Welcome to the world!

Help wanted: Middle-aged web guy needs assistance with new technology. A little iHelp, anyone?

After several years of feet dragging, I’ve taken a bite of the poison Apple and bought an iPhone. Although I’m still not sure which side of the “work vs. expensive toy” fence it will fall on, it should help out in several areas of my personal and professional life.

Of course to do that, I have to know how to use it and thus far, all it has done is tease me from afar. After closing my eyes on the AT&T web site Friday afternoon and clicking “Complete Purchase” (or whatever the button said), I expected – because I was told by AT&T and Apple it could be 5-10 business days until they shipped it – to have a wait ahead of me.

And I was cool with that.

That coolness went away when the e-mail came announcing the shipping of the phone. “It will get here someday” was quickly replaced by a neurotic rotation back to the AT&T web site to check the status of my order. By mid-day Saturday, my new toy was sitting in a warehouse in Indianapolis and there was nothing I could do but wait. Seriously, I drive past a FedEx warehouse every day, probably the same one holding my phone hostage, and there was nothing I could do about it for two whole days.

Finally, today arrived and the phone was marked “out for delivery” and the race was on. The delivery estimate was for 3 p.m. and I had to leave for work at 3:30. By 2 o’clock and no phone, I checked the FedEx site again. “Incorrect Address.” Panic. Calm. Phone calls.

To FedEx’s credit, they were very cool on the phone, called back twice to double check our address and at 3:20, the doorbell rang. I’d have better off if they had missed me by 10 minutes.

I had enough time to open the box, look at the parts, plug it in and leave. In the meantime, my wife ordered a new BlackBerry at the same time, it was delivered in the mail this morning and she has been busy playing and configuring all day. Such a tease.

All I know now is this better live up to the hype, because the last two days have felt like 200. (Okay, a little exaggeration there.)

This meandering story of an idiot waiting for his new phone was really a call for help. What do I do now that I actually have the phone? How does a 36-year-old web guy go about best using a shiny new iPhone 4? A call out on Facebook has yielded two parts sarcastic ridicule and 1 part help, but I have access to Indianapolis, and darn it, I’m going to use it!

Apps, cases, gadgets, whatever, help me out Indy! What are your favorite parts about the iPhone and why? What can’t you live without?

How do you socialize?

With all the social media in the world, how do you use it all?

With all the social media in the world, how do you use it all?

I’ve at least tried to poke my toes in the water of most social media “phenomena” that come along (anyone remember Orkut?) and some stick, others are forgotten in the mass of password reminder e-mails buried deep in various inboxes. It’s obvious that not all social media platforms are equal, but do you use them equally?

This question popped up in a recent flurry of LinkedIn invites hitting my mailbox. I forget when I first signed on over there, but I’m pretty sure only about a third of my profile information is relevant anymore. I’ve Facebooked for, I think, at least five years (back when it was a college-based invite system, yet my alumni e-mail address got me in the door) and have Tweeted for pushing two. I’m far more immersed in Facebook, personally, and have gotten a lot more mileage out of Twitter from work than from home.

But where does LinkedIn fit in?

I’m pretty open to who I invite/accept into my Facebook world, with a few exceptions, family, friends, long lost faces from a high school yearbook, whatever. But LinkedIn seems different. It’s probably the layout, but it seems to me that it’s more of a professional environment. Yet a lot of folks seem to be seeking me out lately that would serve me no apparent professional gain.

Am I crazy?

Maybe I’m missing a chance to broaden my social opportunities, but I think LinkedIn should be people that you would be able to recommend for a job, right?

I’m really curious to see where everyone else draws the lines of their social media boundaries. Are you an “everything goes” type person? Or do you pick and choose your online acquaintances as strictly as I do?

Cloudy with a chance of Farmville

With a couple clicks and a push in the right direction, the SkyTrak Weather Team has become the SkyTrak Facebook Team!

With a couple clicks and a push in the right direction, the SkyTrak Weather Team has become the SkyTrak Facebook Team! While several members of the Eyewitness News team you see on air everyday has begun a takeover of the social media “airwaves,” the weather folks have taken off!

Now, in addition to getting your forecast and weather information on Channel 13, you can get it in your Facebook news feed, too!

Check out the fan pages:

Chris Wright

Chuck Lofton

Jude Redfield

Nicole Misencik

If you prefer your Twitter over Facebook, don’t miss Nicole there, too!

And just kidding about the Farmville thing. If I so much as see a lost cow anywhere around Jude Redfield, we’re shipping him off to MySpace!

