Valuable track time slips away at Indy …

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Speedway Sightings at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune, a Chicago Sun-Times Publication
May 19, 2011

Another day of valuable track time slipped away from IndyCar race teams as intermittent rain prevented the Speedway staff from drying the track sufficiently for speeds of over 200 miles an hour.

A brief window appeared mid-afternoon with a series of cars traveling out of the garage area onto Gasoline Alley and into pit lane. A handful of teams began warming up their engines only to have rain appear on the north end of the two-and-a-half mile speedway, essentially ending the day’s activities without a lap being run.

Now the initial 42 hours of testing has evaporated into a mere twelve. With more showers looming on Thursday, the collective concern is that Friday, with its forecast calling for temperatures in the high 70’s and partially sunny skies, it will indeed become a frantic “Fast Friday” for the final six hours of practice.

Race team concerns are two-fold: one, getting enough speed out of the cars for a solid run for the pole on Saturday, and two, with the weather forecast also threatening rain on “Bump Day,” being qualified high enough on the leader board not to need a second qualifying attempt.

The only advantage to the inclement weather is that it has helped those teams who have the IndyCar “partial” engine lease/tire program allotting them 800 engine miles/26 sets of tires versus the “full” program supplying 1,200 miles/33 sets of tires. Justin Wilson, driver of the No. 22 Z-Line Designs/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry summed it up best saying “At least this way we are not going to be restricted on miles or tires; we can do all of the running we want once the weather clears up.”

However, those with the most to lose are the eight rookie drivers who desperately need the practice time to become more and more comfortable running in high-speed, open-wheel, IndyCar traffic. Formula One and NASCAR veteran driver Scott Speed, in his first IndyCar appearance voiced his concern: “As a rookie, having less track time is definitely not the best thing in the world. It definitely makes things a little more difficult. We’ll do our best to take it in stride.

IndyCar point’s leader Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car said out loud what everyone is thinking “It is definitely going to be busy when we finally do get on track.”

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