IndyCar drivers putting safety of new cars to test at TMS

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by GEORGE RIBA

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WFAA

Posted on May 8, 2012 at 7:12 PM

FORT WORTH - When the IZOD Indy Cars took to the track at Texas Motor Speedway this week, it was their first test run on an oval track.

"Actually, I really like the looks of the new cars," said racing legend and team owner, A.J.Foyt. "I think after everybody gets used to them, they're going to be a fine race car."

Ever since Dan Wheldon lost his life in a fiery crash in Las Vegas last October, the IZOD IndyCar Series has been focused on making their cars and their tracks safer.

No one knows yet if the new design will accomplish that goal.

"As long as I’ve been in racing, it's terrible when somebody loses their life, but that's something that's going to continue to happen, regardless what kind of car you're in," Foyt said. "I mean, you see it every day on the highway and I don't think that's something you can ever stop."

Driver Ed Carpenter also believed in the previous car, but sees the benefits of the changes.

"The car we've been riding in was a safe car," Carpenter said. "Really it was. We ran it for a long time and we had only one fatality - and that was one too many, don't get me wrong. But this car is definitely designed to stay on the ground."

In only the third race of the season, Marco Andretti found himself airborne in Long Beach during a race where the speeds were much slower. The rear bumper was supposed to prevent that from happening.

The rear bumper is the biggest change in the new cars.

"That's the biggest visible thing that you'll see, and the biggest actual effect that it'll have," Carpenter said.

"It makes it more difficult for the car to interlock wheels, and prevent the cars to fly," explained driver Helio Castroneves.

"Is any care completely safe -- no," said IndyCar Vice President of Technology Will Phillips. "We're racing. All we can do is, do our very best to make sure we've done everything that we can to make it as safe as possible."

The ultimate testing will begin this weekend as teams begin on track preparation for the Indy 500. The rookies will be the first drivers on the track, starting Thursday.

E-mail griba@wfaa.com

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