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DATE News (chronologically)
06/02/12
irl
Saturday Morning - Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
All 25 drivers took to the track in the IndyCar morning practice, and when it was done, the usual suspects were at the top – Scott Dixon, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ryan Briscoe, and Justin Wilson were the top 5 on the charts.

The only incident of the morning was Oriol Servia’s off into turn 14, but his team assured me that he’ll be ready to qualify later today.

**************

So what about the so-much-rumored-that-it-is-reported-as-fact IndyCar owner’s meeting with Randy Bernard? Conspicuous by his absence today is Randy Bernard, usually a very visible figure around the paddock. Then again, it seems like many of the owners aren’t exactly walking the paddock looking for interviews either.

Insiders told me that the grownups really are in charge, and will stay in charge, and in the end, issues will be resolved. In other words, no repeat of the CART engine wars. For starters, Randy Bernard still has the support of the Hulman-George family - maybe not every vote, but enough votes to make it count. That alone would be end of story. And why wouldn’t they support him – Randy Bernard has balanced the books, brought in a new engine competition as well as a new car chassis, and the Indy 500 was, by most accounts, an instant classic.

The car owners seem to have two major gripes. First, the new car was supposed to cost around $350,000 each. Now, according to my sources, they cost more like $750,000 each when sold with spare parts. As we enter into a 2-month grind, most teams would love to have an extra car or two in case of crashes, or just to avoid the street-to-super-speedway thrash they’ll do after this race. However, even if the extra cars were available – and production seems to be lagging – the cost makes that prohibitive to most of the owners. One crew member told me that to build an IndyCar from crate to track costs around $1 million.

The second gripe is that Chevy fully expected to win everything, especially the Indy 500. That IndyCar made a change in its rules favoring Honda before Indy still sticks in their gut, and no doubt they are still thinking that Honda suckered everyone in that process. However, such discussions are the stuff of multiple engine manufacturer series, and such whining will take place even when they are winning.

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Davy Hamilton and I chatted briefly today. Davy is looking fit, only a few pounds above his driving weight, but getting back out on a rough course like Detroit is out of the question. We joked about getting old, but the truth is that his foot injuries are very sore for days after a drive now.

A couple of years ago, he had 10 IndyCar drivers ready to drive modifies on the Terra Haute oval, but the event was rained out. Drivers included Will Power, Mike Conway, and Ed Carpenter, but yeah, you guessed it, The Danica didn’t make the list. Sadly, the event was rained out.

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Firestone introduced a new intermediate rain tire for IndyCar, and according to Firestone spokesmen, they are happy with the results. With the introduction of this tire, there is no full-on rain tire for IndyCar, because they noted, IndyCars can’t run in more than a drizzle or damp track. Between the visibility issues, and the problems associated with pools and puddles, the cars aren’t suitable to run in a full rain. So, reasons Firestone, why build a tire for a race that would never happen?

************** Tim Wohlford
AutoRacing1.com
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