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Sunday AM report - Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
Morning practice went off without a hitch, with Graham Rahal leading the speed charts. Scott Dixon was a few inches slower, followed by Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais.

Rubens Barrichello has been dropped to 24th on the grid after switching chassis overnight.

The penalty was imposed in accordance with Rule of the IndyCar Series rulebook, which outlines the procedure for reassigning a grid position after an original grid position has been disallowed.


To quote Emily Litella, "Nevermind". (I will note that the pretty young thing sitting beside me, keeping the Detroit Grand Prix Facebook page updated, doesn't know who Emily Litella was.) By the time IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard makes his appearance in the Detroit media center in an hour, all that will need to be explained is why he Tweeted that the car owners were out for his head.

Talking to two car owners this morning, I got the sense that the meeting went well, that the air was cleared, and the real complaints were laid on the table. Basically, the anger boils down to costs. As one long-time owner explained to me, it is important that Dallara be profitable to remain in business (Lola, Reynard, March... the list of defunct Indy builders is long). However, it is equally important that IndyCar drivers remain in business.

And it isn't really that Dallara's prices are too high, it is that they are unexpected. The owners keep pointing to the cost of a raw chassis being $500,000 (one quoted me $575,000), plus another quarter million for parts -- many of which they could make in their own shop cheaper. Then there is the issue of some of the parts being on back order, and then sometimes the quality isn't exactly stellar -- witness Ed Carpenter's front wing woes during the Indy 500.


The most popular person -- or the least popular person -- in every team today is the shock guy. Most of the teams are running Penske shocks, but the adjustability in them makes the possibilities almost unlimited. Putting aside driving styles, it is clear from the in-car video that some are more affected by the very rough Detroit course than others.

Another thing that will continue in the Detroit Grand Prix tradition is that passing will be damned near impossible. Qualification order was of primary importance, and pit road skill and strategy will account for more passing than on-track driving. In spite of Justin Wilson's strong qualification run, the team is disappointed because it will be very tough to recover from an 11th place starting position. Even more dejected is Coyne team mate James Jakes, who told me that it was a "disappointing week" -- which is what you'd expect from a guy who qualified dead last yesterday. Frustrated, he said that the goal for him today is to "minimize the damage" to his points standing -- and who knows, perhaps the expensive Dallara parts.


Pippa Mann is wandering the paddock area today, hoping for another shot at an IndyCar ride. She's a bit tired of being asked how that little finger (injured at Vegas last fall) is doing, but with a mischievous gleam in her eye, she quipped that it would be doing better wrapped around a steering wheel today.


Tim Wohlford

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