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INDYCAR To Allow Drivers To Get Pushy This Week

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 5 2012

The Indycars are back at Toronto this weekend and they will be on the button.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Push-to -pass returns to the IZOD IndyCar Series with this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto, and defending event champion Dario Franchitti can’t wait to hit-the-switch on the Streets of Exhibition Place.

“It’s going to be very interesting, you know, with that push-to-pass, how much power are we actually going to get,” Franchitti said of the popular overtake assist feature approved for the series’ new 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 engines. “I know the numbers of boost, but how much will it actually translate on track, I think there’s going to be quite a big difference. That, combined with the fact that you are now allowed to defend again this year is going to make for some pretty interesting racing, and I think it will definitely liven things up a little bit.”

Sanctioning body INDYCAR announced on June 27 that push-to-pass would be implemented for the five remaining road/street course events on the 2012 schedule, beginning with the Honda Indy Toronto event running from Friday through Sunday. Introduced to the series in 2009, push-to-pass allows a driver to add turbocharger boost and additional RPM with the press of a button on the steering wheel to complete a pass.

“It will be similar to what it was in the past because we know that model worked,” said Will Phillips, vice president of technology, INDYCAR.

Franchitti, the four-time/reigning series champion from Target Chip Ganassi Racing, said push-to-pass likely will come into play as early as the start heading into Turn 1 of the 1.75-mile, 11-turn layout; racing into Turn 3 and during any and all restarts.

“Yeah, with the big, long straight into Turn 3, I think you’re going to see more guys trying outside passes,

Dario Franchitti says power bursts should make racing more exciting. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

because when the car in front goes to defend, there’s only one way to go and that’s to the outside,” said Franchitti, driver of the No. 10 TCGR Dallara/Honda. “With the push-to-pass and the momentum that will give the trailing car – providing, though, the car in front doesn’t use it, too – but that’s going to give some serious momentum. That, plus the draft, you’re going to see more outside attempts at passes there.

“That’s when kind of a gray area forms, because it’s one thing defending to the inside but the one thing we don’t need is the cars who are defending coming back across into the path of the car who is trying to make an outside pass. I think it’s going to be the usual crazy, physical action-packed race in Toronto this weekend.”

Franchitti averaged 76.805 mph last year en route to a victory over teammate Scott Dixon, with Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport rounding out the podium. Franchitti also won in 2009, first year the event was run as part of the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. Franchitti’s first win in Toronto was registered in July 1999 as part of the Championship Auto Racing Teams.

Push-to-pass was run last year with the Honda Indy V-8, the only engine in use. This season has seen introduction of 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines supplied by Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus.

The additional boost is added for a predetermined amount of time which will be determined by INDYCAR depending on the circuit. The sanctioning body also will determine the total amount of time available, recharge time and any delay in the system prior to each activation, though the engine manufacturers may adjust the settings below the requirements to optimize their engine’s performance.

Push-to-pass will not engage until a certain throttle position is reached and will disengage if the driver lifts or presses the button again. As part of the introduction of push-to-pass, the base turbocharger boost level will decrease to 150 kPa. When the system is engaged, the boost increases to 160 kPa on the V-6 engines supplied by the three manufacturers.

INDYCAR will set the engine control unit to allow one push-to-pass activation per run (service stop) in practice Friday. Push-to-pass will be disabled for practice and the three rounds of qualifications Saturday, but will be re-enabled for the warm-up session on Sunday and for the 80-lap/140-mile race.

Sunday’s race will be televised by ABC at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Toronto 100 on Saturday, which will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. on July 12.

INDYCAR has updated the status of fresh engines remaining for each team for the remainder of the season, and Dario Franchitti will head into the final six races with one extra bullet at his disposal.

Pursuant to Rule 15.1.4, each Full-Season Entrant will be provided with no more than five fresh built engines throughout each year covered by an engine service agreement. Using more than five fresh engines in a season will result in a penalty. Engines beyond the fifth fresh engine may be fresh or part-used. Pursuant to Rule 15.6.2, using more than five fresh engines in a season will be considered Unapproved Engine Change-Outs.

Franchitti said the availability of a fresh engine certainly could figure into the driver’s championship led by Will Power of Team Penske by three points (286-283) over Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport. Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing is third, 15 points behind Power.

