Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden shake down the Dallara DW 12’s performance based on their month of May with the car.
The upshot from both drivers: the car preformed well, the show was great, but there is still much to work on. Among the concerns was the car’s behavior in crashes. As an owner/driver, Carpenter had issues with what he called a Dallara monopoly on certain parts of the car that owners previously could have made themselves or sourced from other suppliers.
Overall, there was praise for Dallara’s work on the car and their response so far to issues, along with a caution that development has to continue. Newgarden said the car is almost too forgiving in some cases, and that he prefers a car “that is a handful.” His point was that having a car that is harder to drive creates an opportunity for driver skill to shine and become a separating factor in the race.
Finally, the two talk about heading to Belle Isle. Carpenter received wide-ranging praise for his improved performance at Brazil, and for him Belle Isle is a chance to continue that improvement. For Newgarden, it’s a chance to “finally get it right.” Read their comments below.
As far as the performance, the racing was probably better than anyone expected. This car is so big and it produces such a big wake that it kind of created a huge pack at Indy and probably some of the craziest racing that has ever taken place there, especially in recent years. I think fans liked it. It looked like it was pretty entertaining for the fans.
Carpenter: From race standpoint, it performed very well. Put on a great show. Everywhere (track) we go right now it’s a little bit of an unknown. Even we test at Texas and we think we know what it will be like but it’s a totally different aero package there than what we just run at Indy so you can’t assume it will the same kind of race. I can see it being less of a pack at Texas than it was at Indy. Absolutely the on-track product is great. Some of my concerns with the car are more to do with just how restricted we are as team. Dallara’s been great part to the series and always had a quality product, but I feel like with the way the rules are now, they have a monopoly on a lot of the parts.
The part that we had break in the old car there were certain things you could do as a team to make parts nicer, fix them, have liberties to improve designs and this car you can’t do that and I have a real problem with that. We paid a lot of money for these cars. It’s basically monopolized and then when you have things malfunction that you had a concern about going into but aren’t allowed to do anything with … I feel like us as teams we’re the ones investing in cars, paying drivers and the series is sanctioning and promoting the races. I feel like Dallara just has a little bit too much control of what they are selling and the prices they are selling it at. I would like the teams have a little more influence on who we buy our parts from and if we want to improve something without having get everything OK’ed by Dallara.
There’s a lot to be happy with. There’s been this giant perception that owners are a big whining group. The bottom line is there’s no one in IndyCar that doesn’t love IndyCar racing. Putting my owner hat on, we get a bad rap at times but the Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world. The 500 can’t survive without teams and the teams can’t survive without the 500 and the series, so I think that everyone has got to be on the same page. The end of the day there was just some things promised that haven’t been delivered. That comes across as us whining, but we’re the ones funding the car count. That’s what comes across as whining but it’s not. It’s just a fact.
Newgarden: I was pretty happy with the 500. I was happy with the show that was put on. There was passing that was possible. The Target cars were really able to tow up well, same with the Andretti cars. So I like that the cars created that. I think it’s created more of an opportunity for racing. It’s still a bit of unknown wherever you go. There are still a lot of things that need to be discovered, even on the road courses. There’s still a lot of question marks, but I think as far as Indianapolis itself, I thought it was good race and a great event all month long. There are definitely some concerns that have coming out of it, I would say from the driver’s side, but that’s pretty normal when you have a new car. You always have concerns with things when they are new and being developed. We’ll see how it progresses. We just gotta stay on top of it right now.
Carpenter: I think the race was really, really good. I think over the course of the month, and I don’t think Dallara would disagree with this, that they are working on it. Whether my accident, Bryan’s, Conway’s, Charlie’s -- the back of the car was kind of coming up when we were crashing, and that’s not something any of us want. I think Dallara has already taken a couple of steps to try and work on it, but it’s something they are cognizant of and I hope they will continue to improve. You can crash test these things however they do it — on a test rig or whatever — but until you crash them on the track you, really don’t know what they are doing to do.
I think Dallara recognizing where they have to work on that. I’m not all that worried about that side of it, to be honest.
Newgarden: It’s been too easy to drive for a lot of people. Just in general, it’s a very easy car to drive. I don’t want to make it sound like it’s an easy car to drive that just anyone off the street could hop in and drive it, but as far as an IndyCar goes, it’s a little too easy to drive, as it is. It’s pretty forgiving, especially on the road and street courses. Indy was a little different story, but you want something that’s a handful. You want something that you really gotta kind of get on top of, and you have to have a certain amount of aggression — but controlled aggression — to get the most out of it. There’s got to be a difficulty level with it. The more you get of that, the more you can separate yourself from other people.
Carpenter: We’ve put a lot of energy into it (improving road and street performance). Last year was hard because we only did three road races, and it’s hard when you are not doing it all the time to keep up with the guys who are doing it full time. I haven’t raced full-time since 2009, so it’s nice to be back to a full schedule and be on track all the time when everyone else is. Then, having the new car that kind of leveled the playing field a little bit.
I feel like the competition (in IndyCar) is better than it has ever been, closer than I have ever been. It’s encouraging; the closer you get, the more you want to be better. So, I’m excited for Detroit. I feel like we’re making progress and we’re ready to get to Detroit and pick up where we left off at Brazil and keep improving. Obviously, I love ovals, especially Indianapolis. But the way the series is, for me to prolong my career, which is what I want to do, I’ve got to be competitive on road and street courses. I think we are heading in the right direction.
Newgarden: I just want to get a race right. Even Indy didn’t go right for us. We haven’t really had a race that has gone right yet, which is crazy. It’s been five events now, and we haven’t had one that we went “Oh, ok, that race went trouble-free.” We got something for the guys up top for sure, without a doubt. I don’t think people question that or question the team, what they can produce. They can build a quick race car. The car is not the issue. The car is so fast, and the team is doing a great job of figuring it out and providing a good reliable, race car. We just gotta somehow get things going right.
I think sometimes you can get in these cycles where things aren’t going right and then they somehow work their way out of it. It just is what it is. Sometimes it just doesn’t go in your favor or your way and that’s what’s happening right now. It’s a combination of little things. It’s not necessarily one thing or another that you can point your finger on. You gotta get the rhythm and get it falling our way. I think once that starts to happen, we’ll get some results and get a good string of things going our way. Detroit is no different. I think we will be just fine. I’ve never been there before, but I think we will be fine. No problem. We’ll be just fine.