So this whole "Park Milka" thing seems to be flaring up. It seems to flare up when we get to road courses because it's just harder for her to get out of the way, I guess.
We know Ryan Hunter-Reay and his betrothed, Beccy Gordon, are well and truly on board the Park Milka train. Witness RHR's post-qualifying greeting for Milka at Watkins Glen after RHR thought Milka got in the way of his qualifying hot lap ..
Dario waded in after Watkins Glen as well ...
"On the restart, whatever number the CITGO car is, I don't know, was cruising along in the middle of the pack and people started passing before the restart lining up. Then she pulled in front of Ryan and braked at the last corner when four or five cars ahead had already taken off for green, so completely screwed our restart. That allowed Matos to get past. That was a little frustrating, I would say. But really nothing that she does surprises me at this point."
The question: will IndyCar park Milka and thereby say NO to her sponsor money?
That would (I assume) screw Uncle Dale Coyne, who no doubt relies on that money in some fashion to allow him to run Alex Lloyd's Boy Scouts of America car. The Citgo cash probably doesn't fund Lloyd's ride directly, but it likely pays enough expenses for the team to free up other cash they can use for the BSA car.
Given all this, talk about a 107% percent rule (or similar) as a criterion for parking someone has popped up. Basically, you take 107% of a car's speed (multiply it by 1.07) and that has to equal the leader's speed or you are parked. F1 used the 107% rule for a while and will use it again in 2011, unless something changes (which it often does in F1).
For example, if the leader is going 143 mph, you have to keep your speed at about 134 mph or you're parked. 134 x 1.07 = 143.38 (You can also take the leader's speed multiplied by .93 and get the minimum stay-on-the-track-speed. I think. I was a Mass Comm major.)
After just a real cursory look at the Watkins Glen section time chart (found here), Milka's top lap speeds appear to be in the 123 to 125 mph range at Watkins Glen. There were some 84 mph laps in there as well, but I assume that's because she was pulling over for traffic. It's hard to throw someone out for slowing down to let traffic through.
Dario and race winner Will Power's best laps were 132/133 mph. So if you take 107% of 125 you get 133.75 mph. Generally, Milka was within the 107% rule. Hard to say definitively, of course, because you'd have to be there and see how she was running on her own consistently, something you can't tell from a lap chart. If she was doing 109 mph on her own consistently, well, then she's below. But based on the lap charts, it's not real clear cut.
ANYWAY, my general point here is, IndyCar needs to come up with an objective measurement -- and the 107% rule (or 105 or 108, whatever they settle on) works for me.
It has to apply to EVERYONE. So if Tony Kanaan is out there with a bent tie rod or whatever, trundling around to get points, and is below 107% -- GONE. Everyone or no one.
Second, it's easy in the abstract to say Park Milka from the comfort of our living rooms and friendly confines of our blogs because we don't have to go down to Dale Coyne racing and tell a bunch of people they are now unemployed. Also, what if PDVSA, which owns Citgo, gets pissed and takes their cash away from EJ Viso's ride in response to the parking? Could happen.
On the other hand ... what if a slow car gets another driver killed? Worst possible case, obviously, for a bunch of reasons, one of which is the question "Why didn't you park that slow car before someone got killed?" Not a question anyone wants to ever answer.
Finally, you know racers. For some, NOTHING is ever their fault, and Milka can become a convenient scapegoat. Example: "I would have won, but Milka got in my way on lap 9."
Let's just say I'd rather not be in Brian Barnhart's (the Iron Hand of Justice) place mulling all these things right now. Let me know what you think. Keep it clean and non-personal, please.