Rough start to the Brickyard

The start to this year’s Brickyard 400 will not be going into the Hall of Fame of Attractive Starts.

The 17th Brickyard 400 is underway and it hasn’t been pretty.

Indianapolis Colts’ tight end Dallas Clark dropped the green flag to get things going and it hasn’t been very pleasant since. Seven cars were involved in an incident in Turn 2 and cars are still feeling the effects. Not only have several of the cars involved been in and out of the pits, but so have most of the other cars in the field for everything from tires to tweaks to capping off the fuel tank. Numerous cars have had overheating problems and Max Papis even had his car catch fire and end his day early.

Speaking of rough, this crowd is pretty sparse, even considering the expectations of a small crowd. Economy, heat or whatever might cause it, there is still a ton of bare metal in the stands this afternoon.

Though that didn’t seem to take anything from the pre-race atmosphere, and in fact, may have enhanced things a little, giving a bit more room for fans (and media types like me) to move around and experience IMS.

Back to the race, we’re now 37 laps in and have found a flow and Montoya is off and running again. And with that, he pits to check a handling issue. Keep it to 55, Juan.

Lap 69: Things aren’t so hot for two-time defending champ Jimmie Johnson coming off a caution flag for debris, he’ll start 22nd. Greg Biffle, who had run down Montoya for the lead heading into the caution, won the race off pit road and held onto the lead as the race nears the halfway point.

Lap 81: We’ve got an official race. Or at least I’d figure we do by Indy 500 standards. Either way, we’re past the halfway point. The new tires have helped Montoya from being demolished by Biffle, but the 16 car is still slowly opening up his lead. Montoya’s Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray is in third.

Lap 100: Another round of pit stops and Montoya, who pitted first, has regained the lead, but Biffle is back on his heels, within a half-second. Jamie McMurray is third, ahead of Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.

Lap 121: History will have to wait for Jimmie Johnson. Starting from the outside of Row 1 a little over two hours ago, Johnson’s crew got caught in a long repair during a caution and went a lap down. Prior to the yellow, Johnson was the last car on the lead lap.

Through it all, Montoya held onto his lead, then battled Biffle for the lead on the restart, with McMurray sneaking into second.

Lap 132: Another driver has had his attempt at history deflated. Jeff Gordon blew a tire late in the race and was forced to pit under green, dropping him a lap off the lead. Meanwhile, Montoya’s lead is up to almost 3 seconds over McMurray and Biffle, who are battling for second.

Lap 138: Another caution for debris – for the second time, it involves a large piece of metal, apparently – will tighten up and shuffle the field. The top six drivers reportedly put on just two new tires for the final 22 laps. Montoya might have come out on the short end, taking four tires and lining up in seventh coming out of the pits.

Tony Stewart continued his climb to the top, getting out of the pits in second spot, behind McMurray and ahead of Kevin Harvick, Martin and Kurt Busch.

Lap 149: Montoya’s day at Indy has ended prematurely again. After leading the most laps for the second straight year, the #42 car got loose in Turn 4 and hit the wall, then was struck by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at the entrance of pit road.

Kevin Harvick took the green flag as the leader, but was passed by McMurray headed into the final 10 laps of the race.

Jamie McMurray holds on for the historic win at Indianapolis.

It’s always sunny at IMS

The WTHR.com team is back at IMS for coverage of this year’s Brickyard 400!

Despite clouds and even some rain showers for the (EARLY!) morning commute, the sun is shining bright and promising to wreak havoc on IMS today. It’s going to be a(nother) steamy one!

After hanging around last night to make sure a line of storms didn’t do too much damage to central Indiana, the alarm came awfully early for this web guy to get back to the corner of 10th & Meridian for the ride to the Brickyard. It’s a quick turnaround and an early day, but if you’re going to cover a race at IMS, the three hours between caravans from the station can mean a lot of missed opportunities.

So here I am.

I feel a little more out of my element covering the Brickyard 400 than the Indy 500, probably part by being more of an open wheel guy, but also even an abbreviated May schedule gives you a chance to get more familiar with the names and faces in the cars, even at the back of the field.

Speaking of the back of the field, the field for this year’s (This Space For Rent) 400 at the Brickyard is bookended by former Indy 500 winners. Juan Pablo Montoya will start from the pole and, by all signs over the last 52 weeks at this track, have as good a shot as any at winning. In the last spot is 1995 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve, a late entry and an even later qualifier.

