IndyCar straddling line between speed, safety

FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Organizers in every motorsport try to walk a fine line between creating fast, entertaining racing and keeping drivers and riders safe. Finding that middle ground is particularly vital in IndyCar, where cars occasionally go airborne in accidents.

Many drivers at Saturday’s 500-mile race at Auto Club Speedway believe IndyCar officials crossed the line by putting too much downforce on the cars, adding speed and risk at the 2-mile oval.

Now the series needs to figure out what to do next.

"I don't have an answer," said Tony Kanaan, who finished second to Graham Rahal at Fontana. "How can we make it so we keep drivers happy and fans happy? I wish over the course of this year we can come up with a compromise for both of us, but right now I really don’t know what to tell you."

IndyCar drivers have lamented the pack-style racing on the circuit’s big ovals since two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the series' 2011 season finale.

Drivers were concerned about the speeds at the high-banked, 11/2-mile oval heading into that race and Wheldon was killed when his head hit a fence post after car went airborne during a massive wreck.

IndyCar officials have continued to fight the battle between speed and safety.

Conditions became dangerous at last month’s Indy 500, where three cars went airborne during preparation for the race.

IndyCar made a series of rule changes to keep the cars on the track at Indy, including wheel covers to prevent the cars from lifting off the ground when they get turned around during accidents.

The changes worked at the Indy 500 and at Texas’ 11/2-mile oval on June 6, but fans complained that the caution-free race in the Lone Star State lacked excitement. Journal Star/AP

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