I think that my 500 blues start after Texas, or at least they did this year. I was incredibly let down, I guess, by the racing and standings after it was all said and done. Not that they were boring normal races, but they were snoozers for Texas. That’s ok, because this week we get to take another walk down the historical legacy of indycar racing with a trip to the Milwaukee Mile. I believe the saying goes “After Indianapolis comes Milwaukee.” It is a miracle that the Mile is even on the schedule so I should not complain about its place in the schedule but, it should be the week directly after Indy. I do not care what Bruton Smith or Eddie Gossage have to say on the subject. It’s the way it should be.
Oriol did not help himself, and Power strung his points lead even further. From the super competitive 500 to the blatant red car beat down the field received last week, I think I’m a bit sore on INDYCAR. But all will be right this weekend at Milwaukee. This is a historic track, opening for its first race in 1903 and almost 100 championship races later, we return to the Mile… Finally.
I am just hoping for a more competitive race this weekend. With the Franchitti and Power pulling a sizable lead on Oriol in the championship standings, something to shake up the top would be welcome. The Mile is the kind of place that can do that. Pilot skill is showcased front and center, once again this week. The large aero advantage that Penske and Ganassi hold over the rest of the field should be slightly less pronounced at the low banked one mile oval. Drivers have said again and again that this is about as close to a road course in oval form that you are ever going to get. Veteran drivers with a good handle on the chassis setup will have an advantage this weekend. Kanaan always comes to mind at these tight, mile long bull rings.
As a slight aside I thought I would revisit a hot button issue from last year. With the aero advantage diminished at a short oval, the mechanical grip of the racecar is at an absolute premium. Last year Penske and Ganassi both developed an archaic third spring using the anti sway bar. A third spring comes into play when the car is fully aero loaded, at the end of a straight entering a corner. When the aero load is at maximum, on a typical setup the car would have no more motion in the suspension because of down force loading the springs to full compression. The third spring then comes into play, being super stiff it gives the car travel at full load, while not affecting the ride at low speed allowing you to run slightly lighter springs, thus giving more mechanical grip. There is no third spring on a Dallara chassis, but the big two and possibly more have created a dual purpose sway bar to act as a third spring while being completely legal. INDYCAR did nothing about it last year, even at the persistence of smaller teams unable to develop one due to budget constraints. Seems to me that everyone has finally caught up? I have no idea, but this little quirk has nagged at me all year.
As we start the dog days of summer, INDYCAR nears the end of its oval block. Unfortunately the “balance” of the season could not be kept this year. Between the twin bill at Texas that counted at two events and the switch to the twisty in Japan, the Oval portion of the schedule has been minimized this year. Remember, the season was not even balanced to start with. The double header counted at two events, but paid the total of one race, meaning there are more points available on the road and street side of things even with added points from Indy qualifying.
All these misgiving can be overlooked as the series takes another trip to the second most revered oval on the circuit. Being a driver’s track and a facility that has produced multiple winners in the past there are a few guys who can notch a second win in their belt, and TK can go for a third. The short track equivalent to the world greatest race course, Milwaukee will surely continue the strong wake that the series is riding on right now.