AVONDALE, AZ – Anticipation was high when the Verizon IndyCar Series announced that they’d be returning to the ISM Raceway in Phoenix for the 2016 season. There was a large buzz surrounding the event in the return for the first time in over a decade. But, three years into the return, the product still remains a work in progress.
The first two years we saw zero on track passes for the lead. With 500 laps of racing, there were six total lead changes. The race was a high speed parade.
Crowds started to dwindle as a result.
With a new car for the 2018 season, it was supposed to help aid in better racing on tracks like the 1.022-mile one in Arizona. Unfortunately though, it’s still not helping.
A tire dragon, new car, you name it, nothing right now seems to be helping these cars pass at Phoenix.
The first two years, it was because the cars had too much downforce and it was impossible to pass the car in front when everyone was going the same speed. Now, with this new car, downforce was decreased considerably, meaning drivers would have to drive the car around the track and lift in the corners. With being able to follow closer now than before, cars should be able to make moves in the corners right?
The track even found a tire dragon to add grip into a second lane. Everyone was doing their part. But, short of a reconfiguration, there seems to be nothing we can do here.
On Saturday night, we saw just two on track passes for the lead in the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix. The crowd was sparse. We now fear next year would be even worse.
The track is great to have on the schedule, but it’s not good racing in Phoenix.
While the ending was thrilling, it was only because three cars had old tires vs. eight with fresher ones.