Monday, May 18, 2015
Ed Carpenter crashes into Turn 2 wall during Indy 500 practice
Ed Carpenter crashed during practice for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, delaying scheduled qualifying for the race.
Qualifying, which was originally scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET, was delayed until 3:15 p.m.
"This morning we saw a third car get into the wall, turn backward and lift into the air. We've said all along we want to go faster, but we want to do so safely," Mark Miles, the CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent company of IndyCar, said in a statement.
"As a precautionary measure, IndyCar will require that the cars qualify today in the same aero setup that they will run in the Indianapolis 500 next weekend. Also, for today, boost levels will return to race conditions. Given these changes, we have elected to not award points for today's qualifications.
"Safety for drivers and fans is the top priority for IndyCar and we will continue to be proactive in our research and development to improve all safety aspects of our sport."
Each of the 34 cars will be given one qualifying attempt and the top 30 spots will then be locked in. If time and weather permit, a 45-minute qualifying session will determine the final three starting spots in the May 24 race, and which car will be headed home.
Carpenter, who is trying to become the first driver to win three consecutive Indy 500 poles, spun into the Turn 2 wall and flipped over before the car came to rest on its side.
He was checked and released from the track's infield medical center a short time later.
"It caught me by surprise,'' Carpenter said. "I wasn't expecting to swap ends. The car was actually feeling pretty good, better than it did yesterday. Things are a little unpredictable right now.''
Carpenter's crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was similar to that of his CFH Racing teammate Josef Newgarden.
Newgarden lost control, hit the wall, and flipped his car on Thursday, a day after Helio Castroneves also went airborne during a crash that first raised questions about the safety of the new superspeedway aero kits.
Carpenter, Newgarden and Castroneves all drive Chevrolet cars.
Sunday's crash prompted a closed-door meeting between IndyCar Series officials and team owners from the Chevrolet-powered teams as track workers tried to fix the damaged catch-fence.
"Chevrolet met with IndyCar this morning and the decision was made to run race-level aerodynamics and engine boost during qualifying in an effort to reduce speeds and increase downforce. We continue to review all available data from the crashes. Safety is our priority," Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's U.S. vice president for performance vehicles and motorsports, said.
That was followed by meetings with officials from Honda Performance Development and Honda team owners, who are reportedly unhappy about being forced to make last-minute changes to their cars in response to what they perceive as a problem unique to the Chevrolet cars.
"Even though we have every confidence in our design, we support IndyCar in their efforts to improve safety," HPD president Art St. Cyr said in a statement.
IndyCar Series officials refused to single out Chevrolet's aero kit, which features an unusually small rear wing with no traditional end plates, as the cause of the three crashes this week that ended with cars upside down and airborne.
As the series' only owner/driver, Carpenter was in the unique position of attending the manufacturer meetings with IndyCar as a Chevrolet team owner.
"There's a lot to understand and I don't think it's fair to say that this is an aero kit issue," Carpenter said.
"We have multiple variables going on this year. We have new tires, there's a new underwing [floor] with a huge hole in it, and aero kits.
"It's all just speculation at this point and we really need to learn what's causing this."
Pippa Mann was the only driver to crash a Honda this week in practice, but that car remained upright on the track.
"Ultimately if we are not certain what is causing this, we can't say for certain if this is a Chevy problem or a Honda problem," Miles said. "We're left in a situation where we need to be cautious.
"This is a complex technical situation, but ultimately, the decision was based on that."
Saturday's session was rained out after only two drivers completed the four-lap qualifying procedure. A third driver, Scott Dixon, finished one lap before the yellow flag came out because of light rain. They wiped out the averages of both qualifiers, Carlos Huertas and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Organizers then revised Sunday's schedule to give drivers two short practice sessions in the morning.
(video of Carpenter's crash)