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Flat Spot On: Sweaty Mid-Ohio Slippery When Wet

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 4 2012

Another victory for the Muscle Milk team is a result of financial muscle. (Photo courtesy of the American Le Mans Series)

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

STREAM CORNERS, Ohio – Top ten tweets from the combined ALMS and IndyCar weekend at Mid-Ohio:

1. The fifth straight victory by the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing over Dyson Racing in the LMP1 class was a tribute to one of the leading motor racing indicators – financial health. (And we’re not referring to the respective car owners here, each of which is relatively well off, rather to the very active Honda Performance Development operation in California versus Britain’s bankrupt Lola.)

2. Will Power was fighting illness when he won his 27th career pole during qualifying for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, but fared better than sick teammate Helio Castroneves. (“Helio gave it to me,” said Power. “When he gets sick he likes to pass it on.”)

3. Former ALMS race director Beaux Barfield is seeking to become the first chief steward since Wally Dallenbach Sr. to earn respect from the always irascible and high-strung single seater types who pursue Indy car racing. (“Earning respect is job one and I think that’s gone well with drivers and team managers,” said Barfield. “I think our consistency and how we have managed situations has been pretty good compared to the past.”)

4. Other than rainy conditions, push-to-pass on starts and re-starts is the acid test when it comes to IndyCar drivers’ respect toward one another and toward the chief steward. (Both rain and push-to-pass are expected to have a significant influence in Sunday’s event at Mid-Ohio, a narrow track known to be very slippery when wet and a place where it’s difficult to pass.)

5. Completed in just seven months, the factory SRT Vipers built and raced by Riley Technologies turned in an impressive debut at Mid-Ohio, running the entire ALMS event against the armada of established factory-backed GT entrants. (Truth in journalism: this writer just completed a book manuscript titled “The Art of Race Car Design,” a memoir of designer extraordinaire Bob Riley.)

6. Contrary to popular perception, drivers who are women or ethnic minorities have trouble landing corporate sponsorship in America. (But does it make sense for A.J. Foyt to enter a minority driver with only four Indy Lights starts – Chase Austin – into next year’s Indy 500 with the backing of Honda’s diversity initiative?)

7. Given the need for more prototypes, there is no doubt the radical Delta Wing will be approved in the ALMS rulebook for the 2013 season. (The problem concerns who will pay for it? Nissan France, the folks at Nissan Japan have been quick to point out, funded the Delta Wing at Le Mans.)

8. It’s been unbearably hot in central Ohio this week. “I’m glad to see everyone sweating here,” said Dario Franchitti in the six-driver IZOD IndyCar Series post-qualifying media conference. “I thought I might have been the only one.” (Responded Will Power, who nipped the Scotsman for the pole: “I’m not sweating.”)

9. In the fine details of the new rules for the Le Mans 24-hour, it turns out Porsche’s flywheel system employed on the race-tested GT3 R Hybrid and the 918 Spyder supercar will not be eligible to run in the great French 24-hour. (“There’s a lot of bright people working on a different design,” said a reliable source at Porsche, who confirmed the company is still committed to a new LMP1 prototype for 2014.)

10. If skipping the morning warm-up is good enough for Formula 1, NASCAR, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24-hour, among others, then I’m good with it. (Haven’t seen one in years and can’t say I’ve missed anything.)

11. Alert readers may have noticed a Steam Corners dateline, a designation that has been all too accurate this summer. (And doesn’t motor racing need more poetic and appropriate datelines? Road Atlanta, for example, is beautiful in the spring and fall — as is nearby Flowery Branch. The Indy 500, to take another example, actually takes place in the little burg of Speedway… .)

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 4 2012
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