I had planned on my next blog post to fascinate you with tales of my first trip to Kentucky Speedway.  But the results of the race, and the inevitable aftermath on Twitter and the Blogosphere have changed my happy mood to a more darker meaner place.  I’m not a controversial person.  I won’t post things or say things just to get a rise or a response out of someone who I know has the exact opposite ideas or values that I maintain.  However, sometimes enough is enough.  Say hello to the evil twin of CurlingRacer…

After Helio Castroneves of Team Penske, smartly, won the race using a fuel strategy at the Kentucky 300, I knew there would be an uproar.  In fact, I stayed off Twitter and the Internet in general until today to let most of that pass.  Was it a shame that Ed Carpenter, fan favorite, and Dan Wheldon didn’t get to battle to the last lap for the lead?  Yeah, a close finish at the end would have been nice.  Did we get robbed since Will Power made a major mistake in Turn 4 and never threatened for the lead again? Possibly.  Though I don’t hear anyone lamenting that fact.  Except for maybe Lisa Kenny. Was the race any less satisfying since Dario Franchitti, who was about as racy as Helio was during the majority of the race, stuck in P7 and P8, got to the front due to, dare I say it….pit strategy??  No.

Racing is about ALL aspects of the game.  A fast car.  A fast driver.  A flawless pit crew.  A great setup.  A great strategy.  A hell of a lot of luck.  I understand folks are pissed off that Helio won and a lot of that is because he drives for The Captain.  I Understand.  I’m used to the whining and I have no response.  Though, I didn’t hear much whining when Dario did the EXACT SAME THING, at Homestead last year to “steal” the title away from Ryan Briscoe.  (Course if Ryan hadn’t taken out his agressions on the Cone at the end of Pit Lane at Motegi, the point would be moot.) Memories are short in racing, this I know, for Brian Barnhart tells me so….(Ed. Note – I don’t think that Dario “STOLE” the championship.  He and Chip clearly out strategized Ryan and Scott Dixon.  Freakin’ brilliant move if you ask me…)

Racing is about going fast and the fastest drivers winning….blah, blah, blah.  IF that is how people truly feel and that Helio winning on Saturday was akin to the Germans attacking Pearl Harbor (Thanks, John Belushi), then I would propose a few new rules so that these kind of heinous things never happen again.

RULE #1There shall be no pit stops that involve less than the changing of 3 tires. Because taking no tires is a strategy and not racing.  Shame on Dario for winning a race this way at Chicagoland.  Ruined the whole race, didn’t it?  Again, brilliant freakin’ move by the Chipster.  Gotta admire it, not hate it.

RULE #2 – All Regular Pit Stops, not including those for penalties, shall involve the full and complete transfer of 22 gallons of  Brazilian Sugar Cane Ethanol (Now, if I can work in Verizon Droid X, I’ll hit my sponsorship quota) to fill the fuel cell of each car.  Because short filling a car to gain track position, or changing a team’s pit window, is a strategy move and not racing.

RULE #3 – There will be Mandatory Pit Stop Windows set by the Chief Steward at each race depending on Track Type and Fuel Consumption rates.  Windows shall be no larger than 2 laps in size.  If we make sure everyone pits at the same time in a teeny, tiny, window, then a fuel or tire strategy will not decide the outcome of an event.  It will be decided by racing.

Think these are silly?  Yeah, they are.  Just as silly as saying that Helio Castroneves didn’t deserve to win on Saturday night.

Racing has always had strategy involved since someone was intelligent enough to figure out that races can be won in different ways.  Did people scream when Danica Patrick won her first race at Motegi?  Hell yes!  It was fuel strategy…blah, blah, blah.  It was a win and it was a good call by Andretti-Green at the time.  Just like Tim Cindric’s call at Kentucky on Saturday.  Yes, Helio got lucky.  Racing involves luck.  If you don’t believe that, maybe you should pay a bit more attention to the things that happen during a race.  Think Tony Kanaan doesn’t feel lucky when by all rights he should have been collected in the first lap incident with Takuma Sato?  If he had been, we would have missed his terrific charge to 4th place from the back of the field.  He was the driver of the race in my opinion.  And you know what, he didn’t even get to stand on the podium.  What rules shall we make so that we can correct this terrible injustice!

The only reason Helio got the win was because he was “lucky” enough to pick up, or thought he picked up, debris in his tires during the two crashes on the track.  If the yellows fall a different way, Helio isn’t even a factor.  But, they didn’t fall that way, and the race dropped right into their laps. The extra pit stops forced Team Penske into a fuel strategy race.  When Helio pitted with 53 laps to go, it was clear to me where he was going.  In fact, he was a lap down to the leaders after that stop since it occurred during green flag racing.  If a yellow comes out anywhere after Lap 148, Helio does not win the race.  He may have gotten his lap back, but there was no way he was going to compete with the Panther Racing boys over a short stint with fresh Firestones.

Just so you know, I was just like everyone else in the stands pulling for Ed Carpenter and Dan Wheldon.  Yes, I do root against Team Penske occasionally.  (See Kentucky 2009) Ed and Dan are two of the best gentlemen in our sport and richly deserved to win that race Saturday.  I have NO problems admitting that, my Team Penske fandom notwithstanding.  But as the Rolling Stones say, you can’t always get what you want.

And, in racing, we don’t always get what we deserve.  (Unless you were with the #3 Team on Saturday night…)

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