Dallara Options Pared Down For ICS Transition Parity
Last year at this time, it was the first year of the merger of the two professional open wheel racing series and a couple of races were under the belt of all the competitors. The pains of transition were beginning to show themselves, in that the teams coming in from the former CART/ChampCar World Series were the teams that had to learn a whole new set of venues, learn how to drive and set up a whole new chassis, and begin to learn the nuances of the allowable variables the Established teams had been working with in order to gain a performance advantage.
One set of option variables focused on the length of the wheelbase itself. Last year, Transition teams were beginning to recognize that they did not have enough chassis parts to compete ... especially on ovals, and this year the IRL decided to do something about it.
Last year, the talk was that the Transition teams were going to have a tough time learning to drive on oval tracks (an IRL main staple) and as it turns out, the deck was stacked against the Transition teams.
The rules for setting up a Dallara chassis allowed the teams to vary the wheelbase length in order to set the car up for greater handling and speed based upon the nature of the oval venue they were tackling. A team could choose wheelbase measurements from 118 inches, 120 inches, and 122 inches. Along with these measurement options were the suspension configuration set up parts which would vary the amount of travel and dampening the chassis would have in the oval corners which could add to greater speed, stability and handling throughout the race.
No wonder the Transition teams were complaining that they did not have enough spare parts to field their Dallara cars ... they did not have ALL of the parts (and wheelbase options for the Dallara) that would give the teams ALL of the set up options available to ALL of the Established teams.
Kansas represents the first oval race of this sophomore season of unification and begins a run of six races where the only intentional right-hand turns during the race will be at pit box exit in order to enter the main pit lane to resume racing on the track. This will be the first oval race where there will be no excuses and all teams will be racing roughly the same chassis, on the same wheelbase, with the same set of set up options in the suspension parts. The deck will not be stacked against the Transition Players as it was on oval venues throughout all of the 2008 unification season.
The 122 inch standard measurement that all teams will be running on oval race venues this year. Parity and costs sited as the reasons to pare down these sets of set up options for the 2009 ICS Championship season. Image Credit: IndyCar.com
This excerpted and edited from IndyCar.com -
By Dave Lewandowski - Indycar.com - Tuesday, April 21, 2009
There's an under-the-radar rule change this year as IndyCar Series teams tackle the first oval of the season this weekend at Kansas Speedway. Wheelbase options are out; 122 inches is in.
Partly another cost-saving move passed along by the sanctioning Indy Racing League and partly a competition enhancement, the uniformity (with a half-inch tolerance for caster adjustments) puts more of the emphasis on drivers and their maintenance crews.
"It won't affect the short tracks because everybody had to run the long suspension on the short tracks just to get the car to handle," IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch said. "On the big tracks it will make a difference because what you run into when you have 118, 120 and 122 inches -- and every possibility in between -- is every one of those suspension, because it changes the relationship of the wheel to the sidepod, changes the way the air flows over the car so you have to wind tunnel, shaker rig and 7-post test all those suspensions in every possible configuration.
"Because (the wheelbase is) longer, the cars won't be as sensitive in traffic as a short car," Blanch said. "The shorter the car is like driving a Volkswagen compared to a limousine. It should make it easier on the tech side to check things and check relationships to the wheels and wings, too.
"It limits the options the engineer has, but it makes it more important to get it right every time and it makes it more important for the guys working on the car to really pay attention to what they're doing. If you're wheel isn't spinning free and the next guy's is, you're talking hundredths of a second top to bottom (of the field) on an oval in qualifying. Just how easy your wheel spins could make the difference.
"On an oval car, you're almost building a worn out race car. You wear out the rod ends and make the wheel bearings spin as free as you can. You don't want to wait for the car to wear it out. It's a constant kind of game of making sure you get it worn out just the right amount. If you could just change to a different part and go faster, then it's not as important that every little thing you're doing is right.
The next six races are critical for all racers, but even more critical for the Transition Player because now he has a playing field of uniformity to compete in and this may show them (and the ChampCar culture-rooted fans they bring along) the promise of competing in open wheel unification!
... notes from The EDJE
UPDATED 4-25-2009, 2:00 PM PT:
Pole winner Graham Rahal, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. This is his second pole award earned in three races this season - he earned on for Saint Petersburg, a road course ... and now one for Kansas Speedway, a short oval course. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)
Qualifications, Kansas Speedway: Three of the top ten positions held by Transition Players ... with the front row filled by teammates from Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing P1 - Graham Rahal and P2 - Bobby D, Robert Doornbos.
This makes it that in two of three ICS races held this year, a Transition Player has nailed down the pole position ... congrats to Graham Rahal. Further, in all three qualifications sessions this year in the ICS season, a Transition Player has nailed down P2 (Justin Wilson/Dale Coyne Racing at St. Pete, Will Power/Penske Racing at Long Beach, and now Bobby D/Newman Haas/Lanigan here at Kansas Speedway).
It has to be mentioned that Doornbos was lifted to P2 from P4 when the IRL ruled that the lap times of P2 Dario Franchitti/Target Chip Ganassi, and P3 Helio Castroneves/Penske Racing would be disallowed because both drivers, during each of their four lap qualifying runs, dipped their left tires below the White, inside track, boundary line. These two drivers will start from the back of the field for Sunday's race.
Robert Doornbos, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing secures a quick enough speed for four laps to qualify at P4. This position was later upgraded to P2 next to his teammate, Graham Rahal. The two NHLR drivers will fill the front row to start Sunday's third race of this IndyCar Series 2009 season. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)
Revised qualifying order (** denotes Transition Player):
Pos Driver Team Speed
1. Graham Rahal** Newman/Haas/Lanigan 211.311
2. Robert Doornbos** Newman/Haas/Lanigan 210.665
3. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 210.470
4. Scott Dixon Ganassi 210.368
5. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 210.220
6. Mario Moraes** KV 210.197
7. Ryan Briscoe Penske 210.098
8. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 210.082
9. Dan Wheldon Panther 209.144
10. Ed Carpenter Vision 208.956
11. Sarah Fisher Fisher 208.543
12. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 208.537
13. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 208.506
14. Vitor Meira Foyt 208.461
15. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 208.382
16. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 208.145
17. Justin Wilson** Coyne 207.971
18. EJ Viso** HVM 206.779
19. Stanton Barrett 3G 205.820
20. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 205.673
21. Dario Franchitti Ganassi -
22. Helio Castroneves Penske -