Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti have admitted that the quality of oval racing in the IndyCar Series has declined sharply, and have given their verdicts on potential short- and long-term solutions.
The Andretti Green Racing teammates currently lie fifth and eighth respectively in the ICS point standings, but have grown frustrated at struggling to pass rivals on ovals, even when they have quicker cars.
In her column for next month’s RACER
magazine, Patrick writes: “I think that until we get more manufacturers in the IndyCar Series and get some separation in performance between cars so they have strengths and weaknesses in different areas, we’re stuck in a rut. Back when I started IndyCars in 2005, there were more variables – different chassis and engine combinations.
“That mix forced everyone to try different setups. As I recall, because the Honda was so good, we’d add downforce and maybe not work so much on mechanical grip because we knew we had the speed to pull bigger wings through the air. Toyota drivers would set their car up to have more mechanical grip, but because they were trimmed out, their cars would behave differently in traffic. Those little things shook the order up a lot more.”
Marco, in his column here on RACER.com [see Marco Andretti column
] states: “OK, so everyone is moaning about the Richmond race, and I understand that, and everyone has their opinion why – and that includes me. I know it’s not just one thing and it’s a complicated formula – aero, mechanical grip, tires, downforce – all that plays a role in creating great racing. But we need to figure something out quick.
“At Richmond, my No. 26 Venom car was really good – over a second a lap quicker than a lot of the guys in front of me – but I couldn’t get past. These races shouldn’t be all strategy. Strategy should be a
determining factor but not the
Later he writes: “What we were saying about Richmond, you can think, okay, it’s quite a narrow, very short track. But Texas Motor Speedway? We used to put on great
shows for the fans there, but this year it was so tough to pass. I tell you, we really need to do something…
“Maybe these new rules that the IRL is bringing in will be the answer. We’ll see at Kentucky. But it’s only a temporary fix until the new car arrives. Longer term, I think we should have bigger wings for running in traffic, but also a lot more power, so the difference between the corner apex speed and your terminal speed on the straight is much bigger. It will mean us drivers have to drive more, and that’s got to be a good thing.”
Patrick adds: “A lot of people wonder if Firestone can come up with the golden answer to the problem. After the Richmond race, Firestone guys were asking me about the degradation, because I went about 115 laps on my first set – one of the longest stints of the race. I told them that if you pushed too hard at the beginning, you paid the price later, but if you dropped into pace – because once you caught lapped traffic you couldn’t pass them – then they were fine. So they asked, “But what can we do to help the racing?” And I’m still thinking about it!
“My opinion is that there is no easy answer, no quick fix, until there are new cars, and/or more variety of suppliers.”