Monday, April 9, 2012

Slow Going

Indy cars ran a second day of testing at the Speedway
Two races into the new era of IndyCar racing -- along and a key test session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- and it remains to be seen if the new DW12 race car is the answer the series has been hoping for.

There wasn’t much racing in the first race of the year, at St. Petersburg, but then there’s never much racing at the street race.  It was better on the Birmingham natural road course, although the racing took place back in the pack, not necessarily for the lead.  Next up is Long Beach, another street race that lends itself more to a good time than good racing.

Last week each team was allowed to send one car to Indianapolis for a day of testing at the Speedway.  That followed disappointing speeds during the initial test of the new car at the track last fall.  An updated aero package was used, although some drivers thought improved engines deserved more credit than aero for higher speeds.  Speeds were still well under the stated goal of 225 mph, however, topping out at about 219 mph.  And there were as many teams under 215 mph as over it.  But the cars were at least drivable.  In the fall, they weren’t.

"It was more balanced,” said Tony Kanaan, who drove the Chevrolet-powered KV Racing Technology car at Indy.  "We worked on it, we talked about it. Some people criticized (the car) at the end of last year, but it's a new car and we have to figure it out. 

“I went out of the pits and went flat out right away, so I have to say that the aero kit is definitely a little bit better. We're going to see some quality drivers giving positive feedback so when we come back here in May we can have the right stuff."

All the teams were using engines slated for  Long Beach.  No Lotus-powered cars took part in the tests as the company's engines remain at a premium.  In addition to Kanaan, other Chevy drivers included, Ed Carpenter for Carpenter Racing, Marco Andretti for Andretti Autosport, JR Hildebrand for Panther Racing and Helio Castroneves for Team Penske.  Honda teams were represented by Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Takuma Sato for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Mike Conway for A.J. Foyt Racing and Justin Wilson for Dale Coyne Racing.

“Balance was much improved I think,” said Dixon, the fastest of the Honda contingent.  “It was also hard to do a lot of miles because all of us had to use race engines that we may have to use, will definitely use, at Long Beach.   All in all, I think a lot of the improvements on speed, a lot of that was from the engine manufacturers as opposed to the drag reduction from Dallara. I think everything is moving in a positive way, and it was enjoyable to be back out there yesterday. The speeds are definitely picking up, so it's good to see.

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