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Jul
25

Early crash causes problems

Posted By · July 25, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Debris from the crash may have caused some problems for several drivers after the green flag went up. Ryan Newman had a tire problem that sent him to pit road twice. Other drivers were running hot.

Robbie Gordon shredded his front right tire, prompting the second caution of the day.

Max Papis, who made his first Brickyard 400 this year, finished his day early with a fire at the back of the car.

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Jul
19

Questions about Bob Sanders

Posted By · July 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Indianapolis – Michael Lombardi at NFL.com is reporting concerns about Colts safety Bob Sanders.

Lombardi says there’s worry that Sanders might never be able to play football again due to arm injuries.

Eyewitness Sports is working on this story today.

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Jul
05

Milka Moving Chicane

Posted By · July 5, 2010 at 11:37 am

For several years, the IndyCar series has needed every car on the track possible. Car count was critical for a series that struggled to stay on track, period. So if Dr. Jack Miller or Marty Roth or the late stuntman Butch Brickell had enough money to put a car on the track, they were welcome to show up and race (I use that term loosely), sometimes not even needing to post a qualifying speed to make the lineup.

Which brings me to Milka Duno. She brings CITGO sponsorship from Venezuela. Each year she finds a team owner willing to take the money and put her on the track. This year Dale Coyne could not resist. But it’s time to ask if Milka has become a moving chicane that needs to be parked.

This is Milka’s 4th season in the IndyCar series. But she seems to be getting slower, not faster. Milka did not qualify for the Indianapolis 500 this year. But at every other track, she doesn’t have to make the race. She just shows up and too often gets in the way.

Most every other driver in the IndyCar paddock has come up on Milka like a stalled car on the interstate. This past weekend Ryan Hunter-Reay became the new president of the Milka Duno Fan Club when she got in the way of his hot lap in qualifying at Watkins Glen, New York. Milka finished the road course race 23rd, three laps down, last among the cars running. At about the halfway point of the race, she was already out of overtake assistance pushes for her Honda engine, but she did not pass anyone.

Not even with attrition from other crashes has Milka finished in the top 20 of any race this season. When she did not crash out herself, she has been the worst finishing car still running at nearly every race this season. Mike Conway has missed the last 3 races after his Indy 500 crash, and Graham Rahal has missed 4 races searching for a ride. Both drivers still have more points than Milka.

What is Milka accomplishing taking meaningless laps and getting in the way of good competition? Perhaps Milka needs to take the CITGO sponsorship to Indy Lights for awhile. The league did park her at Iowa when she was too slow. She’s a really nice lady. But she doesn’t belong on the track right now.

Rich Nye, WTHR Sports Reporter

rnye@wthr.com

Follow  TheSportsGuy13 on Twitter

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May
28

It’s not my fault and other Carb Day thoughts

Posted By · May 28, 2010 at 11:27 am

After an overcast opening week at the Speedway, the weather was good for qualifying and now is downright beautiful for race weekend. The IZOD IndyCar series has a good vibe going, and the drama and excitement of the new qualifying format has given May an energy boost heading into the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500.

“It’s not my fault,” is the line of the month, uttered by a frustrated, slightly shaken Danica Patrick after the worst qualifying effort of her Indy career. She was right, but totally wrong to say it. When you play for a team, and you’re the quarterback, you simply can’t go public with the pointing finger. It makes you look bad. And Danica looked bad, and got booed. She knows it, and has somewhat apologized.

Anyone besides Helio Castroneves winning the race will be a mild upset. Anyone besides a Penske or Ganassi winning the race will be a major upset. I picked Scott Dixon at the start of the event. I’ll stick with him.

History will be made with 4 women in the race. It could have been 5. But the question of whether Milka Duno belongs on the track answered itself. She was too slow. I’ll take Simona De Silvestro to finish highest among the women and win rookie of the year honors as well.

The new qualifying format is a hit. The only change I would make is at the start of the Fast 9 Shootout, the cars should qualify in inverted order the first time through. Whoever runs the fast time in the first session goes last at 4:30 pm.

