IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-06-20

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- June 20, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines: 1. June 20 teleconference 2. Iowa promises to be "SAFER" 1. June 20 teleconference: IndyCar Series driver Scott Sharp and Indy Pro Series...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- June 20, 2007

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines:
1. June 20 teleconference
2. Iowa promises to be "SAFER"

1. June 20 teleconference: IndyCar Series driver Scott Sharp and Indy Pro Series driver Joey Scarallo were the guests on the Indy Racing League teleconference today.

Sharp discussed the IndyCar Series upcoming inaugural race at Iowa Speedway.

Q. Heading to Iowa Speedway, you mentioned you have tested there. Give us a little more detail on what the track is like and what type of racing we should expect to see this weekend.

SCOTT SHARP: I'm excited. I really am. I like the short tracks to begin with, and Richmond is one of my favorite tracks. I always enjoy going to Phoenix.

Iowa is different. It's short track in distance, but it's not going to race like a short track. I really think it's going to race like one of our big tracks. Like one of the mile and a half tracks. It just seems like the banking, there's a lot of grip there, whether it's the banking, the new pavement, whatever it might be.

Drafting is going to be huge, which for the most part on the short oval it isn't. You're looking at grip and trying to keep consistency in the car. I think going to Iowa, we're going to have a big freight train type race. I don't think it's going to be hard for our cars to be flat out. Maybe in turbulence it will. But certainly not leading up to the qualifying.

I think it's just going to as a difference it's going to turn into it's going to be the fastest probably short oval that we're on. And I think with the way the banking that grows the higher you run I think that's going to be very interesting to see just how quick that makes the outside groove and how raceable that groove becomes.

And I'm excited. I think it's going to be quite a show for all the fans that are going to come out.

Scarallo discussed his transition back into open-wheel racing from several years racing Trans-Ams.

Q. Tell us about the transition to the Indy Pro Series from what you've been used to the last couple of years.

JOEY SCARALLO: Yeah, it's been about as big a transition as you can possibly imagine. I mean obviously doing some open wheel stuff, I wasn't too worried about having such a huge transition getting back into an open wheel car this year, but it's certainly been a bit larger, bigger step than what I thought.

I think certainly coupled with the fact that the team is a new team running in the Indy Pro Series there's certainly a big curve there for the guys to learn how to set up the car for each track.

There's no data to fall back on from last year. And then there's also the curve for me and then working with new engineers. I mean you constantly hear people talk about that, just the driver getting along with the engineer and how to maximize what that given driver needs for the car.

So I mean the car is a completely, completely different I mean I really enjoyed my stint in Trans-Am. Right now the Trans-Am series isn't around anymore.

But to be honest, I always wanted to get back into an open wheel car anyway. So it's certainly a welcome change. And I'm enjoying it. I mean the results so far up until this point haven't been exactly what we wanted yet, which is a bit difficult at times.

We almost won the championship the last year I ran in Trans-Am. And certainly this first part of the year it's been a common struggle. It's been a bit tough. But I think we're going to have a good second half to the year. I'm looking forward to it. I think things are starting to come together for us.

***

2. Iowa promises to be "SAFER": Iowa Speedway has broken the safety barrier, so to speak.

The SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier -- developed by the Indy Racing League and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility to reduce the severity of impacts by race cars -- was first installed in all four turns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2002. Subsequent installations of the system around the globe have been retro-fit to existing concrete walls of racetracks.

That changed with the design and construction of Iowa Speedway, which hosts the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series this weekend for the first time. At the suggestion of Indy Racing League senior technical director Phil Casey, the track became the first to install the new Alternative Backup Structure around the entire perimeter of the 0.875-mile racing surface.

The new system incorporates anchored steel posts with bundles of closed-cell polystyrene foam between them and the (40-inch tall, 28-feet long) square structural steel tubing (8 inches each, stitch welded at seams every 12 inches) that comprises the "soft wall."

The original SAFER Barrier design was based on the theory that the barrier absorbs a portion of the kinetic energy released when a race car makes contact with the wall. The energy is dissipated along a longer portion of the wall, instead of the car recoiling onto the track. All 12 ovals on the IndyCar Series schedule contain the SAFER Barrier.

"Racetracks that are already built have cement walls, so it was easy to put the SAFER Barrier and the foam against the cement walls," Casey said. "If you have temporary circuits like road courses or building a new racetrack, you need a way to put up SAFER Barriers and it's so expensive to put up cement walls (about $4 million on a mile racetrack). Consequently, the Alternative Backup Structure saves about a third of the cost."

Impacts in early races at the speedway have supported data of development and testing by the University of Nebraska group.

"It's very strong," Casey said. "There was considerable testing. A few ARCA cars and Silver Crowns have hit it and it performed well."

A similar structure -- a steel post imbedded in a concrete barrier with the foam and steel tubing fronting it -- could soon be incorporated in sections of road/street courses (selected corners) and ovals (pit lane walls, inside racetrack).

"Any new facility or road course that needs it in high-speed corners, the recommendation would be to put the latest generation in," Casey said.

The sanctioning body also is working with the University of Nebraska team on development of a pit lane attenuator system (nose of pit lane wall), which is entering the testing phase. Upon impact, the device compacts (slides on a center rail) to absorb the energy.

"There is always room for development," Casey said.

***

The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on June 24 at Iowa Speedway. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. (ET) by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Iowa 100 on June 23 at the Iowa Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. on July 3. ESPN2's coverage of the Liberty Challenge will be telecast at 5 p.m. on June 21.

-credit: irl

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Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Scott Sharp