Live Blog – Bombardier Learjet 550k At Texas Motor Speedway

This is a live blog I did of the Bombardier Learjet 550K IndyCar race Saturday night at the Texas Motor Speedway. For other blogs of the race, and My Name is IRL ( also blog every race on the IndyCar circuit. Enjoy.

Good crowd tonight at the Texas Motor Speedway. Grand marshal, Shaquille O’Neal gives a rousing “Ladies and gentleman, start your engines.” We have 24 cars starting in tonight’s Bombardier 550K with Target Chip Ganassi’s Dario Franchitti on the pole. The “red cars” of Target-Chip Ganassi and Team Penske dominate the first two rows. Danica Patrick is the first of the ‘other’ cars.

VERSUS is the television network of choice. Bob Jenkins mans the booth with Jan Beekhuis and Robbie Buhl flying as his wingmen. In the pits its ironman Jack Arute joining the young dynamic duo of Robbie Floyd and Lindy Thackston. Questions for tonight-Can Danica win? Can Wheldon & Panther contend? Will Anthony (A.J. Foyt IV) & the #14 crew show up tonight? Can Mario Moraes keep improving? Should be fun !!! Is it just me or is this pre-race segment entering NASCAR lengths? Do they know it’s after 9 p.m. on the East coast? Wow, that is a good crowd, see Eddie (Gossage, track president), you don’t need the date after Indy, it belongs in Milwaukee.

Green flag, its Dario on the point as Tomas Scheckter makes a wild move on the outside. Lap 2, we have cars spinning down the backstretch. Looks like Graham Rahal may have had a soft tire as he had a major wiggle coming down the frontstretch. Two turns later, coming out of two, Rahal wiggled again, spun and collected E.J. Viso. Before the duo hit the inside wall, they collected Milka Duno. However Duno drove her damaged car to the entrance of the pit lane. Looks like everybody got out of their cars ok.

Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt IV and Scheckter made some nice moves to move up in the field. Lap 10, restart with Franchitti in the lead. Wow, they show Rahal’s wadded up car, the crew will have a lot of work when they get back to their shop in Lincolnshire.

As Briscoe leads on lap 27, they’re lapping Jaques Lazier in the 3-G car. I remember about ten years ago when they would start lapping cars before lap 10. However, I’m getting concerned with the single-file racing. Lap 50: Briscoe leads Franchitti by 1.0710 seconds.

Lap 55, everybody starts making green flag stops. They come back out like they came in. Briscoe, Franchitti, Dixon, Helio and Wheldon. At this point of the race it continues to be a lot of single file racing as drivers occasionally peek out to put some air on their front wings. Rookie, Mike Conway spending a long time in the pits with gearbox problems. Dixon passes Franchitti on lap 74 for second place. Lap 93 and the leader Briscoe is about to lap the 10th place car of Raphael Matos, now known as Rafa. Brings back memories of when Alessandro Zanardi became, Alex.

Lap 100, Briscoe has an eight-second lead on Dixon, he’s is the zone. Marco Andretti invites himself to the Penske-Ganassi party by passing Helio for third on lap 136. Lap 148, Briscoe leads Andretti by 11 seconds. Hey, NASCAR yellow? Officials said there was debris in the racing line in turn four. This is interesting, no footage of debris, however the race sucked. Those who hate NASCAR will criticize it. However they had to do something. Maybe Brian Barnhart should call it “take a breather time-out.”

Scramble off of pit lane as everybody pitted. Tony Kanaan’s Andretti-Green Racing crew short filled the Brazilian as he beat Briscoe off of pit lane. Kanaan is back on the lead lap. Briscoe sees his eleven second lead vaporize and coming off of pit road sees an eleven (Kanaan) in front of him. Frustrating.

Green flag on lap 159. Briscoe leads Helio. Lap 164, Helio is right behind Briscoe to challenge his teammate. Helio grabs the lead on lap 175. Foyt IV hits the inside wall coming out of two. No replay on telecast.

Restart lap 182. Good racing, however the top-four remain static. Good racing between Danica, Wheldon, Marco and Kanaan. Wouldn’t it be better to take a commercial break during the last caution? Wasn’t like they were showing a replay of Foyt’s accident

Lap 200: #3 Castroneves leads #6 Briscoe by .2358 of a second. This is frustrating. No passing, but the drivers seem to be trying everything. Best battle on the track is Danica and Marco with Kanaan an interested observer.

Ten laps to go, VERSUS is running commercials, a few years ago I would be throwing stuff and ranting. Tonight-not so much.

Castroneves wins the Bombardier Learjet 550K by .3904 of a second. Helio becomes Spiderman and climbs the fence for the cheering fans. Nobody tries to stop him this time. Wow, how incredibly frustrated is Ryan Briscoe right now?

1. Castroneves, 2. Briscoe, 3. Dixon, 4. M. Andretti, 5. Franchitti, 6. Patrick, 7. Wheldon, 8. Kanaan, 9. Carpenter, 10. Moraes

Post-Race notes: This one says it all, Briscoe, “It was so evenly matched that it was so hard to pass. It was frustrating knowing I was going to come in second,” “It’s bitter when you come so close and it falls away”

Dixon, “I think when you got close to people you were matched with in speed, there was no such thing as racing. It was follow the leader, you could draft up, you couldn’t use the high line like you used to. All the cars I think, whenever they’re placed in a race, are so close on speed that you just can’t do anything. Maybe they need to look at opening up the rules a bit more so we have a bit of racing here again.”

Helio, “First time when I jumped in a car at Long Beach, I asked if this was a dream and (Tim Cindric) said it was reality. It certainly feels like it’s a dream, but I understand that it’s not. And that’s good news. Team Penske did an incredible job today. It was an incredible day for Team Penske. All the credit also goes to Ryan Briscoe and his team. They push us, and we push them, and together, we’re pushing towards the top. Having first and second at Texas is not easy, so that’s a compliment for everyone.” (About passing for lead in the pits): “In the beginning of the race, we were saving fuel, but you’re also trying to figure out what your car is doing and that what I was trying to do. The car was loose, and there were some moments out there. But we figured out what to do and great pit stops the guys put me up front. In the end it was 50 laps and full throttle. It was the toughest 50 laps that I had to go through, but we held it together.”

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