With respect to Bill Simmons for using his idea, I've decided to keep a Brickyard Diary to chronicle my day at IMS. The Sports Guy need not worry, though. My diary will doubtless lack wit or any sort of insight. It will just be my own bit of indulgence.
3:45 a.m. I wake up. No, this wasn't part of my plan. I don't know why I couldn't sleep Saturday night, but I'm none too happy about it. With me likely working until midnight, I can tell it's going to be a glorious day.
6:45 Caine and I leaving Greencastle. This is early for a 2:30 race, but we do what we can to avoid the traffic fiasco of the 500…
7:45 …Apparently we didn't avoid the traffic fiasco of the 500.
9 In our parking space. Not nearly as bad as the 500, although over and hour to cover about 10 or 12 blocks is frustrating. I wonder if the Banner will spring for an airlift next year? I can't speak for Caine, but I'd be willing to repel. They don't even have to land.
Now what am I going to do with myself for 5 and a half hours?
10:30 Solution 1: Take a nap. I did lack sleep last night.
OK, I can't find enough shade in the infield to make this one work. At least I got to listen to another hour or so of Bob and Tom.
11:22 Solution 2: Eat lunch. I have to give the track big props for this one. They treat us pretty well. A quality lunch is a great thing to do for people who put in these long days promoting their race. Thank you, IMS.
Noon Solution 3: Wander pit lane. I forgot to read the pass properly. The Yellow Shirt at the gate tells me "No short pants."
Rules are rules, of course. I can respect that, and I should have read my pass better. But, really, who says "short pants?" What is this, 1936? That's just surreal.
And also, why did the woman ahead of me get in with capris? Maybe I'll wear capris next year.
1 p.m. Solution 4: Write a ridiculous blog. Looks like we have a winner.
1:10 p.m. Kyle Busch on the telly. Caine said he'd read an article recently about how the younger Busch is more like Dale Earnhardt than is Dale Jr. I can see what they're saying, but don't tell the averaging NASCAR fan that. They hate that cat.
I wonder if it would help if Busch went Giambi and grew an amazing 'stache like the Intimidator's? That little soul patch ain't doing it.
1:23 On the subject of high-quality facial hair, I just realized I'm going to miss the Goose Gossage Hall of Fame enshrinement. I can live with that, of course, but I don't like missing that. On most good years, I bawl my eyes out without shame. When those guys start talking about how proud their parents would be, I can't hold back. It's moments like those when I am most proud of my career. It isn't a completely trivial pursuit.
And besides, I've spent the last several years so mad that Goose wasn't in yet that I really don't want to miss this. In honor of the pine tar game, I hope George Brett makes a mad dash toward the podium during the Gossage speech. I can't get enough of that highlight.
By the way, I don't even remember Billy Martin, but I still miss him whenever I see Yankee highlights of that era.
1:36 What do they do with all the pace cars and other official vehicles after the race is over? They're always new, so they don't keep them until next time.
If anyone in power is reading (I know you aren't.), I have no pride. I'll take a free Corvette.
1:38 These fans really hate Kyle Busch. He elicits louder boos than Jeff Gordon. I never thought I'd see that day.
1:49 I just read an article that said Curtis Painter is popping up in Heisman conversations this year. IN WHOSE HEISMAN CONVERSATIONS? I guess I don't watch close, but for all I knew, the QB job was up in the air at Purdue this year. It has been for every year since Drew Brees graduated.
If Curtis Painter wins the Heisman, then this blog should get me the Nobel Prize for literature.
2:12 "Gentlemen, start your engines."
Let's rock 'n roll, fellas.
2:20 And so it begins. It always gets me, though. It's very strange to be here, where the race is going on live. And yet, I'm sitting her in the media center watching it on a five-second delay.
2:22 Our windows overlook pit lane and the front stretch. I always forget how dizzy it makes me to try and watch all the cars go by. The excitement of seeing the race live is always mixed with a slight feeling of nausea.
