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And Another Thing

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What Indy's shown us so far

Kind of figured it would be like this, but ..... still pretty shocking to see just how wildly divergent speeds have been at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so far.

That's because you've got an entire new engine/chassis package going this season, and not one but three available power plants. And one power plant in particular has shown, in the four races so far, that it's head and shoulders above the other two.

That would be the the Chevrolets being run by Roger Penske, Michael Andretti and others, which have won all four races so far. Based on opening weekend practice, the Hondas at least look as if they're catching up, but the only two Lotuses out there -- Jean Alesi and Simona de Silvestra -- ran a dozen to 20 mph slower than Sebastien Saavedra, who turned in the top speed of the weekend at 221.526.

The complete failure so far of the Lotus program, moreover, has put the race in serious jeopardy of having less than the full 33-car field for the first time since 1947. It's more or less a chronic issue every time you're in the first year of a new engine/chassis cycle, because there simply aren't enough available machines yet.

That's usually an engine issue in particular, and it's no different this year. Chevy and Honda only have so many new engines available right now, and Lotus simply isn't an option at this point. Worse yet, using older cars (as has been common in the past) isn't possible because the series has gone back to turbocharged engines this year.

As for the markedly lower speeds of the new packages, that's not likely to be a real issue by the end of the week, when IndyCar will allow the boost to be turned up for qualifying. What might be an issue, though, is the disparity in speeds; don't expect this to be one of the tighter fields in history.

Prediction: Penske, with Chevy power and a veteran stable of drivers, dominates the month.

Ben Smith's blog.

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