Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nov. 29 newsstand: Broken engagements

Lots of breakups -- or potential breakups -- today. One a personal matter belonging to a two-time Indy champ. The other, a professional one that is by far the silliest part of what has been a strange Silly Season.

First, the racing breakup (maybe) ...
Yesterday, we noted that Scott Sharp & RLR are suing each other for breaches of contracts -- RLR isn't providing a competitive enough team for Sharp, while RLR says Sharp is trying to break the contract by bailing early. Sharp & Patron are contracted to be with RLR through the 2008 season.

USA Today has a bit more. So does TSN.
Says Bobby Rahal: "We have learned that Scott is interested in racing somewhere else. If that is his direction in the future, so be it, but not in violation of his 2008 commitments."
Says Scott Sharp's lawyer: "He's not going to be driving for Rahal next year."
OK, then.

Where is Scott going to be driving? (MyNameisIRL has a similar query/list, but I did come up with this on my own before I saw his ... honest :) ).
Option 1: ALMS, although I can't see Patron getting the sponsorship bang for its buck in a series that gets very little exposure beyond hard-core racing circles. At least the IRL has the Indy 500 and some household names named Helio & Danica.
Option 2: Sharp Racing. Could Scott be taking Patron to start his own team? I have always believed Scott would be the most likely IndyCar driver to own a team. It's an intriguing possibility.
Option 3: Some other team (Vision?). The only others out there besides the Big 3 are Vision (can be competitive), D&R (not competitive in a long time, although Buddy did a great job for them last year), Foyt (not competitive since the Great Migration) and Panther (and MyNameisIRL, quoting TSO, said Sharp will *not* be joining Panther Racing next year). Roth is full and SAMAX is nowhere close to an option.
Option 4: A new team. Greg Beck, for example? Or could he pair with Tom Anderson of Fernandez Racing?
Option 5: Champ Car. Excuse me while I belly-laugh at that possibility. I think it's more likely we see Scott in the truck series than driving at 8 a.m. on ESPN 12.

Helio's highs, and lows
According to, Helio's DWTS victory has inspired fans and viewers of the show.
Says Tim Cindric: "It's a shame they didn't have a fence for him to climb."

ESPN has the "main" story

SI's Tim Tuttle, a veteran racing journalist and a great guy to boot, says this is exactly what the IRL needs.
Says Tuttle: "Franchitti and Hornish are great drivers and were popular within the relatively small universe of IndyCar fans. But Castroneves was dancing before as many people each week as watched the entire IndyCar season. It figures that a decent percentage of those who watched Castroneves dance will be curious enough to want to watch him race next season. They'll discover he's a great driver, too, and, maybe, just maybe, discover that IndyCar racing can be pretty exciting, too."

Helio's dance to the title apparently was good for TV ratings in Indianapolis, too. DWTS had a 32 share and 23 rating in Indianapolis alone Tuesday night.

ESPN's David Newton says Helio has stolen some of NASCAR's thunder. (bet you don't see that story reported ad nauseum by Southern newspapers, much unlike the, ahem, other story was).

NASCAR drivers are somewhat happy about Helio, too.

But, unfortunately, Helio's breakup with fiancee Ali Vazquez has become public, too. The AP also has the story.

And, in the "haven't we heard this before" category
Gordon Kirby calls for the IRL to toss a lifeboat out to the dying corpse of Champ Car (or at least adopt a common engine formula), instead of just letting CC wither on the vine like it's doing a very good job of doing on its own.

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