July 31, 2006

F1 UPDATE!: GERMANY!!!

Hockenheim. Michael Schumacher. Runaway? Lets get to the UPDATE!!!

*CURSING A RED STREAK: The lights went green, Raikkonen pitted after 9 laps due to a broken fuel sensor that meant his McLaren qualified on nearly empty tanks, and the two Ferraris disappeared over the (metaphorical) hills. At that point, it was only a question of how much Parky would win by, and how far down in the pack would Alonso be. The answer was ugly for Renault.

*A HOCKEY PUCK IN A COFFEE CAN?: That's how Legendary Announce Team Member Steve Matchett described Renault's 'mass damper' system. It was legal to begin the year, the FIA Race Stewards still believe it to be legal, but Charlie Whiting's prevaricating forced Renault to take the device off their front suspension. It is hard to believe that a change like that could be enough to make the Renault slower than molasses in January, but there it is. They've already stated that they're going back on the car for Hungary, but they've already lost the points they could have had in Hockenheim. Already the conspiricy theorists are muttering that Ross Brawn, a longtime drinking buddy of Grand Moff Whiting, casually brought the devices back to Charlie's attention...

*TEAM OF THE RACE: We here at F1 UPDATE! so don't want to give this to Ferrari, but for the love of Zsolt, who else can we give it to? Top two steps of the podium, and Renault has to be running scared.

*DRIVE OF THE RACE: Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren. It sure FEELS like his first podium of the season. This despite the fuel problem already mentioned, a ridiculously long first pitstop (of three) due to a tiregun problem (does it seem like that's happening a lot recently), and being well and truly ensnared in traffic afterwards. He still somehow brought his car home in third, and a hearty well done indeed.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: Oh, this one was sweet. It's lap one, and Fernando Alonso swooped by Jensen Button's Honda so easily that the Renault driver must have relaxed. Button, blood in his eye and a rejuvenated Honda under his butt, said "Oh no you dint!" and blew the Renault's (metaphorical) doors to Berlin with a sweet power mover on the inside of the turn. Well done, Jense. Now win something, will ya?

*MOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: This just wasn't Ralf Schumacher's race. First he wrecks Pete Rose in quals. Then he pulls out into the pitlane, nearly sticking the nose of his Toyota into Jensen Button's cockpit. THEN, in the race, he's racing into the hairpin and sticks his front-left tire just in front of David Coulthard's Chin's right-rear in a move very similar to the way he massacred Pete Rose in quals. You could hear the *PUNT* sound effect in Hamburg. The Red Bull caught massive-wicked air, nearly flipped, and landed HARD on it's wheels. How the suspension didn't fold like a pretzel is beyond us at F1 UPDATE!... we guess Red Bull really DOES give you wings..., but for his lousy weekend, we are proud to award the MOOOOO-OOVE to Ralf Schumacher. Honorable mention goes to Nico "Wonderboy" Rosberg for his surprise left-hand turn at a right-hander that ended his day; a second honorable mention goes to the BMW drivers for deciding that they should run into each other. Well done, lads.

*QUOTES OF THE RACE: more...

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July 30, 2006

A Lull (continued)

Nope, not feelin' it tonight. I should be doing the F1 UPDATE!, and I'll get around to it eventually, but it's not happening right now.

Monday night, there'll be an UPDATE!, but I can't do it tonight.

Sorry.

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July 28, 2006

20 Years...

Twenty years ago, give or take a few weeks, I graduated from High School.

Tomorrow is my class's first reunion. I'm not going (for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that she that hatched me will be returning from New Mexico tomorrow, and I have to pick her up at the airport. Another reason is that I truly hated my HS years, and I could probably count on the fingers of both hands the number of people I'd truly like to see from back then... and have fingers left over).

But I did have a mini-reunion with two of my best friends from then tonight. Paul and Jeff, guys I've known since grade school... and guys that, after graduation from HS, I lost track of for the most part. Jeff I've seen a couple of times in 20 years, but Paul? We graduated, he went to one college, I went to another, and *poof*.

