Wednesday, May 23, 2012

INDY500 DW12 #poleday And #bumpday Weekend Trials

Ryan Briscoe, No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet, will lead the 33-car field to the green flag for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. With a four-lap average speed of 226.484 MPH and a time of 2:38.9514, Briscoe captured his career-first pole position for the Indy 500 and the 17th for Team Penske by the closest margin in the history of the race. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series

INDY500 DW12 #poleday And #bumpday Weekend Trials

What is a racing series without its unplanned moments of friction? Short answer? ... not interesting at all and this last weekend in the IZOD IndyCar Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) had its share of unplanned moments of friction.

During 2011 and many of the previous years at IMS during the qualifications process known as Pole Day and the following day known as Bump Day (new media Twitter communications hashtags #poleday and #bumpday), the unplanned friction centered around Series Management and Team relations. This year, the weekend was spiced up with the addition of integrating the nuances of a new racing platform formula that has the choice of three turbo-charged 2.2L engine power-plants - Chevrolet | Honda | Lotus .

One of the biggest concerns, in fact, centered itself around the perceived lack of competitiveness and power developed by the Lotus engine. The cracks of this controversy began to show themselves amongst the four teams (HVM Racing/Dreyer & Reinblod Racing/Bryan Herta Autosport/Dragon Racing) and five drivers that had run the first three races of the season with mild moments of success. This mild success was not the result of having inexperienced and unsuccessful drivers piloting the new DW12 Dallara chassis with the Lotus engine (HVM's Simona de Silvestro - P3 in Atlantic Championship 2009 - DRR's Oriol Servia - P4 2011/11 top-10 finishes, BHA's Alex Tagliani - P11/6 top-10 finishes/2 poles, DR's Sebastien Bourdais - P1 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and DR's Katherine Legge - P3 in Atlantic Championship standings 2005  - the most winning driver being four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais).

Before the traditional activities that surround the month of May at IMS in the lead up to the INDY500, two teams (Dreyer & Reinblod Racing/Bryan Herta Autosport) lobbied series management and won release from their obligation to use the Lotus engine in their DW12's, in fact one team, Bryan Herta Autosport did not travel to the fourth race of the season at Sao Paulo, Brazil to prepare for the transition to the Honda engine. After Sao Paulo, Dreyer & Reinbold racing negotiated an alliance with Panther Racing to be supplied and supported with a Chevrolet engine which had them change their logo for the rest of the season to reflect the alliance.

During the first chance at getting practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Lotus had trouble delivering engines for Dragon Racing (while Dragon Racing launched a lawsuit to seek about 4.6 million dollars in damages due to the breach in their contract). The team missed out on six practice sessions and sought permission from the series to change to a different engine supplier. With permission granted, Dragon Racing was able to get Sebastien Bourdais and Kathrien Legge through Rookie Orientation on Thursday with Chevrolet engines.

In the meantime, in order to save some face, Lotus put their support behind a one-time team effort, Fan Force Racing to place 47 year-old Lotus driver/ambassador and former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi on the track to qualify along side of the one remaining team of HVM Racing and Simona de Silvestro.

During the activities over the week-end to fill the traditional 33 places allowed for the INDY500 field, many speculated that their may not actually be 33 cars that could qualify for the field. If this were to happen, it would be the first time since 1947 and result in an embarrassment to the new formula of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Other unplanned moments of friction came primarily through the process known as Bump Day. After the field of 33 cars is filled with qualifying runs, anyone who wishes to challenge to get into the field could present a car and post a time faster than the slowest qualified car and "Bump" the slowest car out of the field ... hence Bump Day.

Briscoe bested fellow Chevrolet IndyCar V-6 driver, James Hinchcliffe, No. 27 Team Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, by .0023 of a second. Hinchcliffe’s qualifying run was 2:38.9537/226.481 mph. The difference is the equivalent of 9.168 inches. Here, James Hinchcliffe displays the gloves he wore for his inspired run - these driving gloves were worn by fellow Canadian and legendary IndyCar driver, Greg Moore. Image Credit: @hinchtown via Twitter

This on-site experience excerpted and edited from AP -

In The Pits: Drama _ of course! _ in IndyCar again

One can't help but wonder, though, if there's been too much back-room politicking going on since Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened its gates May 10 to begin preparations for Sunday's race. Almost every day since has had some sort of controversy - many bordering on comical - and rumors have run rampant about everything from an alleged owner-led charge to oust CEO Randy Bernard and IndyCar supposedly blocking two teams from fielding cars on Sunday's bump-less Bump Day.

Then came the long list of penalties announced Sunday night, about 30 minutes after practice had concluded for a four-day off period.

IndyCar found 18 different infractions among 13 teams in pre-qualifying inspection, and track historian Donald Davidson believes the numbers were a one-day record for the series, though fines have never been consistently announced.

Few teams were immune and the entire front row was docked a total of $70,000 for five penalties split between pole-sitter Ryan Briscoe of Penske Racing, and Andretti Autosport teammates James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Briscoe, in Charlotte on Monday to promote the Indy 500, wasn't sure his Penske team had actually violated the brake rule that brought a $15,000 fine. Penske team president Tim Cindric confirmed on Twitter that Will Power's car indeed had unapproved brake pads, but claimed the team never would have sent Briscoe out with the same pads once Power's had been flagged.

Either way, Briscoe believed IndyCar - behind new race director Beaux Barfield and vice president of technology Will Phillips - had taken a huge step in levying so many fines.

"It's surprising because we haven't seen much of that in the past," Briscoe said. "But I think we are seeing a new guy in charge of the rules now, and maybe in the past, some things have been let past, and I think it's good that teams are being penalized for not abiding by the rules 100 percent. Rules are there to be followed, rules are made to be enforced and they should be."

