Best Day in Racing (Monaco, Indy, Charlotte)

On its face, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend looks like any other Sunday for a race fan. There’s an F1 race in the morning, an IndyCar in the afternoon, and a NASCAR race at night.

But these aren’t your average races.

In fact, they’re legendary. The day starts with the F1 cars taking to the streets of Monaco. Next, it’s the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 (you might have heard of it). Finally, it’s the longest race of the NASCAR season—600 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Sunday of Memorial Day has become something of a holiday in our house (to the point that I’m trying to come up with a name for it). So that’s why I blogged it.

Monaco

7:28 a.m. EDT I’m hunkered down in the family room, ready for race #1—Monaco! Just a half hour until the race goes green.

7:49 a.m. Monaco is always fun for the celebrity sightings. So far it’s been one of the kids from One Direction (who had never been to an F1 race before—nice first race!) and Michael Fassbender (who picked Kyvat—bold pick).

Monaco breakfast7:55 a.m. Monaco breakfast. A couple croissants and some fresh fruit. Pretty European, huh?

8:02 a.m. The lights go out and we are underway! Matt is happy because Lewis Hamilton is on pole and used it to his advantage. I’m not so happy that Ricciardo got passed on the start by Kyvat. Maybe Fassbender does know something.

8:10 a.m. That piece of debris would have brought any NASCAR race to a screeching halt.

8:18 a.m. One of the things that intrigues me about Monaco is all of the spectator locations. Grandstands, balconies, rooftops, yachts, bars. Monaco, Indy, and Charlotte are definitely on my bucket list. Indy and Charlotte feel attainable. Monaco? Not so much.

8:44 a.m. Hamilton has pulled out to an 8.5-second lead. Gives me some time to think. I need a name for this awesome day of racing. I thought about Mario Andretti Day because he raced in all three series and won the Indy 500. But leave it to Juan Pablo Montoya to ruin my plan. Because he ran in all three series and won Monaco AND the Indy 500. Back to the drawing board.

8:59 a.m. Alonso out. In the exact same place as qualifying the day before. McLaren has to turn the corner at some point, right?

9:19 a.m. I can’t imagine what these streets are like on a regular day in Monte Carlo. Curves, hills, hairpin turns. Matt says if he ever goes there, he’s not driving. But he’d be more than happy to let someone else take him.

9:24 a.m. What a scary hit by Verstappen. Even scarier because we saw the whole thing happen in real time. But thankfully he walked away. Matt noticed that, within a second of Verstappen going head-on into the barrier, the display on his steering wheel flashed “FLAG.”

9:35 a.m. Hamilton pits. Rosberg and Vettel do not. Drama ensues.

9:38 a.m. “Please stop talking to me. Please.” – Lewis Hamilton

9:51 a.m. Rosberg lucks into his third win in a row at Monaco, thanks to Mercedes engineering. This is going to be an interesting podium. Matt calls it “an absolute load of crap.”

9:59 a.m. No podium on TV? Very disappointing, NBC.

10:05 a.m. Found coverage online. Missed the podium, but saw Lewis’ very diplomatic interview. Crash, safety car, bizarre pit strategy, Nico wins third in a row. That’s Monaco, folks. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the day has in store. Off for a shower…

Indianapolis 500

11:15 a.m. Pre-race coverage is in full swing. Takeaway so far? Racing is fast and dangerous.

11:28 a.m. Watching your cars run in the Indy 500. Not a bad way to start your retirement, David Letterman.

11:34 a.m. Penske roundtable the best thing on the pre-race so far. And it’s good to see Marty Smith.

11:41 a.m. First appearance today for Jeff Gordon, pace car driver.

11:50 a.m.  Yup. I still miss Dario.

11:59 a.m. Thank you, ABC, for reminding us of what Memorial Day is really about.

12:09 p.m. Pre-race ceremonies complete. Time to get this thing going. Wishing everyone a safe race today.

12:19 p.m. Great rendition of “Back Home in Indiana” from Straight No Chaser. Takes away the sting of no Jim Nabors.

12:20 p.m. But a little awkward command to start engines.

12:29 p.m. Green! (Nice job on the flag, Patrick Dempsey!)

12:30 p.m. Yellow! And there goes Sage Karam’s day. And no , Sato, you cannot win the Indy 500 in the first corner.

1:12 p.m. Things seem to have settled down and the first round of pit stops are complete. Time for some lunch.

1:25 p.m. Clauson gets into the gray and crashes into the wall coming out of Turn 4. He’s OK and walks away. Pagenaud wins this round of pit stops.

1:34 p.m. Tell me how you really feel, Sage?

1:55 p.m. Halfway!

