Andretti Autosport’s Ray Gosselin has said he expects IndyCar will struggle to define what is and isn’t a deliberate scrape of a domed skid on superspeedways.
Gosselin, Ryan Hunter-Reay’s race engineer at Andretti Autosport, says he is worried that IndyCar tech inspection area could be the scene of major debate and controversy at the three superspeedway races this year, should domed skids get the green light.
Despite the determination of Bill Pappas, IndyCar’s VP of competition, engineering, that he will seek to eliminate gray areas in the rulings regarding the devices to be used at the Indianapolis 500, Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway and Pocono 500, Gosselin admits he’s not convinced such consistency is possible.
He told Motorsport.com: “I’ve read that Bill is going to be strict on how worn the titanium skid blocks are, and if a team has deliberately worn down the domed skid. But how do you judge that intent? And what is and isn’t permitted?
“At, say, Texas – if you change lanes during the race, you’re going to discover bumps that you may not have touched through practice or qualifying. So do you run the car even higher than the 9mm that’s been added on for the domed skid? That seems the smart choice, but if someone thinks they can get away with more than that, then they’re going to run lower than you and go faster.
“So is it really a no-touch rule, or is it a gray area?”
Phoenix race highlighted the potential issues
Hunter-Reay’s aggressive drive at Phoenix International Raceway last weekend involved him investigating various lines around the track, as he sought a way past the Chevrolet-powered front-runners. But Gosselin pointed out that the #28 Andretti Autosport-Honda entry was thus venturing into areas of the 1.022-mile oval it had not yet been up to that point in the weekend.
He is worried that similar circumstances at Texas Motor Speedway – particularly on restarts when tire pressures are low and fuel load is high – could lead to the cars hitting bumps unintentionally, leading to penalties in post-race tech inspection.
“First time we ran the high line at Phoenix was in the race,” said Gosselin. “If that was a domed skid race, would we have effectively been penalized for making passes? That’s my worry about how the rules will be imposed.
“If domed skids are safer, I’m all for them – although we should make sure they are safer in normal conditions as well as a spin,” he said. “But I also want to make sure the rules regarding them can be applied in a sensible way.”