But tonight? All three of us were older, we all looked slightly different (two pairs of glasses, less hair, more weight, etc), we're all more or less successful in our chosen fields (a bookstore manager, a coffeeshop owner, and a computer-chip designer? Eclecticism, your table is ready...), but it was like we'd not been apart.

Paul? Jeff? Had a blast tonight; thank you!

Maybe I'll go to the picnic thing on Sunday after all...

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July 25, 2006

A Lull.

I'll be honest, folks. I don't much feel like blogging recently. I'll be here for the race, of course, but I'm going to take a breather for a few days.

I've tried to do a post a day, but sometimes it's been more like work than fun, and that's not what I wanted from this (I'm not sure what it was I was looking for, but I DO know that wasn't it).

So I'm going to take a few days off.

If you have any ideas about what you'd like to see me write about, lemme know.

"Be seeing you."

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July 23, 2006

Different Strokes.

SDB fast-forwarded through the last episode of Azumanga Daioh.

I've watched it five or six times, and cried every single time.

Sappy nostalga... gets me every time.

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*cough* *hack*

Sorry for the lack of updates. My boss gave me an ick. I'm coughing more or less constantly, which makes it difficult to concentrate. So does the nyquil.

Back later when I'm feeling better.

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July 21, 2006

Some Housekeeping To Deal With...

Okay, you've probably noticed that The Pond has been off-line a bit recently. Friend Pixy, who kindly gives many of us lost souls a place to blog, collectively called MuNuVia, reports that after the Great DDoS Attack of last month, now Kei and Yuri, the MuNu servers, are being innundated with trackback spam.

Soooo... MuNuVia is moving servers. More detail as the date of the move becomes better known. If Pixy says it needs to be done, it needs to be done; maybe when he puts up a tipjar...

In F1 News, the Honda 400 team finally made their runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats this week. The team, using a slightly modified version of the 2005 BAR-Honda F1 car, managed to hit 397.something kph, or just slightly less than 250mph. They actually hit the magic 400kph on the first pass, but the wind on the second kept the average below.

Yes, Steven, I know... but at least F1 cars can turn. And go more than a quarter-mile before their engines blow up (the 2006 Honda not included).

In Anime News, I just finished The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and will try to get a full review/writeup of the show posted this weekend. My quick thumbnail is "Pretty darn good!"

Finally, Official First Overseas Reader Flotsky has a spiffy new look to his blog, "Just Another Geek." Go over and "oooh" and "ahhh" at it, why don't you?

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July 20, 2006

The SuperAguri SA06

It's finally here.

Months after it was originally scheduled to roll out, the brand spankin' new SuperAguri chassis hit the track for the first time yesterday, sporting a new paint scheme and MUCH more fluid, "swoopy" look in comparison to the 2002 Arrows body they'd been running.

Actually, the FULL SA06 package won't be on the track until Turkey, but the new design is complete enough to run with the big boys now. Midlands has got to be afraid; there's reason enough to think that this chassis will be at least as quick as them, and how will that make them look? Upstaged by a team that didn't exist nine months ago... eesh.

Could this finally bring Aguri Suzuki's team his first Grand Prix point? Stay tuned...

(thanks to Crash.net for the picture)

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July 19, 2006

Ph34r w|7h Gr347 Ph34r...

The first was a computer-controlled main battle tank. It could be stopped.

The second was a computer-controlled main battle tank with two turrets. It could be stopped.

But the third... you could drop a nuke on it, and it wouldn't notice. It was 40meters long, could move over broken terrain at 45kph, and its armor thickness was measured in feet. And it was smart.

The Mk.III was the first cybernetic tank to be worthy of the name that the project had been designated:

OGRE.

And I grew up playing with them.

Or, more correctly, playing the game.

The first, and arguably the most famous, of Steve Jackson's games (Illuminati and Car Wars are two others by him), I started playing Ogre when I was in grade school, if you can imagine. By the time I was in high school, there had been two sequels (GEV and Battlesuit), a computer game, many magazine articles, a deluxe version of the original, and even miniatures.

