Talladega causes plenty of damage
April 28, 2002
OK, any guesses as to how much money it’s going to cost Winston Cup and Busch teams to repair/replace the fifty-plus race cars that were trashed last weekend at Talladega?
NASCAR simply has to find a better solution than restrictor plates to slow the cars down at Talladega and Daytona. Sure, the
“big wreck” is exciting, but they were just lucky that no one was killed or seriously hurt. And with the slow economy and sponsorship cutbacks, is it really smart to set up situations that are going to cost teams huge repair bills?
Motorsports doyen Brock Yates recently advocated a return to the early days of NASCAR, having the sanctioning body require the use of real stock cars, right off the showroom floor. Interesting concept, Brock, but it isn’t going to happen!
With the month of May looming right around the corner, there have been some interesting developments in the Indy 500 driver lineup. One is the sidelining of Jacques Lazier due to his accident at Nazareth. He had to have spinal surgery, and will be out of action for six to eight months.
A.J. Foyt, sensing that good drivers would be snapped up soon, selected former IRL Champion and fellow Texan Greg Ray to replace the injured Eliseo Salazar at Indy. Ray will also run the car for the rest of Salazar’s recuperation, which may last the whole season. Ray piloted a Foyt car at last year’s season
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finale in Texas, and may have a future with the team beyond the Indy 500 — or at least as long as a driver can expect to have a future with the volatile Foyt.
Also, two-time Indy Champ Arie Luyendyk will be back at the Speedway this May, coming out of retirement to join the Greatest Spectacle in Racing one more time. He tested last week, turning an unofficial fast speed of 226.873 miles per hour while dialing in his car. Luyendyk speculated that one mile an hour of speed could mean 10-12 places in the starting lineup for this
year’s 500. And Cheever Racing has named CART and Sports Car ace Max Papis to drive the team’s third car in the Memorial Day classic.
The IRL is also setting in stone its supplier list for the 2003 season.
Apparently IRL newcomer Roger Penske’s bid to become a chassis supplier to the league has failed. Penske Cars was informed that it would not be selected to produce chassis for the 2003 IRL season. No other potential chassis suppliers have yet been officially eliminated. Historically, Penske has built
chassis only for its own team, and IRL rules state that chassis suppliers must provide cars for whatever teams wish to purchase them.
This was likely a factor in the League’s decision. No more than three manufacturers will be chosen, with current suppliers Dallara and G Force having preferred positions due to their history with the League.
In a related move, CART is moving toward freezing its chassis rules for the 2003 and 2004 seasons, allowing teams to save some money that can be put toward engine programs for the new 3.5 liter normally-aspirated engine formula slated for 2003. It is also a big break for the Reynard teams, because they can now run their current cars for two more seasons. With
Reynard in receivership, it is unlikely that they will be designing new CART chassis for 2003 and beyond.
This is one of those weekends that’s a race fan’s dream –Winston Cup at Fontana, CART in Japan, Formula 1 in Spain. Of course, with all the time changes and the International Date Line, all the open-wheel stuff will have been run by the time you read this. Well, that’s what VCRs are for!
Interestingly enough, IRL leader Tony George showed up at the Honda-built Motegi track, fueling rumors of a possible Honda IRL-spec engine for 2003 or 2004. Honda folks quickly quashed the rumor, stating that they had no plans for North American open-wheel racing for the immediate future.
Other speculation was that George was angling for an IRL race at Motegi, but it’s unlikely that Honda would want rival Toyota, one of the IRL’s new engine suppliers, winning a race at their track!
Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist.
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