2:05 p.m. Carpenter and Servia crash in Turn 1. Carpenter looks despondent.

2:11 p.m. Things not as good down on pit lane. The 19 hits two crew members from the 18. Hoping everyone is OK.

2:25 p.m. So it’s going to be a Penske car or a Ganassi car that wins, right? If not, then something crazy happened.

2:33 p.m. So if one wanted to go to the Indianapolis, where would one stay? Where is the best place to stay? How bad is the traffic and parking? Asking for a friend.

2:42 p.m. TK is out of the race after a crash in Turn 1. He could have won this race. Such a shame. Less than 50 laps to go.

3:00 p.m. Caution for debris. This is getting good.

3:09 p.m. Hard crash out of Turn 4. Saaverda, Hawksworth, and Coletti involved. Debris flying everywhere.

3:24 p.m. 15 laps remain. Here we go!

3:35 p.m. Montoya wins! What a finish! From 30th to 1st. I think JP is trying to make the case that I should name this day after him.

indy snack3:41 p.m. Mid-afternoon snack. Sharing some milk with Juan Pablo. We just have a chocolate chip cookie with ours.

3:55 p.m. That decision to leave NASCAR and come back to IndyCar is looking pretty brilliant, Juan Pablo. Matt’s favorite driver—Will Power— loses the lead in this race too.

3:59 p.m. Glad to see a strong finish for Graham Rahal. And Montoya know holds the record for the longest gap between wins (15 years). Time to catch my breath for a little bit. Maybe some fresh air? Back in a few…

Charlotte

5:36 p.m. More pre-race. Settling in for 600 miles. I’ll be rooting for Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart (as per usual), and I have Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, and David Ragan in my fantasy NASCAR. Matt will be pulling for Kyle Busch in his return.

5:39 p.m. First appearance for Jeff Gordon, race car driver.

6:00 p.m. What’s the over/under on how many times they show the Dale Jr. Nationwide commercial?

6:05 p.m. Very moving and patriotic opening ceremony. Perfect national anthem.

6:11 p.m. And a very fitting command to start engines for this weekend.

6:18 p.m. Hooray! They gave “rules analyst” Andy Petree a window tonight. I feel like he’s been broadcasting from a closet all season.

6:21 p.m. Boogity, boogity!

6:38 p.m. Story lines so far: a competition caution because the track washed down a couple turns and Carl’s sticky feet.

6:45 p.m “You don’t mess with the Biff.”

Charlotte dinner7:12 p.m. Jimmie Johnson spins. Yellow flag comes out.

7:13 p.m. Oh, and it’s dinnertime! BBQ seemed appropriate for Charlotte.

7:20 p.m. We are a quarter of the way there…

7:39 p.m. Caution for Allgaier and the big yellow stripe down the side of his car.

7:55 p.m. Not that Juan Pablo didn’t make a good case today for naming the Sunday after Memorial Day after him, but maybe we need to consider other options. An acronym always works. I say M.I.C. Day (Monaco, Indy, Charlotte). Matt says F.I.N. Day (Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR). What do you think?

8:12 p.m. If there was ever a race in which your crew chief is going to “take a big swing at it,” this is it.

8:13 p.m. Darrell Hammond as Col. Sanders is pretty entertaining.

8:16 p.m. We are HALFWAY! We can do this, people!

8:25 p.m. The leader at the halfway point has only won once in the last eight runnings of the Coke 600. So, not exactly great news for Martin Truex Jr. fans.

8:47 p.m. Burnt Rubber. The Essence of Racing. I don’t know, Sunoco. I just don’t know.

8:54 p.m. Jimmie Johnson spins again. This time he tags the wall. Not helping my fantasy NASCAR this week, Six Time.

9:06 p.m. The silver lining to Ryan Blaney’s blown engine? Fewer mosquitoes at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That was quite a bit of smoke.

9:25 p.m. Three-quarters of the way there! If we’ve made it this far, we can make it to the end, right?

9:59 p.m. 50 laps to go. I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or is this going to be like a basketball game where the last two minutes take forever?

10:07 p.m. They’ve only played the Dale Jr. Nationwide commercial four times so far tonight. Matt took six. I took seven.

10:12 p.m. 25 to go. So close. Prove the stats wrong, Truex!

10:16 p.m. Maybe Carl Edwards can go the distance?

10:19 p.m. 10. To. Go.

10:23 p.m. 4 to go. This can’t be over soon enough. Go Carl!

10:24 p.m. Carl wins!!!! And he is in the Chase!

10:25 p.m. I’ve missed that backflip.

And 15 hours, 678 laps, and three winners later, the best day in racing is over.

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