Ah, yes, it's that time again -- my day at the track. I'm pacing myself this year, so my start to the Indy 500 blog is a bit later than normal, but I'll be doing the same thing as every year, sharing my thoughts throughout the day.
I hope you enjoy.
4:27 a.m. My phone alarm goes off. I set three, so of course I got up with the first one. Had I only set one, I would have slept through it. So it goes.
Why do I get up so early and why do we leave so early? It all comes down to what annoys you more -- sitting in traffic or having five hours to burn. We always choose the hours of boredom over the possibility of an overheating car.
5:28 Depart my house to pick up Caine.
5:46 Leave Caine's house. I have to wait up him nearly every year, but I don't really have much moral high ground on this one. On the one hand, we never leave at the time we say.
On the other hand, in 2010, I woke up shortly after the time we were supposed to leave. He's never done that.
I'll keep my mouth shut ... except for talking crap on this blog. No one reads it anyway.
6:42 Parked. We literally didn't even have to stop on the way in, just slowed down and flashed our passes. The guy checking them almost seemed annoyed that I didn't just cruise past.
I'm sorry. I'll try to act more entitled next time.
On the flipside, though, the other Yellowshirts all actually seemed friendly. It must be early.
7:57 An espn.com story previewing today's race is teased with the line "Danica and Dan Wheldon are missing but new stars always race to the front at Indy." Seriously? Even now, Danica gets top billing over Wheldon.
10:10 Sit in on a brief media session with Pete Rose. Not much to say except that Pete hasn't changed (as if I've actually met him before). Still always saying something interesting. He's charismatic if nothing else.
And certainly as a lifelong Redlegs fan, I was geeking out a little bit. Wish I'd gotten a handshake, though.
11:07 The BG reps have made our picks for the day. Esteemed Sports Editor Caine Gardner went with Marco Andretti. I'm picking Helio Castroneves to join the four-time winner club.
Caine said he's going with the Andretti name, but I pointed out to him that the Andretti name is 1-for-60. I just looked it up, and I was close -- it's 1-for-65.
Of course, my pick is kind of self-serving. After Helios' 2009 win, I predicted he'd be the next four-time winner, and possibly the first five-timer. So I'll probably keep picking him every year until he does it or becomes irrelevant.
12:07 Sad not to have Jim Nabors here. Glad we can still have him singing "Back Home Again In Indiana."
Between him and Florence Henderson, though, I was always confused when I was a kid. I just figured you had to be an ex-sitcom star to sing one of the songs before the 500. I just figured that by the time I grew up we'd have Ted Danson and Phylicia Rashad singing every year.
In fact, let's make that happen someday. Anyone but Roseanne.
12:18 The start is always amazing. There's just something about seeing those cars go all out for the first time that's amazing every year.
12:31 Tough break for Dario Franchitti. Then again, he's won this race twice and he's married to Ashley Judd (cue the network's obligatory shot of her). He'll be OK.
12:39 Marco leads. Right now, Caine's pick is certainly looking stronger than mine. My boy is going to have to pick it up. Pretend this is Dancing With the Stars!
1:12 Oh, Tony Kanaan. It may be you who are cursed at this track. A driver can make it back from a lap down, but it isn't easy.
1:20 Will Power's win streak will not reach four. However, the real story of this lap 80 crash is Mike Conway getting airborne against the fence and walking away.
After Dan Wheldon's crash last year, the sport revisited its safety measures and changed things up to completely. No one can really say that he wouldn't have walked away from this wreck in one of the old cars as well, but any time we can advance the safety of racing, it's a good thing.
With the defending champion deceased, I think all any of us really want to see is a safe race today. Let's avoid injuries out there, boys and girls.
1:26 My boy seems a little charmed out there. A runaway tire from the Conway-Power wreck glanced off his right front, but car and driver appear unscathed.
1:52 Whew! Track temp is 130 degrees and rising!
Also, we just got a Wilbur Shaw reference on the telly and it wasn't even from Donald Davidson. Can we get a reference to Troy Ruttman before it's all over? Parnelli Jones? Bill Vukovich?
2:05 The current race leader's name is making me hungry. Rubens -- delicious.
I can only hope he's passed by some dude named Pattymelts.
2:09 With Power and Hunter-Reay out, this is beginning to look like a war of attrition today. Some of these people who haven't looked to have winning stuff so far (like my pick) may find themselves in good positions later anyway. I can live with that.
2:24 I AM SO HOT IN HUURRR!
Thank you, Nelly, for that bit of commentary.
By hitting 93 degrees (air temp, lord knows what the track is up to by now) we've officially become the hottest Indianapolis 500 in history. I'm sure the 200,000 (Ha!) in attendance are thrilled to be part of that record.
Nice to be the air conditioned building, watching it on TV.
I know I didn't pick him, but I dig that dude. Wish I had his hair.
Correction, I wish I had hair.
2:35 This is what the fans want to see. Trade that lead, trade it back. Hope this thing stays this good for the next 40 laps.
2:53 AND IT'S A NEW TRACK RECORD!
Thirty lead changes sets new record for the race. Unlike this blog, today's race has been great.
2:55 A great effort by Ed Carpenter goes by the wayside on lap 180. Glad everyone else was able to avoid him, though.
After this caution, I think the fuel mileage questions will be out the window. Can't wait to see the end of this one.
3:01 TONY KANAAN!
I love that guy too. Don't want to sound like a frontrunner, but this looks like a battle for the lead between two genuinely likeable dudes.
3:03 The curse continues. Marco Out.
Also, this is beginning to remind me of the NASCAR restrictor plate races where the worst place to be late is out in front. No one can hold a lead. Don't ask me to explain the physics of it or anything like that, but this is some crazy racing.
Tony Kanaan isn't exactly in an enviable position on this restart.
3:14 You want to be second coming into the last turn of this race. If your' in first, you're probably in trouble.
3:17 Sato into wall. Game over, Franchitti wins. What was he doing passing so early? Even if things work out there, you're just a sitting duck for Franchitti at the end. He's had his way with everyone coming out of Turn 4.
3:18 And it's official! Dario Franchitti wins his third Indianapolis 500 -- all of them under caution, by the way.
What can I say about today's race? A great guy won. We saw 35 lead changes, a new record by a lot.
As someone who didn't brave the heat, I have to think it was worth sitting in 91-degree temps to see a race this good.
As a sidenote, those killjoys at the National Weather Service have informed us that the official high today in Indianapolis is 91 degrees -- one degree short of the record. At least we saw a great race, even if it didn't get that record.
No one was hurt, and we can all go home safe and happy.
What else can we ask for?