The Missed Shift – Running a Marathon

2014-Indy500_05-25-14_023_RaceDay

I know I’m not the one that reveres the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend as a holy day. It is the single greatest day of racing, encompassing the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and Coke Zero 600. I love all three races for what they are, and each is a challenge that is unique with their genre.

Monaco is antiquated and woefully ill-suited for the style of racing that is modern Formula 1.  But it’s history, it’s glamor and the money keep the circus coming back.

Indianapolis is…  well… Indianapolis.  Nothing more needs to be said.

The Coke Zero 600 is the longest Sprint Cup race on the schedule. Charlotte is fast to begin with, and the added 100 miles stresses the motors just that much more, making reliability a question.

Doug and Mike are in Indianapolis. I saw Tab post a zero-dark-thirty Pagoda drive-by photo to Facebook, so they are already parked at the Speedway.  Their day will be long and enjoyable, albeit in a completely different way.

Just for fun, let’s run through my day of race watching. All times are Central.

5:30am
I woke up, fed the cat and started the coffee. I turned on the big TV to see some hunting show.  Sarah woke up, ignoring me and running for Mommy. I also took this opportunity to move my laptop for chatting and cellphone (for the F1 Android app) to the comfy chair in the living room.

6:15am
Pre-race is on and we’re enjoying blueberry muffins.  Thanks, Kelly!

6:30am
A moment of anxiety as I change to the local NBC affiliate.  Last year, the Houston NBC station didn’t think the Houston market cared that much about the Monaco Grand Prix, so they aired local programming and infomercials.
All is good this year.  I’ll enjoy pre-race as I refill my coffee.

6:50am
The session started on the F1 Mobile App.  One thing about the F1 app, is that it sucks battery like no tomorrow.  I made sure my phone is fully charged last night, but I have it plugged into an electrical outlet.
Honestly, it’s the one downside to this app.I realize that my phone’s WiFi is off. The F1 app moves a crap-ton of data during a session, so I quickly exit, enable WiFi and restart it.

 7:00am
The race broadcast starts. I see the F1 Mobile app showing the indicator for team radio, but there’s no audio. There was no team audio during qualifying, either.  It’s a bummer, but not that big a deal.

I’m taking precautions and plugging my laptop in before the lights go out.  We can’t have any battery mishaps this day.

7:03am
Lights out!
Everyone goes through Turn 1 cleanly!
A safety car on lap 1, because Perez crashed in Mirabeau.

7:10am
Watching replays, Kimi Raikkonen had a fantastic start.  I’d like to see him do something similar on this restart.
Back to green!

Kimi grabs a podium position as Sebastian Vettel drops back.

7:16am
Vettel retires with gearbox problems and I need more coffee.

7:25am
The race is in commercial break, and they show the cool thermal camera on someone’s front tires. It always seem that the FiA feed seems to show that footage on the feed when the US partner is in ad break.
More coffee.

7:40am
Adrian Sutil loses it before Nouvelle Chicane and the Safety Car comes out.
Lots of games being played in the pits makes for some excitement, at least.

8:05am
I’m impressed with Massa’s pace, considering he’s on Pirelli supersoft red tires that have over 40 laps on them.
The battle for the lead hasn’t really heated up, with Nico keeping his teammate at arm’s length behind him. The gap is hovering at about one second.

8:15am
Leigh Diffey is on about the battle for the lead, but I’m watching Felipe Massa run down Kimi Raikkonen for the final points-paying spot as Jean-Eric Vergne goes kablooie.

8:25am
The NBCSN commentators are going on about Bianchi possibly getting Marussia their first finish in the points. But he may get a 5 second stop and go penalty for serving a prior penalty during a safety car period. Oopsie!

8:35am
Marussia must be crushed. Jules Bianchi gets the 5 second penalty, so no points for them.
Lewis Hamilton says something is in his eye. There are a lot of jokes that can be made here.

8:40am
Ten laps remain and Ricciardo looks to be running down Hamilton for second. Hulkenberg appears to be holding up Magnussen and Bianchi hasn’t served his penalty.

8:50am
The final laps and Hamilton’s Silver Arrow has more speed exiting the tunnel, so Ricciardo can’t get close enough to make a move in the Nouvelle Chicane. It’s exciting stuff heading into the final lap.

