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Article:Racing Roundup, July 21, 2008: Lucky Dogs and Catfights Edition

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I have returned with Racing Roundup, but have a new format. Rather than just recapping races, I will share my thoughts as well as a few related news stories as well.

Formula One

  • For the second race running, it has been domination for Lewis Hamilton. After lapping all but three cars at Silverstone, he continued his good run at Hockenheim. He won the pole and led the majority of the race. It looked like failing to pit under the safety car would be his undoing. However, even after pitting under green his car was significantly stronger than Felipe Massa's. Piquet was easy pickings considering his pit strategy.
  • Good job by Nelsinho Piquet to pull out second place, albeit through winning the pit stop lottery. For those who didn't watch, Piquet was pitting during Timo Glock's accident, thus meaning he did not have to pit under the safety car nor at the time Lewis Hamilton did. He was actually the race leader with 10 laps remaining, but could not hold up Lewis Hamilton enough to score the victory. I'm not sure if this will guarantee him his seat with Renault next season (he really didn't race his way to second), but it probably helps the cause.
  • What happened to BMW Sauber? It seems like since finishing 1-2 at Canada, the team has not been as competitive with Ferrari and McLaren. Also, Robert Kubica, who has been the stronger finisher so far this year, has been shown up by Nick Heidfeld the last two race weekends. It'll be interesting to see if this is a sign of things to come, or just a temporary issue.
  • Red Bull got a break with Coulthard's retirement, since it let them claim Sebastian Vettel before any other team could. With that prospective promotion, the silly season has officially begun for drivers.
  • This is a couple of weeks old now, but dropping Silverstone kinda sucks. That track is history for Formula One. If there is a silver lining to moving the GP to a renovated Donington Park, it means we'll be spared "Will this be the last British Grand Prix?" stories for a good eight years or so.


  • Congrats to Ryan Briscoe and Team Penske for the job at Mid-Ohio. It's Briscoe's second win of the year and certainly means he'll be back next year. His performance post-Indianapolis has been spectactular, with two wins and a pole. Better yet, he's gone from 18th in the points to 5th. Choosing to pit Briscoe off-sequence was a great move by Roger Penske. Mid-Ohio is a very difficult place to pass at, and the alternate strategy paid off.

With Helio Castroneves finishing second, Penske had its first one-two weekend since Phoenix in 2005 (Personally, I would not have figured it to be that long ago!). It was a fantastic weekend at Mid-Ohio for Penske all around, since its American Le Mans team finish 1-2 in the LMP2 class.

  • I also want to applaud Justin Wilson for his race too. He also ran an off-sequence pit strategy which provided him with a 20+ second lead on the main contending cars prior to his next pit stop. However, just prior to that happening Milka Duno spun in the Carousel and stalled on track to bring out a full course caution. Wilson lost his advantage, then spun out on the restart when his wheels touched those of Mario Dominguez (a lapped car who had promised Wilson safe passage around him, but failed to deliver) to fall a lap back. He fought hard to get back on the lead lap and finish 11th.
  • Since I'm writing about the Mid-Ohio race, I guess I should comment about the Danica-Milka affair. For those not in the know, the two got into a heated argument over the weekend. It happened during a practice session, when the significantly slower Duno did not give room for Patrick to pass. After the session ended, Danica went down to the Dreyer & Reinbold pits to have a word with Milka. The following is what happened:

By every right, Danica had reason to be mad at Duno. As the slowest car in the field, Duno should not be impeding other drivers. It doesn't matter whether it's Danica, Scott Dixon or Ryan Briscoe. If he or she is significantly faster than Milka, than she should be giving them room. However, Danica is also wrong in her approach. Like her march down pit lane at Indy, she again shows a lack of tact when it comes to express frustration with other drivers. She should have attempted the conversation in private. While Milka claimed in interviews post-incident that Danica "said bad words to me," I didn't hear them myself until after Milka had thrown a towel at Danica and ran off. This brings up a big issue: Milka should not be driving in this series. She is always slower than everybody else, and only gains positions when people crash out of races or have mechanical issues. While her and her sponsorship were helpful when car counts were low last year, they are not necessary post-merger. While writers (especially Robin Miller) and Ashley Judd have been openly critical of her, this is the first glance we've ever had at another driver airing out those issues, albeit unintentionally.
  • Next week should be a very interesting week for the series, as they will be racing at Edmonton. While an airport circuit is usually more pro-passing than a Mid-Ohio, it also represents the best opportunity for ex-Champ Car drivers (in this case, I'm not talking about "transition" drivers, just those who ran Champ Car last year). This race is the only one this season which will be run by both IndyCar and Champ Car drivers where the Champ Car drivers have explicit experience on the track. Oriol Servia, Will Power, Justin Wilson, Graham Rahal, and Bruno Junqueira all ran here last season. Indeed, the only pre-unification IndyCar driver who has run at Edmonton is Ryan Hunter-Reay, who ran in the inaugural Edmonton race in 2005.
  • Actually, add to that list of drivers with "explicit experience at Edmonton" one more: Paul Tracy. The Canadian ex-CART champion has joined Vision Racing for the Edmonton race. Despite being one of the bigger names in American Open Wheel Racing, Tracy was shut out when his team Forsythe Racing did not join the IRL. Of drivers active in AOWR, he has the most career wins (31). The signing should be a boost to Vision Racing, who struggles on "right turn" races since neither Ed Carpenter or AJ Foyt IV is good on them. It's also a boost to the event itself, since it means there's a Canadian with a legitimate shot at a strong finish (as opposed to Marty Roth, who'd only score a top 10 if 16 cars crashed out).
  • Another AOWR vet will be running again in a couple of weeks. Sarah Fisher, the IRL's first regular female racer, has procured sponsorship from Dollar General to run at the two remaining oval races at Kentucky and Chicagoland. Fisher was last seen at Indy, where the driver-owner was left devastated after being collected by a Tony Kanaan crash. She is one of the fan-friendliest drivers out there (for example, fans who donated money to her team at Indy were giving pieces of wreckage as thank you presents), so having her back is good news.

Congrats to...

  • Valentino Rossi, who won the MotoGP race at Laguna Seca this weekend. He has solidified his lead in the points championship over defending champ Casey Stoner.
  • Carl Edwards, who won the Nationwide Series race at Gateway Speedway. The Sprint Cup Series had a rare weekend off this week, so it's the big win in NASCAR.
  • Johnny Benson, who won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway. With his win he vaulted into first place in the series.
  • Giorgio Pantano and Karun Chandok, who won the GP2 Feature and Sprint races at Hockenheim respectively. Romain Grosjean had intially won the feature race, but was penalized by race officials and finished second. Pantano now holds a huge 15 point lead in the series championship.
  • Raphael Matos and James Davison, winners of the two Indy Lights races at Mid-Ohio this weekend. Davison was the luckiest driver of the entire weekend (this includes Nelsoninho Piquet) when on the last lap race leader Jonny Reid for no good reason pulled into pit lane rather than cross the finish lane, gifting Davison the victory.

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