That strong stance from the sanctioning body likely came as a shock to team owners - and it came during yet another stretch of off-track drama.
It left only two Lotus-powered cars in the field, and they've been so far off the pace that many are openly wondering if they should even be allowed in the race. It didn't help that 47-year-old former Formula One driver Jean Alesi, who has never before raced an oval, said he felt "unsafe" in the car and was "concerned" for his fellow competitors because it is so slow.

Rubens Barrichello, who spent 19 years in F1 before moving to IndyCar this season, believes Alesi is handicapped by his Lotus engine.

"It's been very unfortunate that the Lotus power is not up to the speed," Barrichello said. "If we do end up racing with that 10- or 15-mile (speed) difference, it could be a problem for both of the (Lotus drivers). I hope just that he has a safe race."

IndyCar needs Alesi and Simona de Silvestro in the race to avoid not having a full 33-car field for the first time since 1947, but it's possible that the two cars will be black-flagged for failing to maintain a reasonable speed.

There was disappointment Sunday when no team owner threw together a last-minute entry to try to bump one of the Lotus cars out of the field. Both Jay Howard and Pippa Mann indicated they were close to putting together deals, but couldn't get Chevrolet or Honda to give them an engine. That led to rumors it was IndyCar who halted the engines to protect Lotus - an allegation series officials vehemently denied.

Let's not forget the TurboGate saga, either, with Chevrolet losing two appeals trying to prevent Honda from using a new compressor cover on its turbocharger. The defeat has supposedly left powerhouse owner Roger Penske so infuriated he's refusing to speak to Bernard, but yet it's Penske who has a driver on the pole and two more starting on the second row.

Penske, who at least publicly has preached a message of unity and support of IndyCar leaders, goes into the 500 perfect on the season with five poles and four victories. Honda, meanwhile, had only one driver qualify inside the top 10.

So from the outside, it sure looks like a mess for IndyCar. But Bernard is fond of claiming "all press is good press," and if drama gets fans to tune into Sunday's race, then maybe IndyCar knows exactly what it is doing.

[Reference Here]

Here is how the field is set for the 98th running of the INDY500:

Pos  Driver               Team/Car                      Speed

 1.  Ryan Briscoe         Penske DW12-Chevy             226.484
 2.  James Hinchcliffe    Andretti DW12-Chevy           226.481
 3.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti DW12-Chevy           226.240

 4.  Marco Andretti       Andretti DW12-Chevy           225.456
 5.  Will Power           Penske DW12-Chevy             225.422
 6.  Helio Castroneves    Penske DW12-Chevy             225.172

 7.  Josef Newgarden      Fisher DW12-Honda             224.037
 8.  Tony Kanaan          KV DW12-Chevy                 224.751
 9.  EJ Viso              KV DW12-Chevy                 224.422

10.  Rubens Barrichello   KV DW12-Chevy                 224.264
11.  Alex Tagliani        Herta DW12-Honda              224.000
12.  Graham Rahal         Ganassi DW12-Honda            223.959

13.  Ana Beatriz          Andretti/Conquest DW12-Chevy  223.920
14.  Charlie Kimball      Ganassi DW12-Honda            223.868
15.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi DW12-Honda            223.684

16.  Dario Franchitti     Ganassi DW12-Honda            223.582
17.  James Jakes          Dale Coyne DW12-Honda         223.482
18.  JR Hildebrand        Panther DW12-Chevy            223.422

19.  Takuma Sato          Rahal DW12-Honda              223.392
20.  Townsend Bell        Schmidt DW12-Honda            223.134
21.  Justin Wilson        Dale Coyne DW12-Honda         222.929

22.  Michel Jourdain Jr   Rahal DW12-Honda              222.893
23.  Simon Pagenaud       Schmidt DW12-Honda            222.891
24.  Sebastian Saavedra   AFS/Andretti DW12-Chevy       222.811

25.  Sebastien Bourdais   Dragon DW12-Chevy             223.760
26.  Wade Cunningham      Foyt DW12-Honda               223.258
27.  Oriol Servia         Panther/DRR DW12-Chevy        222.393

28.  Ed Carpenter         Carpenter DW12-Chevy          222.324
29.  Mike Conway          Foyt DW12-Honda               222.319
30.  Katherine Legge      Dragon DW12-Chevy             221.624

31.  Bryan Clauson        Fisher DW12-Chevy             214.455
32.  Simona de Silvestro  HVM DW12-Lotus                214.393
33.  Jean Alesi           Fan Force DW12-Lotus          210.094
(ht: autosport)

Please be aware that the rule book has a provision that if cars do not maintain an adequate speed for safety reasons, they will be Black Flagged and removed from racing on the track. This rule is known as the 105% Rule.

@TheEDJE TWEETS from Bump Day:

If officials were to enforce the 105% rule 33rd qualifier today would need 215.1598mph avg or better, Clausen in at AVG: 214.455 #indycar #indy500

de Silvestro HVM Racing - 214.393 | Alesi Fan Force United - 210.094 Mak Field | 105% rule, 215.1598mph avg not in play on #bumpday #indycar #lotus #chevy #honda

AS for the former Lotus drivers - Bryan Herta Autosport benefited the best from the change by having Alex Tagliani qualify at P11.

Another @TheEDJE TWEET:

@BourdaisOnTrack safely in at P25 - 223.760 #bumpday would have been good enough for P15 on #poleday #indycar #indy500

... notes from The EDJE

** Article first seen as INDY500 DW12 #poleday And #bumpday Weekend Trials at Technorati **

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