Barber IndyCar Hot Topics - Friday
Brian Barnhart On Double File Restarts
"The whole thing's a learning process for everyone involved," said Brian Barnhart regarding double file restarts. "It's a pretty radical change from how things have happened and have been done for over a decade.
"To some extent, you're trying to shove a square pin into a round hole. You're going to have to adapt and improvise."
"The things we're looking at are where the restart line is, what the speed is, where we start forming them up into the double-file formation, how we communicate to them the information," Barnhart said.
"Talking to the majority of the drivers, we don't like this double-file restart thing because of the encounters it causes, but at the end of the day we can make it work by giving each other respect and room," said Will Power, who had the fastest practice lap Friday. "The way it is right now, maybe if we go a little earlier it will spread things out. "The more you spread them out, the safer it is."
"I think it's one of those learning processes, if we change a few things and the drivers actually listen to the changes," Scott Dixon said. "The problem is, when the green flag goes, we all get a bit stupid."
"We probably got better exchange of ideas information and understanding of what needs are from both points of view than we ever have," he said.
Simona getting lot's of attention
22-year old Swiss Simona de Silvestro is enjoying the extra attention these days after her great 4th place at St. Pete two weeks ago.
"It's pretty cool," de Silvestro said Friday morning while winding down a series of media interviews. "It's definitely the busiest I've ever been in my racing career. It's fun because people appreciate what I did at St. Pete and all that."
"I want to be able to compete on the race track," de Silvestro said, sitting at a picnic table outside her trailer while the occasional fan peered into the cordoned-off area. "That's my biggest goal. I'm a race car driver. That's what I'm here for."
"She did well last year, too," Danica Patrick said. "She's been a good road course driver from the start. Sometimes things just need to fall your way to have a good result and get noticed, and things fell her way and she did a good job. This isn't like one of those things she all of a sudden did."
De Silvestro said now she wants "to keep it going." But the main thing for Year 2 is finishing races.
"Last year, we missed a couple of races because I had crashes and it really hurt us in the points standings at the end," said de Silvestro, who finished 19th in the series standings. "Our main goal is to try to finish every race this year."
"She's a good driver and she's very willing to learn and that's the key to becoming a great driver," Power said. "A great driver is continually wanting the details to be quicker than the next guy, because everybody in the race is trying to find something. I think that's a very good approach. I think once she settles down — she's probably a little bit too aggressive right now — she'll be a pretty solid driver."
Power on being fastest again
"The Verizon car was good today,” said Power, who won the pole last year at Barber before he finished fourth in the race. “This track is very fast and the car is very sensitive to changes. We were trying a couple different things with our set-up and we actually made some pretty significant changes. The No. 12 car was reasonably quick throughout the day so we should be in good shape for qualifying tomorrow. I wasn't too happy at the end of the first practice. The rain meant we really only managed to complete one short run before the end of the session. But we brought a strong setup here from our pre-season test and the afternoon run went very well. This is a great track, very smooth but technical. Just as we saw [two weeks ago] at St. Petersburg, this field is very, very close, and qualifying tomorrow will be tough."
Randy Bernard hoping to double Barber TV Rating
"We more than doubled last year’s ratings on ABC for the St. Pete race,” said Randy Bernard. “It would be exceptional if we could have a similar ratings increase like that here in Alabama. It’s not going to be easy—we’re going up against the PGA and The Masters—but we have great momentum and have a great product. It’s not out of the question, though, and it’s also good for us to have high expectations for ourselves.”
Tony Kanaan Struggled
After finishing third in St. Pete on his KV Racing debut, Friday was a struggle at Barber for Tony Kanaan. "Today we struggled a lot," said Kanaan. "The first session was cut short because of the rain, which didn't help. For the second session we tired something I really didn't like and we just ran out of time to make the necessary adjustments."
Roger Penske on Chevy entering the series
"Chevrolet wants to have an engine running after midyear so by July we want to be running it on the track in car tests," Penske said. "They say what wins on Sunday sells on Monday so maybe we'll use that same theme moving forward. Having an American manufacturer to compete with Honda is good for the sport. Honda has done a terrific job. Chevy was here before when it was just the IRL (Indy Racing League) by itself. They are very committed to winning. That is going to bode well for us moving forward."
"We're helping the series out," Penske said. "We were instrumental in getting Chevrolet to come back in so if someone were to add up what we've done to support the league I would put my chips on the table and that would be equal or outweigh whether we run a car for the $5 million. There will be some great stories but it's important for us to win the championship. What's good about it is we have people talking about this series again. I think Randy has made a big difference with the sport. I told him before he took the job that this sport is different than putting a bull out in the ring because these bulls have managers and they have to meet certain technical specs."
Penske on Randy Bernard's idea to break the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track record in an exhibition run in May
"I'm not sure of the details -- if we understood exactly what it was it might be something to do after we get qualified but I wouldn't want to do it before that. We have to be careful. We have good momentum for the series and we have to make sure the series doesn't overextend what we are doing. Look where we were several years ago and where we are today in a lousy economy. We have 26 cars and we are in a lot better position now than several years ago."