Sunday, June 21, 2009

Honda May Have Answer To Passing Problem

As many of you may have heard on the latest addition of Trackside with Cavin & Kevin, both the league and Indycar teams are looking for answers to the passing plague.

Larry Curry of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing explained multiple concepts that would help passing, all which basically narrowed down to the IRL allowing teams more freedom. Curry mentioned everything from wheel base to suspension, but said that the number one thing he would do to improve the racing would be to open up rear flap angles.

President of competition for the IRL Brian Barnhart fallowed up on the show saying "There's a log of concern", in regards to indycar's passing problem. Barnhart said the number one problem is that all the teams have had the same Dallara for so long, the teams are bunched together and have squeezed everything out of them. Barnhart went on to say something needed and would be done.

According to Curt Cavin, Honda has been developing a type of "push to pass" that would give the driver an extra 5 or so horsepower. The new system has been tested at both Chicagoland and Richmond with strong results.

"It's not a game changer, but it would be a help, no question about it. I don't know how you put a value on it, but entertainment is a big part of what we do, and that's what we're lacking at the moment. The people in the grandstand need to feel they've gotten their value back." -Mike Hull


I was just thinking about this yesterday. You don't need the 50 HP bump they used in ChampCar. For an oval, you just need a little extra goose to even things when you take the long way around another car (passing on the high line).

But, Barnhardt is confusing two issues. One issue is the question of how tight the rules should be---what teams are allowed to do. I'm sympathetic to the Ganassi "open things up" point of view. The other issue is the question of what happened to IRL-style, 2 and 3 wide pack racing? Lack of disparity between cars has nothing to do with that.

Davey Hamilton put it best on the radio when he said, "We used to be able stick our front wings right up under the gearbox of another car." That has nothing to do with the rule book; it has to do with changes to the racing package---probably tires. Apparently Barnhardt doesn't want to talk about that.

BTW, there was plenty of 2 and 3 wide at Chicago last year, with a classic squeaker finish. Briscoe had his wing up under Helio's gearbox giving him the little aero push to beat Dixon... That happened in spite of all this supposed parity.

I'll bet most teams don't feel like there's a lot of parity between them and Penske or Ganassi right now. I also really don't think Ganassi truly believes there is parity between him and Penske on big ovals. Penske clearly has an edge. He wants the rules loosened up so he can close the gap.

Please...none of this "push to pass" stuff. Let them open up the air boxes...give them more flexibility with wing angles...Maybe I'm too old school, but "push to pass" always sounded too hokey - like a video game...like if you picked up more coins on the course, you got 10 more seconds of boost.

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