Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

May 30, 2011

2011 Indy 500 Race Recap

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:44 pm

The Disciple end of May funk has begun to set in. The half a month of May has drawn to a close with another great Indianapolis 500 in the books. I find myself felling very happy for Bryan Herta’s group and Dan Wheldon and very sad about Panther Racing and J.R. Hildebrand. After last lap incidents involving cars running out of gas on the last lap the past two years I might be in favor of minimum speed limits before a car gets yanked. At the very least they need to remove part of the grass strip between the warm-up/cool-down lanes and widen the apron.

The most satisfying aspect of the day was intangible. The first five finishers represented five teams, and none of them was called Ganassi or Penske. That is utterly refreshing. Each one of the five offered a compelling story, especially Tony Kanaan. No one is quite sure what happened to Team Penske, but it is obvious the Ganassi folks out-thought themselves again.

The double file restarts worked mostly very well. Impatience killed the chances of people like E.J. Viso as it usually does. Others, like Tomas Scheckter, used the far outside to pass several at a time and did not wreck. Just amazing.

The field was filled with amazing stories like Pippa Mann, who lost her drinking system on the parade lap but soldiered through to the end despite severe cramping. Simona de Silvestro gave it a go with burnt hands, but her car was not up to the task.

Observations from the stands and after the race:

IMS should stop bending over for ABC in terms of pre-race choreography. It may work for the television audience but not for the people in attendance. In person it is a jumbled mess with zero continuity. ABC, or whoever the next partner is, should work around events going on at the track.

Whoever is in charge of the audio/P.A./sound at IMS should be fired by Tuesday. This is the second year in a row they screwed it up completely at key moments. That is inexcusable. Whether it has to do with Belskus bean counting or not, someone must be held accountable.

Attendance was great. Rebuild stands with more leg and butt room. That will get rid of the empties on the north side and down low along the front. Anyone who questions Indy attendance is stupid. I tried watching the big genital 600 from Charlotte but as I tried to watch that event and by comparison the NASCAR event resembled a slow motion clown circus. Those who obsess over attendance should take note of the colorful empty grandstand seats there.

The national anthem and flyover was great. It was out of the ordinary, respectful and dignified.

Ed Hinton is a blithering idiot. He liked the race but framed it, for the umpteenth year in a row, in the context of ‘the split.’ He once again proved how out of touch he really is. Pundits like him and the crap he writes do a disservice to the sport.

Some drunk a-hole threw a full can of beer onto the track during the race. John Andretti opened it with his car. The yellow shirts did not even make a move to find and throw out the idiot who did it.

Many keep wondering how much Eddie Gossage is fretting about the possibility of the ‘one-off’ Indy 500 winner not having a ride for Texas. We should probably look for that situation to change.

It was great seeing a lot of old friends this month, and really big thanks to Glenn, Tommy, Jimmy and all who made Camp & Brew a success every year in the Coke lot. They had a really nice ten year run, raised a lot of money for a very worthwhile charitable cause, and the future years for those guys will no doubt be way more relaxed.



  1. John Andretti was running up front for a good part of the race, was it the beer can that caused him go 3 laps down? The ABC booth “forgot” to tell us what happened to him (or didn’t know, or didn’t care).

    Comment by Chris Lukens — May 30, 2011 @ 2:37 pm | Reply

  2. Yes, it was a ‘500 for the ages. And the smaller teams conducted themselves splendedly. I hope this will mean more sponsorship for some of them, especially Wheldon, so they can participate in more events this season. My take on the re-starts: Sorry Disciple, but this is one time I disagree with you–they SUCK. It was only by a miracle that there wasn’t a massive pileup each time. Not that it really mattered–they were pretty strung out every time the green flag waved, rather than double file. I read on one blog that the drivers should just rein in the testosterone/hormones during restarts so that they wouldn’t wreak–who are they KIDDING? It was the Indy 500, and they wanted to do the best they could. They’re RACING drivers. Congrats to all who participated.

