INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time, the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers qualified on Saturday afternoon with the new domed skid safety device.
After three cars got airborne in practice crashes last year, that safety device was put on these cars to keep them from getting airborne when spinning.
After two practice crashes this month, it’s proved to have worked. None of the two cars lifted off the ground.
But, most of the drivers are still saying that this device makes the cars harder to drive.
All the talk was how this was going to make the racing next Sunday, but what about qualifying?
With qualifying, the cars are on edge and out of control for four straight laps, what about adding a device to the cars this year that makes them more unstable than they’ve probably ever been.
“I feel the car moving around more,” said Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud who’s won two straight IndyCar poles entering this weekend. “It’s not as easy as it used to be. It’s never easy but qualifying here is a daring exercise.”
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden and J.R. Hildebrand agree.
“It’s a lot harder,” said Josef Newgarden after his qualifying run. “Today, especially with the wind, the temp, etc has made things even more difficult with it. The bottom of the car really affects a lot of the aero. It’s made it harder to trim out this year and when it gets hotter and windier it makes it even more difficult this year.”
Hildebrand said, “It’s the same for everybody. A lot of the aerokit design was designed without the domed skid in mind. We’re not super efficient where we’re making downforce right now but everybody has the same deal, it is what it is.”
That explains why the speeds are a little down from where most thought they’d be as the cars are just so unstable it makes it so hard to drive four straight laps on edge around here.
Mix in the wind and slick track conditions and you have a very difficult qualifying session on Saturday.
With Sunday slated to be even hotter, it’s a safe bet qualifying for this year’s Indy 500 was extremely difficult.
That’s the way it should be though.