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Honda Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg: Stream of Consciousness Live Blog

Ryan WordenFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2010

ST PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 27:  (EDITOR'S NOTE: A VARIABLE PLANE LENS WAS USED IN THE CREATION OF THIS DIGITAL IMAGE)  Graham Rahal, driver of the #67 Dollar General Sarah Fisher Racing Dallara Honda drives during practice for the IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St.Petersburg on March 27, 2010 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Alright, I had to set the alarm to wake up in time for the race. (I am a student after all). But we're good to go now.

The start of the race is delayed slightly because they are going with a dry race. 

All the teams are switching to slicks now. 

AJ Foyt was just interviewed, and he said Vitor is using black walled tires because they last longer. He basically called the red ones junk that wear out after 10 laps.

START YOUR ENGINES!!!!!!

Cars rolling out.  ABC/ESPN already into their third commercial just 18 minutes into coverage—I miss Versus. 

New Danica commercial, followed by Tony Kanaan attempting to dance—not sure which was more awkward.

Milka spins on the pace laps; no contact and it looks like they are refiring her.  CITGO should really be ashamed of themselves for throwing money at her.  Goodyear (Scott) gives Milka the award for spinning in every practice/qualifier this weekend…congrats?

Last pace lap, fireworks going off down the front stretch—pretty cool.  20 push to passes today for 12 seconds each.

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GREEN GREEN GREEN!!!!

They make it through the first turn ok (quite shocked). TK dropping back a bit.

We have a pair of local yellows—Conway and Franchitti—which leads to a full course yellow.  Dario gets refired; not sure if he did any damage yet.  He has been having a bit of trouble all weekend, but he has generally been fast.

Conway is rolling too, he is right behind Dario now and looks much more racy.  Andretti moved up to third before we went yellow.

Matos pits for fuel—looks like they made a wing adjustment too.  Franchitti and Conway are in.  Dario has slight wing damage, but not enough to change the nose. 

Back to GREEN!

Marco inhales Dixon; he's up to second and looking good, really pushing Power.  He goes inside and takes the lead. 

Marco Andretti leads his first laps of 2010, and Power drops to fourth.  Dixon goes inside of Marco to take the lead.

Five laps in, one caution and two lead changes…cursed entertaining race! 

Vitor is moving up a bit and looking fast, while Foyt's magic is working.

Milka just displayed as P8 on the timing and scoring; timing and scoring is clearly not working.  Helio dive-bombs Andretti for second.  Going to commercial after seven laps, and not even side-by-side coverage.

Watching Ryan Hunter-Reay-vision while ESPN decides to show commercials for things I could care less about. 

Danica is 22nd and way off the pace, she hasn’t had speed all week.  She told her crew she is being too conservative—she is 30 seconds behind the leader.

Milka is out of the race.  She did not wreck; she parked it with "handling" issues.  As in, I don’t know how to drive an Indy car.  She made it 12 laps and was about to be lapped anyhow.

Briscoe comes in to switch to blacks on lap 13.  Foyt said he only thought the reds were good for 10 laps or so, and Briscoe started in the back.  Dario just hit the fastest lap of the race, but he is awfully far behind because of his spin. He needs a yellow for a chance to catch up.

Another seven laps, so of course we need more commercials.  New IZOD commercial with Hunter-Reay—I still have no idea what these are about.   

We come back, lap 18, just in time to see Will Power out-brake Marco Andretti.  Next lap and Power goes by Castroneves—looks like he is returning to dominance.

Sato is running ninth.  De Silvestro up to 11th, but she still hasn’t been on TV.  Danica is basically only faster than Milka and she has warranted plenty of TV. 

Alex Lloyd drops out of the race with a suspension problem.  He has had bad luck with that car both weekends now.  They need to get some boy scouts working on the car to get it prepared better.  Danica will now finish at least 22nd.

Wilson takes Kanaan in turn one; all this passing on road courses is really getting annoying.  Rahal pits—he was 15th when he came in—and they haven’t had the setup all weekend but are working on it. 

Seriously, not even four laps on TV before we go to commercial again—I really miss Versus.

Vitor Meira up to 10th.  Master Foyt demands more.  Back to TV, missed three laps for commercial, slightly more than we saw during the last run.

We have a crash!!!  Takuma Sato is into the tires in turn four.  Replay shows it was because of pressure from Meira, so he locked it up and hit the tires.  He’s out of the car; he made 354 turns today, which is exactly 354 more than he made in Sao Paulo. 

He had been complaining about how much grip he was losing on the radio.  Anyone with Sato in the crash pool gets paid! 

Back to commercial—pits are open.  Everyone who hasn’t pitted yet is coming in under yellow, so anyone that dropped a lap should be back on the lead one. 

Hunter-Reay picks up three spots in the pits.  Vitor Meira stayed out for some reason and looks like he may have taken the lead.  Sato’s Lotus car is on the hook, still a good looking car.  ESPN confirms that Vitor did take the lead by staying out. 

