Monday, May 18, 2015

99th Indianapolis 500 Qualifications Exemplify A Disastrous Start To 2015

Verizon P1 Pole Winner sticker as it was placed on Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon's No. 9 Chevrolet-powered Dallara IndyCar. Notice the lack of attention to detail on how the sticker was placed. Image Credit: Joe Skibinski

99th Indianapolis 500 Qualifications Exemplify A Disastrous Start To 2015

After having a fairly interesting week of watching the Verizon IndyCar Series work in, and understand, the new aerodynamics kits for large oval racing that were added to their Dallara DW12 racing platforms, and after the weather elements washed out any chance of holding the scheduled 4-lap qualification runs used to decide where the drivers would line up for the INDY 500 race, then, lastly, a third Chevy chassis spun and turned around backwards causing the chassis to lift off of the track surface, Race Control saw fit to shut down all of the team and driver development understanding achieved over hundreds of laps logged at the old Brickyard.

The third Chevy-powered accident damage on Ed Carpenter's Dallara DW12. It was feared that the new aerodynamics body work led to having cars become airborne when they spin and present the rear of the car toward the wind. Image Credit: Mike Young

One might say ... IndyCar Race Control "Bricked" the 99th Indianapolis 500 qualifications.

The 2015 season at this point has had more going wrong with the competition and fan enjoyment than at almost anytime during these merger years.

To understand and gain a perspective on how the decisions made for Sunday's augmented qualifications session played out, one needs a brief review of the 2015 season.

2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season had its opener in Brazil canceled ...

its second scheduled race at St. Pete ended up in a non-passing crash fest with the first time implementation of new aerodynamics body work with restricted testing imposed on all teams ...

its third scheduled race, Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, at NOLA (a brand new venue) ran almost having more laps run under YELLOW Flag with the rest of the timed-race laps being a mud bath ...

Long Beach Formula E Race winner Nelson Piquet Jr. - NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team - at the beginning of the FIA Formula E electric car open-wheel race as he negotiates Turn 3 at the end of Shoreline Drive at Pine Ave.. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

the fourth scheduled race at The Beach becoming a snoozer as a lack of passing ruled the day (two weeks earlier the FIA sanctioned Formula E had more interesting competition) ...

the fifth scheduled race at Barber Motorsports Park finally had some excitement - and passing, imagine that - passing ...

and finally, if this idiocy of INDY500 decision-making keeps up, the crown jewel of Speedway, Indiana during the month of May might become the Grand Prix of Indiana as opposed to the INDY 500 because, again, the Race Control by committee crowd allowed competition to break out (OH! ... and it was a road race).

Announcement of modified and augmented INDY 500 qualification's procedure at IMS delivered by CEO Mark Miles (L) and Race Control Director Derrick Walker (R). Image Credit: Bret Kelley

This excerpted and edited from Racer Viewpoints -

MILLER: Barnum & Bailey spotted at IMS
By Robin Miller - Sunday, 17 May 2015

It wasn’t as big a circus as 1997, when every bit of integrity and competition got kicked to the curb so the Indy Racing League could avoid the public relations nightmare of not starting the fastest 33 qualifiers.

But Sunday’s sideshow at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would have surely brought a little smirk to Barnum & Bailey. A lot of panic, a little knee jerk, possibly some politics, a little confusion and a lot of “WTF?” summed up a very forgettable and embarrassing day in IMS history. From the time Ed Carpenter flipped in morning practice to the inane Last Row battle, it looked more like the Speedrome instead of Speedway.
Carpenter’s crash was the third in which a Chevrolet­powered Dallara driver wound up on his head. Helio Castroneves got upside down on Wednesday, followed by Josef Newgarden on Thursday. All three drivers escaped injury but not speculation. Why were their Indy cars suddenly sailing?

The finger was pointed at the new aero kits with the angled tire ramps and ramps inside the rear wheel pods or the vertical wickers on the nose but was countered by the Physics Police who reasoned as long as there are tunnels under a car and it goes backward there is going to be lift. Everyone seemed to have a theory except IndyCar, which offered nothing publicly until Sunday. “We knew the cause of the first two wrecks were very different and that probably obscured the overall concern,” said Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles, who at least chose Indy qualifying over golf this weekend.

