Next Tuesday is the IRL’s annual winter meeting. This gives the league an opportunity to talk about rules changes with the teams, as well as perform physicals and film segments with the drivers to use for Versus and ESPN’s TV packages.
For us here in the Paddock though, it really marks the beginning of the IndyCar season as we come off of a very quiet winter break. Granted, we have already had the first test of the new year with Taglianni, Briscoe and Franchitti taking laps at Homestead. But the league meeting is really the kickoff to the new season.
There are many teams who have not confirmed drivers yet, let alone confirmed that they will be participating in the IndyCar series at all. This is a great time to see who shows up, and a great time for reporters like Cavin, Oreowicz and columnists like Robin Miller to have access to the powers that be for an extended period of time.
Along with that, the drivers will be showing up for their brain scans and physicals. Each driver will get a brain scan to use as a baseline in case they get into an accident this season so they can compare the after accident scan to the pre-season scan to determine if/when the driver is healthy enough to compete again.
That said, with all the confirmed drivers, lots of potential drivers and several team bosses gathered together in one place for an extended period of time, we will probably be hearing plenty of new information. But as with anything, the IRL is good at telegraphing their punches, so here is what we heard about this week.
Reverse Gear for Road/Street Courses
It was announced earlier this week that the IRL will be mandating a reverse gear be added to the road/street course gearbox. This should cut down on the amount of caution laps at road/street courses as drivers who are involved in non-serious incidents will be able to back out of tight spots instead of waiting for the engine to die and the safety crew to come turn them loose on the track again. This should also cut down on the highly entertaining hand puppet shows put on by Danica as she attempts to convince the safety crew to tug her out of the mess first.
This begs the question though. Do we really want Milka Duno, EJ Viso and Mario Moraes to have access to reverse? Calamity!
Death of the Fuel Knob, Again
Fuel strategy races are with us to stay, but a recent blog post by Honda Performance Development seems to indicate that Honda wants to get rid of the fuel setting knob to at least make the drivers conserve fuel with their right foot instead of having the ECU do their dirty work. This would be a very popular move by the league if it comes to pass.
The TV Schedule has Finally Been Released
The final 2010 TV Schedule has been released and this one has start times on it. The league has dragged this out for months now, probably because NASCAR released their schedule with several unexpected time changes on it, which prompted the IRL to re-evaluate their time slots. Of note is that Chicago will not be a 10pm start again this year. Check out the new schedule at IndyCar.com.
Keep it tuned to the Paddock, we will keep you up to date on all the shenanigans next week. We will definitely be sure to post pictures if an IZOD fashion show breaks out.