8:55am
Despite the exciting scrap, Ricciardo holds third.
Bianchi finished 8th, but never served his penalty, so it’s probable that position won’t hold. Your top ten finishers before penalties are handed down:

  1. Nico Rosberg, Petronas Mercedes
  2. Lewis Hamilton,Petronas Mercedes
  3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
  4. Fernadno Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari
  5. Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India
  6. Jensen Button, McLaren
  7. Felipe Massa, Martini-Williams
  8. Jules Biance, Marussia
  9. Roman Grosjean, Lotus
  10. Eric Magnussen, McLaren

Pre-race for the Indianapolis 500 starts in about two hours, so I’ll have time to grab a shower and a glass of orange juice to help balance out all the coffee.

10:35am
I’m showered and dressed.  Indy pre-race is on, and I’m settling in for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

10:42am
Do they really need to bring up Hildebrand’s final corner disaster during driver introductions? Way to rub salt in the wound, Indianapolis.

10:48am
A friend in the chatroom shows me this tweet, and we all have a good laugh.

10:54am
I just read the news on the Formula 1 website about the fate of Jules Bianchi.

A strong run by Jules Bianchi made up for one penalty when both Marussias were deemed to have been out of position on the grid, and with the attrition he scored Marussia’s first-ever points with eighth, but with a five-second penalty to be added post-race for taking that first penalty under the safety car, he fell back to ninth behind Romain Grosjean’s surviving Lotus which was only 1.4s adrift. Nevertheless, it was a great effort from the Banbury-based team.

So Marussia scores points for the first time.  Good on them.

10:59am
Can I get an AMEN!

11:05am
LeeAnn Rimes nailed The Star Spangled Banner.
Doug & Co. I hope that was as impressive in person as it was on TV.  I’ve still got goosebumps.

11:06am
Helio Castroneves is doing Celebrity Wife Swap on ABC. He is changing with Tyler Burkhead.

Drivers to your cars!

11:10am
ABC did an amazing job mixing the current drivers and cars into classic footage to create an introduction for the ages!

11:14am
Back Home Again in Indiana
It won’t be the same without Jim Nabors.  He’s sung it for every Indy 500 I can remember.

11:16am
That was a touching gesture asking Jim Nabors to give the command to start engines.

Engines are firing!

11:22am
The Verizon onboard has a crap signal. How can you not find that amusing?

11:25am
GREEN FLAG!

It looked like James Davison and Ryan Briscoe touched in the back of the field of of turn 2.  James Hinchcliffe leads for now.

11:30am
I couldn’t resist:

11:35am
James Hinchcliffe gives up the lead to draft behind Ed Carpenter and save a bit of fuel.
Early strategizing?

11:45am
Lap speeds indicate they’re all in cruising mode to save fuel.
Nearly everyone is running laps in in the 217mph range. Ed Carpenter’s onboard shows him very comfortable and driving smooth.

The leader pits on Lap 29.

12:04pm
They’re getting really racy for one-quarter into the race!

I see some drivers really working out the draft.  I’m sure they’re seeing how well they can slingshot and where they should make a move to win the race. Marco Andretti had a great run and passed both Will Power and Ed Carpenter in the same lap to take the lead. The crowd showed their appreciation.

12:11pm
Tony Kanaan finally released after a 43.4second pit stop. He appeared to have a problem with the rear wing.

12:35pm
Lap 100 – Halfway
It’s amazing that the race has been run caution-free!

Scott Dixon and Juan Montoya are both getting great fuel mileage. Helio Castroneves says his car is handling well in traffic as well as clean air.

Ryan Hunter-Reay leads at halfway, followed by Castroneves and Andretti.

At this point, nobody stands out as a clear favorite.

My theory that ABC/ESPN hate motorsport gains momentum as ABC goes to commercial at the halfway point in the race.  Admittedly, it’s not their most notable of foibles, but it’s just one more thing to add to the laundry list.

 

12:43pm
Montoya and Aleshin had a moment. Aleshin is a “f****** wanker”, apparently.   The onboard cameras that ESPN3 offers include team radio communication. You can have one onboard, two or four.My four onboards: Pagenaud, Montoya, Carpenter and Castroneves.

12:54pm
Lap 124 and Montoya has a distinct advantage with some great fuel mileage, assuming the race stays green.

12:59pm
Montoya is hit with a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit lane! He needs a caution to get back into the race at this point.  What a shame!

1:10pm
One lap shy of 3/4 distance, Charlie Kimball looses it at the center of Turn 2, touching the outside wall and bringing out the sole caution to this point. He’s not hurt, and drove the car away.