Somewhere at my folks' place, I still have Laumer, my Ogre Mk.V miniature (named after Keith Laumer, the author of the many Bolo novels and short stories).

I haven't played in years, but the good times came flooding back when I read SDB's little piece about one of his readers' website.

Oh, and Steven? The defenders really do win around 50% of the time. That's how well the game is balanced... except with the "four howitzer defense," which really can be a gamebreaker.

Against a Mk.IV, on the other hand...

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July 17, 2006

In Reply...

See, here's the problem, Steven. By the time the daughter (or, for that matter, son) in question would be old enough to drive in F1, the father would be too old to be any good.

Guess that's the difference between going in a straight line and, y'know, having to actually DRIVE.

Actually, their haven't been that many good sons of F1 dads, now that I think of it. Jacques Villeneuve (Jack Newtown) won a world championship, something Gilles never managed. Damon Hill won a championship (his dad Graham* won one).

Also on the scene is Nico (Wonderboy) Rosberg, son of Keke, who's in his first year. We'll be seeing Nelson Piquet Jr. soon. It's way too early to tell with either of them how good they'll be. Mathias Lauda, Nicki's son, may never make it to F1 (particularly after finishing 21st in 2005's GP2 series).

I'd put Vanina Ickx up against any of John Force's girls, though.

*changed to correct 'father'. Thanks, Don!

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F1 UPDATE!: FRANCE... THE QUOTES!

"Alonso. Alonso? Oh, yes, nice kid. Might come to something someday." - Michael Schumacher.

"Well, okay, I don't mind second. I'm still 17 points up. Does anybody know where Jean Todt gets his bandages?" - Fernando Alonso.

"Would you believe I still don't have a contract for next year?" - Felipe Massa.

"Yep, right pedal makes car go fast. Gotta remember that." - Ralf Schumacher.

"mrmmbmlb mrmbblmblbm mrbmllmbblblm." - Kimi Raikkonen.

"Would you believe I DO have a contract for next year?" - Giancarlo Fisichella.

"Juan Pablo who?" - Pedro de la Rosa.

"Those vertical thingies sure made a big difference, didn't they?" - Nick Heidfeld.

"We’re just the vultures of the paddock at the moment, picking up points when other people fall out." - David Coulthard's Chin. (note: real quote.)

"OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! OW! OW! OWWWWWWWW! OW! OWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW! D*MNIT, OW!" - American Scott Speed (note: Speed has a pinched nerve in his back.)

"It (the tire choice) was the right choice." - Jack Newtown (note: real quote. This after bitching about the tire strategy after he peed quals down his leg.)

"I am VULTURE MAN!" - Christian Klein. (great. sit down, Chris.)

"V10. Eh. Screwed." - Vitantonio Liuzzi.

"I was completely invisible today. Next interview." - Nico (Wonderboy) Rosberg.

"There I am, driving along, and my paddleshifters fell off. This made it hard to change gears." - Christijan Albers.

"Quel dommage. Fromage. Gulome. Au revoir. Merde." - Franck Montagnie.

"*Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine*" - Jensen Button.

"Hard to believe F1 UPDATE! used to confuse me with Nick Heidfeld, isn't it?" - Mark Webber.

"The brake pedal started getting longer and longer, until it was dangerous." - Jarno Trulli. (note: real quote. 'Ladies and gentlemen, the porn star of brake pedals!')

"I believe in this team sob and we will react to this. I am very concentrated and motivated MORE BEER!, and I really believe that we will turn the corner and break our suspension doing it. We have to keep our feet on the ground which is hard to do in a car, keep our motivation high and me drunk and keep working at it." - Rubens Barrichello. (note: real quote.)

"AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!" - Tiago Montiero.

"Obviously I'd like to say big thanks to the SA05! The car has done a great job since the beginning of the season." - Takuma Sato who's obviously been nipping at the sake.

Well, that's it for the French GP. Maybe we'll have a good race next time in Germany.

