turbo Hondas and the twin-turbos of
Chevrolet and Lotus. He says: “It’s hard
to confirm, but what I’ve seen from
following other cars is that with the twin
turbo of the Chevy, there’s no lag – that
thing is on it from the exit of a corner.
Our Honda with the single turbo takes a
split second to deliver, but I think we
may have more at the top end.”
What about the handling of the Dallara
DW12? Is its weight distribution really
40/60 front to back?
Roughly, yes, and to say that hasn’t
been universally popular is a major
understatement. Regarding its road
course setup, read Will Power’s verdict
in the sidebar on page 26. On ovals,
Panther Racing’s JR Hildebrand has
described the steering as “numb” and
several drivers have remarked that the
rear weight distribution means oversteer
on the exit, too.
There are changes coming, however.
Testing in tandem at Texas Motor Speedway
in late February, Tony Kanaan and Ryan
Briscoe found that the following car got
a huge draft effect but then couldn’t pass
the car in front. Justin Wilson, one of the
IndyCar drivers Safety Committee leaders,
wrote in his blog for RACER.com: “We
lost Dan Wheldon last October, and we
want lessons to have been learned so that
we can avoid mindless pack racing…. I
spoke to [IndyCar vp of technology] Will
Phillips and he says there is room to take
out quite a bit of downforce from the
underwing, so he’s confident we can get to
a point where we’re having to lift off the
Proliferation of road/street courses prompted A.J. Foyt to employ road racer, Mike Conway.
throttle at places like Texas. We’ll need racecraft and hopefully
it will be an entertaining race. No one – not the spectators or
the drivers – want to see a situation where there are 28 cars just
going around like they’re on a highway but at 220mph.”
The test of this new oval spec was postponed from March 13
to May 7, just before practice for the Indianapolis 500 – the
first oval race of the year once more.
If Indy is the first oval, how many others are there?
Just four. Texas comes two weeks after Indy, and is followed by
Milwaukee and Iowa in consecutive weeks. That’s it for left-turn-only tracks until IndyCar returns to race at Fontana – for the
first time since 2005 – for the season finale on Sept. 15.
Whoa, back up there! The final race is mid-September?!
Yup, despite having a 16-race schedule, the 2012 IZOD IndyCar
Series is spread over slightly less than a six-month span. Randy
Bernard says: “I think putting more races back to back will only
help us with our TV ratings. When we’ve had races every other
weekend, we’ve lost a lot of momentum… So I think tightening
our schedule – we now have five races back to back and a couple
months later we have three more back to back – is a good thing.
And I think the fewer events that have to
go up against the NFL is a good thing.”
Plausible, but a hectic season for the
teams. From Indy (2.5-mile road-like oval
spec), to Detroit (street race on Belle Isle)
to Texas (high-banked oval) to Milwaukee
(one-mile flat oval) in the space of four
weeks? That’s a lot of car conversions to be
making. And how about Qingdao street
race in China to Sonoma road course to
Baltimore street course in consecutive
weekends? That’s a lot of work and travel.
This will have an additional effect:
teams who make engineering
breakthroughs with the new cars will
hold onto that advantage for longer – or
rather, for more rounds – than if the
races were two weeks apart.
Fewer ovals than street races, then?
Yeah, a couple more ovals wouldn’t go
amiss, but as Bernard avowed, the IZOD
2011 Rookie of the Year James Hinchcliffe joins Andretti Autosport for his sophomore season. Team principal Michael Andretti (TOP RIGHT) saved the Milwaukee race and appears to have a championship-caliber squad once more.
“IndyCar drivers could
become very good
at making their cars
IndyCar Series will not hold events that
are proven not to work because of promoter
lethargy or fan apathy. Apart from Indy, no
circuit of any type has an automatic right
to a place on the schedule. Auto Club
Speedway will work hard to make the
Fontana finale a success, Andretti Sports
Marketing will do similarly with Milwaukee
having seen how not to do it by last year’s
promoters, and the Qingdao event, on a
2.84-mile street course of fairly smooth
surface and major elevation change, is
being pushed hard in China. Roger Penske
and Chevy should ensure Belle Isle’s return
is a hit, and Baltimore was a slam-dunk
first time around – the Long Beach of the
East was not a misguided nickname –
Randy B. was determined to find new
promoters to keep it alive, and did so.