the big left turn
TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED
be slower; a timely yellow may have played
into your hands and put you unexpectedly
up front, or an untimely one may have
shuffled you backward.
There’s also a huge difference in tactics
between the various ovals. At Indy, you
work out how few pit stops you can get
away with over 200 laps, but at a track
where grip is critical like Texas, you’ll grab
almost every opportunity you can to get
fresh rubber. Generally, if there’s a yellow
Thinking on the fly is second nature to even a well-prepared strategist.
Strategizing is about trying to prepare for
every possible situation…and then being
able to rapidly adjust your plans because
something unexpected happens.
Getting better at this comes down to
everyone gaining confidence in each other,
and that can only come from experience
and familiarity with each other. Think of the
most successful IndyCar driver/team
combinations and they’re ones who have
worked together a long time. The various
individuals trust each other’s information
– the driver’s feedback to the team, the
team’s strategizing and engineering ideas,
the spotter’s information. Well, at Ed
Carpenter Racing we’re in our third season
with a core group of people, and we’re
starting to see that familiarity pay off.
It’s hard for a driver to build that level of
trust, because just as we’re not able to feel
what he’s feeling from the car and are
having to rely on his information, he’s also
only seeing his own race, and can’t see the
big picture. So he has to buy into what
we’re selling and accept that we’re looking
two stints further down the road, whereas
he’s having to focus on the here and now
because he’s racing at 220mph.
Strategies have to remain flexible for a
variety of reasons. For example, you may
be quicker than you expected or you may
Timing of pit stops under green-flag
conditions is about fuel mileage, whereas
under caution a strategist can roll the dice.
“We’re in our third season
with a core group of people
and we’re starting to see
that familiarity pay off”
and you haven’t stopped recently, you’re
going to pit for new tires.
But you’ve also seen the dilemma
created by a late caution – whether you
stop for fresh tires and lose track position,
or stay out and gain track position, but on
older rubber. At times like those, there’s a
lot of dialogue between myself, Matt, Ed
and Lee. Are we confident that we can make
up those positions on fresh tires, or are we
confident we can hold on in front on old
tires? Again, it comes back to that trust in
each other’s instincts at critical moments.