And maybe Rubens will sober up by then.

And maybe the SuperAguri SA06 will be on pole, too.

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July 16, 2006

F1 UPDATE!: France

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzhuh? Oh, it's F1 UPDATE! time. Huzzah.

*FERRARI UNBOUND: Yup, that Ferrari 1-2 at Indy was a total fluke, caused by Michelin bringing conservative tires. Uh-huh. Right.

*F1 XTREME!!! OH, WAIT...: That might have been the most boring high-speed race we here at F1 UPDATE! have ever seen. By lap 40, only the massive intake of caffinated beverages were keeping the UPDATE! crew's eyes open, and by the end of the race, only Skippy the Intern was still awake. Simply dreadful.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Ferrari. 1-3, and a complete stomping by Parky, who won his record-setting eighth French GP. And it was never even in doubt.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Ralf Schumacher. Qual'd 5th, finished 4th, and if it wasn't for a horrendous pitstop where he tried to drive off with a tireman's hand, he might have had a podium. Pretty good for a guy that looked like he was driving a manual transmission for the first time two races ago.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: Kimi Raikkonen. On lap 27, Raikkonen swooped to the inside of Jarno Trulli at the Adelaide Hairpin but couldn't quite make it stick. He kept his foot down, though, and just outpowered (and out-chuzpah'd) The Engineer in the next bend. Well done indeed, and about the only excitement in the entire race.

*MOOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: Celebrating the bovine in every race driver, The Mooo-ove of the Race goes to the perpetrator of the most cowlike manuever performed on raceday. We here at F1 UPDATE! feel slightly guilty about this one, as we're not entirely sure it was his fault (upon frame-by-frame replay, we think something broke). However, Tiago Montiero's Scud-launching his MF1 on lap 11 was something to behold. It looked like he turned early into a chicane, got a lot too much curb, and whammo! The car was suddenly at a 45 degree angle to the ground, and facing perpendicular to the direction of motion. How he didn't flip the bugger is beyond us. All we can say is "Mooooooooo."

*QUOTES OF THE RACE: will be delayed.

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July 15, 2006

French GP: QUALS!

Okay, not that I'm upset or anything, but what in the world has gotten into Parky and 'Nando? They weren't qualifying, they were RACING. Two or three passes, one of which looked like it was going to end with both cars on the crane.

That just ain't right!

But it IS pretty cool.

After Indy, some people figured that it was a fluke, that Renault would be right back on top. Nuh-uh. Schumi-Massa, 1-2 on the grid. 'Nando is third, and then the big surprise: The Engineer and Cora's Husband fourth and fifth! Raikonnen is 6th, Fisichella is 7th (in what has got to be a disappointing performance), and Pete Rose in the other McLaren is 8th.

Nico (Wonderboy) Rosberg qual'd out at 9th, but is apparantly going to have an engine change, so he'll be 19th if that does occur. David Coulthard's Chin rounds out the top 10.

If anybody could be said to have a bad quals, Jensen Button and Jack Newtown have to be them. Neither made it out of Q1, with Button 19th, Newtown 18th. This is particularly surprising for Newtown, as the BMW-Saubers (vertical stabilizers and all) were the fastest cars in all practices.

Newtown, after his failed Q1 excursion, was saying that their race strategy is completely blown. Normally starting towards the back, you'd top the fuel tank off and run as long as you could. Problem is, BMW-Sauber decided to go with the ultra-soft tire compound, and they're going to have to stop to change tires before they need to get gas. Ergo, they can't DO the long run, and they're screwed.

There's some thought that Schumi and Massa might be on four-stop strategies... it worked in 2004, will it work again? Should be interesting finding out tomorrow!

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July 14, 2006

Tradin' Paint: Montoya/Gordon

Tonight, SPEED reran their show "Tradin' Paint", where Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon switched cars for a few laps around the Indianapolis F1 course. Quite the eye-opener for both guys, it seems, and for the viewer as well.

