Friday, February 3, 2012

Frenetic Friday -- Near-Cancun Experience Edition

My brain is fried from being in a Cisco training class all week, and what mind I have left is thinking about the plane bound for Cancun that I will be on in about 40 hours. But I figured a few random thoughts might be fun. So here we go...

* Rubens Barrichello was all the rage this week, and with good reason as he tested well at Sebring and left Florida for Brazil in a pretty good frame of mind. I say he will be driving in the IndyCar series this season, and I bet it won't take long for the decision on his part and the business side of KV Racing to get everything together. Big ups to Randy Bernard for making the trip to Florida to speak with Barrichello personally...that's what good leaders do, and I'm sure given the crap Rubens dealt with in F1 Bernard's actions were refreshing and made him feel wanted.

*Not everyone is as excited as I am. John Oreovicz, whose writing I typically enjoy, wrote a pretty sour article on ESPN.com today throwing out tons of negatives related to Rubens joining the series. Of course he brings up how this in no way relates to the same buzz Nigel Mansell brought to the series and talks about how Barichello really isn't that good of a driver because Michael Schumacher dominated Rubens in both wins and points during the time they were in F1 together. News flash: Schumi dominated EVERYONE. And besides, how many times was Barrichello racing under team orders (that usually weren't in his favor) when he was driving for Ferrari? Kind of puts in in perspective. It probably sucked to have a great car only to be told the best you can finish is second.

Then he goes on to talk about how bad it would make the series look if Rubens came on board and had a huge amount of success. I think people are being real in the sense that most would just like to see another good driver in the series, and if a higher media/fan presence comes from that, the better. I'd rather see Barrichello, who can still drive, than some lame ride-buyer. And if he does well, good for him! That's like saying Major League baseball would look bad if Japanese import Yu Darvish won 20 games and pitched Texas into the World Series. Maybe the guy is just really that good?

*And for the question of the day...why when anyone bashes IndyCar they go back to the 1990s? Yes, CART was arguably the world's best racing series at the time, but that was 20 years ago and a lot of things have changed. Personally, maybe open wheel racing doesn't have the star power (which yes I do miss) but I think top to bottom the racing is better. How many cars finished on the lead lap of the 500 in that era, or any race for that matter? The 1989, '91 and '92 races were among the best 500s I have ever seen in terms of finishes, but outside of two or at the most three cars, no one else was in the fight over the last 100 miles. In 2011 a total of 12 cars finished on the lead lap, nine of which led the race at one point, including eight in the final 150 miles.

I was watching the 1991 Milwaukee race a few nights ago (yeah I'm geeky like that) and do you know how many cars finished on the lead lap? Two -- in a 200-mile race! Not to mention only 12 of the 21 cars were running at the finish. Michael Andretti had that race wrapped up with 30 laps to go, and guys like Rick Mears and Al Unser Jr. didn't even make it to the end because their motors went south. Don't get me wrong, I can get as romantic as the next person about that era, but as I posted on Twitter last week: "The good old days weren't always good, tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems." (Thank you Billy Joel)

*Speaking of motors breaking...I've been reading that Honda had a tough time at the Sebring test, and Chevy didn't escape unscathed either, although having TK and Barichello beat on that motor for three days says a lot about its progress. Speaking of, have you seen the video of a lap onboard with Barichello? The guy was in full-attack mode, dude was driving that car HARD. I'm sure that all three manufacturers will have things more together by the start of the season, but it's nice to know that maybe attrition will make a bit of a comeback. While I don't want to see mechanical carnage like the post mentioned above or Fontana, circa 2000, I do hope that maybe having having that variable back into the equation might make the end of races a little more interesting than who has enough gas and who doesn't.

*This week the Super Bowl descends on Indianapolis. I moved away from Indy in 1994, and every so often I look back and wish I had never left. The city has earned rave reviews for its presentation, and with good reason. The organizers have done a fantastic job, and they have also had the good fortune of warm temperatures all week too. What I'm glad to see is how IndyCar has been integrated into the celebration and how is has raised the visibility of the series. Three-and-a-half months ago, the series was at such a low point, and rightfully so. But it's been great to see how the drivers and the track have been part of the week. I thought the NFL-themed Indy cars were really cool too, although Pork Chop got a raw deal being painted in Buccaneer colors! For all the dedicated service he gave, you would think he would have deserved better. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but with the weather the way it was, how cool would it have been to have had a few cars on track for some hot laps? Bring out the media and offer the fans a free shuttle to and from...I'm sure a few of them would have come back in May!

*Final thought. The Danica era in NASCAR officially begins next week at Daytona. I'll admit, while I'm not a huge fan I want her to do well, only to stop the IndyCar-drivers-are-inferior talk. Really, has anyone who has made the jump got this kind of equipment and opportunity? Maybe you could argue Sam Hornish did, but he was never Penske's primary driver in Cup and that showed. Yes, I'm biased, but if you gave a top-level IndyCar driver Jimmie Johnson-level resources, they would show themselves well. Maybe not as well as Five Time, but they would hold their own. I just don't think anyone who has made the jump has gotten a fair shake when it comes to resources and equipment. Danica has both, so I guess we will see.

One other random Danica note...is it me or does she completely look like actress Anna Kendrick? I've thought that for a while (especially since 50/50 was only behind Moneyball as my favorite movie of 2011) but didn't know if I was the only one. Just thought I would share.

Below: Rubens doing work.

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