There is a very notable absence this weekend here in Phoenix. For the first time since 2001, Helio Castroneves is no longer racing full-time in IndyCar. Instead Castroneves has made the move to IMSA driving for the all-new Acura Team Penske in the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
So we asked the remaining members of Team Penske’s IndyCar program about contraction from four cars down to three, and the impact on their off-season preparations.
WILL POWER: Just got easier really. One less car to run. Yeah, hasn’t changed much.
SIMON PAGENAUD: There is a reorganization obviously, the crews, all that. Plus the addition of the sports car team, it’s been a bit of a reorganization.
I mean, honestly been a very swift transition on both teams, having the experience with them both, it’s the strength of Team Penske, being able to evolve and go without a hurdle to anyone, any of the three teams here.
So far, so good. I think it’s a little easier personally, because we have a little less information, so we can actually go to the point quicker. Personally I feel like it’s not as easy to get lost, so it’s good.
Another issue that has been making waves through the paddock is a critical shortage of spare body parts for the universal aero kit. With Dallara needing to produce at least 23 aero kits for the teams, their ability to manufacture spare parts has been limited, with some parts not being available until April. Normally on race weekends you see racks of spare front & rear wings all over the garage area, but this weekend those spares are eerily missing.
So we asked the Andretti Autosport drivers about it which came as a surprise to one of them.
ALEXANDER ROSSI: I just found this out 20 minutes ago, that there weren’t parts. That was an eye opener for sure.
ZACH VEACH: They’ve been telling me that since day one.
New Leader Light Displays
Also making its debut this weekend is an updated leader light display for all the cars. In its previous iteration, the leader light displays were only capable of displaying driver position, pit stop length, and when Push-to-Pass was enabled. The new displays are capable of full color (compared to only red and green on the old displays), along with being able to display more data and even color graphics. So far this weekend I’ve seen the American Flag shown on the displays along with manufacturer logos.
Even the default number font has been changed to make it easier to read at speed.
While it’s not known yet what sort of expanded usage these displays will see this season, we do know that they are definitely a good thing and will enhance the fan experience at the track.
Be sure to check back here throughout the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season for more coverage of What People Aren’t Talking About