The first thought I had while watching was how ungainly the NASCAR racer was in comparison to the 2002 Williams F1 car. That's to be expected, of course, considering that the Gordon's NASCAR racer weighs in at close to 4000lbs, and a F1 car comes in at a smidge over 1300lbs. The Chevy was also running on a track it wasn't particularly designed for; while NASCAR does do the occasional road course, none of them have turns as tight as the Indy infield's. The height difference is another eye-opener. Yes, you KNOW that the F1 car is lower to the ground, but until you actually see the two side-by-side, it's hard to understand. Jeff Gordon is a relatively small man, so it almost looked like he had troubles looking over the cockpit edge.

The F1 car was, obviously, in its element, and Gordon did a pretty decent job behind the wheel. The car had a VERY tame setup, in deference to the driver's lack of experience, but Gordon was turning laps that would have gotten him into the field using the old 107% rule. His best lap was still something like eight seconds off of Michael Schumacher's record of 1:11 and change. He did have one off, when he tried to brake all the way through a turn and the rear got away from him. He eventually figured out you can't do that and other than a few bobbles, did some nice laps.

Montoya, on the other hand, had problems all day with turn one, blowing it completely once. He continually locked up his front right brakes, to the point that he didn't just flat-spot the tire, he got down to the grain. Almost no rubber left on that thing at all... pretty impressive, actually. His laps were in the 1:40 range, which is about what you'd expect for that car with an ultra-conservative setup. It was hard to tell if he ever got the Chrysler up to full-throttle; the thing just didn't LOOK fast in comparison to the F1. Again, that's the size difference.

Both cars had roughly the same horsepower; 850hp at 9000rpm for the NASCAR V8, 900 at 19000rpm for the F1. Both cars also had roughly the same downforce: right around 1600lbs. The difference is the size factor again... 1600lbs is enough to stick the F1 car to the ceiling, but is less than half of the total weight of the NASCAR vehicle. It looked like Montoya was working harder behind the wheel.

Both drivers were beaming the whole time. It was pretty cool to see, actually. I got the impression that Montoya thought he'd be able to run NASCAR pretty easily. Gordon, on the other hand, KNEW he wouldn't be able to jump into a F1 race without a lot of practice. The way his helmet was bouncing around inside the cockpit was actually frightening... much much more than you normally see. Afterwards, he described how it felt like his face was coming off under braking, and how he actually got light-headed from the G-loads.

Pretty fun stuff, though disappointing in one aspect: I wanted to see Montoya take a few laps of the oval. Obviously not possible; the car was set up for the road track. Guess we'll get a chance to see that next year, though.

...and a fun time was had by all. Even the pit crews were having a blast.

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French GP: Friday Practice.

Well, the news of the day really comes out of the BMW-Sauber garage, as they debuted the new aerodynamic package I mentioned earlier.

Except... um... well, here. Just take a look.

The 'viking horns,' okay, we've seen those before on the McLaren. But what in the name of St. Fangio The Quick are they THINKING with those monstrosities? The Legendary Announce Team seems to think it's to control airflow back around the roll 'oop and maybe influence the air over the rear wing, but for heaven's sake, it looks like a catamaran capsized under the nose!

But, then again, Kubica (seen in the photo) DID set fast lap of the practice, so maybe there's something to it.

Lets hope not... then everybody'd have them! We'd start looking like the ugly cars of the 70s again, THEN where would we be?

...you kids, get off of my lawn!

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July 13, 2006

If Anything In F1 Can Be Considered 'Slow'...

...today would be it. Nothing's really going on, even though the French GP practice is in a few hours. No real news to report, other than that David Coulthard's Chin should be signed to a new contract with Red Bull in a few weeks, the SuperAguri SA06 will be debuting in Germany, and I started a new BATracer league (finally with a good car, the McLaren).

Other than that? Pffffffft.

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July 12, 2006

F1 on SPEED

Bonjour! The F1 Circus goes to the most obscure, out of the way spot of the season this week, the French GP at Magny-Cours. It's about 2.5 hours away from anything, and reportedly there's one hotel nearby.

