A lot of down time...and not all of it was necessary, as it turned out. (LAT photo)
Wasted time – like on rain-out days – makes me sour, but discovering it didn't need to be wasted really makes me mad. As a group, the GEICO No. 15 KV Racing team sat on our backsides for most of Wednesday because we didn't have enough tires. Now we almost have more than we know what to do with and we've watched our competitors rack up a bunch of miles and experience, and we did just seven flying laps.
Let me start from the beginning. Tuesday was good: I think we ran 48 laps, got some drafts, ran up on some good cars to get tows. I haven't yet had a really major tow yet, where you fall in behind two or three quick cars. Some of the surprise names you've seen near the top of time sheets the last few days have been because they got really good pulls from three cars. And even the big names are getting big numbers that way, too. For example, Scott Dixon seems to circulate around waiting for a bunch of cars to come by and then latches on to them about 100 yards behind and drafts up on them. I think on Tuesday it was me and E.J. who helped give him his quickest lap.
Anyway, for Wednesday we heard the weather was gonna be good. So I was up at 7 a.m., sun was shining, I went to the gym, worked out for two hours, came out and the clouds had come over and it was cold. I think the air temperature was 55 degrees for most of the day, and track temp was 60, so we decided to wait until 2 p.m. to see if the cloud cover broke up. Then I went out on track, ran a few laps but there was no one on track except Milka and maybe a couple of others. I certainly couldn't get any drafting practice. We didn't see there was much point in racking up laps though because of our tire allotment issue…which is no longer an issue.
Just to explain, we got to Indy to discover that part-timers like myself, Townsend Bell, Davey Hamilton, and so on had seven or eight fewer sets of tires than the full-time guys. Well, we need 10 sets for the race, 10 sets for Friday practice and Saturday qualifying, and I think we were granted 26 sets total whereas the full-time drivers get 34 or 35. (Not sure of the exact numbers.) So that leaves us with just six sets of tires for the whole week of practice. Now throw in this fact: when the track's green near the start of the week, the tires are only lasting 15-20 laps, whereas they'll do around 30 when it's rubbered in.
So, anyone can see that limiting part-timers to around one set of tires a day on the run up to qualifying was just dumb. They've got to give us a freakin' chance! Looking at the data, you'll see Tony Kanaan did 134 laps on Wednesday. Now, who do you think needs more practice around the Speedway – someone like T.K. or kids like Ana Beatriz or Sebastian Saavedra, who've only been 'round here in Indy Lights cars before this year?
John Dick, my engineer, went to the IndyCar Series trailer to have an argument about it, and Brian Barnhart told him words along the lines of “Manage your time wisely and deal with it.” So we sat out almost all of Wednesday, not wanting to burn off Firestones if there was no one to practice drafting with. We decided to just wait to run around 90 laps Thursday, when it's supposed to be warmer.
So I spent most of the day working on my bus and cleaning it, and then working on my bicycle. I got some free goods from Zipp, who make high-performance gear for high-performance bicycles, and their HQ is just around the corner here. Then I went to dinner with Doug Barnette from PMI, the man who put my GEICO deals together, before five o'clock, when some of the cars were still running. Hearing them going around and knowing I'd done next to nothing for the day kind of killed me.
But what really killed me is that 10 minutes after practice, the IndyCar Series puts out a statement saying that they're going to allow all part-time teams to buy up to seven more sets of tires! So we sat parked all day for nothing. We'd had a very small steering-rack issue this morning – it had a little bit too much play in it – and the KV boys found out what the problem was and fixed it. But to be honest, it was just a useful excuse so I didn't have to tell anyone we didn't have the tires!
Speaking of sponsors – and I should mention my personal backers, Kicker Car Audio, Monster Energy, Ridetech, Oakley and CEC Wheels – I'm going to be up in Toronto on Tuesday for a major announcement, so stay tuned on that one.
Back to the here and now: These extra sets of tires may kind of alter our plans for the next few days with the GEICO car. We still want to continue to work on race setups, but we haven't worked much at all in qualifying trim, so maybe we'll do more of that toward the end of Thursday. They're saying that Thursday it will warm up to mid-70s – sunny but with more wind, then Friday rainy, Saturday will be warm again, and Sunday high 80s. But, who knows?
At least with more tires we can hopefully make more practice qualifying attempts and try to catch back up. Better late than never, I suppose.
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