Afternoon Update from Pocono (Update)UPDATE There's mass confusion at Pocono Raceway. In particular, there is confusion amongst Izod IndyCar Series teams regarding the car setup here at The Tricky Triangle. That is of course, unless you are Marco Andretti. But more on that later.
Anyway, since the unique layout is proving to be quite a puzzle, and I don't lay claim to the solution, allow me to list some of the problems they seem to be having. And yes, I am somewhat befuddled myself.
1. While there are added layers to this, the main problems seems to be finding the balance between turns 1 and 3. Drivers who spoke with us often would say their car was good in 1 or 3 but not 1 and 3. The two distinct corners are proving to be quite well, "tricky." 2. Tires were an issue in qualifying. With the cars "trimmed out," numerous drivers said the tires went off with a mistake or bobble (in turns 1 or 3 of course), and were cooked for the lap.
3. The wind threw another variable at the teams in qualifying. One driver noted that the tailwind going down the main straight forced a significant under steer in turn one. Or as I understood it, the tailwind added speed to the car, and the driver had to get out of the throttle to keep the car from washing up, and the teams had not experienced such windy conditions in any of the previous tests.
4. Numerous drivers have also stated their cars are not good in traffic. Some have even said they have absolutely no aero grip within 2-3 car lengths of another car. One driver told me that some of the pieces added to the car to increase down force have resulted in the air being disturbed when the cars get close to one another. The same driver noted that passing tomorrow would be difficult.
All that said, the one driver who sounded unequivocally confident was Verizon pole winner Marco Andretti. While teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe qualified 2nd and 3rd to complete an Andretti front row sweep, Marco's confidence stood out. While both Hunter-Reay and Hinchfliffe spoke of finding balance, Marco noted that his car was on "rails," saying nothing about balance, even claiming his car was good in traffic. He also noted that Pocono has become his new favorite track.
If Andretti's car is in fact, "on rails," and if it is in fact difficult to overtake, might we see young Andretti check out tomorrow and run away with the win?
Next up is the Firestone Indy Lights Pocono 400 at 4 p.m., followed by IndyCar practice at 5:30.
Brian C. reporting from Pocono
07/06/13 It's about 1 p.m. here at Pocono Raceway. Firestone Indy Lights just concluded qualifying for today's Pocono 100 with Columbian Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport winning pole in the #26 Dialy-Ser Dallara. American Sage Karam of Schmidt/Peterson Motorsports qualified second in the #8 Comfort Revolution Dallara. The Nazareth, PA native has won the last two races at Milwaukee and Iowa.
In about 15 minutes, IndyCar qualifying will begin with the grid for tomorrow's Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco determined by the cumulative speed of two laps. One thing of note is that IndyCar and Lights are the only two series competing this weekend. Of course, this was the case two weeks ago in Iowa. However, this weekend there are no heat IndyCar heat races. Plus, with Lights running their race today at 4 p.m., tomorrow's IndyCar race will be the only action on-track. zzzz
In short, there is very little on track action this weekend. And considering the heat, the fact there is only one race today (Lights), which so happens to feature 8 cars on a 2.5 mile track, I have to ask: what is IndyCar thinking?
Changing the subject, I spent some time wandering through the paddock earlier and should mention that I saw Karam spending some time with some young fans. The local 18 year-old signed autographs and posed for pictures, and was very engaging with the youngsters.
Speaking of locals, Marco Andretti, had a horde of autograph seekers near the team's hauler. While Andretti has been criticized in the past for his aloof persona, Marco seemed to enjoy the fanfare and was, like Karam, quite engaging with the public.
I'm headed out for qualifying now, as Tristan Vautier has taken to the track. Check back here or on Twitter @autracing1 for updates.
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