Yeesh.

Fortunately for us, SPEED Channel will be doing their usual grand job of covering the festivities. Let's take a look, shall we?

FRIDAY
Not much going on, with live coverage of practice from 7a to 8a. Enjoy it while it lasts, as next year the FIA is planning on doing away with the "Friday Driver" position, so as to 'drive up the excitement level' by forcing the main team drivers to get out on the track for longer periods of time. Meh.

SATURDAY
Quals will be from 7a to 830a, again live. The FIA in their finite wisdom has decided to tinker with the qualy format (again), shortening the third session from 20 minutes to 15. "More action, faster." Uh huh.

SUNDAY
From 2a to 330a we get a replay of Quals. Whee.
Then the real stuff gets going at 5a, with the GP2 Feature Race. Come watch the nobodies of today trying to become the... um... nobodies of tomorrow?
The big boys come out to play at 630a until 9a, with the French GP, LIVE.
The replay is at 1230pm.

All times are central; subtract two hours for the West Coast (Steven, that means you... I know you watch), add 11-1/2 hours for my reader in Mumbai... well, Pune, but it's the same time zone. Glad you're okay, Philduck!

You had me worried there.

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July 11, 2006

Bye, JP.

It's official. Juan Pablo Montoya has been let go by McLaren, and Pedro de la Rosa (Pete Rose) is taking over his seat.

JP is off to the US, where he has a home in Florida, soon to begin testing. Pete Rose, on the other hand, will begin driving ASAP. He's been McLaren's tester all season, so it's not like he's inexperienced, and indeed, he had a couple of races last year when Montoya suffered his 750cc Tennis Injury.

In other news, Franck Montagnie will be racing for SuperAguri this week in France, at the request of Darth Bernie. "We've got a Frenchman, I want him in the car in France" seems to be the prevailing sentiment. He will become the third driver immediately afterwards, and is guaranteed a race seat next year with SA.

Finally, look for some interesting bodywork from BMW-Sauber in France. They've got a new nose, which includes what would be called canards on an airplane; a pair of winglets up near the cockpit. They've been testing it for a few months, now they're about to unleash it upon an unsuspecting public.

And that's a wrap. Tomorrow, the race schedule on SPEED.

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July 10, 2006

*grumble grumble*

I had a fairly long post on Montoya's history in F1 eaten by The Blogmonster, and it's too late for me to try and retype it.

What it came down to is that JP has managed to burn every bridge he's had behind him when he's left a team, he's pissed off a lot of other drivers, and because of those factors, he had no place to go next year.

Oh, and he might very well be leaving F1 early. A Spanish media outlet is saying that it's possible that Pedro de la Rosa (Pete Rose) will be taking over JP's seat in the near future, with JP coming to America to drive in the Busch series, so as to get practice for next year.

He'll be driving a Dodge when he gets to NASCAR. Dodge is owned by DaimlerChrysler. DaimlerChrysler is also part-owner of McLaren, so it's not impossible they want him to cut his F1 season short. After all, there's no future in it for him, and Pete Rose could use the experience.

Keep your eyes open.

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July 09, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: MONTOYA TO NASCAR!

It's Sunday, 1112am, and it's just been announced by Chip Ganassi that Juan Pablo Montoya will be driving for his NASCAR team in 2007.

Montoya and Ganassi have a happy past. Montoya raced in CART* under Chip in 2001, where he had quite a bit of success, before moving on to Formula 1.

Obviously the kerfluffle over McLaren's drivers next year caused this; it was... what, a month or so ago that the 'rumor' came out that Montoya wasn't needed by McLaren, and it seems that nobody picked him up. Somewhat astonishing to my eyes.

I wonder... how many drivers have done well in THREE different car styles?

More as the story warrants. To see ABC (US)'s story on this, click here.

Tip o' the helmet to Official First Reader Mallory for bringing this to my attention.

*Update: Thanks to commentor Ed Flinn for the correction on Montoya's Indy-style car racing history!

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