The IndyCar race at Kentucky easily qualifies as the best oval race they have put on this year, and in my book, also outshined the fantastic street race at Toronto. Hands down, best race of the season! It was just a bonus that I was in attendance.
Congratulations to Ryan Briscoe, who took the photo finish win over Ed Carpenter. Their side by side battle has to go down as the best season highlight on ovals so far.
The teams were given very little practice time with these new features before the race. That practice time was even more restricted when all of Friday’s action at the track was weeped out due to ground water coming up through the track. This gave the teams very little time to try out all the new changes on the cars and clearly, some of them missed the setups.
Dixon was unable to use any of his push to pass since his team got his gearing wrong. Scott was able to keep in front of the field during the first couple of pit exchanges, but at the end of the race, both Dixon and Franchitti were nowhere to be seen. Don’t look for that to happen again anytime soon!
If the side by side nature of the racing wasn’t enough, then the presence of Ed Carpenter at the sharp end of the pack at the end of the race should help convince even the hardest critic that the IRL has made great strides in correcting their oval package.
As we have detailed here at Open Paddock, there were numerous changes made at Kentucky. The aero was significantly tweaked, they added a push to pass system and Firestone brought some new tire compounds.
The IRL mandated that the rear wing endplate wickers be removed which significantly decreased drag on the cars and also cleaned up the air for following cars. On top of that, the teams could optionally add in sidepod extensions, wheel ramps and wheel infills which added up to 300 additional pounds of downforce.
In addition, the IRL worked with Honda to develop their push to pass system that allowed for remapping the engine to increase revs by 200 rpm’s above their rev limit of 10,300 rpm’s. At Kentucky the cars were limited to twenty button pushes that allowed for 12 second bursts. This only allowed for roughly an extra 5 HP.
Firestone also brought a new tire compound which seemed to cut down on marbles. There was side by side racing throughout the field for the duration of the race. Hardly anyone washed up the track taken away by marbles. Nobody ended up in the wall. And the IndyCar series didn’t dispatch the rubber zambonies when a full course caution came out with 75 laps to go. Clearly, this is a huge improvement on every other oval race we have watched this year.
The IRL has very clearly responded to the oval track problems that they have been facing. Honda, Firestone & Dalarra all did their parts in helping craft a better package, and we the fans have been served.
OpenPaddock.net would like to thank the IndyCar series for their efforts on the behalf of the fans!