The caution will bunch up the field, bringing Montoya back into the mix after his penalty. Things are about to get interesting!

The record for the fastest race is last year, with an average speed of 187.433mph. We’re well on pace to beat that record.

1:34pm
Scott Dixon was my pick to win, and he lost it int he center of Turn 4.
In the same corner, Martin Plowman got into the back of Josef Newgarden and sent him off.

1:41pm
Ed Carpenter is livid with James Hinchcliffe after trying to go three wide into Turn 1 and taking them both out. Somehow Townsend Bell, who was outside, made it through there unscathed.

1:54pm
IndyCar called a caution for debris and Townsend Bell hits the wall on the exit of Turn 2.  There’s enough debris to warrant a red flag.  They’ll clean up the debris and have a shootout for the last few laps.

2:06pm
The red flag was longer than originally thought, as they needed to repair the SAFER barrier. Two minutes till engines fire.  We’re looking at a 6-lap shootout.

Fans in Charlotte get to watch, too, apparently.

2:18pm
You can’t ask for a better finish! I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and I think I held my breath the entire last lap!

Congratulations to Ryan Hunter-Reay for a hard-fought victory. Andretti Autosport has been fast all month, and this win is hardly a surprise.

Now I just need my adrenaline to subside!

4:00pm
I’ve settled down and recharged a bit.  I don’t usually watch NASCAR RaceDay, but I made the exception and changed it moments ago from Men In Black. I’m curious to see when Kurt Busch arrives at Charlotte and how he feels, especially after finishing 6th at Indianapolis.

At this point, I’m 10.5 hours into this.  I figure there are probably another 5 hours left with NASCAR pre-race and the entirety of the Coke Zero 600.

4:45pm
Some in the racing chatroom I frequent are watching Blancpain GT Series at Silverstone. I don’t follow it, but it’s another example of why this weekend.
In addition, the Isle of Man TT, which I would argue is the ballsiest racing on the planet, starts this weekend.  I know a practice session was canceled yesterday due to fog and rain and that there’s nothing on-course Sunday.

5:05pm
It’s the second time I’ve heard Taps and the Star Spangled Banner today. Maybe it’s because of Memorial Day. I don’t know, but I’m more moved than usual.Maybe it’s the Apache Gunships that made the flyover in Charlotte.

5:13pm
Despite the technical issues, it is pretty cool to have the command to fire engines from the International Space Station. Leave it to NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway. I think Bruton Smith’s son or nephew has taken over as promoter, and it’s clear Bruton has taught him the business well!

5:22pm
Green at Charlotte!
A chat buddy referred to Monaco as breakfast, Indianapolis as lunch and Charlotte is dinner.  I’m cool with that.

5:25pm
Princess Sparkle Pony made a smooth pass around Brad Kezelowski for second, and she’s running strong, at least early on. Good for her, but someone gag Darrell Waltrip if she challenges for the lead.

5:50pm
It’s at this point where I mostly lose interest in a NASCAR race. Jimmie Johnson is out front, and Fox goes into commercial.  This is a long race and we’re only 58 laps in.

6:19pm
The first caution, 109 laps in. Fox came back from commercial and there was a yellow flag with no explanation. There’s still 3/4 of this race left and I’m only paying loose attention, putzing on Jalopnik mostly.

6:56pm
The second caution for David Gilliland smacking the wall on lap 164. A lot of focus was on his right front tire and a replay shows him shooting up the track into the wall. That has to be a scary feeling.

7:03pm
Kurt Busch being fed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during pit stops is somewhat interesting. Watching Jimmie Johnson eat whatever from a zipper bag in his car is not.

7:59pm
261 laps into the Coke Zero 600 and Kurt Busch has a shock problem and thinks the motor is going south. Apparently, teammate Danica Patrick also had a motor problem and it looks as if Mr. Double Duty is bitten by the same bug.

8:40pm
Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have had motor failure. All three are Hendrick power. Does it mean anything?
Ask me in about 80 laps.

OK, Dale Jr. doesn’t have a motor issue.  It was something else.

9:14pm
The top four have been there pretty much all night. As they head to the pits for the final time, it all boils down to whether the crews do their jobs properly.  Once it cycles out, it will be about 20 lap sprint to the finish.

9:30pm
And the checkers fly over Jimmie Johnson, which is hardly a surprise.

So it’s bedtime for this race fan.  It’s been a great day of racing.  But the sandman is beating me senseless. I’ve only been keeping this rolling for sixteen hours.