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Overheard at Barber Indy - Sunday *Weather is expected to be amazing today. Its warm but not hot, with nice breezes floating through the tress and hillsides. We are expecting the biggest crowd Barber has ever seen, which is impressive in the middle of NASCAR country. Three hours before the race, and the hillsides are about half full and its elbow-room only in the paddock area.
The race does not have a title sponsor, but local business has supported this event, consistent with the creating and operation of this entire facility. No word yet on if this years event will be a money-loser. We doubt it, as almost every race event loses money the first year or two.
*Tires will be a huge factor today. Drivers and engineers are telling us the track is an abrasive surface, but that they are still searching for grip, and the number of laps on a set of blacks or reds is up in the air right now. Tire engineers told us that the driving style will be a big factor today and they expect the drivers that are really good with their tires are going to have a big advantage today. When asked about drivers that a really good on tires, they mention Dixon right off the bat, and said that some of the other drivers toward the front might have a hard time stretching their tires on a stint. They did love to talk about some former drivers though, saying Andrew Ranger was a quick driver, but really tough on tires, and they raved about Alex Zanardi as being a real master when it came to getting the most out of a set
*The Boy Scouts of America deal is not coming out of any Boy Scout's pocket, as Dale Coyne is footing the budget to help promote a valued American institution and help grow scouting. Of course, through that networking, corporate opportunities present themselves, and Dale is well positioned to make the most of that. We applaud Dale for making that kind of commitment and running Alex Lloyd, who is not buying that ride. Milka Duno's ride is not paying for the other car at all, but does reduce the costs. So though Milka is at the back (by quite a margin) you could say she is contributing to the sport. The local council here has a large group of scouts, and we see them all over the paddock getting autographs and marveling at IndyCar. That has to be a good move in promoting this brand of racing in the heart of NASCAR country.
*We are hearing a lot of black-or-white opinions on the Delta Wing. Many people think we support it, so lets clarify our position. We support innovation, and the Delta Wing concept is certainly innovative. However, we want to see it run. It seems to make sense on one hand, but defies logic by instinct. So we are still reserving any formal endorsement. Suffice to say that we think IndyCar could use something with some punch. There has been some interesting reaction to our idea to run it in Lights and not risk the IndyCar brand on something too radical...more on that as we get feedback from our "custard" article.
*We heard that Graham Rahal may actually be staying with Fisher longer than has been believed, but other reports tell us that he will be back with NHL for Indy.
*Ryan Hunter-Reay is visibly and obviously a happy camper right now. We have been used to seeing a pretty intense guy when he was trying to get in a decent place. Maybe it's his lovely new bride that has him all smiles
*Likewise for Marco Andretti. Some of us joke a bit in the press room that if you have a candid photo of Marco smiling, you have to share it with everyone. Well, they seem to be easier to get nowadays when he is running very well with his new engineer that he has really clicked with, understanding and giving Marco what he likes and needs to drive the car his way instead of trying to drive on someone else’s setup.
* Conway's people tell us that though he is up front, they are going to be patient with the race. We don’t believe it. He is not that kind of driver. Watch for him to try to get the jump on Power at the start. However, he is one driver than some seem to think will be harder on tires, so any lead he gets may not last.
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