Sport IndyCar racing with its new aero kits is 'awesome,' or perhaps 'bland'

07:01  10 july  2018
07:01  10 july  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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Josef Newgarden talks about the new IndyCar aero kit on Tuesday in Detroit. Photo by IndyCar Media. It could make for a anxious couple of months for a racing series that touted its growing attendance, improved TV ratings, growing social media footprint and, more important, a hot new car

NEWTON, Iowa — The Verizon IndyCar Series paddock is a funny place. Some drivers say the racing is better than in 2017. Some say it’s worse. Some say it’s close to being what it should be; others say there’s a fundamental flaw in IndyCar’s philosophy.

This kind of disconnect shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is racing, after all. A divided paddock is not uncommon. In fact, finding a consensus in racing is like Fernando Alonso finding the podium in an Formula One race this year: Many would like to see it, but it’s not going to happen.

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These new , more distinct aero kits will obviously change that a bit, while also giving fans It looks noticeably less exciting. IndyCar is going through some rough times. Its 2015 season opener in Brazil was canceled without any warning, and the series wasn't able to schedule a replacement race in time.

No matter what series president of competition Jay Frye and his team do, they will never, ever make everyone happy. And that’s never really been their goal, anyway with the 2018 Indy cars. Their goal is to deliver the best show possible, to make this era of IndyCar racing the best it’s ever been.

Following Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300, which saw 955 on-track passes versus 378 last year, Frye and company were feeling optimistic about the progress being made in Year 1 of the new, low downforce, universal aero kits.

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Some teams, Frye said, like those of James Hinchcliffe and Josef Newgarden, found that tiny window that allowed them to cut through traffic like a hot knife through butter. Others missed the setup completely.

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“There were cars being passed all of the time,” Frye said. “From a fan perspective, that’s what they’re seeing. Some teams hit it, some teams didn't. That’s a part of what this car is supposed to be.”

There are few dissidents in that philosophy. Most in the paddock want to see the best combination of skill, strategy and setup be rewarded. They asked that IndyCar raise the degree of difficultly, yet it is in those degrees where we find our divide.

Take, for example, a pair of drivers who each posted respectable finishes in Sunday’s race. Neither finished atop the podium nor in the rear of the field, so their opinions weren’t skewed by result.

First, here’s eighth-place finisher Simon Pagenaud.

“It was an awesome race,” the 2016 series champion said. “From the cockpit, I had so much fun. It was about setting up people, trying to understand where they were running, where your car was best with the tire degradation running high, running low, conserving your tires it really was a lot of thinking, a lot of driving and to me that is a lot of fun. That is pure racing. I had a blast. It was awesome short track racing.”

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When IndyCar entered its “Era of Aero ” in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Honda and Chevrolet aero kits The new kit should dramatically improve the appearance of the car . “The Chevy and the Honda aero kits were complicated because they were in competitive situation racing against

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Pagenaud's comments echo similar sentiments made by Penske teammate Will Power following his pole-run Saturday, when he said that those who want more downforce to make the cars a tad grippier just want a "Band-Aid, and downforce is the Band-Aid to make everything feel real good.”

Now, while not totally on the other end of the spectrum — but certainly an opposing viewpoint — here's Ed Carpenter after he finished two spots behind Pagenaud on Sunday.

“I think it has to be one of the better races we’ve had this year, but … you still can’t really attack like you could before,” Carpenter told IndyStar. “That’s what I think is missing, is being able to attack and for the leaders to attack a little bit more versus just getting by someone in lapped traffic. I think it’s a little bland, personally. I’ve been giving the feedback to IndyCar, and it’s hard to tell if they’re listening. I think we’re just on the light side (of downforce).”

Carpenter isn’t just talking about ovals, either. The team owner/driver endorsed Scott Dixon’s comments following his third place run at Road America two weeks ago. There, the Chip Ganassi Racing star said he remains “not totally sold” on the low downforce aero kits, saying the racing could be improved if the car was more efficient in traffic.

Carpenter echoed those sentiments and suggested that perhaps IndyCar needs to shift its philosophy a bit in order to put on a better show.

“(Iowa) wasn’t a bad race,” Carpenter said. “But I think at the same time, I think you need to be able to fight for the lead and for the win a little better than what you can right now. I’m not seeing that. That’s where I think they’re missing. (VP of competition) Bill (Pappas) and (director of aerodynamic development) Tino (Belli) have something in their mind — and I think they’re seeing what they want to see, but if it was me, I’d go ask NBC what they want to see and make the racing that.”

So who's right? Who knows? That's up for the fans to decide. All I can is that this predicament reminds me of what Carlin Racing's Charlie Kimball said ahead of this year's race at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I do not envy the people who have to make the rules."

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