Q: With the tremendous amount of torque in the wheels when IndyCars accelerate out of the pits, it seems to me that having one or two guys pushing on the aft wing to “help” the car out of the box would have a negligible effect. Why do they do it? Do all of the teams do it? (Does it really help the car get going? Could it help prevent stalling the engine? Is it assumed that the engine will stall and the driver can pop the clutch to restart the engine? Perhaps it’s just tradition? On the negative side, might it warp the aft wing out of its designed aerodynamic position?) That new reporter, Dillon, did a nice job conducting driver interviews at Iowa.
Mark, Altus, Oklahoma
RM: From Ganassi Racing’s Mike Hull: “Yes pushing on the rear wing when the car is leaving the pit box certainly does help with getting the car up to speed, especially on cold tires or when the pit box is wet. Not all teams do this. Yes, if the tire changers are holding onto the rear wing for too long when pushing it does slow the car down. Pushing on the rear wing does also help prevent the driver from stalling when attempting to leave the pit box. You can actually see some teams using their tire changers to push or pull on the rear wing in a lateral direction to either help get the car rotated, or keep the car straight when spinning the rear tires depending on what that driver might need when trying to leave the pit box. (This is more likely to happen if there is another car pitting in front of the car attempting to leave the pit box) We do not use this method on the No. 9 car as Scott doesn’t like that feeling and prefers to be in control of the car’s direction when leaving. (You are more likely to see this at a street course when the pit box length is short).
“In most cases, you will not see teams trying to push start the car when stalled – it’s normally quicker to push the car back to the mechanic who is waiting with the starter. Yes, the speedway wings that we currently run at Indy, Texas and Pocono are very small and fragile. We are careful how we push on this assembly as we also ran a mechanical adjuster for this configuration, and that adjuster could get damaged if you had someone pushing on the wing. We try to have the tire changers push directly on the attenuator when possible.”
Q: We haven’t heard much of the third engine manufacturer pursuit since April when Porsche bowed out, joining what appears to be a solid, if not spectacular, field of European manufacturers that IndyCar so craves that has rejected their overtures. I know there is a list of variables as to why these organizations might balk at IndyCar, but do you have any idea what the overarching thought is? Visibility? ROI? Cost? Logistics? Prestige?
And what about IndyCar changing their engines and chassis almost simultaneously with Formula 1? We know there’s no technical comparison between the two. But I’ll bet there are some manufacturers looking to get involved in open-wheel racing who want to see what Formula 1 comes up with first, and monitor the ever-evolving specs of Formula E, before deciding if either of them are worth the investment – while, much like many Europe-based drivers, seeing IndyCar as a fallback to their pursuits. Does that come into play anywhere?
Dan W., Ft. Worth, TX
RM: I think Formula E’s attraction is the fact manufacturers can showcase their technical staff and innovation. Obviously IndyCar would be much cheaper to enter than F1 and the V6 is a relevant engine, but I don’t pretend to know why it’s so difficult to score a third manufacturer.
Q: Do you worry that losing O’Ward, Bell, Larson to other series is like the ’90s when Indy lost Gordon, Stewart and others?
RM: I worry about losing Pato, but Larson and Bell never had a chance of coming to open-wheel because none of the IndyCar owners had any idea who they were and never pursued them. Ganassi had a good talent scout and that’s why he got Kyle, and Bell was snapped up by Kyle Busch and now Toyota and Joe Gibbs. They both wanted to be stock car drivers but both want to run the Indy 500, so hopefully some day they’ll get that chance.
Q: With 12 Americans racing at Iowa, when was the last time over half the field was American?
Matt Converset, Decatur, IN
RM: Last month at Texas there were also a dozen Yanks. Sage Karam replaced Charlie Kimball in the line-up.