Thursday, July 13, 2006

There's a Joke In Here Somewhere...

Ed Carpenter apparently made a "joke" about Danica. Offensive? Not to me. Unfunny and predictable? Definitely. On the other hand, apparently Dani doesn't think that Eddie's much of a character. Says she: "No big deal. Ed is a really nice guy. There's no drama there. I think it's funny. I'm glad he's showing some personality." In other words, "Who are you again? IRL driver? I don't see you much out there, and you don't get many interviews..."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Back By Unpopular Demand

My faithful readership (OK, Pablo) has pointed out that I haven't posted in quite some time. It has also been pointed out that one or two things have happened in the racing world since mid-June. I suppose that's true. So, here's what all three of you have been waiting for: The 'Geek's Take On a Wacky Month!

Firstly, yes, I knew that A.J. Allmendinger would go on a three-race win binge after getting picked up by Forsythe. That is why I arranged with Jerry himself to send me 20% of all of "Ding-Ding's" winnings for the duration of his contract in return for my insistence that A.J. get put in Dominguez's car. The only problem is that they still don't have a contract together. Oops. An oversight on my part. Possibly my deal with Dale Coyne for 7 cases of Sonny's Barbecue Sauce when Jan "Van" Heylen wins the championship in 2007 will work out better.

Secondly, I've got to backtrack to the USGP for a moment. I did not go this year, and that wasn't any sort of a protest or boycott so much as a lack of desire to spend a few hundred dollars on the weekend to watch a Renault whitewash. See, I really am a prophet! On the other hand, I was able to enjoy from home the unquestionable highlight of the weekend: Derek Daly's pre-race gridwalk. "I'm looking for Scott Speed right now. He's...not here. Might be in the bathroom. Moving up the grid, maybe Jenson Button is around... Hmmm. Nope. OK, Flavio surrounded by Italian TV. OK, Felipe Massa...looking for Massa...probably in the bathroom. These drivers pee quite a bit before the races..." F1 grid:1; Daly:0, in a perfect game shutout. High comedy. And for the icing on the cake, a near fisticuffs with Martin Brundle when they almost headbutted when going for a word with Bernie Ecclestone. Daly's best moment of the decade. As for the race itself, I doubt that Ferrari will maintain that pace for the rest of the season, but I'm pulling for them to show up at Magny Cours this weekend with a one-off gold paint scheme to mess with the French after the World Cup finale last weekend. Maybe invite Zizou into the garage for qualifying or something. Just something to keep things interesting before Alonso remembers how to win and rips off 6 straight to close out the season.

Thirdly, Montoya to NASCAR. Just a hideous decision. I know that there are all sorts of things that make this look like a great decision on paper: NASCAR has been looking for a marketable Latino driver, Juan is looking to get paid (which he couldn't manage in any other series in the world, short of Euro or German touring cars; all the ChampCar and IRL teams are either broke or full, F1 would have been a drive-for-nothing deal for next year with Toro Rosso), he's a fantastic natural talent who has shown considerable range in learning new cars and tracks, he's great on cold tires which will come in handy in stock cars, and he's even got a wife and kids who'll probably be happy going to the races in the NASCAR-standard 200-foot RV. He'll make a boatload of cash, regardless of results, but I just can't see this working out to more than a few Robby Gordon-style road course wins and oval top-5s. I'll just say that Juan is probably my favorite active driver (with Jimmy Vasser ostensibly retired), but I don't think that this will work when all of the Cup (and Busch and Truck) guys have been in that game since they could walk and Juan's never driven anything with fenders (except for the much-ballyhooed Tradin' Paint episode, during which Juan looked on the verge of dozing off due to boredom). He won't be a Christian Fittipaldi, Michel Jourdain or Anthony Lazzaro-level disaster, but I think that come April 2008, Juan is going to wish that he had just lobbied Chipper to run a third car in the IRL for him. Unless there's an out in his contract that allows for that when open wheel reunites...

Fourthly, Danica to NASCAR. Please. I like Dani, but she has not won a race since the Toyota Pro/Am race at Long Beach about 5 or 6 years ago. She hasn't quite come to terms with an IRL car yet to the point where she can run up front (she's helpless in the lead, and legitimately sucks at restarts), and those are flat-out all the time on most tracks. She could probably drive a Cup car, given a year or three in Busch, but I could not see her winning a championship there. Re-read my comments for Juan, and substitute in Dani, if you need to. This is not meant to be a ringing endorsement of NASCAR's claim that they've got the best drivers in the world, just the fact that those guys are bred from birth to drive stock cars. Same as Brazilians are bred to drive open wheel cars. Frankly, I just see this as an attempt to drive up Bobby Rahal's price on her next contract (no other IRL team is a realistic option for that bluff; Penske and Ganassi are full, Andretti will probably be a 3-car team for Marco, Dario and TK next year, everybody else is nowhere). She'll be back with Rahal, mark my words, unless Tony George hires her for Vision's 6 car team next year to keep car counts at 18.

Fifthly, Jimmy Spencer is a dumbass. "[NASCAR] definitely [has] the biggest fan base in the world as far as the driver's are concerned." Funny. Possibly he hasn't heard that there are 17 F1 races that run outside of the US, and that the folks in Europe (and Asia, Australia, Africa and all of the other countries in the Americas) have something of a passing interest in the sport. I think I also remember hearing him say a few years ago that Toyota would never be competetive in stock cars. Well, he got that right. Oh, wait, they've won 6 of 13 races in Trucks this year and their drivers are 1-2-3 in the points. Almost got that one, Jimmy.