So, you want the cars to look different?
Well, according to new INDYCAR president of competition and operations Derrick Walker, IndyCar fans who "are crying out for differentiation," will get just that. It just might be a little longer wait than some would like.
Yes, technical development to certain parts of the car, more familiarly known as "aero-kits," will be introduced in IndyCar, but not until 2015. Key to Walker's plan, which gave a broad outline of the series' goals for the next decade, was that development would be "managed" and "incremental," with an eye always towards safety.
Now, it must be said Walker's proposed plan would need to approved by the series' partners. Walker made clear any changes would be made in conjunction with the teams, suppliers and manufacturers. Of course, this fact is of concern to many, as aero-kits have been rejected twice already by the series owners.
However, AutoRacing1.com spoke with many team principals this weekend. By and large, we found the sentiment within the paddock to be supportive of not so much Walker's initiatives, but the fact he drew up a detailed long-term plan. While there are those within the IndyCar community who would clearly like to see a more accelerated introduction of innovation, Walker made clear that "incremental" and "managed" as it might be, there would in fact be, innovation.
Amen to that!
Let's take a look at some of the other stories from this weekend in Detroit:
Since it will be a while before the introduction of aero-kits, and differentiation, I have an idea at least for road and street course that will make the cars look different in the interim: put Mike Conway in one.
Because, if you were watching the same two races I was, Conway was visibly quicker all weekend. After winning the Saturday race, Conway dominated the first half Sunday before fading late and coming home third. Still, the unassuming Brit, who told the media Saturday he was gardening in England when got the call to race last week was "bad fast," in every session.
Further, Conway's performance becomes more impressive when you analyze the context in which it occurred.
To begin, I must say I will happily stand corrected if presented with compelling evidence. However, but prior to this weekend there has never to my knowledge been such a thing as a fast second car at Dale Coyne Racing. Yes, there have been fast first entries, something we've seen with Justin Wilson in recent years, Bruno Junqueira and some others. Furthermore, I bet you didn't realize Coyne's win this weekend gives DCR the most victories (three) of the teams that made the switch from Champ Car when the merger occurred in 2008. But a fast second DCR car?
Again, maybe there has been, I just don't remember it. As for this season, let me put this way: I had no idea how ugly the Ana Beatriz paint job was until Conway started driving the car.
Second, in this incredibly competitive season, only one driver has essentially shown himself to be clearly faster at a given event: Mike Conway. And for a sport that could maybe use a few more stars that stand out from the rest, this weekend at least, there was no question who the star was.
I suppose part of Conway's magical weekend was the fact we got to see him twice. Of course, how exactly the doubleheader format would work was a huge question coming into the weekend.
While the unique format was more accepted than embraced by the drivers and teams going into the weekend, my greatest curiosity was television. Would having races at the same times, back to back Saturday and Sunday build momentum for the TV audience? In other words, would the "same Bat time, same Bat channel," approach be a successful one?
Depends on how you look at it.
The Saturday race earned an equal 0.7 rating to last year's Sunday race. However, this year's Sunday race was up about 14% on both, with an overnight coming in at 0.8. So, all in all IndyCar was up for the weekend relative to last year.
Granted, the ratings are still nowhere near where people would like, and many in the IndyCar world have simply expressed bewilderment at the series television difficulties. Further, while there was an uptick for Sunday's race, it doesn't seem as though the Saturday race necessarily created a lot of repeat viewers Sunday.
Of course, experts will study this, and take into account competing sports, weather, and other such variables. Also, there is not yet enough evidence to draw too many definitive conclusions. However, at first glance, it simply seems the better Sunday rating is simply a product of Sunday being a better television day.
A Few Quick Things:
--With a win Saturday and third place finish Sunday, Conway has more podium finishes in 2013 than Will Power and Target Chip Ganassi combined.
--Carlos Munoz has the exact same number of podium finishes in 2013 as Will Power and Target Chip Ganassi combined.
--According to Power, former four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais has lost his once glorious form, and become a "chump." While the term "chump," may not have been fair to a man of Bourdais' accomplishments, out of the twenty-two drivers, who have started every IndyCar race in 2013, Bourdais is the only one to have not yet recorded a top-10 finish.
Brian Carroccio is an IndyCar columnist for AutoRacing1.com. He also writes about the Washington Redskins for Rant Sports.
You can email him at BrianC@autoracing1.com or follow him on Twitter @BrianC_AR1.
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