Feature: May Fab 5
Topic 1: 1. The Chevy’s have been struggling with getting airborne to one degree or another when the car gets loose. Pippa Mann, Josef Newgarden, Helio Castroneves and Ed Carpenter have had some scary crashes. There was a huge safety meeting before qualififying and a decision to lower boost was made. Honda teams were upset that they were being penalized for a better design. What are your thoughts on the Chevy speedway aerokit versus the Honda version? Did IndyCar make the right decision to lower speeds?
TonyD: They made the right decision and based on Hinch’s crash where the side of the car got off the ground, it’s not just Chevy. This happens, we have seen it almost every year, a car getting off the ground. Luckily the top of these Dallaras have held up and not allowed the drivers head to hit the ground during the wreck.
Ashley: I do think it was interesting that they decided to penalize the Honda’s after all the Chevy’s were struggling in practice. In my opinion, the accidents that happened didn’t have much to do with the boost. Although, in the end IndyCar made the right call. You have to do whatever you can to ensure safety, while still keeping it exciting for the fans. I still think there is a lot for teams to learn in terms of the oval aero kits. I wish they would have had time to test them prior to Indy, but the most we can do is move forward from here and learn.
Tomas: People needed to see them doing something. At the end of the day, a car going 230 or 225 doesn’t make a difference.
Nancy: I think the decision to lower the speeds was correct, I also see Hinch had a Honda and when he hit the wall he had flipped. Is it the aerokit or the changes they made on the suspension over the past winter?
Rick: IndyCar absolutely made the right decision. Based on the available information and the desire to maintain a semblance of safety in a decidedly unsafe activity, it was the right decision. I truly wish there had been more testing done on the aero packages before the month of May, but that would be Monday morning quarterbacking. Given the circumstances, it was the right decision.
Topic 2: Who is your pick to win the 99th running of the Indy 500? Who is your surprise pick?
TonyD: Scott Dixon to win. He’s got the car and the team to do it, anything could happen but If I had to bet your money, I would go with Dixon. Surprises could come from anywhere, JR Hildebrand, Justin Wilson, Conor Daly and Gabby Chaves could have big days as well!
Ashley: My pick for the win is one of the CFH Racing cars. Despite their luck so far this month, I think they will be dialed in on race day. My surprise pick is Sage Karam. His practice speeds have been quick and I feel like after the race he had last year, he could really surprise us all once again.
Nancy: Carpenter and Newgarden is the sleeper.
Tomas: I would like to see Dixon. The Speedway will have its surprises though.
Rick: Going to go with Justin Wilson and surprise pick of Sage Karam.
Topic 3: In your opinion, what has been the biggest story in the month of May?
TonyD: Obviously the wrecks. It’s the only thing that seems to get Indy Car onto Sports Center and other national news outlets. With that said, outside of Hinch, these cars have held up and not injured the driver. When it comes to Hinch, the Safety Crew are the Real MVP’s of the month by getting him out of the cockpit.
Ashley: By far the biggest story has been the aero kits. I absolutely hate seeing the wrecks that have happened in practice. We are all hoping for a much safer race, while still keeping the thrill and excitement of racing. Despite the wrecks, those drivers live life on the edge and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Nancy: Aerokit and flips.
Tomas: I don’t know what the biggest story is, I guess it would be the crashes, which makes it world wide.
Rick: The Holmatro Safety team and their efforts with all of the activity in particular and the safety advances IndyCar has added to the world of motorsports.
Topic 4: Honda showed they are still behind when it comes to the road course configuration. Will Power dominated the Indy GP and the Dual in Detroit is the weekend after the 500. The only Honda that seems to be able to compete is Graham Rahal. Has RLL figured something out? Can Honda close the gap and give Chevy a run for their money on the road/street courses the rest of the year?
TonyD: Honda will get things settled, the lowering of the boost seemed to help a bit during qualifying. Andretti Autosport won’t be running mid pack very long, they will get it set.
Ashley:I see Chevy still having a significant advantage over Honda. I am very happy for Graham that they have been doing well and I hope their momentum continues. I am not sure what they have found in terms of the Honda, but I do hope the racing between the two manufacturers starts to get a bit more competitive on road courses.
Nancy: I think Honda will be a force to be reckoned with, at the end of the season the tides will change. It still boggles my mind that they weren’t ready for the season. I’m sure RLL is talking with Honda as to what they are doing.
Tomas:That’s a good question. I honestly don’t know.
Rick:RLL has appeared to make some strides and I would expect them to continue to do well. Graham will be in contention for the championship come August.
Topic 5: What makes Indy, Indy?
TonyD:Everything. The goosebumps you get every time you enter. The chance that every race, history will be made! The anticipation, the traditions, seeing family and friends and the race itself, the busyness of the entire month! Gotta love it all!
Ashley: Oh man, not sure where to begin with this one. In my opinion, pre-race at Indy is the icing on the cake. This will be roughly my 18th Indy 500 and each year, you knew you were at Indy when Jim Nabors sang ‘Back Home Again in Indiana.’ We will sure miss him this year, but it will be exciting to see the new spin on it. Whether I’ve been in the stands or standing on pit lane, singing that and the National Anthem with the balloons over the Pagoda & watching the flyover…I get chills every time!
Nancy: It’s Disneyland for race fans.
Tomas: To put it simply: fast cars, big crowds and history.
Rick: The 500 is part of Indiana’s DNA. The whole city and state, is integrated into the event through tradition and culture. All of the events that lead up to the race create a social/cultural experience that has come to embody and define what it means to be a resident of the area. It has woven its way into the fabric of the entire country. The fact that it has become and maintains its status as one of the three biggest motorsports events in the world, and one of the largest sporting events in the country has just added to the mystique of the race. It is a bucket list event because of the entire organism. It has found a place in American history and being present at the event is to witness history being made. There are few events that compare.