As for bump day, I hope teams learned this lesson: never voluntarily take yourself out of the Indy 500. Make someone bump you out. Paul Tracy and Jay Howard will be watching the Indy 500, even though both of their cars qualified quicker than bubble boy Sebastien Saavedra. Mario Romancini also withdrew and wound up requalifying as the fastest rookie. But Romancini could have waited to be bumped and then run a faster speed.

-Rich Nye, sports reporter

rnye@wthr.com

TheSportsGuy13 on Twitter

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May
21

Indy 500 Pole Day Cliff Notes

Posted By · May 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I don’t think most fans completely understand the new qualifying format for Indy 500 Pole Day. To be honest, not many teams and drivers totally understand it either. But it should be interesting and hopefully fun on Saturday.

First of all, qualifying starts at 11:00 am. Each car can make up to 3 qualifying attempts until 4:00 pm. The Fast 9 move on to a pole shootout from 4:30 – 6:00 pm. The speeds are thrown out and each driver must requalify for the pole. Drivers can make two attempts.

But here’s an important subplot to the first qualifying session. The fastest car at 4:00 pm wins a very important first choice: pit selection. Pit selection might be more important to winning the race than starting position. So teams and drivers will be pushing just as hard for the top spot in the first session as the late afternoon shootout.

How many qualifying attempts cars will make is hard to say. There are several prizes to run for Saturday. The provisional pole in session one, plus the fast 9, and the 24 spots available on the first day of qualifying. How important are each of those prizes? And then comes the shootout. The fastest driver going in gets to pick when he wants to run in the shootout. Weather might be a factor on when a driver wants to go.

I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. But no matter what happens, anyone other than Helio Castroneves on the pole will be an upset. 

-Rich Nye, WTHR Sports Reporter

rnye@wthr.com

TheSportsGuy13 on Twitter

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Apr
22

Waiting out the Colts draft

Posted By · April 22, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I’m sitting here at the Colts complex just in case team president Bill Polian decides to move up in the NFL draft, which he won’t. I think there’s a good chance I’ll go home late tonight without the Colts making any picks. If Polian has his way, he’ll move down from 31 into the second round.

Polian likes to move down in the draft and get more picks. He hates paying first round rookies big money when they haven’t played a down of NFL football. He always stresses the importance of the whole draft and signing rookie free agents. He says the hard work comes in the later rounds.

At his pre-draft news conference, Polian pointed out how many Colts starters on this year’s Super Bowl team were later round picks or undrafted players: Jeff Saturday (undrafted), Gary Brackett (undrafted), Melvin Bullitt (undrafted), Antoine Bethea (6th round), Pierre Garcon (6th round) and Robert Mathis (5th round) among the most notable. Of course, without first rounder Peyton Manning (number one overall in 1998), the Colts would not be the consistent winner they are. But the meat of the team comes from solid scouting and wise picks that come long after even the most rabid NFL fans have turned off the TV.

There’s not much excitement in the draft for a Super Bowl team. Not like when I traveled to New York City in 1998 to see if Polian take Peyton Manning instead of Ryan Leaf, the best decision in franchise history. A year later I was at Madison Square Garden when Polian made another smart choice, Edgerrin James over Ricky Williams with the 4th overall pick. Since then, the Colts have not picked in the top 10.

I picked USC offensive tackle Charles Brown for the Colts at #31 in one of those radio mock drafts today. But I think the Colts greatest need is actually a defensive tackle. The Colts are adequate at best at that position. That first pick will be important. Last year’s first rounder Donald Brown made a nice contribution as a rookie. But just as important was the signing of Jacob Lacey after the draft ended. The free agent cornerback nobody picked through 7 rounds became a solid starter.  

-Rich Nye, WTHR Sports Reporter

rnye@wthr.com     

TheSportsGuy13 at Twitter

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I’m safe from the thunderstorms inside Lucas Oil Stadium, killing three hours before tipoff of the national championship game. This is the first time I’ve had a chance to stop and let it sink in: Butler is playing for a national championship. I have been so busy just covering the day-to-day road to the Final Four that I sometimes don’t really fully comprehend the magnitude of what the Bulldogs have accomplished.

