Will third time be charm for Indy’s aero kits? At least now, there’s a plan

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The IZOD IndyCar Series is officially at a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” point with the much-ballyhooed, not yet implemented “aero kits.”

Derrick Walker, the longtime open-wheel racing team owner who is now the INDYCAR sanctioning body’s new president of competition and operations, described them accurately in Sunday’s press conference in Detroit as “the infamous aero kits.” If all parties agree, they’ll happen in 2015.

The technical merits and accolades of what the “aero kits” can be can come later. But in brief, “aero kits” were meant to be parts built by manufacturers to place on the existing Dallara DW12 chassis to provide both technical innovation and differentiation among the current cars. Twice, the collection of IndyCar team owners voted down the kits for implementation, and their introduction has been delayed.

New leadership at INDYCAR, both in the form of Walker and his boss, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, have stressed the importance of bringing some level of innovation back to IndyCar racing, and the aero kits are again the talking point.

What Walker, Miles and series vp of technology Will Phillips have done here is outlined a cost-effective, sensible, timeline that wouldn’t be astronomical in the short term and send even more teams packing.

Keep in mind, we’ve already lost Panther DRR the rest of this year, while the team that won the Indianapolis 500, KV Racing Technology, is still searching for primary sponsorship of Tony Kanaan’s car for a handful of races, per reports.

Within the confines of what INDYCAR is now, compared to your “pick your glory era” heyday of the 1970s, ‘80s or ‘90s, this is the only step for innovation with the commercial aspect being what it is and the TV ratings being what they are. The budgets are not there, now, to make true “innovation” occur the same as it did in other decades.

IndyCar has a contract with Dallara, so it’s not like a new chassis provider can come in off the streets and sell new chassis. Eventually, perhaps, the Indianapolis “cottage industry” can sprout back up to make some of the parts for these aero advances.

Besides the pockets of a handful of team owners, it’s not like the commercial sponsorships – the millions of dollars you see in a Formula One budget, for instance – are there to support the technological advances in modern IndyCars that there were when chassis providers could build a new car each year.

So, at this point, it’s laudable that INDYCAR has a plan to put the aero kits into action, and the necessary buffer/liaison between the sanctioning body and the team owners in Walker to see that their concerns and questions are answered and a sense of innovation – if small – can be attained.

We’ll have to see whether the aero kits actually see the light of day or whether this was just another “much ado about nothing” press conference.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.