at the very finale of ABC's broadcasting of the IndyCar Series for the season where Marty in all his brilliance.. asked Scott Goodyear if he wants to come try out NASCAR with him...

For the love of all that is holy Marty, I love to laugh, but not at the expence of other viewers, stay with NASCAR; and lets go onward to Edmonton where the lanes are wide and the action is fast!

Pictures via indycar.com and ABC

1 comment:

The SpeedGeek said...

Another ABC tour de force this weekend. The only thing I gleaned from them, is that nobody connected with ABC Sports reads my blog, since if they did, they might have shown us an occasional car exiting the pits, instead of cutting away EVERY SINGLE TIME somebody was about to merge back into traffic, usually to another car running by itself on the other end of the track (Tagliani comes to mind here, after Tracy pitted from 2nd). Marty Reid gets worse with every passing race, which would be OK, except that he's allegedly getting paid to do this. The NASCAR hyping on the tail end of the broadcast nearly sent me into hysterics, as I rewound it to make sure I'd heard correctly and not just hallucinated it as I calculated this week's fantasy points. ABC is god-awful, and I'm thrilled that they're done for the season.