Butler is my alma mater. I like to think the Dawg Pound really started when I was a student there in the early 1990′s and Barry Collier became coach. I can’t tell you how proud I am of this team. They have taken the basketball program to a new level most people never thought possible. They have done it with class. The Bulldogs go to class, graduate, speak well, represent the university with dignity and win a lot of basketball games along the way.

But to be playing for the national championship is more than remarkable. Playing here at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis just a little dramatic twist to the storyline. This is a very good basketball team. Cinderella is not an appropriate tag for Butler, not for a team that has won 25 games in a row and started and finished the season ranked 11th in the nation. But the likelihood of a school from the Horizon League with 4,200 students and a basketball budget less than what many head coaches make at other schools actually reaching the title game is about the same as a 16 seed beating a 1 seed in the first round (which has never happened).  

It has happened. And now Butler has the chance to do what Indiana State and Larry Bird could not in 1979, win a national championship for a little mid-major from the Hoosier state. They will have to beat one of the giants in college basketball. When Butler was just starting to turn its basketball program around, Duke was starting to build one of the dominant programs in the game.

The Blue Devils won their first national championship in 1991, right here in Indianapolis. Since then, coach Mike Krzyzewski has led Duke to two more titles and the best winning percentage in the NCAA tournament of any school (minimum 50 games). This year’s version may not have the future NBA stars of some of the other Duke squads, but is still one of the best.

The Blue Devils have won more games (64) over the past two seasons than any team in college basketball. The Blue Devils allow just 61 points a game, the best defensive average at Duke since 1950. Duke led the ACC in rebounding. The Blue Devils are an experienced bunch with all senior and junior starters. Butler has knocked off some really good teams on this magical run. But Duke will be the biggest challenge yet. And I mean big. The Blue Devils have size across their starting five and down the bench.

A Butler win would rank as one of the top 10 stories in Indianapolis sports history, maybe top five. It might rank as the biggest story in NCAA tourney history. Whatever happens, the ride has been incredible. The Dogs have been this man’s best friend. 

-Rich Nye, WTHR Sports Reporter

rnye@wthr.com

TheSportsGuy13 on Twitter

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Mar
27

Butler’s best player? A self-debate

Posted By · March 27, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Salt Lake City, Utah – I posed this question over dinner last night with some of my Indianapolis media brethren: Who is Butler’s best overall basketball player? I asked because I wasn’t sure how to answer myself.

The first and easiest answer is sophomore forward Gordon Hayward. After all, he is the Horizon League player of the year. Hayward has the most skills and tools. Most experts say he can leave Butler after this season and be a first round NBA draft pick. But Hayward has not been the go-to guy lately. He led the Bulldogs with 17 points against Syracuse in the Sweet 16 victory. But before Thursday, he had not posted a team-high in scoring in well over a month.

So if not Hayward, who. My vote right now would be Shelvin Mack. He is fearless on the offensive end and scores a bucket when the Bulldogs need it the most. His defense has improved and he’s always on the floor. Only Hayward has played more minutes than Mack.

But you could make a pretty good argument for Ronald Nored, too. Nored is the toughest Bulldog, guards like a hound dog and runs the show on offense. Lately, he has made the big plays in crunch time. His free throw shooting can be a real problem if Butler has the lead late. But his leadership is obvious even as a sophomore.

The senior Willie Veasley is not out of the question. He never puts up big numbers. But he makes a steal , a tip-in or a three-pointer that wins games.

And I don’t leave out Matt Howard. He has not had the season he enjoyed a year ago. But he is still the only inside presence for the Bulldogs. When he’s in foul trouble and not on the floor, the Bulldogs can be in real trouble.

I say Mack is the best all-around player right now. But I’m waiting for that breakout game from Hayward. Maybe today against Kansas State.

Rich Nye, WTHR Sports Reporter

rnye@wthr.com

TheSportsGuy13 at Twitter

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