You want predictions? No clue. Montoya *should* win, Jimmie Johnson probably *will* win, the hunch says a breakthrough for the old fella Mark Martin (ran very well last year and qualified solidly this year), which means someone else will likely end up with the win.

Stay tuned to this blog throughout the day as I document the day at IMS. And don’t forget the Eyewitness News team on Twitter, as well!

Brickyard morning photos

Low tide for Google Wave?

Google Wave was threatening to be awesome. Now, it appears to be all washed out.

Is it just me, or is Google slipping? While it used to be that Google’s newest offerings would be anticipated almost as much as the next iPhone fix, they seem to have fallen flat of late.

Right about the time the Twittersphere was exploding, Google Wave hit the virtual shelves. It seemed like it had potential, especially for a TV station web site looking to spread its social media wings a little. Information on any number of stories could be shared on an “as it comes in” basis, with viewers injecting their own ideas, updates or opinions. And it could be left active for hours – or even days – to let others join in and catch up.

Though it has since gone public, its early use of invitations (Google’s preferred means of forced popularity) meant that while the user base might have been small, it also would likely be dedicated and users would tie their Wave account closely to their personal identity, hopefully leading to honest, reasoned dialogue.

Yes, it could have been awesome.

But the Wave never seemed to hit the shore. I toyed with it amongst friends and aside from the “Wow!” factor, it seemed difficult to go back and follow later. And that was just 60 or so “posts” between four or five people. I couldn’t imagine the maze of conversation between dozens – or hundreds – of viewers.

Also, there was the bane of the Web for all-time – cross-browser slapfighting. Excited to bring my new Wave account to work months ago, I found that the Internet Explorer-based newsroom wouldn’t fly with Google Wave without extensions. An elimination of part of an already small user base is not a good thing. If needed, I could probably twist some arms to get a Wave-acceptable browser installed at my desk. But would IE-loving users follow suit? Seemed like too much hassle for an experimental run.

I thought maybe I had just let technology pass me by a little and that, while I thought Google Wave had fizzled out, it was actually thriving in some corner of the Web. Apparently, that’s not the case. Clicking through Mashable, the social media bible, they hadn’t even touched a Google Wave story since January, and hadn’t written new since November. Not good news for Google Wave.

So what about you, web-using public? Have you caught the Wave? I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. 

Next week: “Has Google Buzz lost it’s sting?” and other bad social media puns.

Four more years! Four more years!

Even at its sort-of-annoying worst, the World Cup can be an incredible experience, provided you have a flight to sleep through, a couple cold beers and a few hundred Japanese friends.

In a flurry of yellow cards and a well-placed 116th minute volley, the World Cup is over. As an at least casual soccer fan, I’m a little saddened, but I think I’ll get by, and by next week, not even realize that soccer is still being played, which seems like a horrible thing, considering the decade and change I spent playing the game spring, summer and fall in my youth.

I enjoy the game, can pick out the parts of an otherwise snooze-fest to make it exciting, but I still just don’t “get” it, at least not in the way soccer fans…ahem…”fútbol fans” want me to. As the tournament neared an end and I paid more attention to each game (really, who needs to watch Paraguay and the Ivory Coast in a round robin game?), the more I got annoyed with the announcers. And not the British gents they had leading the broadcasts. In fact, they can make even the worst pass in the first minute of the game sound sexier than Cindy Crawford in 1986.

It’s those darn Americans.

To hear John Harkes insist on using terms that only die hards would understand at first listen (admittedly, the die hards made up 95% of the viewing audience) just made me cringe. At one point, he called a shot on goal, “the final delivery.” Really? I’ll give you “pitch” (field) and even maybe “booking” (red/yellow card), but “the final delivery”?

C’mon John. Your ancestors (or somebody’s ancestors) fought the British off twice so we wouldn’t have to use those words. In fact, by the time we pulled them through the second World War, we should have insisted that they Americanize their soccer lingo.

“Oh, silly Winston. We don’t need need your money for putting the Germans in their place. But could you PLEASE just call it a ‘field’?”

Not that changing a little vernacular will make more people watch a Columbus-Salt Lake MLS game in mid-April, but it would make one month every four years just that much more enjoyable. In fact, unless the United States wins the World Cup, then holds all its players hostage on MLS teams and decides to use its defending champion powers to hold a World Cup every six months with $1 hot dogs and domestic drafts at every game, I don’t think it will ever get the audience the fans clamor for.

And I’m not holding my breath that a World Cup win is coming anytime soon.

