POWER PIPPED • WEATHER MAN FINALLY GOT IT RIGHT • CROWD COUNTING
The weather stewards finally got it right Sunday at the Nikon Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise. By the end of the half hour Indy Racing League IndyCar warm-up at 9 am local time, the temperature had warmed up to 77 degrees F/25C, with the track temperature at 100F/38C. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and a nice breeze wafted through the palm trees in pit lane.
Local favorite, WILL POWER/No.8 KV Racing Technologies, ran mid-pack most of the session, until he pulled out the stops at the end. The top driver changed several time in that last lap, and Power was last fastest. Others on top during that last lap were SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing; Power and then his KV teammate, ORIOL SERVIA, DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi, Servia again, and then Power. Early on RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.17 Rahal Letterman Racing and TONY KANAAN/No.11 Andretti Green Racing led.
There were three cautions for cars on course. JAIME CAMARA/No.34 Conquest Racing slowly slid into a belted tire wall. While he was stopped, BRUNO JUNQUEIRA/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing came around and was able to stop just short of Camara’s car. E.J. VISO/No.33 HVM stalled after Pit Out and had to be pushed back to his pits, causing the second caution. The last was for RYAN BRISCOE/No.6 Team Penske who hit a kerb wrong and drove straight off into a belted tire wall. He was running tenth at the time.
All 24 cars were out for the warm-up.
2008 Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype champion, SCOTT PRUETT, will be working for the Australia Channel Seven IndyCar broadcast. He said he was already over in Australia with his family doing some work with Lexus (which he races in Grand-Am), and was tapped for the job. Pruett is really enjoying it. When I asked if he was going to be the Pit Reporter, he laughed and said he was too old for that. Pruett will be in the announce booth.
The American broadcast team for ESPN consists of BOB JENKINS and SCOTT GOODYEAR in the announce booth – in the US, with JON BEEKHUIS live in the pits at Surfers.
The IndyCar drivers weren’t allowed to go out on rain tires for the warm-up. Usually the teams go out on wets to save their slicks. Usually the track is dirty and the rains help clean it up, and the teams can do a lap or two to bed brakes, check setups, etc. But here in Surfers, according to Joe BARBIERI of Firestone, the track isn’t that dirty because of all the different cars going out on the track, including two races before the IndyCar race. Also, with the variable weather in Surfers, the teams need to save their wet tire allocation for that possibility. This decision was made at the beginning of the race weekend. Saturday during qualifying, some teams were caught out with the rain and there was a scramble at Firestone’s pits getting more rain tires mounted.
Firestone monitors temperatures during IndyCar on-track sessions. For the ambient temperature, they have a thermometer and software on a laptop which projects onto a monitor in Pit Lane. For the track temperature, the Firestone engineers have a portable, hand-held pyrometer, which they focus on the track from the pit wall, and the engineers program that information to the laptop.
Saturday’s attendance was 83,337, compared to the 2007 Saturday figure of 89,948. Maybe the weather scared off some of the folks, as well as the economic woes Australia is experiencing. Then there’s all those condos and hotels lining the tracks with balconies crowded with race enthusiasts who don’t need a ticket to watch the race.
The overall attendance in 2007 was 202,823 – not too shabby of a crowd count.