Uh…that might be the most disturbing Danica commercial yet…an old lady creating a Danica style video (I’m guessing few visit to see the rest of that one).

Vitor started on black tires, so he must have enough confidence in them to keep running 'til the fuel runs low.

Vitor just got waved around the pace car, which doesn't make sense.  Romancini got the wave around and Vitor went with him.  Ha!  They are slowing him down to find the pace car, so, of course, more commercials.

Rahal moved up to eighth because of the pit cycle…we’re going GREEN again! 

Franchitti up to third and we have a bunch of different strategies for the pits now.  Tons of passing on the restart, Dixon already around Rahal.  Helio dive-bombs Rahal for position; any other driver and that might have been a t-bone situation.

And Dixy gets too racy!!  He tried to get under Moraes and clipped the wing.  It's obstructing his view—this can’t end well.  Moraes has a flat as a result. 

I had Dixon finishing 3rd in this one, which isn’t looking good anymore. 

Target getting ready to change the nose.  TK needs to have his wing changed too.  Andretti in, too.  There must have been some debris out there.

Vitor gives up the lead and pits.  Lap 35 of 100.  He sticks with the black tires.  Not sure why he didn’t pit during the yellow a minute ago.

Rafa Matos currently leads—he started 23rd. 

Franchitti doesn’t look like he will let Matos lead for too much longer.  This is a crash waiting to happen.  Vitor back out in 17th after the pit stop. 

Dixon in 18th despite losing a wing—wow.

Matos in to pit.  Franchitti takes the lead, but he has not pitted since lap two. 

Lead cars are spread out because of pit strategies, but there is a huge pack that used to be the leaders, and it is good. 

Morares is holding up the long train of cars, though.  He is a lap off.

Dario pulls in to pit, and Briscoe inherits the lead as a result.  Helio is looking really fast at the moment, just in time for ESPN to pull out some more commercials. 

Seven different leaders already. 

Moraes is getting the move aside flag waved at him violently, but he is still not moving aside.  Literally only went 1.5 laps that time before going back to the green flag.

Commercial…anger rising in blood.

Moraes finally moves aside.  It turns out we have a full course yellow: someone is in trouble in turn one. 

It's Mario Moraes and Dan Wheldon.  We could see some fireworks here.  They just showed the replay, and it was Wheldon’s fault.  He locked up the brakes going into turn one and hit Moraes pretty hard as he prepared for the turn.  It looks like something broke on the National Guard car for Wheldon.

Moraes was slowing down the front stretch to allow everyone to get by and it cost him.  Danica moves up as a result.

The pits are open, which helps Briscoe a ton because he was way off on his pit strategy and about to come in under green.  It seems like the breaks always go to Penske and Ganassi. 

Half the cars come in, half the cars stay out. 

Better replay shows something broke on Wheldon’s car—his right rear tire was not on the ground, so he could not slow down.  It looks like it broke on one of the big bumps on the front stretch. 

Power, Wilson and Viso stayed out and are 1,2, and 3.

Hunter-Reay’s radio just told him they had him come in to try to make it a one stop race.  They said anyone who stayed out would need a ton of yellow to make it in one more stop.

Wheldon just gave a great interview; he thanked the troops and slugged down some NOS energy drink without puking, which something I can’t do.

Back to green. 

Several cars have picked up what looks to be banner ads on their wings.  Franchitti has to pit again because of a bad tire.  De Silvestro's trying to keep Dixon behind her, which just isn’t going to happen. 

Dixon is up to fourth; I repeat, he lost a wing and is in fourth.

Will Power has blue banner all over his car, but he’s leading, so I suppose he is ok with it.  It looks like lap 65 for all those who didn’t pit, but they are only getting about 32 laps on fuel.  They need some yellow and Milka retired long ago.

Kanaan is really pushing Matos for seventh position, but keeps getting blocked at the moment. 

Viso pits and Dixon takes third on lap 64.

Whoa!!!  Everyone trying to get around Matos and Conway were too excited and got punted. 

Full course caution. 

This is great news for a ton of drivers who were about to pit.  It’s gonna be an exciting end, with Will Power up front.  Too bad for Conway, as he was looking fast, but he showed his inexperience by pushing too hard in a bad spot on the track.

Pits are open, and some teams are setting up with blacks, some with reds. 

Everyone seems to be pitting other than Viso. 

Will Power going with the black tires and he’s out first.  Briscoe picks up four spots, Tagliani picks up seven, and De Silvestro loses four. 

Danica loses two, and goes to the red tires. 

It looks as though Vitor has stayed out again and retaken the lead. 

Power’s crew got that done in a hurry, but didn’t have time to remove the blue banners on his car.  Vitor leading, followed by Viso and then Power.  I don’t think that Meira can make it to the end—he may have pitted just before the yellow and ESPN missed it.

ESPN is saying Vitor last pitted on lap 34—either they are wrong, or he is coming into the pits any minute now. 

Back to green, 30 laps to go!

Matos pulls off what can only be called a suicide move, but he picked up five spots as people kept getting out of his way.  Dario pulls the same move to take 15th from Marco, but they both have had trouble after starting strong.

