1 July 2009
IRL acts to tackle 'dreadful' racing
No doubt spurred into action by Dario Franchitti's admission that Saturday night's IndyCar Series event at Richmond International Raceway was 'dreadful' - both for the drivers and the fans - series organisers have announced plans to tinker with the specification of its oval set-up in a bid to enable more overtaking.
According to the official IndyCar website, various aerodynamic options will be made available to teams for use on the 1.5-mile ovals, giving competitors the freedom to create different aero set-ups and, hopefully, generate the sort of passing opportunities that made the IRL interesting to watch in years past.
While the series has mandated the removal the 0.125-inch front wing wicker from the aero package for September's Indy Japan 300 at Motegi, it is planned to increase downforce levels at the other 1.5-mile ovals by anything up to 300lbs via the use of flick-ups and sidepod extensions, as well as brake backing plates and track-specific aerodynamics packages.
The rounds at Kentucky Speedway, Chicagoland and Homestead-Miami this season, and future events at both Kansas Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway would be covered by the changes after races in 2009 left all involved in something approaching a stupor. All components are free to use as the teams see fit, although some are hoping that the measures can be extended if necessary.
"Hopefully, they'll be open-minded enough that, if we get to Kentucky, start running and it's not enough, we'll take another shot at it," Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Larry Curry told the Indianapolis Star, "A lot of this stuff [is] things we can just unbolt."
With three road or street courses next on the agenda, the first oval event to utilise the new specification will be next month's Meijer Indy 300 presented by Red Baron and Edy's at Kentucky Speedway.
"The good news is it shouldn't introduce costs back into what we're doing because these are all things teams have had and know what their affect is," competition and operations president Brian Barnhart pointed out.
"We have always prided ourselves on doing our best to create the most entertaining and compelling on-track product in motorsports and, I think, in the last several years - especially with this version of race car - we've been very successful in achieving that."
When races at Texas, notorious for producing some of the closest side-by-side finishes in IRL history, are criticised for being pedestrian and processional, alarm bells begin to ring, although the current technical package has been in service throughout both periods. The Dallara chassis has been used since 2003, while Honda engines and Firestone tyres are both known quantities, although both have been subject to tinkering over the years. The only alterations to the mandatory technical specification for 2009 were moving to a standard 122-inch wheelbase for ovals and a relocation of the exhaust outlet.
"It will make for side-by-side racing because we'll have more grip, and that's what the fans want," veteran racer Tony Kanaan told the Indianapolis Star, "Richmond was pathetic. If I was a fan, I would have left by lap 30."
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