Track Talk: A Forward Look on the 2017 IndyCar Season - Part 2
March 30th, 2017.
We are five weeks out from the month of May. With Indy 500 testing commencing and only four races between now and the 101st running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, we take look at what’s making IndyCar news in this week’s edition of TrackTalk.
Don’t count out Chevrolet: Last week we noted the strides Honda made in St. Petersburg, but don’t think for a second that the Chevy teams have been backed into a corner. Will Power claimed Chevrolet’s 27th consecutive street/road course pole position. The last time a Chevy wasn’t on pole when turning left and right? You have to go all the way back to race one of the 2014 Houston Grand Prix double-header. The driver? Future IndyCar champion, Simon Pagenaud.
And speaking of the reigning champion: After qualifying down in 13th position, Pagenaud worked his way up to 2nd. This is exactly the kind of start to the season his title defense needs.
Keep your eye on the young Americans Part 1: Much has been made of Josef Newgarden’s move to Team Penske. After consistently punching above his weight with smaller teams, many feel that this is Newgarden’s chance to compete for the championship. He started off well by qualifying 4th, before finishing 8th.
Keep your eye on the young Americans Part 2: Spencer Pigot returns to Ed Carpenter Racing where he will once again split driving duties in the #20 with bossman and team namesake, Ed Carpenter. The 2015 Indy Lights champion qualified 13th, and raced his Chevy-powered IndyCar all the way up to 5th before his left rear break exploded in spectacular fashion.
Indy 500 testing is on: Last week several Honda teams and Team Penske participated in a brief test session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Graham Rahal was fastest of the Honda drivers. As for Team Penske and Chevrolet? This is Indy, and Roger Penske keeps his cards close to his chest. No times were released for the Penske cars, and we probably won’t know their (Penske’s) true speed until Pole Day.
The 2018 aero kit: If you haven’t heard, the Dallara DW12 IndyCar is undergoing a makeover for the 2018 season. Gone will be the manufacturer-specific aero kits in favor of universal bodywork that all teams will employ. Early discussion with IndyCar president of competition, Jay Frye, suggested that the car might take some inspiration from the 2007 Panoz DP01. IndyCar just released some renderings of the new bodywork, and a quick look shows the removal of the rear ‘bumper’, as well as the airbox in favor of a role hoop and lower engine cover. It’s a great design for the future of the sport- one that incorporates subtle cues from the past that fans are sure to like.
Come back next week for TrackTalk’s preview of race two on the IndyCar calendar- the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.