No plans for IndyCar to get rid of standing starts, says Walker


INDYCAR president of competition Derrick Walker has said that the series will not abandon standing starts, but also concedes that it has work to do to make them come off cleaner.

Last weekend’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis began in chaos when pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra failed to move from his position on the grid. Seconds later, rookies Carlos Munoz and Mikhail Aleshin plowed into the Colombian, spraying debris everywhere along the front stretch.

The Verizon IndyCar Series brought back standing starts last season, but on Thursday at Indianapolis, Walker said “the system we have on our cars is not as good as it needs to be.”

“It’s tricky to set up. The manufacturers set that up, the way the system behaves. It’s enough to say it’s not foolproof. It needs a lot more work than we’ve given it,” he added to the Associated Press.

“Even if the standing start doesn’t work, there’s a function called anti-stall. The engine should always be running. I don’t think the manufactures have gotten that one correct yet.

“They’re trying to go fast and we’re trying to make sure the engine is running when something goes wrong. The car isn’t perfect.”

Team owner Ed Carpenter also noted the drivers’ difficulties with the current system in post-race last weekend.

“I can think of just two where no one has gone off the grid…It’s not that I’m against them,” he said. “Juan [Pablo Montoya] stalled and he’s done more than anyone else. But right now they don’t go off well. They’re exciting where they work.

“I stalled, Charlie [Kimball] stalled, and this one just happened to be where guys stalled up front. It’s not that we don’t know what we’re doing. But right now it’s hard to do with the system we have.”

In hindsight, Walker feels the series should have provided drivers more time to practice the standing starts, but noted that most of the drivers don’t want to get rid of them.

He also thought that the cars were spaced out on the grid too closely, and that both Munoz and Aleshin should have had dedicated spotters on the IMS Pagoda tower.

“We gave them permission to put a spotter on the roof, right on top of the Pagoda,” Walker maintained.

“Usually, only Christ gets to stand up there. There’s only so much we can do.”

The standing starts will return for the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader in June.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Marco Andretti

Marco Andretti
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the Verizon IndyCar Series field in 2015 with Marco Andretti, who finished ninth after another top-10 season in points.

Marco Andretti, No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 9th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 5th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 23 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 12.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 9th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 3rd, 2 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 60 Laps Led, 11.5 Avg. Start, 9.1 Avg. Finish

It was a dependable, quiet but usually consistent season from Marco Andretti, who up until the final quarter of the season had actually been his father’s most reliable finisher.

Andretti didn’t necessarily have a ton of standout drives but he was usually there or thereabouts, and by the end of the day he was often at the low ends of the top-10, which earlier this year given the at-times troublesome Honda aero kit package on road and street courses was more of an accomplishment than you’d think. Three top-10 results in the first four races was proof positive of that.

As ever Andretti excelled most on the big ovals. Sixth at the Indianapolis 500 was as good as was possible given the lack of top-end speed; similarly, he probably could have emerged at the head of the field at Fontana, ending third when all was said and done.

His best result was second in the rain at Detroit race one, although coming second to teammate Carlos Munoz had to sting a little bit. Andretti had driven well that race, and was unfortunate not to be rewarded with his first win in four years.

The thing that would have been his standout stat of the year, finishing every lap, game unglued with an odd accident on home soil in Pocono. It was a shame to see because Andretti was typically good, if not great, for yet another season.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Tony Kanaan

Tony Kanaan
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver lineup in the Verizon IndyCar Series, after the 2015 season, with eighth-placed Tony Kanaan.

Tony Kanaan, No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 7th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 2nd, 6 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 12 Top-10, 407 Laps Led, 9.2 Avg. Start, 9.3 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 8th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 2nd, 3 Podiums, 6 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 213 Laps Led, 7.6 Avg Start, 9.9 Avg. Finish

You have to give TK credit. Armed with one of the best cars on the grid, Kanaan has certainly raised his game the last two years, and probably hasn’t received enough credit or enough results for some of his drives he’s put in since joining Chip Ganassi Racing after the 2013 season.

The 2015 season was no exception. All 10 of his top-10 finishes were between second and seventh, so there were plenty of times he was in win and podium contention. The other area where he improved was his qualifying. Kanaan only had two starts outside the top-12 all season, one of which occurred at Detroit race two, where the grid was set by points following a rain cancellation. Detroit was pretty much the only weekend where Kanaan didn’t figure into qualifying or the race. Blame the Taylor Swift-inspired Big Machine Records livery for that one if you want.

Accidents at the Indianapolis 500 and Pocono were costly retirements as Kanaan definitely had a shot to win both those races. But realistically you couldn’t find many other faults. Losing a sure win at Iowa due to a mechanical issue was a gutting blow. He was also unlucky to come up just shy at Fontana, and may have prevailed in a last-lap shootout.

More often that not however, Kanaan was firmly on top of his game, and reliably on par with his championship-winning teammate Scott Dixon, which was all you could ask for. It’s fitting the two of them opened the year as part of the winning lineup in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with Kanaan then helping out matters by finishing ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya at Sonoma, to ensure Dixon had enough points to win the title on countback.