:: fast in-laps ::

A place to share interesting information on auto racing, especially CART, IRL, & F1. Also welcome are any anecdotes from the club SCCA-type racing set. E-mail: ebrott -at- juno.com Pray for our troops. Read Romans 8:28.
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:: 25.4.03 ::

So, what's the deal with Zanardi at the German race?

Seventhgear.com had the scoop. Followed up by a quizzical article in AutoWeek (which I haven't yet read.) Both of which point to a quote that Alex has "a surprise" lined up for the race at the Lausitzring. Speculations range from being pace car driver to strapping on his helmet and racing in a champ car (or doing demo laps.)

Alex, you may remember, lost both legs in an accident leaving pit lane at the German track back in 2001. Stay tuned, and I'll weigh in when I hear more...
:: Eric 25.4.03 [+] ::
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Want another name for the entry list at Indy this year?

How about Jimmy Vasser? He will once again be driving in a Rahal car, once again in a Honda. Though he will be in Germany racing for CART during the opening day of Indy qualifying, a depleted field will give him a great opportunity to start midpack on Memorial Day. All he'll need is a trouble-free run around bump day. Go, Jeemee!!
:: Eric 25.4.03 [+] ::
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Robby Gordon will once again be participating in the Auto Biathalon 1100. He will assume the seat vacated by the recovering Dario Franchitti in the Indy 500. Then hopping a helicopter and participating in the Coca-Cola 600 in a stock car.
:: Eric 25.4.03 [+] ::
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Mario, not so much. Papis is a maybe.

The elder Andretti, at 63, has nothing to prove. After his brief stint nearly a decade since he hung up his Indy Car driving gloves, the only race that eluded him in his long career was the 24 Heures du Mans. The Indy 500 winner, F1 champion, Daytona 500 winner and CART champion has decided, following the scariest of test crashes at Indy, not to take a ride in the qualifying for the Indy 500. Max Papis was mentioned as a possible driver to take Kanaan's ride if Tony can't heal in time.
:: Eric 25.4.03 [+] ::
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This week in racing:

Fontana, CA - NASCAR: Auto Club 500. California Speedway. Defending Champion: Jimmie Johnson.

That's it for this week. Well, there is a Busch race at Fontana as well. And I never really count the NHRA, but they're doing something in Bristol, TN if you're into that sort of thing...


:: Eric 25.4.03 [+] ::
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:: 24.4.03 ::
He's everywhere, he's everywhere!

Road America is back on the 2003 CART schedule!! The race date is set for August 3rd, and the race is called The Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America. This is a fitting tribute to the man who probably worked the hardest to make sure this historic venue didn't disappear from the Champ car circuit. Way to go, Mario!
:: Eric 24.4.03 [+] ::
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Mario Update:

There is much more detail and a great article on the Mario test crash on the rpm.com site. Go check it out!

225+ mph!

"Wow! That was close... We're all right. We can laugh about it now!" - John Candy, Planes, Trains, & Automobiles.
:: Eric 24.4.03 [+] ::
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More Indy Racing:

On the way back from the cafeteria today, I saw a strange sight. CNN was breaking away to commercial and showing an Indy car cartwheeling up at the fence. Below, the graphic referenced a Mario. I asked some of the guys assembled by the TV who that was in the shot. "Mario Andretti! He's 63 years old," they said.

I raced back here to check what they were talking about. Apparently Mario was running the open testing of his son's 7-Eleven car and got caught up in Kenny Brack's debris. He emerged from the crash okay, which is incredible in itself. Mario Andretti, winner of the 1969 Indy 500, crashes at speed in 2003, AND he's looking forward to getting back in a Dallara and going again. Crash.net speculates that if Tony Kanaan is unable to make the qualifying, or the field, that we might see Mario pilot his son's Dallara into the field. Let's just say, I'm skeptical, thought it would be cool to see The Legend back suited up for one more round. (And sorry to say, I think A.J. is just a bit too large to fit in one of these chassis these days. This kind of talk must drive him nuts.)
:: Eric 24.4.03 [+] ::
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Indy Racing Updates:

Dario's motorcycle mishap is more serious than originally thought. He will be unable to race at Indy and most likely he'll miss the June IRL races as well.

Oh, Dario.
Laid your bike down on an old, Scottish road.
(Lord have mercy)
I say, ooooohhhh, Dario.


