Dario Franchitti believes that IndyCar has hit upon a perfect compromise with the final aero tweak that was made for Saturday's race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The series has been working to cut down the potential for pack racing at the 1.5-mile oval to reduce the chance of an accident similar to that which claimed the life of Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas last year. IndyCar began the weekend by imposing a maximum rear wing angle of minus five degrees and, following consultation with drivers, also banned the use of gurney flaps on the rear wing.
However after trying the configuration out in practice and qualifying, some drivers expressed concerns that too much downforce had been removed and that the cars were becoming unstable. The series responded by allowing the addition of a 1/8th inch wicker on the rear wing, which was tried out in the final practice session on Friday night.
Reigning series champion Franchitti said that the final adjustment has struck a perfect balance between making the cars difficult to drive, but retaining enough grip to keep them stable.
"I feel it's quite a good compromise," Franchitti said. "We're really driving it – we're not flat every lap. You've got to pick your line and think, 'Oh, my car works here, or it doesn't work here.' And if your car doesn't work you're lifting. There's closing speeds of 10, 15mph because their car doesn't work and you get a run on them.
"They've done a great job. IndyCar has not overreacted, and they've made a small change, which I think is all that was needed. But it's going to be a tough race. I'm looking forward to it, though. And I never thought I'd say that. All we've ever seen here has been pack racing, and I think this is going to be different in a good way."
IndyCar technical vp Will Phillips predicts that addition of the wicker will return about 125lb of the estimated 200lb of downforce that was lost to the original change.
"I don't think 125lb will make a huge difference, but it will make enough of a difference," he said. "It might help create a few more passes, rather than the other way.
"As the tires go off, they'll get to a point where it is not going to be so easy and the drivers will make the difference that they have been clamoring for – 'You've got to put it back into our hands.' We've worked with them trying to find that balance."