2:25 Michael Waltrip wrecks. Poor guy couldn't even make it to the competition yellow for those awful tires.. I don't know if the tires were at fault, but that's where my bet lies. I just wish someone would give Goodyear some competition. I think the threat that teams might jump ship to Hoosier or Firestone or anyone else would go a long way toward ensuring better tires. It's a sad state of affairs when you have to take a "competition yellow" after 10 laps.
What's competitive about a caution flag? Nothing at all.
2:41 Another incident. Now a former race champion (Kevin Harvick) and series champion (Kurt Busch) will be laps down. If big names keep getting taken out of contention, there will be a lot of drivers and fans robbed of a good race by bad tires.
2:50 We've completed 17 laps in a half hour. If this keeps up, we're looking at a 4 hour and 42 minute race.
3 This is like a bad joke right now. Why should teams be having to take their second pit stops at lap 30? I guess at least I can see pit lane from our windows. That's the only place there's going to be good action at this point.
3:05 Tony Stewart on TV as the "on-track reporter" for ESPN. I'm deeply disappointed he didn't use this opportunity, live on the air, to once again disparage Goodyear and its tire. That would make for quality television.
3:21 Matt Kenseth just wrecked because of… I'll let you guess what. I'm starting to get the feeling that we're all on candid camera and their going to roll out the real tires and run the race tomorrow.
The joke's on us. Ha, ha. You're funny, Mr. Goodyear.
I get the feeling we're all on Candid Camera. Smile, everyone!
3:30 Sam Hornish is the lucky dog for the second straight caution. Shouldn't there be a rule that you don't get it two times in a row? If you squander one opportunity, why should they give you another?
'I'm sorry, Mr. Hornish, but you screwed up your chance. Next taker please?'
3:55 Greg Stucker from Goodyear was just on TV. He talked about the problems with the track and the problems with the Car of Tomorrow. But you know what he didn't blame? The tire. Big surprise.
Apparently the buck stops elsewhere with Goodyear.
4:08 I'll be positive for a change. I just had the chance to watch the action in the pits, and I'm impressed. The drivers get the bulk of the credit, but without a good crew, the best driver is nothing.
I especially respect those guys today because it's a hot day, and through just over half of the race, they've already been over the wall as many times as they should expect for a normal race.
The various pit strategies (two or four tires, pitting just before the caution to grab the lead, etc.) are the one interesting aspects of this I've seen so far.
4:33 Does anybody else remember that line Randy Quaid's character made in Days of Thunder? The one about a monkey and a football? Unfortunately, this tire situation could have the whole sport looking that way.
I wonder if this was what it was like to be at Miller Park in the 11th inning of the 2002 MLB All-Star Game? You just knew Selig as going to make a monumentally bad decision. And he didn't disappoint.
I once again have that feeling of impending doom…
4:45 I'm glad Richard Childress and Joe Gibbs can be more positive than I. If I were a car owner, I don't think now would be a good time for me to be interviewed on TV.
5:20 We could get a decent end of the race yet. My biggest worry now is my deadline. On the one hand, it's still a little more than six hours away, but getting all the info I need after the race isn't easy. (I do have a story to write, too.) And then we have to either wait for the traffic to thin out or fight it.
It's kind of rough when your entire sports staff is at one event.
5:40 Stucker comes to the media center to face us rabid reporters. I have to give the guy credit, he really took his lumps. He didn't go so far as to say, "It was our fault," but I think Goodyear would fire him for that. He does try to move forward and find a solution.
"We're going to try and do what we need to do to make it better," he said. "We'll probably test here before the end of this year so we can get a leg up here."
5:51 Jimmie Johnson claims the victory. For all the trouble this race saw, he had the best car all day. At least something turned out right.
7:04 Story is done for now. Time to brave the traffic and hope for no competition cautions on the way home.
(Hats off to our lead pre-press operator for that joke. You're the best, Lyle.)