Iowa Sunday Notebook - 1 - If a Japanese driver gets his first win in Iowa, does this balance off the universe since Danica got her first win in Japan? Hideki Mutoh was the fastest driver in pre-race practice, narrowly edging out Ryan Briscoe. Behind them are the usual fast subjects starting with Wheldon, Andretti, Meira, Kanaan and Helio. Graham Rahal is the fastest of the former CCWS drivers with the 11th fastest practice time, unless you count Ryan Hunter-Reay (10th quickest) who is still listed as a rookie for this race.
- Far off of the pace this weekend was Milka Duno, who was some 2.3 mph slower than Marty Roth, 9 mph slower than Hideki. Milka's people have not made her available for interviews this weekend.
- If you've got a HDTV, make sure you look at the back of the car for speed secrets. Most teams are finding speed by tacking on bits - i.e., wickerbills and flaps — on the back edge of the undertray. Also look at the front wings, as teams experiment with bumps, humps, flaps, weather vanes and moose antlers to pick up an advantage. Perhaps the most overrated tweaks have to do with the mirrors -- there is some speculation that Chip Ganassi Racing is just playing a joke on the rest of the field when he flipped the base of the mirrors upside down for Indy.
- Once again, the challenges of time, talent and money are hindering many "transition" teams. Bruno Junqueira's team, for instance, tore down his wrecked car and sent the tub back to Indy last night for repairs, then started working on a road course chassis this morning since all of the crew members were at Iowa. Conquest Racing was also working on their spare car, and PCM took the weekend off to try to catch their breath. Compounding the difficulty is that the Dallara takes a lot more man-hours to prepare and repair than the DP01 — some teams claim twice as much time and work. Granted, rebuilding a car that has hit a wall at Indy takes much more time than rebuilding one that nosed into a barrier on a street circuit, and the diversity of race tracks makes massive changes necessary. However, the consensus is that the Panoz was brilliant in its simplicity to maintain and repair, leaving the crew members free to enjoy the sights and flavors of Long Beach.
- If you make the trip to Iowa — and the track is beautiful, the people friendly and the prices very reasonable — then be sure to make the 30 mile drive to nearby Knoxville for their dirt races. This weekend the USAC midgets puts on a great show — but what can you expect for a series that has several chassis manufacturers, several motor manufacturers, some very talented foreign drivers, and a very wicked horsepower to downforce ratio?
- Do you want to be a Firestone Indy Lights car owner just like Sam Schmidt? Well, first you hire a young driver who's sure that they should lead every lap. Then you get out your wallet to pay for the damages... Is the front wing gone? $15,000. Pancake job in the wall? Around $20,000 in damages. Back it into the wall? A complete gearbox is $22,000, then you've got to replace the attenuator as well as the rear wing... Tim Wohlford reporting from Iowa
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