-My apologies to Van Morrison, there.
:: Eric 24.4.03 [+] ::
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I hope everyone had an enjoyable Easter weekend. My Easter was unparallelled. I'm now an uncle!! My sister gave birth on Easter Sunday morning to a 5 pound, 14 ounce little girl, Meghan Helena Epp. She is so cute and a real blessing to the family. She's a real cutie!!
:: Eric 24.4.03 [+] ::
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:: 17.4.03 ::
It's a light week racing wise. But that's good, because it's Easter. I hope you and your loved ones have a blessed Easter holiday!

Eric
:: Eric 17.4.03 [+] ::
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This week in racing:

Imola, Italy - F1: San Marino Grand Prix. Enzo and Dino Ferrari Autodrome road circuit. Defending champion: Michael Schumacher.

Michael Schumacher & Rubens Barrichello
Ferrari swept the top two spots in last year's Grand Prix of San Marino with its amazing F2002 car



-Photo courtesy of espn's RPM site
:: Eric 17.4.03 [+] ::
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:: 15.4.03 ::
IRL Fantasy Update:

Round 3 of the IRL was a wild crash-a-thon. In the end, it was the closest possible finish. And we have a new winner! The podium looks like this:

1. Texas Two-step
2. Mean Machine
3. Whizzing Wheels


First and second place were decided by a single point. Well, close finishes are a regular feature in the real IRL races, so this type of finish fits. Both Texas Two-step and Mean Machine backed a winner in Scott Sharp and Michael Andretti finished fourth. The difference in teams ended up being Al Unser, Jr. who finished 5th. Mean Machine's results were diluted a bit by the crashes that took out Sarah Fisher and Tony Kanaan. Whizzing Wheels had another steady day at the races: Kenny Brack had an outstanding 2nd place, while Robbie Buhl and Jacques Lazier had just an OK day, finishing midfield.

Looking at the season standings, the top 3 teams are:

1. Mean Machine
2. Texas Two-step
3. Whizzing Wheels


The next race is the big one: The Indianapolis 500, on Memorial Day weekend. Watch this space for all the happenings. Practice, qualifying and bump day make this race a month-long affair, and there will be many different driver announcements that will be made during the next month. I'll try to post my take as things start to happen throughout May.
:: Eric 15.4.03 [+] ::
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Three Stars – Week 9:

1. Michel Jourdain, Jr.: Saturday qualifying gave Michel his first career pole in his 8 years in CART. Then on Sunday he had a stellar run, leading the most laps. If not for an unfortunate gearbox failure after his final pit stop with six laps remaining, he would have had his first career win. Vamanos, Michel.
2. Boris Said: Like the St. Petersburg Trans-Am race, Said spent the race storming through the field. This time however, he came all the way through and scored a Long Beach win.
3. IRL safety crew: It takes quite a few crashes to stand out as a crash-filled IRL event. This week’s race was a crash-filled event. Kudos go to the safety crew, who traveled halfway round the world and put in a busy afternoon at Montegi. Some of the scariest crashes involved Sarah Fisher, Helio Castroneves, and Tony Kanaan. All drivers emerged safely. (OK, Helio was a bit banged up, but just bumps and bruises.)

Oh, and while I’m on the topic of IRL races, I’d like to make one comment: Could someone at ABC change the font style or size of the graphics? For the life of me, at one point I couldn’t tell if there were “58” laps left or “68” laps left. And I was watching it on a 35” TV! I know, I’m getting old, but I’m probably not alone on this

:: Eric 15.4.03 [+] ::
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:: 12.4.03 ::
Interview with The Legend

The folks at seventhgear.com had an excellent interview with Mario Andretti on the future of CART. One item to note in the interview: The door is still open somewhat for CART to return to Road America in Elkhart Lake this year. Let's hope they can make it happen.
:: Eric 12.4.03 [+] ::
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Marlo Klain has a great column of observations regarding the IRL on the rpm website. Go check it out!
:: Eric 12.4.03 [+] ::
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Sure Sign of Spring

Forget anything to do with groundhogs, robins, or even opening day pitches. Nothing says spring is here quite like the sight of Paul Tracy's champ car burning up the lanes at Long Beach. So far,so good for PT, who sits at provisional pole after a dicey Friday qualifying.

Looking further west, kiwi Scott Dixon will start from pole at the now IRL Montegi race. Not surprisingly, he is piloting a Toyota. It's almost a tradition that Toyota spoils the party at Honda's home track. (I'm kinda concerned about it, since my IRL Fantasy team features Tony Kanaan who may start second, but is driving a Honda.)

