Random Thoughts On Texas

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What started out looking like it was going to be a crash fest, ended up something of a snooze fest – by Texas standards, anyway. When Graham Rahal got squirrelly coming out of turn two on just the second lap, collecting EJ Viso and Milka Duno in the process; it looked to be a long night for the Delphi Safety Crew.

When the race went back to green, who knew it would be lap 150 before there would be another yellow? And what about that yellow? I always get a little suspicious when there is a caution flag for debris, yet we are never shown the debris or told where it is. And why on earth would it take more laps under caution to clean up debris that we never saw, than it took to clean up a three-car pile-up? The IRL has got to do something about the extra-long yellows.

Ryan Briscoe dominated at Texas like he did at Milwaukee and Kansas, but again – he came up short, finishing second for the second week in a row. Of course, he did come away with the points lead. When the final set of pit stops were completed and Castroneves wound up in front, there was no point in following the front of the field. Like the last stint at Kansas and Indy, the cars up front played follow-the-leader to the checkered flag. What racing there was, happened from fourth place on back.

Credit Helio Castroneves for the win and doing what he had to do to get out front and stay there. Also credit Scott Dixon — not so much for finishing third, but for having the guts to complain about the lack of racing. He went on to say how the cars are too identical and that this is the way it will be until they loosen up the rulebook. Good for him! Ganassi’s Mike Hull has been saying that all season.

This is why I labeled this a snoozer. There was decent racing in mid-pack but it certainly wasn’t great, especially when compared to what we used to get at Texas. I literally used to either stand up while watching this race, or mostly sit on the edge of my seat. This year, I was kicked back and don’t think my heart rate jumped at all. I hate to be so negative but I was really looking forward to this race. I thought this could be where we would not see the usual parade of red cars up front. I was wrong.

Not warm & fuzzy at AGR: One of the better drives of the night was Marco Andretti. After starting eighth, Marco made his way up to second before a yellow came out and he pitted. On the restart he fell back several spots. He was in a clean battle for fifth with Danica Patrick for several laps toward the end. Once Marco finally got by Danica, he ran off and left her and actually passed Dario Franchitti for fourth, before the checkered flag fell. However, that Andretti feeling of entitlement reared its ugly head again after the race. Marco complained openly about Danica not giving him the position. He then got in a further dig at his teammate by saying that “I think three of the four of us get what the camaraderie of Andretti Green Racing is.” It made me wonder why Marco doesn’t enjoy the camaraderie. Tony Kanaan, playing the role of elder statesman, said they would have to discuss thing later, over the dinner table. while inferring that Marco needed to cool down. I wonder whose side Michael will take in this spat. To be continued…

Sub-par evening for Versus: While still doing a much better job than their rivals at ESPN, I felt like Versus took a step back at Texas. Jan Beekhuis and Robbie Buhl were actually better than ever, Robbie Floyd, Lindy Thaxton and Jack Arute did an excellent job covering the pits, but the usually solid Bob Jenkins was not on his game. I almost had the feeling that somebody told him he had to show more excitement in his voice. In all the years I’ve been listening to Bob Jenkins, I’ve never heard him growl into the microphone like he did several times at Texas. He was also guilty of WAY over-hyping the race, which he has never done. His strength was always his understated delivery – sort of like Pat Summerall doing an NFL broadcast. Whoever is giving him the bad advice, needs to back away and let Jenkins do what he has done best for over twenty years.

I was also disappointed that Versus never showed a single replay of the AJ Foyt IV crash, which was only the second of two crashes all night. They were away at a commercial when it happened, which certainly couldn’t be helped – but they failed to show one single replay when they came back. Then, instead of interviewing him they just relayed word that he’s fine.

Another embarrassing moment was the amateurish use of the “booth-to-driver” hookup during a caution. These things rarely work as what happened Saturday night between Beekhuis and Kanaan. When they do overcome the technical difficulties, it comes off as an awkward exchange between the booth person and the poor driver. These produce about as much meaningful dialogue as the obligatory interviewing of a college football coach hurrying to the locker room at halftime. Someone in a production meeting probably thought this would be a great idea on Thursday. FOX does this on NASCAR and it usually involves Darrell Waltrip carrying on a one-sided conversation with a driver who either can’t hear him or chooses to ignore him.

Red cars, again…almost: Marco Andretti broke up the Penske-Ganassi stronghold near the front, with a good move past Dario Franchitti for fourth. Of course, Dario wasn’t really driving a red car. This week he gave the Energizer bunny its first loss in four starts for this livery. In fact, Dario has only been in the Target car only twice this season. I wonder why he is rotating all of the different paint schemes around this season while Dixon stays in the familiar Target red.

Although I’m pulling for Helio to win the championship, something he’s never done…I would like just a little variety this season and have a car from another team besides Penske or Ganassi in victory lane. Maybe AGR or Panther can come up with something for Iowa.

George Phillips

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One Response to “Random Thoughts On Texas”

  1. I’m with you; I’ve asked the TV screen and friends numerous times “why on earth would it take more laps under caution to clean up debris that we never saw, than it took to clean up a three-car pile-up?” I wish that I had a dollar for every time that I ranted that IRL needs to get it’s act together.

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