It’s Fast Friday At IMS

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Good morning from a damp and humid Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As promised, I was here before the gates opened. It’s sort of surreal to have free roam of the place when the only people on the grounds are team personnel, media and the vendors setting up for the day. Even though there are no spectators here yet, there is a more palpable buzz here for a practice day than there was for Race Day of the Angie’s List Grand Prix last week. That’s probably not something that IMS officials would like to be expressed, but that’s at least my opinion.

When I arrived in the IMS Media Center, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan press conference was wrapping up. I can’t say that there was anything utterly revealing that came out of it. Most of these press conferences are not scripted, but there’s not a real hard line of questioning in them either. It’s more of a goodwill tour. Still, it was good to see and hear Oriol Servia, Graham Rahal and Bobby Rahal express their opinions on subjects like the Honda aero kits, the sudden questions about Chevy and how things are going in general. At the end, Bobby Rahal was asked to compare the current racing to when he was racing in CART. Not surprisingly, he towed the company line and said that it’s better today. I’m not sure I agree with that, but who do you think is more qualified to make such an assessment. An Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time CART champion or an over-aged blogger from Nashville? Enough said.

Rahal
As soon as they were done, the Rahal group moved out and all of the drivers from Chip Ganassi Racing moved in. Their press conference revealed even less. I’m not sure if it was a “gentlemen’s agreement” but the issues with the Chevy aero kit were hardly mentioned. There were more generic questions and answers about preparing for the “500”, Tony Kanaan pranks, etc.

Ganassi

Quite honestly, I was glad when it was over so all of the hard-core media types would stop standing around my station which is always near the front. I’ve had this same seat since I’ve been blogging. There are 28 rows in the massive media center. Every year, I sit on the end of Row Four; which is what used to be known as “Blogger Row”. The only bloggers left here on Blogger Row are Susan and me with Oilpressure.com and James Black and Paul Dalbey with 16th and Georgetown. It’s kind of sad, really.

The two-seater is now running, so that’s a sign of life…and that’s it’s dry. Driving to the track this morning, it poured on me. Then it quickly became sunny. Just as I was parking, another cloudburst hit – so I sat in the car for about five minutes. By the time I got to the Pagoda, the skies were clearing again.

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Currently as I look to the west, it does not look great. In fact, it looks threatening. But a glance at the radar looks pretty good except for one local cell in the area. The afternoon is supposed to be good, but the report I saw in the hotel this morning said to not be surprised to see a pop-up shower at some point this afternoon.

I’ll be honest, I’m more nervous than usual heading into this weekend. The Chevy aero kit seems to be the culprit in the eerily similar crashes involving Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. I don’t speak engineering lingo, but I know that those around here that do share my concerns. I’ll be holding my breath this weekend and through the race next week, unless the Chevy engineers can definitively say that they have found the problem and fixed it. Not to be overly dramatic, but if I were a Chevy driver – I’d be a little nervous.

That’s going to do it for now. I’m heading to the garage are to see what is stirring there. Susan will be hopefully be joining me here later this afternoon but regardless – she’ll be here tomorrow. For updates and photos, you can follow me on Twitter at @Oilpressureblog and Susan at @MrsOilpressure. Please check back later today.

George Phillips

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8 Responses to “It’s Fast Friday At IMS”

  1. Why are the flags on top of the pagoda at half staff?

  2. Being Fast Friday I hope that Newgarden, Pippa and Helio can get their cars out and up to speed. I don’t want to make any predictions until they are out there and the cars are set up with the adjustments to the aerokits.

  3. You can say what you will about the CART-era of the 500 and today (and, mind you, I think it was pretty awesome, too), but I think that Bobby’s right that the RACING is better today. To wit, the number of cars on the lead lap at the 500 mile mark:

    1980 – 4
    1981 – 2
    1982 – 2 (although those two guys put on a hell of a show)
    1983 – 3
    1984 – 1 (Mears beat Guerrero by two full laps)
    1985 – 3
    1986 – 4
    1987 – 2 (third place Fabrizio Barbazza was two laps down)
    1988 – 2
    1989 – 1 (Al Jr. crashed with two laps to go, yet “finished” second; third place Raul Boesel was SIX laps down)
    1990 – 3
    1991 – 2
    1992 – 4
    1993 – 10 (somewhat aided by only one stretch of green flag racing that exceeded 31 laps all day)
    1994 – 2
    1995 – 7

    Versus, say, the last 5 years:

    2010 – 14
    2011 – 12
    2012 – 16
    2013 – 19
    2014 – 20

    We take it for granted now that there are battles going right down to the wire, for the lead and all through the field, but it wasn’t that long ago that about 9 years out of every 10, the only “drama” involved was whether or not the leader’s car would last the last few laps.

    Enjoy your day there, George. I’m insanely jealous…

    • Ron Ford Says:

      Well done Geekster. My first race was 1951. I imagine that if I checked the info. from 1951 to 1980 it would look much the same as what you show here.

    • Interesting. But it is a different race now. The endurance and the cutting edge technology that was so much a part of the race is not close to what it was. More than anything these numbers just reflect the spec racing.

      Now does that make for better “racing” by having more cars on the lead lap? I guess that is in the eye of the beholder.

      • I didn’t comment at all on the technological intrigue of the racing in the CART-era (or earlier) vs. today (I think it’s pretty clear that for the most part, the cars were more advanced for their day back then; nowadays, you can buy a car for the road with “IndyCar-esque” technology today: carbon fiber construction, turbos, sequential/semi-automatic gearboxes, etc., etc.). I was merely talking about whether or not the actual wheel-to-wheel part of the product was “better” today or back a couple decades. Given the margins of victory today vs. back then, I’d say that most folks would take what we have now. The real (and way more expensive) question would be how to keep the close racing while encouraging technical variety. That is the $64 million (and beyond) question.

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