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New chassis breeds excitement for IndyCar races

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New chassis breeds excitement for IndyCar races

Will Power, last weekend’s winner of the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix, fields questions from reporters.

Photo by DALE BOSOWSKI/


POSTED April 19, 2012 9:21 p.m.

Despite the fact that the new Dallara IndyCar chassis looks somewhat strange – sort of like the bat mobile from the rear – the car is getting a thumbs up from both drivers and fans alike.

The chassis is lighter than the previous version, yet produces more downforce with less drag. The hope was that the 2012 chassis combined with the new 2.4 Liter, V-6 turbo engines, would produce better racing and the early results seem to be baring that out.

The amount of passing has been way up and in each of the first three races this season there have been nine lead changes and in the case of last weekend’s Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix they were split among seven different drivers.

The Long Beach race was especially action filled after Friday’s practice was of little value due to the rainy weather, an accident on lap 20 that resulted in teams opting for different pit strategies and Chevy’s decision to replace the engines in all of their cars due to dependability issues which carried a 10-spot penalty on the starting grid. As a result, although Chevy powered cars took seven of the top 10 spots in qualifying, they were relegated to the middle of the 26-car field much like an invert at the local speedway.

“It bites,” said Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske No. 2) after taking the pole, only to be relegated to the 11th starting position for the race due to the Chevy engine change. "But you've just got to go with it and trust Chevrolet's decision.”

In the end, Australia’s Will Power (Team Penske No. 12 Verizon) was able to recover from his 12th starting position by using a two-stop pit strategy to just hold off the hard-charging, Honda-powered Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt/Hamilton Motorsports No. 77), who made three stops in the race.

“Oh, for one more laps,” Pagenaud moaned afterward.

Despite Friday’s miserable weather, attendance was strong with over 170,000 making their way into the historic Long Beach street circuit over the weekend.

K&N Pro Series

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West made its first visit to the track Havasu 95 Speedway near Lake Havasu City, Arizona last weekend for the “TOYOTA/NAPA Auto Parts 150”.

Escalon’s Eric Holmes, battling a “tight” car during the race brought his No. 20 NAPA Toyota to the checkered flag in fifth behind first time winner Derek Thorn of Lakeport. Holmes is currently 4th in the chase for the 2012 West Championship and only 15 points behind leader David Mayhew in his pursuit of his 4th title.

The next race for the NASCAR West Series will be at the road course of Miller Motorsport Park on April 28th and then the tour heads to Stockton 99 on Saturday, May 5th for the “Pick n Pull 150”.

New Stockton 99

There will be a full slate of local racing action this weekend on both the asphalt and the dirt.

After getting washed out last Saturday the New Stockton 99 regular season opener will take place this Saturday, April 21, with NASCAR Whelen All American Series “Fan Appreciation Night” featuring Western Late Model in Twin 50-lap mains, Super Stocks, Bombers, NCMA Sprint Cars, Mini Cups, and USAC Ford Focus Midgets.

The SRL SPEARS Southwest Tour Series will make its first of two appearances this season at the Madera Speedway in the "Melo's Gas and Gear 125 presented by AmeriPride" this Saturday night. The huge evening of racing will also include the Legends of the Pacific, LunkerDaddy Late Models, Hobby Stocks, MST, Toyota Sedans, and 4-Bangers.

Manteca’s Jacob Gomes, who finished runner-up last season in the series, claimed the 125-lap main victory in the SRL opener at Stockton on April 7 and is the current points leader with 180. Other contenders include two-time series champion Jim Pettit II of Prunedale, veterans MK Kanke of Frazier Park and Seaside’s Dave Byrd and Manteca hot shoes Ross Strmiska and Michael Sandoval.

The Merced Speedway will feature the Dirt Modifieds, Super Streeters, Hobby Stocks, Valley Sportsman and 4-Bangers on Friday April 20 and the Chowchilla Speedway will be hosting the Sport Mods Wingless American Stocks, 4-Bangers and Dwarf Cars on Saturday night.

Also the AMA West Coast Shootout Dirt flat-track motorcycle races will visit the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds next Saturday April 28th. For more info visit www.slidewayracing.com.

Infineon Raceway

Beautiful Infineon Raceway near Sonoma is gearing up for its first major event of the year with the Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam at Infineon Raceway, May 4-6.

This two-wheel extravaganza will feature seven AMA Pro Road Racing main events on the road course, plus Supermoto USA on the Infineon Raceway Kart Track and the return of the TTXGP Electric Motorcycles. Competing will be the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport classes on both Saturday and Sunday. The thunder of the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 class will run a single main event on Sunday.

The busy 2012 Infineon Raceway calendar also includes the Sonoma Historics Motorsports Festival on June 2-3, NASCAR Sprint Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 22-24, NHRA Division 7 Drag races on July 20-22, NHRA Sonoma Nationals July 27-29, Sonoma Drift powered by NOS Summer Jam Weekend August 18-19, IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma August 24-26 and FIA World Touring Car Championship September 21-23.

For more information visit ww.infineonraceway.com or call 800-870-RACE.

 

To contact Dale Bosowski, email dalebosowski@yahoo.com.

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