Road to Indy: Tight Schedule Has Effect on IndyCar Series Teams For most IRL IndyCar Series teams, the first full week of April meant packing the equipment needed for the April 17 Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. But at the same time, it...
Road to Indy: Tight Schedule Has Effect on IndyCar Series Teams
For most IRL IndyCar Series teams, the first full week of April meant packing the equipment needed for the April 17 Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. But at the same time, it meant preparing cars for the Indianapolis 500, when the IRL's new aerodynamic and 3.0-liter engine package will be used for the first time.
Between those tasks and the April 27-28 Open Test at Indianapolis, there's little time for anything else.
"The only time off for our guys is when they are on the airplane to Japan," said Greg Ray, owner/driver of the Access Motorsports entry. "Other than that, it's a 24/7 push. It's a lot of work but our guys are passionate about racing. That doesn't make it seem quite so bad."
IndyCar Series teams such as Access Motorsports, Red Bull Cheever Racing and Marlboro Team Penske packed up equipment at their shops, then spent April 6-8 at Indianapolis International Airport loading shipping containers onto cargo planes bound for Japan.
"We try to take a very solid approach to (packing)," said Tim Cindric, president of Team Penske. "Our race cars for Motegi won't be the cars we take to Indianapolis. We tested those cars (at Indy) on April 3. We'll go to Motegi after we've digested the information from that test, then we'll come back here for the Open (Test). By the time May comes, we should know what to expect and prepare for."
For a smaller team, such as Ray's Access Motorsports, the job of packing makes preparations for Indianapolis that much tougher. With only one primary Panoz G Force chassis, the team has had to prepare a car for the April 3 private test at Indy, then convert that car to race at Motegi. Following the Motegi race, they will convert the chassis back to the Indianapolis specifications.
"It is pretty tough," Ray said. "Lots of teams have several cars, sometimes three or four chassis for a driver. They may have to work more people to get prepared. For us being a small team and having limited resources, it makes things very difficult. From a logistical standpoint, the guys have no time."
The situation, though, is the same for all teams. Cindric said every IndyCar Series team is dealing with the same issues heading into the month of May.
"I don't think it affects us more than it does anyone else," he said. "It's almost like there's a three-race preseason this year and then the regular season starts. The difference is the preseason counts.
"Now that the rules are going to change and the engines are going to change, we're coming here with an unknown quantity. I think that's what builds the most anxiety with us. Things are out of our control. Things are unknown. We have to figure out what the optimum setup on the car we don't know yet. That's the most difficult thing for us."
Max Jones, the managing director for Red Bull Cheever Racing, added his team's preparations for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" are not affected by a race half a world away.
"It's just on the schedule," he said. "That's just what we do. We prepare our cars and load them in the truck to go racing every week. If that's what the schedule says, that's what we do. It doesn't take away from what we want to do. You always want to use the maximum time allotted to be prepared. It doesn't matter if it's one day, or one week. We'll use that. It's the same for everybody. We're all going to have one day, or one week to get prepared."