IndyCar did mandate those vertical wickers be removed from all Chevys, but not the Hondas, after Helio flew.

Of course Carpenter crashed with no wicker but using the extra boost for qualifying while Castroneves had the wicker and normal horsepower before a tank­slapper sent him into the wall. Newgarden had no wicker and no added boost in a crash caused by a deflated tire. Even though Carpenter snapped loose before climbing the wall backwards and flipping over, it was his accident that suddenly sent IndyCar officials into DefCon 1. So when IndyCar sent out the word that it was taking away the extra power for qualifying and all the cars would have to start the race in the aero package they used to qualify (which instantly slowed the cars by several miles an hour), it created some predictable emotions in Gasoline Alley.

“We look like a bunch of pussies,” said one driver.
“It’s amateur hour, they’re throwing darts at a board,” said a former IndyCar champion of the process.

Honda drivers and teams bit their tongue but the obvious question was why did Honda have to abide by the edict?

Competition director Derrick Walker replied: “Just because we’ve seen three incidents happen with a Chevrolet doesn’t mean that there aren’t three Hondas out there that are likely to happen [fly while going backward] or could happen. I can assure you that Honda doesn’t believe that they have any issue, but then again, they will admit right now that we don’t have that answer.
Was it more about safety or competition? Chevy has clearly been ahead of Honda in pace this season and this month (with or without extra boost) so it’s not like Honda lost any advantage, other than its cars weren’t flipping at any speed or under any configuration.

Three accidents force a total change in philosophy? Sending drivers out with a combination they hadn’t run all month for a short practice session before qualifying hardly seemed safe but that’s what happened.

Some people blamed IndyCar for not doing more testing with the oval­track kits, which prompted one veteran mechanic to say: “We could have run for two weeks but unless somebody spun backwards, how would we know if there was a problem?”

Of course nobody wants to see anybody hurt when it can be prevented and nobody crashed Sunday afternoon ...
And naturally the day ended with some head shaking stupidity. Instead of letting the Fast 9 at least get one chance to battle for the pole, the hearty but tiny gathering of fans that hung around had to endure the dramatic duel to see which one of the 34 drivers was [to be] sent home. IndyCar opted to have the slowest four drivers go back out to eliminate one of them in an effort to keep the insulting “Bump Day” theme alive.

How pathetic.

There’s no Jim Nabors this year so my suggestion is scrap “Back Home Again in Indiana” for “Send in the Clowns.


Charlie Kimball and former champion Dario Franchitti pose for fan pictures at IMS. Image Credit: Forrest Mellott

Robin Miller (Racing, Viewpoints) was very correct to cite the 1997 IRL embarrassing INDY500 event because - and this is the reason - The Hulman/George decision-making Race Control by committee of 2015 was what had the event of last weekend's 99th INDY 500 qualifications feel so similar and familiar.

We are reliving the Tony George inspired competitive attitudes that the IRL gave American Open Wheel Racing right now in 2015. We have a racing series that is being run by a committee of pussies and one of them has been brought back (TGBB) after being replaced (with reason) a few years ago ... need we say more?

Robin Miller​ spanks the system but does not call them out as morphing into the IRL of old ... running the present day.

Comment/Observation From FB:
Ira Fierberg · Friends with Dicken Wear and 82 others - If you watched the coverage on Sunday, Roger Penske was interviewed and several times during the interview he referred to the sanctioning body as "The IRL"!

Can the reinstatement of Tony George as Chief "Clown & Mucky-Muck" be too far behind?

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Verizon IndyCar Series, 99th INDY 500, Indianapolis, Qualifications, Aerodynamics, Chevrolet-­powered, Honda-powered, Dallara, Testing, Hulman & Company, Mark Miles, Derrick Walker, Race Control, Boost, The EDJE,

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