Vince Welsh tells us the yellow was at the worst time possible for Meira, who has not gone to the reds yet.  He finally comes in to pit on lap 71.  It doesn’t make a ton of sense why they stayed out other than they didn’t think the reds would be safe for more laps. 

Viso takes the lead, not bad for a guy who only finished a few races last year.

It looks like Viso lost power, as five cars just passed him and more keep coming. 

Power takes the lead as Viso continues to limp around—he didn’t make it into pit lane because Dario was passing on the inside.

Hunter-Reay makes a hell of a move to avoid De Silvestro, who spins.  She is stalled, and we go back to a full course yellow.  Viso is saying there is something wrong with the gearbox. 

Dixon is in the wall!!!

Replay shows he hits the wall by turning a little too much and clipped the inside of turn nine.  Dixon looked like he would challenge for the win, but instead he’ll be 17th. 

De Silvestro is going again, but she is missing her front wing.  They are checking Viso’s gearbox.  It's pretty amazing they can do that quicker than I can get my truck up on jacks.  He is currently 18th and trying to get back out there.

De Silvestro rubs wheels with Rahal in turn one which sends her spinning.  She has a new nose now, and is back out. 

Dixon is saying that he made two mistakes in the race and that he cost himself points.  He's pretty disappointed.  It looks like Chip Ganassi will not get to the podium again for the second week in a row. 

I don’t think that’s happened in a long time. 

Penske is sitting 1,3, and 4 right now.  We’re headed back to green with 22 laps to go. 

Restart was strung out and loose, Power gets some cushion to get away.  Justin Wilson is sitting between the Penske cars for his new Dreyer and Reinbold team.

Meira shuffled to 14th with the yellows.  Patrick is running 6th, and Taglianni is running a surprising 5th.  Gotta give Danica a lot of credit—she was awful to start the race but should end up with a decent finish.

We have had 10 lead changes, a new record at St. Pete.

Power and Wilson have a good gap till 3rd, and Wilson is starting to put some pressure on Power.

Not a ton of passing since that last yellow, everyone must be getting really dialed in and are a bit afraid to lose track position. 

Power and Wilson have about four seconds on Briscoe.  It looks like it will come down to those two.

Danica is the only driver in the top 10 with reds.  Franchitti dives on TK in turn one and takes 9th. 

Danica has a lot of cars on her tail looking to get by her, but she is holding on well despite her tires starting to disappear.

Dario gets up to eighth by getting by Rahal, and he is really looking good after a terrible start.

Dario looks to the inside of Matos and gets him in turn one. 

Danica is up next and looks like she has no shot with him coming on strong and her losing grip with just seven laps to go.  Danica holds him off for a full lap. 

Power is still leading but is not being shown because of this battle between Dario and Danica.  But this time it looks like he will get her. 

And he does in turn one. 

He’s up to 6th and looking for Taglianni with just five to go and 2.5 seconds to make up.

Power puts down some skid marks as he gets super loose, but he manages to keep it going and stays in first.  Wilson catches up a bit though. 

Dario actually makes it around Taglianni; he is scorching through these last 10 laps. 

That was my dark-horse pick moving to sixth, which costs me points!?! 

Taglianni didn’t change his tires last time, which is how he picked up seven spots in the pits.

Two to go and Helio and Briscoe are fighting for 3rd.

White flag time, and Power is looking like he is going to take this one.  Lots of cars are catching Taglianni who must have zero grip left.

Power takes the final two turns to get back-to-back wins for Penske Racing and Verizon.  Wilson is second, followed by Briscoe and Castroneves.  Franchitti picks up fifth, followed by Taglianni, Patrick, Matos, Rahal, and Kanaan.  Hunter-Reay and Andretti wind up 11th and 12th for a freight train of Andretti Autosport.

Great race for Danica and Graham Rahal.  Rahal gets a ninth place finish, which is the highest finish ever for Sarah Fisher Racing, and Danica is the top Andretti Autosport driver despite struggling greatly all weekend.

Power out of the car and Helio gives him a big congrats for the win.  Power started this race for Helio last year when he was sweating bullets in the court room. 

A gorgeous IZOD girl is in the background during post race interviews—wonderful placement.

Penske has got to be smiling at the moment with 3 of the top 4 drivers in this one.  Helio gives another great interview after the race.  He has a great personality. 

Danica is talking about having to take chances; says she was being really conservative when it was wet at the beginning.  She said it was tough maintaining on the reds at the end and she knew she was holding up a lot of cars, but that she had to keep her position.

Updated points standing has Will Power up 44 points over Franchitti, Hunter-Reay, and Wilson, who are all tied for 2nd.

That wraps up the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. 

The series will return in two weeks with the inaugural Grand Prix of Alabama, which will be on Versus.  This writer welcomes the return to the cable channel, because this broadcast drove me nuts with boatloads of commercials and not the best information gathering. 

All in all though, a great start to the North American section of the Indy Car schedule and a fantastic race which featured a record number of leaders and lead changes.

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