And what's up with the Chevrolet powerplant? Top qualifier (based on practice speeds due to a rainout) for Chevy is Sam Hornish who will start 13th!?! One spot in front of Sarah Fisher. Seems their best hope is attrition of the Japanese engines and a reliable run for the Chevrolets.
:: Eric 12.4.03 [+] ::
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:: 11.4.03 ::
Brazil GP Update:

Giancarlo Fisichella has been ruled the victor of this year's bizzaro Brazilian Grand Prix (See post below for details). Apparently, the discrepancy was that Fisi had made it to the 56th lap of the race by the time the red flag was waved. As he took the lead a full two laps prior to him crossing the stripe, FIA reversed its initial ruling and declared the Jordan driver the winner. Congratulations (again) Eddie and team!!
:: Eric 11.4.03 [+] ::
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This week in racing:

April 13, 2003

Long Beach, CA - CART: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Long Beach temporary road circuit. 2002 champion: Michael Andretti. Celebrity race, Toyota Atlantic, SCCA Trans-Am also.

Montegi, Japan - IRL: Indy Japan 300. Twin Ring Montegi oval track. Defending champion: (CART) Kenny Brack. Inaugural IRL event.

Martinsville, VA - NASCAR: Virginia 500. Martinsville Speedway. Defending champion: Bobby Labonte.

:: Eric 11.4.03 [+] ::
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IRL Fantasy Update:

Race 3 of the IRL Schedule is upon us. The race from Twin Ring Montegi Japan will be shown on Sunday. Hint: If you want to make changes to your team you have until Saturday to make your changes. Double hint: You can read some of the previous posts on this site to make sure your drivers are going to be in the field this weekend. (Three notable drivers will not be in this race. And one or two new, old names will be in the race this weekend.)

Good luck. And again, I'll recap everyone's performance after the results are posted.
:: Eric 11.4.03 [+] ::
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:: 9.4.03 ::
Dario Franchitti will miss the Montegi Japan IRL race, due to back injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident in his native Scotland. He is said to be recuperating at home in preparation for the May 4 practice for the Indianapolis 500. Dan Wheldon will take his place in Japan.
:: Eric 9.4.03 [+] ::
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Update on Alonso:

Alonso was released from the hospital on Monday. He luckily only suffered bruises on his left elbow, thigh and knee. It looked a whole lot worse, as his car ran over some large debris (a tire and suspension pieces) left in the center of the track following Mark Webber's massive crash. Doctors say Alonso will be able to race the next race at Imola on April 20th.
:: Eric 9.4.03 [+] ::
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Heartbreak at Sao Paulo

What a wild weekend for racing. Forget the NASCAR, restrictor plate, 28 car pileup. When the green flag waved for the start of the Brazilian GP, you knew it was going to be a wild ride. Firstly, because the safety car was pacing the field, instead of the customary standing start. Then after several yellow laps the racing started in earnest. And one thing became clear: there was a lot of water in the tight left turn 3. In fact it was more like a river, reminiscent of Road America during the 2001 CART race. That corner would claim at least 5 or 6 cars by the end of the day.

Another heartbreak was when Rubens Barrichelo stormed past David Coulthard to take the lead. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Rubens won his home Grand Prix, everyone thought? Then a couple of laps later, Rubens slowed and pulled off the road with an expired engine. This reminds me of the old saw from Indy cars: "She runs well, then she runs really great just before she blows up and quits."

The biggest heartbreak of the day went to Eddie Jordan, Giancarlo Fisichella, and crew. Talk about a rollercoaster day. First a front suspension part fails on Firman's Jordan, causing a big wreck that took him out of action. Then you have the strong performance of Fisichella, as he avoids multiple other problems and soldiers through the big puddles and negotiates a drying track. Then he put on a spectacular pass on Kimi Raikonen to take the lead of the race. Next, a red flag for a massive crash that has claimed two cars halts the race just 1-1/2 laps later. Fisichella stops his car and everyone is cheering that Jordan has won the race. (The car that Fisi just exited is on fire, incidentally. The fire is quickly extinguished.) Finally, comes the blow. Under the rules stated in the FIA rulebook, any race that is stopped due to a red flag is scored at the last full lap prior to the red flag incident. This puts the scoring back two laps, when Kimi was still the leader. Fisichella is scored at second place, and Fernando Alonso who was involved in the race-ending crash is scored as the third place finisher. Alonso, meanwhile has been taken out of the field in the back of an ambulance. So on podium and in the press conference was a happy, though confused Raikonen as winner, an understandably disappointed Fisichella as second place, and an empty spot where Alonso should be at third.

