06/01/13 The first IndyCar doubleheader of 2013 was on tap today in Detroit. We will have a separate report on that event. Most impressive so far this weekend was Mike Conway who stepped into Dale Coyne's No. 18 with no practice and qualified 2nd for Race 1 and put it on pole for Race 2 on Sunday. Dale Coyne was very happy with his performance and likewise Conway told us that he was impressed at how fast the Coyne car was right out of the box.
Of course Mike Conway has no interest in running oval races so he will not be in the car the next three races. Rumor has it that Pippa Mann might get that ride. Of course she ran for Coyne as a third entry in the Indy 500 so we rate that rumor as very strong.
We can't help but notice the step up the Dale Coyne team has made this year. If the Indy 500 race hadn't finished under yellow, his other driver, Justin Wilson may have won the race. Wilson had just set fastest lap of the race on Lap 185 and he was poised for the final shootout. The yellow deflated that balloon and send 250,000 people, plus 5 million on TV, home wondering who might have won. If the NFL Super Bowl is tied at the end of the 4th quarter, do they send everyone home wondering who might have won? You bet they don't.
One thing noticeably absent from the new IndyCar is that awesome sound. A race car's sound is the #1 thing that knocks your socks off. From that standpoint, IndyCar misses the boat by a very wide margin. Just go to an F1, NASCAR or NHRA race and you will understand. Bernie Ecclestone, perhaps the smartest man in racing, insists that F1 not lose that signature 'scream' when they switch to turbo V-6 engines in 2014. He has been to F1 engine manufacturers to hear what the new engines will sound like on the dyno, to make sure they will still knock your socks off. The devil is in the details as they say. IndyCar evidently missed that detail.
Rumor has it that Takuma Sato is talking to AJ Foyt about staying with the team next year. And no, Sato does not get any backing from Honda, but the Panasonic sponsorship does come through them indirectly.
Rumor has it that KV Racing, who are all still elated over their Indy 500 win with Tony Kanaan, will soon reap the benefits of that popular victory in the form of sponsorship. The rumor is that they will soon announce a new sponsor for Texas, Iowa Texas and we hear Mid-Ohio. Sorry to hear that team majority owner Kevin Kalkhoven could not be in Detroit to continue the team celebration as he apparently hurt his back and had to go to the hospital and get an MRI and make sure it was nothing too serious before he leaves for Europe on Monday.
Damned if you do and damned if you don't – that was the message from Beaux Barfield, IndyCar's Director of Competition. There was a lot of controversy Friday in qualifying by the delay in deciding whether to throw the red when Castroneves went off. He told me that in race control they got word that Helio's engine was running so they expected him to eventually get the car into reverse and get out of there. They threw a local yellow and waited and waited. Eventually he turned the car off because it was beginning to overheat. That is when the red was thrown, but not before a number of drivers drove through the local yellow at full speed and improved their time, while others slowed in the yellow zone and got burnt because of it.
Rumor has it that Oriol Servia will be eligible to drive the Panther Racing car starting in Saturday in Texas as that is when the contractual dispute between Dreyer and Reinbold and Panther should be resolved.
We bumped into respected race engineer Mike Cannon who now works for Andretti Autosports. It sounds like this time he may have found a real home. "This is the best team I have ever worked for. The team chemistry is phenomenal and the engineers really work well together," said Cannon. "I couldn't be happier," continued Cannon, "and it's amazing how Craig Hampson, another CART/Champ Car transplanted engineer, and I think alike."
The details of the 2014 IndyCar body kits will be announced here in Detroit Sunday morning, but it sounds like most of the team owners would prefer to keep what they have. They wish the series would spend the money on more network TV races instead. Mark C. reporting from Belle Isle