Archive for May 27, 2011

by Dave Lewandowski — IndyCar Staff

IZOD IndyCar Series president of competition and operations Brian Barnhart and staff measured various portions of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway frontstretch this week, plugged in section speed data and talked with numerous drivers in an effort to determine the best option for two-wide restarts for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 with respect to safety and competition.

The determination, which was laid out at the drivers’ meeting May 27:

• IZOD IndyCar Series drivers proposed a mid-range RPM, second-gear restart (about 115-120 mph) when they hit the restart line.

• That will be 900 feet before the start/finish line (where the refueling tank for Simona de Silvestro, the first car at pit in, will be on Race Day), which will put the speed at about 150 mph at the start/finish line. Drivers are not allowed to improve their position until they cross the start/finish line.

• It’s 1,800 feet from de Silvestro’s pit box to the turn-in point of Turn 1, which puts the speed at about 183 mph (the start/finish line is not in the middle of the frontstretch).

• Three car lengths are required between rows.

• Drivers are to get in double file coming off Turn 2 (using the paving seams as reference on the backstretch).

“I’ve had several conversations with a lot of the drivers about what the process for restarts is going to be like and there’s a lot of varied opinions on where it should be, how fast it should be, what the spacing should be,” Barnhart said. “Most of the responses to what we’ve proposed has been ‘that all makes sense.’

“The track at 183 is a lot less line-dependent. They then should have the ability to go through Turn 1 two-wide and they’ll start to sort it out in the short chute and Turn 2, and then they have the whole five-eighths-mile backstretch to sort it out even further before they get into Turn 3 at terminal velocity. The later we go at 115 (mph) then the slower you’ll be in Turn 1, and the slower we make Turn 1 the more congestion you’ll have there.

“When you start figuring out how many feet per second you’re traveling from the start/finish line to the turning point of Turn 1, you don’t have time to pass somebody anyway. If a guy waits until the pylon to swing out to pass somebody, he’s not going to get there.”

The speed at the restart line will be close to what start of race is, but considerably slower than restarts of the past between Turns 3 and 4. Drivers have expressed concern about the outside line on two-wide restarts because of tire wear “marbles” and the speed. To address the former, four sweepers will be employed – in tandem at each end of the 2.5-mile racetrack – to collect “marbles” in the turns during each caution.

“(The drivers’) concerns are valid because it’s their butts on the line out there and it’s the Indy 500 and they want to do everything they can to be in position to win,” Barnhart said. “When you are making efforts to do the best you can for everybody, there is going to be a scenario that just didn’t work out well for someone.

“The diversity of the tracks we run adds to the challenge of doing this because of each track’s (road/street courses, superspeedways and short ovals) unique characteristics. It would be easier if we were an all-oval series. While this is a new process and has its challenges, no matter what we do as a series and what we do in terms of laying out the procedure, ultimately it’s in their hands.

“They have the steering wheel, they have the gas pedal, they have the brake pedal and they’re going to make decisions based on proximity of other cars, traffic and other choices. That’s all part of being a race driver.”

indianapolis 500 Re-starts ...

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 26, 2011

There is a changing of the guard here at the Brickyard this Month of May …

IndyCar mainstay Danica Patrick has been the most recognizable women in American auto sports. Be it television commercials or bathing suit photos in Sports Illustrated, her image is just about everywhere.

But the very IndyCar fans who initially catapulted Patrick to a new level of public awareness are now turning their eyes to another woman racer, one who drives with abandon and shows no fear in the face of overwhelming odds, Simona De Silvestro.

To understand this evolution, one has to look closely at Patrick’s past and De Silvestro’s present.

Patrick first appeared on the IndyCar scene in 2005 as a member of one of the premier race organizations, the defending 2004 Indy 500 winning Rahal/Letterman Team. Patrick was skilled on oval tracks, benefiting from having the best engine and chassis equipment available, coupled with her 50 to 100 pound weight advantage versus her competitors. (legislated against in an IndyCar rules revision in 2008).

Patrick’s run for the 2005 Indy 500 pole was electrifying and during that race she became the first women to lead a lap at Indy, finishing fourth in her first of seven Indy 500s. She hasn’t led a lap at Indianapolis since and has just one victory in 102 starts in IndyCar.

If this isn’t her last Indianapolis 500, next year will be. It is no secret she wants a piece of the multi-billion dollar NASCAR pie and her people are negotiating that very move right now.

Patrick has become a “brand” as much as she is a race driver. She has never been a series contender for an IndyCar season championship and she won’t be in NASCAR either. Her road course skills aren’t strong enough.

But Patrick’s future isn’t a concern to IndyCar fans these days. They’ve found even more of a racer in De Silvestro, who showed up at Indy in 2010 as an unknown driver with an under-funded team. She left the Brickyard at the end of the month with a 14th place finish and Indy 500 Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

De Silvestro’s return from the worst crash at the Brickyard this May, with second-degree burns on her hands, to qualify 24th with a speed of 224.392 miles per hour in her backup car, the No. 78T Nuclear Clean Air Energy/HVM Racing entry has made her a new Indy 500 crowd favorite.

Make no mistake; De Silvestro has earned every bit of her new-found fame and her rise in the IndyCar ranks has just begun.

Simona D ...

Simona D ...