INDIANAPOLIS – The spate of airborne crashes over the past 10 days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has sent IndyCar officials, engineers and teams scurrying for a fix entering Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
But there might be another round of hand-wringing before the June 6 race at Texas Motor Speedway, a high-speed 1.5-mile oval where cars run at breakneck speeds just off the pace of Indy. Will Power turned a 218-896-mph lap to win the pole position for last year’s Firestone 600.
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said he plans to talk Monday with IndyCar competition president Derrick Walker about whether the series will consider making aerodynamic changes to slow the cars.
“I started to call Derrick the other day, and I thought, ‘They’ve got their hands full with the biggest race of the year,’” Gossage told NBC Sports. “I’m sure they’re thinking about all the races and what they need to do to take care of these cars and these drivers.”
According to a Friday story on RACER.com, IndyCar might consider returning to 2014 bodywork for the Texas race.
Tony Kanaan, an outspoken veteran who has served as a de-facto leader on safety and other pressing topics among drivers, believes “something is going to be done” by IndyCar officials for the Texas race.
“We have to change it,” Kanaan said.
But the 2013 Indy 500 winner isn’t expecting the series to consult its drivers, who haven’t tested the new aero kits at Texas.
“How can you ask our input? I haven’t driven at Texas,” he said. “All I can do is go try it and give them the feedback. But before (driving there), I can’t decide. We can’t give them any hints. It’s more up to the engineers than us.”
Defending Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay also hadn’t heard of changes planned yet for Texas.
“We’re going to find out like the rest of you guys,” the Andretti Autosport driver said. “We have no idea. It’s a different downforce mandate there. It’s a very different package. I haven’t heard of additional testing. We’ll run a lot less downforce there than (at Indy). Certainly, there are concerns, but I have no idea what they’ll do.”
After drivers complained about dangerous pack racing at Texas, IndyCar lowered downforce levels to try to separate cars.
If the series decides to reduce speeds for Texas as it did for Indy 500 qualifying, Gossage would be in favor.
“The best answer to every problem in racing is to go slower,” he said. “Always. If you have a problem, slow them down. That was a reasonable response at Indianapolis, though maybe it was late, for qualifying.
“Every kind of racing would be better if they would slow them down 10-15 percent. You name the series, and I’ll tell you slow them down 10-15 percent and your racing will be better. That’s not an IndyCar thing but an across the board motorsports kind of thing.”
Gossage said one thing won’t change about the way he approaches watching his race.
“I hold my breath for every lap,” he said. “So do the fans. That’s nothing new, either. That’s the amazing thing, after seeing these drivers tame all this horsepower and speed, that’s what makes it spectacular.”