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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Published: Monday, 6/3/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

NOTEBOOK

IndyCar eyes safety changes to cars

Series plans 2 new car designs for 2015 season

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Mike Conway leads the field into turn one during IndyCar's Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix on Sunday in Detroit. Mike Conway leads the field into turn one during IndyCar's Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix on Sunday in Detroit.
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DETROIT — Changes are coming for IndyCar. In particular, changes are coming to the focal points of the racing series: The cars.

Derrick Walker, IndyCar’s president of competition and operations, announced Sunday before the second day of the Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix that the racing series plans to roll out two car designs for the 2015 season as part of a nine-year initiative that team owners must approve.

One set of specifications will be for superspeedway races, while the second set of specifications will be for road, short oval, and street courses.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pagenaud now the king of Belle Isle

Those changes, Walker explained, won’t necessarily make the car bigger and stronger. Instead, the changes will provide an emphasis on safety, aerodynamics, and speed.

“In the good old days when I started racing, [cars] didn’t have flat bottoms like now,” Walker said. “It wasn’t an issue. You’d probably roll over before you take off. Nowadays, the component of downforce and the larger area underneath the car, we have a lift component.”

IndyCar has had several instances in which drivers have gone airborne during the course of competition, including a tragic instance in 2011, when Dan Wheldon died after his car went airborne and into a catchfence at the Las Vegas Indy 300.

The car designs are part of a long-term strategy through the 2021 season for IndyCar.

That strategy, Walker said, will include evaluating safety at specific tracks, engine upgrades, downforce adjustments, potential aerodynamic configurations, tire development, and reviews of engine and body specification for improvements and upgrades.

“If team owners disagree with it, [if] there’s not a majority there that keeps it going, we’ll drop it,” Walker said. “We won’t ram it down their throat. We need everybody in the game. We need everybody to buy into this and make it happen.”

HIT THE WALL: AJ Allmendinger, who is driving on the IndyCar circuit for Detroit-based Penske Racing, couldn’t get out of the first lap of the open-wheel race for the second day in a row.

Allmendinger hit the wall as he came out of a turn at the end of the first lap, mangling the right side of his car.

“A huge mistake by me at the end, at the start of the race, trying to be aggressive,” Allmendinger told ABC. “It’s embarrassing for me. Roger [Penske] deserves better than that.”

PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE: In the second Pirelli World Challenge race of the weekend, Randy Pobst won a caution-filled race on the Belle Isle road course.

“We have drivers’ meetings and everybody’s talking about the yellows and the track time and the street courses of Detroit,” said Pobst, who finished ahead of Johnny O’Connell and James Sofronas. “I got kind of frustrated and stood up and told everybody, ‘You know what’s the answer to this? I’ve been doing this for 30 years. … Drive careful! Be more careful!’ ”

Then, Pobst laughed.

“It didn’t work.”



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