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Airborne IndyCars: Puzzle over aero kits

2015-05-15 10:40

AIRBORNE INDYCARS: A screengrab shows Josef Newgarden's racer sent airborne during a crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 14 2015.

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - Three big crashes in Indianapolis 500 practice in May 2015 have raised one big question: Are the new oval aero kits, along with speeds that have topped 370km/h, the cause?

IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves said: "We're still learning, to be honest. There are so many little details with the new aero kit that we're just starting now to go through that phase.

"My team mates are going through that phase as well and we're just starting."


Indy 500 winner Castroneves lost control of his car on Wednesday (May 13) before it hit a wall, went airborne and flipped. On Thursday (May 14), Josef Newgarden flipped his car in the latest crash.

Newgarden was checked, cleared and released from the speedway's medical centre.

Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud led Thursday's practice with a lap of 368.207km/h, with Carlos Munoz second fastest with 367.133km/h and Sage Karam in third setting a speed of 367.133. Scott Dixon was fourth fourth at 366.341km/h and Tony Kanaan fifth with a speed of 366.169km/h.

VIDEO: Josef Newgarden's crash
VIDEO: Helio Castroneves' crash
VIDEO: Pippa Mann's IndyCar crash

Newgarden lost control of his CFH Racing entry car going into the first turn at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Much like Castroneves' crash, Newgarden's car smashed into the track wall, flipped and ended up on its side.

Newgarden said: "I'm still trying to gather my thoughts from it. It definitely surprised me. Just lucky that everything's good and the Dallara tub held up pretty well."


That seemed to be a common theme at Indy on Thursday as IndyCar and Chevrolet worked to determine if the new oval aero kits were the cause of a crash that sent Castroneves' car airborne.

Both Castroneves and Newgarden drive Chevrolets and both crashes were similar - they occurred near the same part of the track and both cars flipped when the car turned backward.

CFH Racing owner Ed Carpenter said: "It's definitely a concern. We haven't had cars doing that ever in my career. But there's a lot different in 2016. I don't know that we understand why it's going on at this point and really I don't know that we understand that it's just a problem for Chevy cars, either.


Pippa Mann is the only driver in a Honda that crashed in May but still takes full responsibility for the crash that sent her car spinning into the wall Wednesday.

Mann said: "My crash, it didn't have anything to do with the aero kits at all. My crash would have happened with those circumstances with last year's aero kit, with the 2011 car. It was just one of those things."

The cars have only been on the track for five days with the oval aero kits, including test day held on opening day at Indy.

After Castroneves' crash, Team Penske owner Roger Penske raised his concern almost immediately about the front wicker (removable spoiler) pinning the front of his car down as it went airborne.


IndyCar made the wicker mandatory for the remainder of the 2015 season but on Thursday (May 14) decided to make it optional because the oval aero kit was originally tested without the wicker earlier in May 2015.

Carpenter said: "We were asked to take it off so we did. I thought it was kind of obnoxious because we just got asked to put it on about a month ago. There's certainly a lot of unanswered questions and hopefully we'll get answers to them in time."

If the wicker had anything to do with Castroneves' crash, officials say it's too early to tell and Chevrolet won't comment until it completes its investigation into the cause of the two crashes.

The bottom line for Newgarden though, is that so far everyone walked away from their crashes without being seriously injured.

Newgarden said: "Every once in a while the car's going to have a hard hit. It looks like the car did its job and kept them safe. That's the biggest thing for me, that they're safe race cars."

Read more on:    honda  |  indiana  |  indycar  |  motorsport

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