    Comment by Doug Alborn — May 30, 2011 @ 4:24 pm | Reply

    • Imagine this scenerio:
      Exiting turn 4 Dan Wheldon(previous Indy 500 winner)seeing the crash, slows and drives next to National Guard sponsored Rookie, an AMERICAN, both crossing the finish with Dan finishing a close 2nd. Next year, every year and years from now we would have the most historic, patriotic and memorable finish at the only ever 100year anniversary of the Indy 500. We needed a memory like that, the whole world needed this. What a story: “AN AMERICAN ROOKIE DRIVER IN A NATIONAL GUARD CAR CRASHING ON THE FINAL LAP AND SLIDING TO VICTORY with the former 500 winner by his side giving the thumbs up to let him cross first!”. It could have been great. Now when our kids ask about the centineal event, we can say, “it was just another race, Dan W. won it again”. Such a shame…

      Comment by g t barnes — May 30, 2011 @ 8:09 pm | Reply

      • And after they did that, Wheldon and JR could have sat down on the yard of bricks, held hands, and sung Kumbaya together. Please.

        It’s the Indy 500. Not the Indy 499 3/4. Hildebrand hit the wall and crashed. Period.

        Also, it wasn’t like he dominated the race. He got off-sequence in pit stops, managed to pit during the last yellow, and took advantage of the fact that the other leaders (Rahal, Kanaan, Dixon, Servia, Danica, Scheckter, even Wheldon) all had to pit during the last 36 lap green flag run.

        Your suggestion is like saying Little Al should have pulled aside for Goodyear in ’92 so we would have had a worst to first story, or Hornish should have eased up for Marco in 2006 so we could all remember the story about Mario’s grandson, Michael’s son, the 19 year old rookie winning the 500 and ending Andretti curse.

        The whole world needed what? A contrived joke of a finish? I think if you posed this suggestion to Dan Wheldon (or any other driver in the field faced with the same choice), the ‘up’ gesture wouldn’t be with the thumb, it would be with the digit on the right hand located two to the left. And you know who else would have given you that finger up? JR Hildebrand. You actually think he’d WANT to win the race that way? Again, please.

        People wouldn’t remember the race for an American rookie winning. They wouldn’t remember the race for the National Guard car winning. They’d remember the race for Dan Wheldon making a joke of the tradition and competition that is the Indy 500. (And Dan Wheldon would likely remember it as the last race he ever drove in IndyCar. Sponsors tend not to pay money to guys who give up opportunities to win the Greatest Spectacle in Motor Sports.)

        What will we tell our kids? Maybe we can stress the importance of finishing what you start. Of if you fail 500 yards short of the goal you still fail. Hopefully we will be able to tell them ‘Well, JR would have had x+1 wins in the 500 if he hadn’t crashed back in ’11’. As long as we don’t have to tell them Dan Wheldon tanked it to give a guy who didn’t earn it the win, I’d be cool with that.

        Finally, I don’t know what race you were watching this Sunday. But it sure as hell wasn’t the Indy 500. Because the finish of THAT race sure as hell wasn’t ‘Just another race’.

        Comment by Steven Kornya — May 31, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

      • This is a parody comment, right?

        Comment by The Speedgeek — May 31, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

      • Speedgeek: I took his comment seriously; hence the reason for the righteous indignation. If it WAS a parody/joke, I must have missed the humor. Oops. My Bad.

        Comment by Steven Kornya — May 31, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

      • No, no, no, sorry, Steve, this is a casualty of the delay on the “reply” on here, due to comment moderation. My reply was to the original comment, not to yours. Sorry if it sounded like I was being snide in response to your comment. If I could have seen your complete destruction of the original, I wouldn’t have bothered with my snark, because you’d have had it covered.

