IndyCar Road America '24 Observations

by Pete Gorski

Let's get the obvious part out of the way first. Living in the aeroscreen era that we are, at least the new version is an aesthetic improvement over the previous version. Yes there's a hint of Darth Vader's helmet at the back, but the view from head on no longer has that awkward wider-at-the-top look.

The Indy NXT car is a pretty good looking shape — long in the nose in a very sharky way. And while it sounds fairly common under power, off throttle the engine makes a wonderfully percussive snap-crackle-pop, and when more than one car is on the brakes, it sounds like multiple people playing the intro to Van Halen's Hot For Teacher at the same time.

This was the NTT INDYCAR SERIES' second time competing on the "new" surface, and yet more than a few drivers had issues keeping the car under them entering Turn 14, with similar mid-corner corrections in the Carousel during practice Friday and Turn 3 as the track was drying during qualifying Saturday.

Speaking of drying…IndyCar and Firestone might want to consider going the Formula One route and develop a "full wet" tire to go along with the current rain tire. At peak wetness Canada Corner was a slippery nightmare for multiple drivers during Saturday's morning practice. The recently expanded paved runoff kept most people out of the wall and gravel trap, but a few found out just how deep the gravel is.

It sure felt like the USF 2000 kids were behind the wheel for the opening segment of the race, what with all the cautions. I'm pretty sure the early lap leader was the Corvette pace car.

As a race fan who prefers track limits to be enforced aggressively, it was nice to see how little curb every series' driver utilized. As a photographer…well…maybe a little curb bounding is ok if it produces a cool picture.

A large crowd turned out Sunday with conditions that were near perfect. Hopefully enough people enjoyed the show to the support the Labor Day Weekend races at the Milwaukee Mile.

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