May 27, 2013, 2:30 PM EST
At 38, and a veteran of open-wheel’s top level since 1998, Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan is well-versed on the various “styles” of racing that have occurred in ovals in either CART, IRL or IndyCar iterations.
The second year of IndyCar’s new Dallara DW12 chassis at Indianapolis once again featured a plethora of passing thanks to the “slingshot” effect created by a tow. The cars punch such a big hole in the air that drivers catch up to each other fairly easily. Passing was as prevalent on Sunday as crushed beer cans in Indy’s new “Snake pit,” Turn 3.
But for Kanaan, who raced in the CART-era “Hanford device” period, the racing now isn’t as random or affected by the aero slingshots as it was then. The device, created by aerodynamicist Mark Hanford, was used in CART from 1998 through 2002 on high-speed ovals at Michigan and California Speedways.
“I’ve driven all types of IndyCars, I would say,” Kanaan said Monday at IMS. “I drove the Champ Cars with the thousand horsepower, a lot of downforce. Then we went to the Hanford device, which was worse than this as far as drafting. This car has a little bit less.”
The Dallara DW12’s Chevrolet and Honda powerplants have only 550 horsepower for ovals. What that has done is altered the racing, but away from the scary and, at times, stupefying “pack racing” that plagued the IRL era, and also made it about positioning compared to the CART days when cars could come from nearly a second back to pass someone in one straightaway.
Kanaan would know, given his first major open-wheel win was a 500-mile CART race at Michigan in 1999, and he barely held off Juan Montoya after the Colombian hauled him in thanks to a monster tow.
“My most fun years were the years that we had the big horsepower cars and you just had to go flat out; it was pure racing speed,” Kanaan admitted. “You had the faster car, you’re going to take off and win this thing because you had a chance to lap the field.
“That’s not going to happen nowadays. Now you play the game we played yesterday. You feel it out, what kind of car you have during the race, and you position yourself to win.”
Greater horsepower is a near universal desire of the field of drivers, but for now, Kanaan and others are playing with the resources at their disposal.
“So I would rather have more horsepower and do that. But nowadays with the cost, it’s quite impossible for that to happen.”
Feb 27, 2015, 11:00 AM EST
F1 Commission agrees on changes for 2016 season in a bid to help aid investigations into accidents.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:32 AM EST
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FIA confirms that Manor Marussia does have a place on the grid in 2015, relying it complies with the new technical regulations.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
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Feb 27, 2015, 7:41 AM EST
Spaniard posts a video on YouTube giving an update on his condition.
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Brazilian driver still believes that Mercedes has the best car in F1 this year.
Feb 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
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Feb 26, 2015, 1:45 PM EST
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Feb 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
Spanish racer will get a chance to test the E23 Hybrid out on track at least once in 2015.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EST
Ferrari reserve driver speaks after completing his first running in the new SF15-T at a filming day in Barcelona.
Feb 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
Ex-Red Bull driver believes that Vettel will be rejuvenated following his move to Ferrari for 2015.
Feb 26, 2015, 8:15 AM EST
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Feb 25, 2015, 5:13 PM EST
Justin Wilson’s offseason plight isn’t only budget-related, but due to a reduced number of available opportunities in IndyCar.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:45 PM EST
Brad Hollinger’s investment in Williams’ ownership moves from 5 to 10 percent.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:21 PM EST
Lineups and running order ahead of this week’s Barcelona test.
Feb 25, 2015, 11:27 AM EST
What Force India couldn’t gain in car evaluation it could gain in 2015 tire and different driver evaluation last week in Barcelona.
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