Every year since the U.S. hosted the Cup in 1994, we’ve heard about how “they’re bringing a team that could make noise.” And every year, it’s tails between the legs and back home. Even this year was an exercise in “Whew!” England handed the U.S. a tie…errr…”draw” and, while there was plenty of questionable officiating that kept lesser opponents in the next two games, they were still that – lesser opponents – and one of them had to be beaten by, we’re told, the greatest thing since Mike Eruzione invented sliced bread.

It’s just not flying, America. But keep on reaching for those stars.

Negativity aside, I still enjoy the World Cup and hope America can at least get through to the quarterfinals in 2014.

Also, this year’s World Cup gave me one of the most memorable experiences in my life. A couple weeks ago, I went to Japan for a little more than a week. In that time, the Japanese national team had two games scheduled in the World Cup. I thought that it was a “cool” enough experience to watch their first game with the family we stayed with, I had no idea what the second game would hold.

With a 12-hour flight looming at 3 p.m. on a Friday, my wife surprised me by agreeing that watching Japan play Denmark at 3:30 Friday morning would be something we just couldn’t pass up. The half day on a plane only sealed the decision.

So, after a 7 a.m. to midnight whirlwind around Tokyo, our third day in that magnificent city, we got packed up for the trip home, refreshed and hailed a cab at 2:45 am. While the hotel-recommended bar turned out to be a dud, a man unloading a truck on the street proved to be our savior. (As I’ll probably write in a future blog post, as nice as anyone may tell you the Japanese people are, triple it.) He pointed us to the area of Tokyo called Roppongi, just a bit up the road (though another automatic $7 cab ride) and a place where we had gotten a taste of nightlife our first day in town. We knew we were in the right place when the cabs started backing up behind pedestrians making their way across the street to any number of bars.

We hopped out, figuring the growing crowd at Legends Sports Bar (how’s that for feeling at home?) would complete our experience. We had bought Japanese soccer shirts earlier in the day, so we couldn’t be mistaken for Denmark fans and we were welcomed with open arms into the “family.” (Remember: Triple it.)

The time difference is what did the trick. I don’t know that I could have committed to going to a bar in the States for a U.S. game at 2:30 in the afternoon, but at 3 a.m. in a foreign country, it felt perfect. That is, until my wife turned to me midway through the first half and said “Um, it’s daylight.” Looking back at our pictures from the night, it really is a bit bizarre how much brighter the post game photos are from the start of the…ahem… “match.” (Damn you, Winston Churchill!)

Anyway, Japan won fairly easily, 3-1 and advanced to the Round of 16 for the first time in two World Cups and the second time ever. You’d have thought they won the whole thing. While I have my own videos of the celebration, someone from across the same bar posted video of the final seconds of the win on YouTube.

As if that wasn’t enough, a trip to find breakfast got even wilder. Really, they just won the right to lose the next game (in heartbreaking, penalty kick fashion, mind you) but these fans weren’t going to let the moment get away. The intersection becomes a mosh pit when the crosswalk turns green, then breaks up in a nice, orderly fashion when the “don’t walk” sign pops up. The same person also posted video of that craziness.

Moral of the story? If you’re ever in a foreign country when their team is playing in the World Cup…GO! Do not hesitate. Even if you’re not a soccer fan or even a sports fan, trust me, it’s worth it. Even my wife, who thought it would be cool to go just as an experience, ended up with her face painted and chanting every time Japan touched the ball.

No, really. It was awesome.

And I slept the whole flight home. Mission accomplished.

Comments on comments

Media used to be a one-way street. Now you can read a story online and immediately rattle off your opinion about the topic of the story, the typo in the third paragraph, the writer’s predilection for unnecessary adverbs or a TV anchor’s hair style or suit.

One of the great things about life in the modern age is that it’s interactive. Media used to be a one-way street. Now you can read a story online and immediately rattle off your opinion about the topic of the story, the typo in the third paragraph, the writer’s predilection for unnecessary adverbs or a TV anchor’s hair style or suit.

For the humble web content producer, this means that on any given story, there may be a long string of anonymous comments which, in some unfortunate circumstances, may be used in court battles as evidence that a jury was unduly influenced by them. Generally speaking, this is not considered a good thing. Why should readers be able to leave anonymous comments? Shouldn’t they stand by their opinion? Internet advocates argue that your site should be accessible and interactive, without too many barriers – like making people log in to leave comments.

