Weekly Sports Replay V: IndyCar’s lack of common sense failed Dan Wheldon

By Shawn Annarelli

No matter the prize, sometimes it isn’t worth the price paid.

IndyCar learned that the hard way as 15 of their drivers clanged and barrel rolled over each other on the eleventh lap of the season finale. Flames engulfed some cars, while other cars caught air and authoritatively slammed on the concrete below.

When the smoke cleared, only 14 drivers crawled out the fastest vehicles in the world. The fifteenth driver, Dan Wheldon, remained slumped over in his seat.

Unresponsive, the 33-year old father of two was airlifted to the nearest hospital where he was confirmed deceased upon arrival.

Now, IndyCar may have to answer whether or not Wheldon’s death could have been avoided.

The track Wheldon was racing on, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, had not been raced on by IndyCar since 2000, because the track was not safe for drivers. The decision to return to the same track 11 years later has not been explained. In 2000, cars reached 208.5 mph, and in 2011 the minimum speed for any car was 222 mph.

Prior to the race drivers expressed concern in interviews and openly cautioned that they’d do their best to be safe. Even more drivers have come forward after the short race and said that they didn’t want to race. The reason Wheldon raced was because teammate Alex Tagliani had never raced on such a fast track and didn’t want to.

Post-race information has suggested IndyCar officials knew their drivers’ cars were susceptible to dangerous lift such high speeds. IndyCar’s unique wrecks over its 15 year history have been symbolic of the sport. Those previous crashes have often featured cars turning and twisting in the air, but most of those incidents have come at half the speed on slower tracks.

Wheldon raced for a $5 million pot, a race that should have never been started.

Hopkins hopes for successful appeal

Bernard Hopkins has been knocking opponents out for the last three decades, but last Saturday he was left lying in a heap underneath the ropes. Thing is, he didn’t get there because a jab, hook or any sort of punch connected with his face.

His opponent and challenger for the World Boxing Council light-heavyweight championship, Chad Dawson, picked up Hopkins and slammed him to the mat below. Hopkins, in obvious pain upon contact, pointed to his shoulder and inaudibly spoke to a doctor. Referee Pat Russell asked the doctor if Hopkins could continue, which the doctor said no. Russell called for the bell and began looking for the official score keeper.

Russell then awarded Dawson with a technical knockout and the light-heavyweight championship.

Problem is, Dawson has to make a boxing move in order to force a technical knockout. Dawson had not connected any of his punches for nearly a half minute, so only the tackle, an illegal tactic, is the only thing that could have cause Hopkins’ injury.

Dawson has appealed the decision and title change, and he doesn’t just want his title back. His appeal calls for a disqualification of Dawson in order to add another mark in a long history of wins.

Sweet Play of the Week

Only 8 people in the world have ever successfully landed a 900 on a skateboard, which is three full rotations in the air.

12-year old Malibu prodigy Tom Schaar became the eighth and youngest person to accomplish the feat on Saturday. Schaar has been competing in professional skateboarding competitions since 2008 when he competed on a Disney show, Next X. The kid has been supported by legends such as Buckey Lasek and Shaun White.

Now, he’ll be supported by high profile sponsors, too.

Sour Play of the Week

Put two hotheaded, egomaniac coaches together at midfield after a close game, and you might get an awkward, inhospitable hand shake.

Or you could witness a collaborative meltdown between 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions head coach Jim Schwartz.

The two young, fiery coaches can often be seen reigning down tirades on players and referees when things don’t go their way. But when they win, whoa, watch out. They’ll fist pump across the field until they see their counterpart holding out a hand. They’ll chest bump 300 pound linemen on the way. Along the way they’ll excitedly screech like a young girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

When the two met halfway last Sunday for their post-game handshake Harbaugh did a little extra. Harbaugh slapped Schwartz hand, shook it, and in one full motion slapped Schwartz on the back. Taking offense, the solemn Schwartz showed great tenacity in a 30-yard chase where he deliberately bumped Harbaugh. The two had to be separated by their confused players.

If these two can’t handle a handshake maybe they should head for the exits next time.

Did you know?

  • Notre Dame and USC’s football rivalry stretches back to 1926. After 81 games in the sun, the two foes will play each other under Saturday night lights for the first time
  • Four United States Senators are in St.Louis to urge baseball players in the World Series to not chew tobacco. If only they had something better to do.
  • The Oakland Raiders traded their 2012 first, second and third round picks in the last year for Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell and Terrelle Pryor. An additional 2013 first or second round pick will go to Cincinnati depending on whether or not the Raiders make the playoffs.
  • Over two dozen NBA players are close to putting together a six-game exhibition tour, which will make stops in London, Australia and Puerto Rico.
  • Through the Steelers’ first six games in 2010 the defense forced 17 turnovers. Through six games this season the Steelers defense has forced 15 less turnovers.

Like it, Love it, Hate it? Email me at sma5189@psu.edu with any comments or topic ideas for next week’s Weekly Sports Replay. Have a good one, Shawn.

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