IndyCar – Thoughts on Push-to-Pass

Curt Cavin let the cat out of the bag in an article today on Push-To-Pass will make its IndyCar Series debut in Kentucky. (As an aside, if you don’t already read Mr. Cavin’s Q&A, you should! Its great stuff.) Personally, I’m skeptical of the move. The push-to-pass button so often becomes a push-not-to-be-passed button, take a look at how KERS is used in F1 for example. On a restart everyone will mash their Go-Fast buttons and there will be no difference. Some drivers will use the button for offense, and others will defend with it. What we’ll end up seeing is a new nifty graphic on the broadcast, and something techy for Jenkins and Beekus to discuss. I seriously doubt it will affect the racing quality in the slightest. Even with the P2P, the increase in power will be marginal at best. As per Mr. Cavin, here’s how the system works:

Pass button on a Superleague car's steering wheel.
Pass button on a Superleague car's steering wheel.

Drivers will get between 5 and 20 additional horsepower depending on how their fuel mixture is set. Over the course of the race, they will have 20 opportunities to use the device activated by a button on their steering wheel. The boost will last for 12 seconds, and there will be a 10-second recharge blackout.

Most drivers will be running in fuel position one or two, which means the boost will likely only give them 5-7 additional hp. That’s only a 1% increase! I know that our sport is one of inches and thousandths of a second, but 1%? Seriously? I have far more faith in the aero adjustments improving the racing rather than this gimmicky go-fast button. If the league honestly wished for the cars to be faster, the Honda Indy V8 power plant is certainly capable of producing significantly more power than it currently does. I understand that Honda, like Firestone, aren’t in business so that drivers can complain about how their engine blew up or their tires went to crap, but the power could be increased a bit from where it currently sits, around 635 hp, back to a level just shy of where it was when competing with Toyota, around 675 hp. That would allow the racing to improve, while preserving a fair degree of reliability. In the end, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see how the Kentucky race turns out. One thing is for certain, its a very good thing that the league is being very active about seeking a solution to the issues plaguing this season’s oval racing.

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One Thought to “IndyCar – Thoughts on Push-to-Pass

  1. Color me as one who would prefer not to use gimmicks to promote passing. If the aero package allows for wheel to wheel racing, then great. But I am not to happy to see them use the CCWS/F1 push to pass contraption, whatever form it ends up taking.

    I also am not a fan of the option tire program.

    I would prefer they get rid of multiple green flag fuel settings. Make them conserve fuel with their right foot. Personally, I think that has added more to the lack of passing than it is being given credit for. Honda put the fuel knob back on the cars a couple years ago and you could immediately tell.

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