“I think certainly Scott, being on his fifth, it’s a worry for him,” said Franchitti, eighth in the point standings, 70 behind Power. “We have obviously got two full engines to run, what, six races on. But, as we continue to push the envelope and Honda continues trying to get more power and better fuel economy and those type of things, and Chevy do it and Lotus, you just never know sometimes when you push a little too far. So yeah, it definitely could play into the championship.”

Franchitti took a major points hit when – as pole-sitter – he finished 25th after experiencing a mechanical failure on a warm-up lap heading into the start of the Iowa Indy Corn Indy 250 night race at Iowa Speedway on June 23.

Chevrolet leads the Manufacturer’s point-race with 72 followed by Honda with 62 and Lotus at 36.

The complete refresh list:

No. 2 Team Penske/Ryan Briscoe, one Chevrolet engine remaining

No. 3 Team Penske/Helio Castroneves, one Chevrolet engine remaining

No. 4 Panther Racing/JR Hildebrand, two Chevrolet engines remaining

No. 5 KV Racing Technology/E.J. Viso, two Chevrolet engines remaining

No. 6/7 Dragon Racing/Katherine Legge/Sebastien Bourdais, two Chevrolet engines remaining

No. 8 KV Racing Technology/Rubens Barrichello, one Chevrolet engine remaining

No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing/Scott Dixon, on Honda engine No. 5

No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing/Dario Franchitti, one Honda engine remaining

No. 11 KV Racing Technology/Tony Kanaan, one Chevrolet engine remaining

No. 12 Team Penske/Will Power, one Chevrolet engine remaining

No. 14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises/ Mike Conway, on Honda engine No. 5

No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing/Takuma Sato, on Honda engine No. 5

No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing/Justin Wilson, one Honda engine remaining

No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing/James Jakes, two Honda engines remaining

No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing/Ed Carpenter, one Chevrolet engine remaining

No. 22 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Oriol Servia, two Honda engines remaining

No. 26 Andretti Autosport/Marco Andretti, two Chevrolet engines remaining

No. 27 Andretti Autosport/James Hinchcliffe, two Chevrolet engines remaining

No. 28 Andretti Autosport/Ryan Hunter-Reay, two Chevrolet engines remaining

No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing/Graham Rahal, one Honda engine remaining

No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/Josef Newgarden, one Honda engine remaining

No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports/Simon Pagenaud, on Honda engine No. 5

No. 78 Lotus-HVM Racing/Simona de Silvestro, on Lotus engine No. 5

No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing/Charlie Kimball, one Honda engine remaining

No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian/Alex Tagliani, two Honda engines remaining

Lotus’ request to modify homologated parts to improve performance of its 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine has been approved by INDYCAR, pursuant to regulations established before the 2012 season.

At midseason and again at the end of the year, manufacturers whose engines are statistically more than 2½ percent deficient in power may, at the discretion of INDYCAR, make improvements to components to be homologated. Alterations are intended to put the engine within the 2½ percent window, and they will be introduced on only new engines being sent to the track.

Lotus presented data to support its case, which was reviewed along with relevant data collected by the sanctioning body’s engine support engineers. Lotus’ first modification was to be introduced at a Monday test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with the No. 78 Lotus-HVM Racing Dallara DW12 driven by Simona de Silvestro. Subsequent modifications are scheduled to be incorporated for this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto, the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma (Aug. 26-28) and the Grand Prix of Baltimore (Sept. 2-4).

Trevor Knowles, INDYCAR director of engine development, said Chevrolet and Honda have been apprised of Lotus’ modification schedule. Old parts remain homologated until 2013.

Engine rules will be stable through the 2016 season, with any corrections or modifications decided by INDYCAR after consultation with the INDYCAR Engine Committee.

Dallara Automobili will provide one set of revised rear top wishbones to each entry for the Honda Indy Toronto race weekend. The failed wishbone on Dario Franchitti’s No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12 at The Milwaukee Mile on June 16 was analyzed by an independent metallurgist, and the reason for failure was cited as component fatigue.

Dallara subsequently underwent a design review of the wishbone and eyelet and the revised component went into production. The former spec wishbones are safe to run, with a recommended 2,500-mile limit.

Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter will be featured on “INDYCAR 36,” which will premiere at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday on NBC Sports Network with replays throughout the week and available on www.indycar.com. “It was interesting to see the cameras and microphones in various places we don’t usually have them,” Carpenter said.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 5 2012
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