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DATE News (chronologically)
05/17/14
IRL
Indy Pre-Qualification Report
Okay, let’s get it over with. The current Indy 500 qualification rules require a copy of Visio to chart out what it is going on. And it’s not like IMS made it crystal-clear. And yes, it sucks. 

-Basically, the cars can take runs all day long. Basically, the first 30 cars get a guaranteed start based on today’s efforts. All 33 cars – and so far, that’s all we have – have to re-qualify tomorrow, meaning that, BASICALLY, today’s show is a practice run for tomorrow’s “Made for TV” event. The weather is cool today, and combined with the adoption of Daylight Savings Time a few years ago, we won’t have a happy hour today to speak of. At least I think that’s where we are.

- Katherine Legge is hanging around Gasoline Alley today. She’s ready, Sam Schmidt has a spare car, the Honda people have a motor.... so anyone have a spare $250k to make this happen? Katherine obviously wants to come back to Indy, and I can’t find anyone who wouldn’t love to see her in an Indy car. With the impending demise of IMSA – Muscle Milk team folded last week – I’m sure she has extra incentive.

- I got into a Facebook argument yesterday with an old-time Indy 500 / CART guy, who claimed that their record runs were the pinnacle of bravery and engineering. I asked Mark Crawford, Principle Engineer at Honda Performance Development, if today’s motors could set a new track record. Bottom line – with 160 kpa of boost, they’d have enough horsepower. They are only running 140 kpa for qualification, about half of what we used to run (40 pounds). And yes, they’d last for the 4 laps. Given the 20 years or so of aero development in the sport since the record run, the current chassis should be good for the effort as well.

- Speaking of boost levels – 130 (18.8 pounds) for the Indy 500, and I presume other ovals. 140 for Indy qualifications. 150 is the standard road/street course level, and the amount that they test at in the Honda dyno labs (I presume the Chevy people do the same). And 160 is the push to pass boost level for street/road courses. No one talks with any believability about dyno numbers, but the 10 pounds for today’s events added about 5 mph.

- Mark Crawford also about Edsel Ford’s comment that they’d return to Indy “Over my dead body”. He confirmed the common knowledge, that Honda would welcome a third motor manufacturer. He suggested that they’d spend more time on “quality” issues, but right now the number of motors dictated more of a “quantity” approach. A Cosworth-Ford reunion would’ve been welcome for sure, but this isn’t the first time that Ford officials have said a definite “no” to a return to Indy.

- So what is the limiting factor, beyond money? According to Katherine and others, there is a lack of upgraded cars. It seems that while there are ample chassis, most have not been upgraded to current specs, and the process of preparing an older car takes about a week. Which of course lets us ponder the thrash that Sebastian Saavedra's crew went through last week, as the car that got run over on the starting line was the car they were running for the 500.

-- Tim Wohlford, reporting from Indy
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