It is well documented that while Dallara crash tested components of the new DW12 IndyCar, they didn't exactly crash a fully assembled into an oval wall. Well, we now have 4 crashes, with the latest being Charlie Kimball today in practice (he was uninjured), and a disturbing trend can't be ignored.
In two of those crashes — both involving a 180 degree "half turn" spin and a long slide backwards against the wall — the car "tipped" on the side against the wall so that the roll hoop (above the head of the driver) makes contact with the wall. In the process of tipping, not only did we have drivers head-first against the wall, but we also have parts that are flying into the fence.
In the case of the Clauson crash yesterday, the under tray of the car — which is that huge vertical surface that starts behind the front tires and is visible until it disappears under the "Kardashian" rear side pods — was jammed under the SAFER barrier.
While the new car has, on the whole, performed well since its introduction, no doubt IndyCar officials will be meeting with Dallara engineers to investigate these kind of crashes, and see what can be improved.
The field is full for the 2012 Indy 500. In a day totally without drama, each car went out and ran a safe run to fulfill the rules. There won't be any bump day, as neither Chevy nor Honda wanted to support an effort to bump one (or both) of the hopelessly slow Lotus-powered cars.
In 25th position is Sebastien Bourdais. If you talk with Sebastien, you know instantly this guy knows who has the most IndyCar wins (he does, with 31), who has 31 poles, and who hasn't lost any talent or desire. As one of the IndyCar team managers commented, "Sebastien is a bad-ass… you know that, right?" For Sebastien, his season will begin on the street course at Detroit, where he will be in his element, with equipment that will give him a fighting chance. Bourdais qualified 25th for Sunday's Indy 500.
In 26th position is Wade Cunningham, the first of 2 AJ Foyt entries. Mike Conway, in the other AJ Foyt entry, will start 29th. Oriol Servia's car was rebuilt from yesterday's crash, and will start 27th. Ed Carpenter put his backup car into 28ths, recovering from a hard crash of his own yesterday. And Katherine Legge will finally get her chance to show what she can do at Indy, starting 30th.
In the 31st position is USAC star, and local boy, Bryan Clauson. Bryon was still shook up a bit from yesterday's hard crash, not totally sure what was different about that last lap (where he crashed) than the previous 3 laps. Clauson is a master of controlling oversteer in sprints and midget cars, but he's not sure any human ever made that could control the oversteer in one of these cars once they break loose. "You're so on edge in one, that when it steps out, you're in trouble."
In 32nd spot is Simona de Silvestro. Last years "Iron Maiden" media darling, as she overcame her crash injuries to run the race, is almost absent this year aside from the stories about the slow Lotus motors. "I'll try to be as much out of the say as possible because I know when you have a fast car it's annoying when somebody is that much slower."
In last spot is Jean Alesi. Alesi, who was a spokesman in Lotus commercials, was polite but direct in his criticism of Lotus' effort this month. "They need to be more professional" was the start of hit comments, ending with "…if some new people join them." When asked about returning for more IndyCar races, or perhaps another Indy 500, he commented that he's only interested in running Indy, not the rest of the races. Because, when it comes to getting back into racing, "I'm too old." Previously, he commented that "…I'm 47 years old, and I have learned more in one week here than I did in my entire Formula 1 career." Soon he will learn about the "Last Row Party", and hopefully he keeps his sense of humor through that event.
Drivers seen at Indy looking for a ride include The Stig, who was spotted in Gasoline Alley this morning. Pippa Mann and Vitor Meira were also here, but none seemed to be as popular as The Stig. Since we didn't see Martin Plowman and The Stig in the same place at the same time, one wonders……
Indy sports fans are perhaps the best in the world. Perhaps that is why there weren't many people in the stands today to watch 9 cars qualify for 9 spots. Then again, perhaps it has something to do with a basketball-crazy state wanting to watch the Indiana Pacers, who are making a deep run into the NBA playoffs. Tim Wohlford