Tuesday, May 25, 2010

(Not) Too Much Time on My Hands

As I am currently scurrying about finding this and packing that, I leave a brief post following my qualie predictions and a 'sayonara' until after the race. 

One bit of perfection. One perfect pick out of 33 plus. If you read my previous post you'll find I had Alex Lloyd pegged into the 26th spot. Nailed it.

The rest of the field? Ahhhh... not so much.  Missed the pole sitter, missed 4 of the First 9, had 3 missing the field that actually made it, had 3 making the field that missed, and ended with 32 drivers in the wrong position. Stellar.

Regarding the trip, all seems to be going to plan and the weather has changed dramatically since a week ago.  The sultry 80s have returned to Indiana with high humidity, bringing with it the increased chance for pop-up thunderstorms. Still, the preliminary forecasts show mostly sunny all weekend long and moderate cooling in the evenings. Very temperate, very excellent for the campers, very excellent for me.

I wish you all a great Memorial Day weekend and hope you'll be near a TV, Radio, or XM Radio to catch all the happenings of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, live. 

One of my favorite parts of the run-up to the Green Flag is the Invocation which requests that God watch over the drivers, the mechanics and the crews (in several languages). So, in the words of Archbishop Daniel Buechlein (fractured and spelled as phoentically as I could decipher froma n audio file) I bid you... "Calebundu ba abec du, mega gote siebe gleiten, ku me ten, vayee con dioose, kamigo noga kigoka aryu mat so gan, dio de guida, vaya con dios, godspeed."

PS  I will stand by a prediction made prior to qualifying despite his not starting from where I thought. My prediction for the win (aka kiss of death for the victory) goes to Mr. Graham Rahal, from the inside of Row 3, not Row 4 as I had earlier predicted.

Godspeed indeed,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm better than ESPN

I'm better than ESPN.

I'm better than ESPN or ABC or Speed or any other mainstream media outlet because I'm willing to stick my neck out and make grand predictions regarding qualifications for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 with nothing to gain and everything to lose regarding my intelligence and credibility. In the odd case that I get that one thing in eleven correct, I will tout my brilliant soothsaying but I will also temper it with the cold, hard, facts of my percentage.

At any rate, here's my analysis of the top 25 of 38 current qualifiers IN ORDER and BEFORE it all goes down.  Remember, you heard it here first: 

Top Shelf (9):
The Pole (AKA Master of the Obvious selection) - Penske car, I'll go with...  Briscoe.

The Top 9 - Briscoe, Dixon, Castroneves, Franchitti, Kanaan, M. Andretti, Power, Wheldon, Moraes.

Mid-table Obscurity (16):
Rahal, Matos, Tracy, J. Andretti, Wilson, Scheckter, Mutoh, Patrick, Carpenter, Bell, Hunter-Reay, Fisher, Hamilton, Conway, Meira, Viso.

And here is where it becomes interesting...
Perhaps the tension of who will not make the show is more compelling than who wins the pole, but simple math will tell you that with the current 38 entries, 5 will be bumped.

I have grouped 13 entries that fall below the 'level of comfort' in terms of recent experience, skill, equipment, Karma, or whathaveyou, placing them in jeopardy come next Sunday, ranked in order of most likely to least likely to be bumped. 

Danger Drives (5):
1.  98/98T unknown - CURB/Agajanian/3G - A wily veteran will drop in on the second day to surprise a few folks and sneak into the field? Only if it's Rick Mears. Nahhh, nevermind.
2.  18/18T Duno - Dale Coyne - This will be the beginning of the end for this driver in IndyCar.
3.  29/29T Saavedra (r) - Bryan Herta Autosport - some experience via the Firestone Lights, but this is the team's initial race effort on the biggest stage no less - tall order.
4.  36/36T Baguette (r) - Conquest - simply not enough experience and team has no major sponsor to assist with 'motivation' on qualifying day.
5.  34/34T Romancini (r) - Conquest - also a Lights grad, but will just miss the field.

---------- Bump Line ---------- 

Bump Day Drama Queens/Kings AKA Survivors (8):
6.  25/25T Beatriz (r) - Dreyer/Reinbold - similar to other Lights grads, better team.  Will be close, but just enough to squeeze into the field.
7.  66/66T Howard (r) - Sarah Fisher - Will survive by the skin of his teeth (as long as he keeps it off the wall).
8.  78/78T DeSilvestro (r) - HVM - Simply enough talent on a decent team to survive a nervy rookie qualifying weekend.
9.  33/33T Junquiera - FAZZT - Karma sees this man through into the field this year, provided Tagliani survives first day qualifying safely. This ride could evaporate if rumors about funding are true.
10. 41/41T Foyt IV - Foyt - Will appear fairly safe on second day, but time will slide down the charts, a bit too near the precipice for his liking.
11. 5/5T Sato - KV - Is a rookie like the Lights grads are 'rookies', but with a better team and skill. Must keep it off the wall this week.
12. 77/77T Tagliani - FAZZT - Was in last year only because the team owner installed him in Junquiera's qualifier. Will be determined to not be that close ever again. Still will be too close for his liking.
13. 19/19T Lloyd - Coyne - The former 'Pink' will have some work to do without a teammate capable of assisting when things get tight. Experience will see him through. 

Qualie Caveats:
A. Any car in the above list that ends up in the wall will place extreme pressure on that driver. In that case, I'd drop a driver 3 places closer to the bottom in the above ranking.

B. Sponsors who've written big checks hate to not make the show, so often another driver is brought into a struggling seat in hopes of making the race. We know that the 98 machine will need a driver, and I wouldn't be surprised if another driver steps into one of the Conquest cars at a minimum.

The pool of quality drivers with recent experience isn't terribly deep: Servia, Doornbos, Sharp, Phillipe, B. Lazier, Simmons, Bernoldi, Rice, Camara, J. Lazier, and Manning are among the most recent.

Well that's pretty much it.  I leave judgment to the march of time. Best wishes for the remaining month and I will likely have just one more post before signing off and heading to Indy for the race.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May means Indy

The annual running of the Kentucky Derby signals me that May has risen, giving warmth and sun to the midwest (at times at least), and May will set with the Indy 500 weekend.

Most you already know how that first indelible Indy experience has set me on this path of fandom, but for those who haven't heard the tale, it resides here as the second of a two-part post in this journal and also a more general view of it here, and then there's a whole bunch of Indy posts that begin here and follow through the month of May 2009.

May has arrived, my camping passes and race tickets are in hand, and my group is ready. Save for the serious build-up of qualifying, loading up our campers, and departing our beloved Goshen, this is the time of quiet anticipation - passing the next two weeks by pretending to be occupied with other things, all the while hearing the sounds of Mays past.  Sounds like the warming of the engines, an immense crowd's ambient din, Tom Carnegie's voice, Jim Nabors singing, the Purdue band, the Command to start engines...  and the sound of a little second hand tick-tick-ticking a steady pace, which reminds me I am a little way from being in my seats.

I enjoy reading other's posts regarding their first Indy experience and what it means to them.  I find mine has similar meaning and having that shared experience at totally unrelated times shows the depth of what the Indy experience means. I also find a kinship present with those people whom I've never met. 

It truly is a great experience from my youth and one that I appreciate more as time goes on. I intend to take my kids to their first raceday in the next two or three years, before they've developed that teen tendency to reject all things their parents like. With any luck, my kids will get half the enjoyment from it that I will, and, if that day leaves them with the lifelong impressions I had, I've done my job as a father.