These are questions that are being seriously debated in the world of journalism. What is a news outlet’s responsibility when it comes to allowing such comments on stories? What if a comment is blatantly racist or sexist? What if it’s on the line of what’s acceptable, and who draws that line? Is that censorship?

In answer to the last question, you bet it is. I don’t think hate speech has any place anywhere, and if I see that a comment has crossed the line of what I feel comfortable with on the site, I will delete it. On WTHR.com, we also have a system whereby other users can flag a comment as inappropriate. If three people flag it, it comes back to the moderator for another look.

It’s all about balance. We want to give readers the opportunity to react to stories and to share their opinions or experiences. But more often than not, they also share their prejudices too. For me, if those opinions become too hateful, or if they appear to be libelous (e.g. “that woman is a liar!”), I don’t allow them. But it’s a very tough call, because it’s subjective. Some sites allow everything and let their readers do the policing. WTHR.com uses a moderator who looks at all incoming comments.

One thing to consider is your workplace’s anti-harassment policy. It will probably state that there will be no discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, religion or disability, among other things. When you post a comment on a story, think about whether your statement is a criticism based on those points. If everyone would just give a little more thought to their gut reactions, we’d probably all have a better chance at dialogue and discussion.

Let’s go racing…no, wait

Two drivers were out of the Indianapolis 500 before Jack Nicholson could even get to his seat.

After a fantastic-as-usual opening ceremony (national anthem audio issues notwithstanding), engines roared and the field took off.

Then stopped.

For the second year in a row, we had a crash before the honorary starter could shake hands, put the flag away and find some shade. Davey Hamilton spun and found the wall inside turn 2. So Jack Nicholson dropped the green again and we’re back at it.

It took a moment to get my bearings, as the ABC broadcast appears to be about a half lap behind the race outside my window here in the media center. As cars whizzed down the front stretch, they were approaching turn 3. Explains how I could watch the caution flag come out for the Hamilton crash.

Now, it’s Bruno Junqueira’s turn, also in Turn2. The speed demon of the second day of qualifying (and the sexy darkhorse pick because of that) is also out of the race. What a couple of years it’s been for Bruno at Indy.

So we’re down to 31 cars before my seat gets warm. I really hope this isn’t a trend, for the sake of the race.

—————

We’re through Lap 20 (though the average speed of the race is under 140 MPH, if that tells you about how many of those were actually under green) and lookie here… Tony Kanaan, who qualified with about 45 minutes left in Bump Day, then moved back to 33rd when he switched cars, is up to 16th. Now THAT would be a story.

————-

First pit stops hit around Lap 37. All the leaders, then just about everyone else pitted, then the course went yellow. Scary moment in the pits for Will Power as he took off with the fuel hose still attached.

Dario leads Graham Rahal, Power, Danica Patrick and Alex Lloyd under yellow at Lap 41, though I believe at least Rahal and Patrick still have to pit. (I was right. Danica pits and drops to 20th, Rahal only falls to sixth and Power had to come back into the pits and falls to eighth.)

———

Back to green. Lap 51 now and it’s an interesting mix in the top half of the pylon. Dario and Helio are still 1-2, but Rafa Matos is in third, with solid, no-frills, as expected Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell are fifth and seventh, respectively.

Go back a bit and Tony Kanaan is still climbing and now has help. He’s 12th, immediately behind teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti, with another teammate John Andretti two spots behind. A good spot to be for Andretti Autosport to make some ground.

Will Power made a third trip through the pits moments ago and has fallen to 25th from his front row starting position and Bertrand Baguette and Hideki Mutoh have also lost several laps with issues.

Jinx! John Andretti is black flagged for a block of Dan Wheldon on the front stretch. He’ll drop to 25th, just ahead of Vitor Meira and Sebastian Saavedra.

———

Lap 69, chaos in the pits! Rafa Matos lost a left rear tire (the only one he has, in fact) and turned it into the pit wall. Everyone appears to be okay and Matos is back out on track. Scott Dixon braked hard to avoid Matos and appeared to kill the engine. He got pushed back to his pit box, re-fired and got back out, but not after a huge drop in position.

More significantly for Tony Kanaan fans, could this incident have shown Lady Luck is getting ready to reward TK for his patience? Matos (and his tire) were headed across pit row toward Kanaan’s car, but made hard left turns and the No. 11 car got through free and easy and into fourth place. Any other time in the last four years, I’m betting that tire gets TK. Is karma being funny for the funny Brazilian?

Back green on Lap 72.

Back to yellow on Lap 73.

