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INDYCAR: What We Learned (Motegi Edition)

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MOTEGI JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 19:  A general view of racing during the IndyCar Series  Indy Japan 300 on September 19 2010 at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi Japan.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
MOTEGI JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 19: A general view of racing during the IndyCar Series Indy Japan 300 on September 19 2010 at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi Japan. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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It seems that most of my best ideas are belated ones. Like, say, adding fleshwound_NPG as an official POV contributor with only two races to go in the season.

Fortunately, who knows whether this "What We Learned" feature will be a good idea or not. I don't even know, and I'm writing the damn thing. (This, perhaps, gives you the readers a bit of a bigger look into my process than I cared to reveal.)

But anyway, here goes - and when we reach the end you can let me know if it's something that's worth continuing or not.

  • Japan Likes IndyCar Racing.
    Like Spinal Tap and Jimmy James, it appears that IZOD IndyCar Series racing has a much more dedicated following in the Land of the Rising Sun than it does domestically. Witness the enormous crowd, which - even if it were composed of 80% Honda employees with free tickets - has to be one of the biggest crowds of the entire IndyCar season outside of Indianapolis. And even if the tickets were free, people still had to show up... something that is by no means a certainty here in the States.

    And if their highly contagious enthusiasm wasn't apparent in the way that they mobbed the paddock and freaked out when Helio climbed the fence, the natives certainly proved their spirit with what could quite possibly be the most epic engine start command ever given anywhere.

    If you were hoping that Haiku Tuesday would ever go away, you're now officially out of luck.

    、日本本当にありがとう。(Thank you very much, Japan!)
  • VERSUS needs to give the Charles-worship a rest.
    Security Chief Charles, the acknowledged Shaft-esque master of IndyCar security, does not need us to remind him how awesome he is. Like Chuck Norris or the atomic weight of praseodymium, he is a universal constant.

    Having said that, the fawning over him that exploded on Twitter and other social media to great effect seems a bit much on VERSUS. It's more like fan service, which makes me uncomfortable because VERSUS is supposed to be putting on a show for mass consumption, not be the broadcast equivalent of a Star Trek convention.

    Acknowledge the memes, but don't make them recurring bits. Leave that to the hard-cores on Twitter, where it belongs.
  • Just when you think you're out, she pulls you back in.
    Danica Patrick's 12th place qualifying run - especially in the context of her teammates' close grouping on the grid - seemed to add fuel to the argument that she is at best struggling and at worst phoning it in lately.

    But nobody can deny that she threw all that in everyone's face in the race, where she marched to the front and stayed there all day. It may not be a performance equal to her 2008 win but in some ways it was more impressive because of the context - and the fact that she didn't "back into" that strong run through strategy or by other drivers' misfortunes.
  • 2012 can't get here soon enough.
    In the 16 races contested this season, only four drivers have been able to break the stranglehold that Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi have on the series in any fashion: Justin Wilson and Ed Carpenter with pole positions at Toronto and Kentucky respectively, Ryan Hunter-Reay winning at Long Beach, and Tony Kanaan's Iowa victory.

    All the rest of the trophies and awards reside either with the Captain or the Chipster. Dario Franchitti wrapped up the AJ Foyt Trophy for the oval track championship with his runner-up at Motegi, while Will Power blitzed the field for the Mario Andretti Trophy for road courses. The 2010 championship will be decided at Homestead, but the top five spots are monopolized by the three Penske and two Ganassi drivers.

    Next year will only be more of the same. And to think that there are some IndyCar owners not named Penske or Ganassi out there who think that the status quo is desirable...
  • The KV Racing saga has officially eclipsed "train wreck" status.
    When Mario Moraes demolished his car midway through the Indy Japan 300, we were all worried because he needed a back-board and a stretcher after he was extricated. Thankfully, Moraes was checked out and pronounced fit (albeit very bruised). The same can't be said for KV Racing's bank account.

    There are whispers this morning that the repair bill at KV Racing - which by now exceeds the GNP of several third-world countries - might have been a contributing factor to the part failure that sent Moraes spinning into the wall. I'm not sure I buy that, but there's no question that either KVR is keeping Dallara in business with new tub orders, or their current inventory is being held together with spit, baling wire and duct tape.

    One thing is certain: a train wreck would likely be cheaper.