Very bizarre.
:: Eric 9.4.03 [+] ::
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Stop the Press!

Fisichella may be rewarded the win after all. There is still a lot of debate going on about the scoring of the Brazilian GP, but a release issued by the FIA states that they have evidence that would according to the rules, re-establish Giancarlo Fisichella as the proper winner of the event. Will keep you posted as further details are disclosed.

:: Eric 9.4.03 [+] ::
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Three Stars - Week 8

1. Giancarlo Fisichella - Despite the rulebooks, in everyone's heart who saw the Brazilian GP, Fisi won the race. Because the race ended under a red flag stoppage, the FIA rules score the race back two laps. This put the winner as Kimmi Raikonen, even though Fisichella put a blistering lap, speeding past Raikonen and then checking out. It was heartbreak to watch as Eddie Jordan and crew learned that their "win" would not hold up after the scary crashes of Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso.

2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. - He's really looking more and more like his father every day. If there's a restrictor plate race going on, it was always Dale, Sr. that could be found running up front. He won the Talladega race 10 times in his career. Given that lately a restrictor plate means "big wrecks", up front is a pretty good place to be. (Actually, Dale, Jr. wasn't at the front on lap 4, and had to run down into the infield to avoid the chaos that involved nearly 30 cars.)

3. Kyle Petty - The name of the game in the Aaron's 499 was to stay out of trouble. When the big mishap on lap 4 took out 28 cars, one car could be seen with the driver hard on the brakes. That driver was Kyle Petty. Later, when Michael Waltrip looped it and almost caused another big wreck, who was it that had to take quick action to avoid calamity? You guessed it: Kyle Petty. Ultimately, Petty would finish 11th, but in a much nicer looking car than it could have been. Most of those cars wouldn't have looked out of place for the end of a Bristol race.
:: Eric 9.4.03 [+] ::
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:: 4.4.03 ::
One more bit of good news for Champ Car:

Pook and company have extended their deal with Laguna Seca, to keep their cars running down the Corkscrew through '04 with options to '05 & '06. If they ever let that track slip away off the schedule, it'll be time to shut it all down for CART. Thanks, 7th gear!
:: Eric 4.4.03 [+] ::
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I Almost Don't Believe My Eyes, Dept.

A press release on the IRL website actually references that other sanctioning body. You know, the one that starts with "C" and rhymes with "art". They gingerly tap dance around them in bringing their Indy car-style "history" to the Montegi circuit in Japan. It's actually a pretty good piece of writing, and includes a great period picture of Jim Rathman in a roadster.
:: Eric 4.4.03 [+] ::
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Danica Patrick is set to make her return to the track where she made herself known, Long Beach. Robin Miller catches up with her (in a sense) in a great piece on the CART website. Want to know how capable a driver she is, ask Tommy Kendall or Sarah Fisher.

As soon as she's ready for the big leagues of Champ Car, Bobby Rahal should get her in a ride. It'll be the best move CART will have made in a long time. Let's get there, guys (and gals)!
:: Eric 4.4.03 [+] ::
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This week in racing:

April 6, 2003

Sao Paulo, Brazil - F1: Brazilian Grand Prix. Interlagos Circuit. Defending champion: Michael Schumacher. [Note: The weather report currently calls for rain on Sunday.]

Talladega, Alabama - NASCAR: Aaron's 499. Talladega Motor Speedway. Defending champion: Dale Earnhardt, Jr.


:: Eric 4.4.03 [+] ::
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:: 2.4.03 ::
Three Stars - Week 7

1. Ryan Newman: Actually, I confess that I didn't see much racing at all this weekend. Due to my attendance at a bachelor party (no, not that kind of bachelor party!), I was quite tired on Sunday afternoon. But in amongst the cat-naps I awoke to see Newman's car making the donuts with a spectacular plume of tire smoke. On the basis of that burnout alone, I would award him a star.

2. Jeff Gordon: From the bits of the race that I did see, it was apparent that Jeff Gordon had a strong car that could have won at Texas.

3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: For the same reason as Jeff Gordon. From the little I saw of the race, I do remember Dale, Jr. racing well and battling for a top spot.
:: Eric 2.4.03 [+] ::
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Robin Miller (who else?) has a great write up on the successes of Michel Jourdain on the CART website. Jimmy Vasser gets a lot of credit for helping Michel turn the corner and become a good racer. Vamanos, Michel!
:: Eric 2.4.03 [+] ::
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