Too little downforce turned the Firestone 550 into a strung-out snoozefest in front of a national audience
Sometimes when the drivers cry wolf its legit and Saturday night’s IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway had them howling for good reason: the series laid an egg on their biggest national television stage (besides the Indianapolis 500) in years.
Running during prime time on ABC, the usually-exciting 1.5-mile oval was turned into a ho-hum show in terms of close racing, passing at the front and a dramatic finish. If you liked watching a driver call on his skills to keep from crashing, it was good theater.
But if you like the kind of great racing IndyCar has produced the past year and a half it was pretty disappointing as Helio Castroneves led the final 31 laps in his Triple A Chevrolet (by as much as 18 seconds at one point) and was unchallenged.
The drivers pleaded with IndyCar officials to give them more downforce following Friday’s practice period but nothing was done.
“We warned them before the race it was going to be like that,” said runner-up Ryan Hunter-Reay, referring to the lack of overtaking and running in close quarters. “We didn’t need much, just a little more downforce help, and I think it would have been a much better show.
“It’s difficult to get the package right with the downforce and degradation of tires and we’ve nailed it perfectly in the past. But not tonight.”
Duly noted and responsibility accepted by Derrick Walker, the new president of competition for IndyCar.
“They (drivers) were telling us it was going to make a difficult night and, let’s be honest, it didn’t make for good racing,” admitted Walker. “Like last year nobody thought it was going to be easy but there were different opinions on whether to change the aero configurations and if it would make a big enough difference.
“But, in the end, I decided to stick with what we had and I think based on the outcome I was wrong. I want to apologize to the fans, teams and drivers for making the wrong choice but we’ll learn from it and get it right.” Robin Miller Speedtv.com
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