        Though I do stand by my observation that anybody who could suggest such a thing as Dan Wheldon lifting off the throttle to allow somebody else to win the 500 because it’d be a nice “feel good” story AND who could make the claim that Sunday was “just another race” must be making a backhanded slap at the idiots out there who could make such a claim for real. That or the commenter is not real bright. It’s one or the other.

        Comment by The Speedgeek — June 1, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  3. A point of clarification: Rahal drives for ganassi, and they reordered the race as a result of the last yellow with Dixon in fifth. Not to sound nitpicky.

    Comment by the american mutt — May 30, 2011 @ 6:58 pm | Reply

  4. What is the big genital 600? Never heard of a race called that?

    Editor’s Note: That is my pet name for the 600 mile NASCAR race at Concord. It refers to the inferiority complex NASCAR has traditionally had about the Indianapolis 500, staging it the same day while copying most of the pomp, then calling it original to themselves.

    Also, were you in the Costco store on Michigan Rd in Indy around 3:15pm this past Saturday?

    Editor’s Note: Not that I remember. My last Costco receipt from that location shows my last physical appearance there occurred May 24th around 3pm. Primary purpose of the visit was to stock up on Wyman’s frozen wild blueberries, Morningstar Farms fake sausage patties (Kellogg has really screwed up that brand since they acquired it, adding all sorts of unnecessary artificial ingredients to what began as a viable alternative for vegans like my wife), and some other supplies for my race day smoker fare. This year that consisted of moist, tender turkey breast, brined in sea salt and apple cider, dried, then rubbed with Rudy’s before slow smoking to 160. It was the biggest hit of the post-race family get together.

    Comment by TroyM — May 31, 2011 @ 2:01 am | Reply

    • It seems to me that it is you and your fellow IMS bootlickers that have the inferiority complex. You and your ilk are always bringing up that Nascar is copying things and taking credit for it. So what pomp did they copy and how did they claim credit for it? Or was it just your bitterness and envy that came up with all of that?

      Editor’s Note: ‘Bootlickers?’ Classy. Where do I begin on the copying? Flying starts. Pace cars. ‘Gentlemen start your engines.’ Qualifying. Famous people singing. All those began at Indy. There is little bitterness. Just fact.

      Comment by TroyM — June 1, 2011 @ 12:14 am | Reply

  5. I have to disagree with you on the double wide restarts. I thought they were a farce. Our seats were in Stand H which is just past turn four on the main straight. The cars began speeding up before even going into turn four. By they time they got to us, still a good 200 yards or more from the start/finish line, they were usually strung out, except for two or three drivers who were really trying to follow the rules. I thought a number of drivers should have been penalized.

    I thought it was a terrific race, especially as Team Penske and Target Chip had a lousy day (love the fuel management Chip, keep it up!!!)

    That and watching Dale Jr. run out of gas at the Coca Cola 600 made for a excellent Memorial Day Sunday. Oval racing never looked better.

    The only downer on the day was some poor kid who fell out of the stands from the Paddock into the side walkway. We said a prayer for him but I am afraid he was badly hurt. Heard nothing about in the media but we hope for the best.

    Comment by Bob F. — May 31, 2011 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

  6. Bob F, that was the area that was agreed upon to go green for the double file restarts. A less dangerous area than turn one.

    Comment by Robin Mueller — May 31, 2011 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  7. A few other thoughts on the Centennial ‘500–after the Andretti/Foyt driver switch fiasco, it hardly seemed worth it, since RHR only finished 23rd, three laps down. Did anyone notice his name wasn’t even mentioned during the race? Also, what a TERRIBLE race for Roger Penske. I have a suspicion that Ryan Briscoe’s days with him maybe be numbered. In a perfect world. Roger would hire Wheldon, or Tomas Scheckter, or even rehire Paul Tracy, guys that can get the job done and not botch it so much. Probably won’t happen, but it’s great to think about.

    Comment by DOUG — May 31, 2011 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

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