Rafael Matos hit Turn 1 hard and backwards. Out of the car and appears to be walking fine.

———–

Vitor Meira became the latest crash victim around Lap 105, getting high in Turn 2 and smacking the wall. A sad end for Vitor, but remarkable that he was back in the field this year. An excellent recovery for Meira after crashing hard in last year’s 500.

Tomas Scheckter took over the lead during the caution, having pitted right before Meira’s crash, but Franchitti took it back on the first lap back green. Tony Kanaan has climbed to second.

———

More pit stops coing. Wilson, Scheckter and Kanaan are among the first in, out with no apparent issues. Marco Andretti takes over second behind Franchitti for the time being.

——

Team Penske had a horrible stretch around the Lap 146 mark. Starting with Helio Castroneves stalling his car in the pits, en route to a 20+ second stop, followed by a 13 or so second stop by Will Power, then topped off by Ryan Briscoe crashing hard and sliding down the front stretch.

Dario Franchitti has resumed the race lead, followed by Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan. Tomas Scheckter and Townsend Bell round out the top 5 at Lap 152.

——-

Rookie Sebastian Saavedra crashed on Lap 162. Saavedra, who also ran the Indy Lights Freedom 100 on Friday, made the field while waiting for an MRI at Methodist Hospital last Sunday following a practice crash on Bump Day. He got in when Jay Howard and Paul Tracy discarded their times in an effort to qualify faster, but failed.

Mike Conway, Justin Wilson, Castroneves and Graham Rahal chose not to pit during the caution period and have taken over the top 4 spots.

One by one, those four peeled off for fuel, leaving Franchitti back in the lead, ahead of Kanaan and Wheldon, when Kanaan needed to pit, a spectacular final lap crash by Conway allowed Franchitti to cruise to victory.

Conway touched wheels with Ryan Hunter-Reay coming out of Turn 4, sending his No. 24 car flipping in the air and into the catch fence on the outside of the track. Hunter-Reay also hit the wall in the incident and finished 18th.

Franchitti became the 17th driver in Indy 500 history to win multiple races.

Two sides, same coin

There’s a lot of chatter going on about whether the new qualifying format is a good thing for the Indy 500 or not. (In fact, I’ll wait to type more until you go cast your vote on the matter on the WTHR homepage. Go ahead, I’ll be here.) The new “Fast 9” format was kind of growing on me until Helio threw up a 227.OMG! on his first run. Game over. That’s like a baseball team scoring 10 in the top half of an extra inning game. Sure, someone *could* knock him off, but as the day’s best kept trying (including an impressive afternoon by Alex Tagliani), it was obvious that #3 was going to be on the pole again.

But aside from that, what about the rest of the day? Admittedly, I only watched the first dozen or so qualifying runs before my wife yanked me off on a quest for hostas and hanging baskets (which was actually not a bad time, but it wasn’t hanging out in the sun at 16th & Georgetown by any stretch of the imagination), but I couldn’t help but reflect on the “what-ifs” of the rest of Saturday.

How different would this year be if it were last year?

Immediately, most will point to Tony Kanaan’s crash as the head of the “cons” list regarding the new qualifying. But as much as I hope beyond hope that TK wins one, if not several, 500s before his time in a car is up, maybe his situation is overshadowed by a couple feel good stories that the new qualifying created.

At the top of that list, I think, is rookie Bertrand Baguette. While he could easily be bumped from his 24th spot in Sunday’s qualifying, what a fantastic situation for a rookie to be in – and one who many thought may be kept outside the bubble by his lack of oval experience, at that – now only having to worry about getting back in the car if nine drivers top his qualifying time. There are some big names left to hit the track and find some speed, sure, but Baguette has to be sleeping a little easier tonight.

Speaking of rookies, who would have thought *both* Ana Beatriz and Simona de Silvestro would qualify in front of Danica Patrick? Even with Danica’s troubles the first week and a half of practice, you had to think she would, along with the rest of Andretti Autosport, get it together enough to put in a solid qualifying spot, if not get into the Fast 9 mix. Instead, Saturday turned into a rocketship of nerves that culminated in a very public, very emotional moment for Patrick.

I don’t think it’s fair to decide on whether or not this year’s schedule tweaks are good or bad, based on one year. In the end, whether they qualified two or 32 cars on Saturday, Sunday is Bump Day at Indy and when the sun starts to sink below Georgetown Road, the fun will begin and we’ll have our 33 drivers ready to go next Sunday.

And I can’t wait.