Mid-week notes: Equipment problems aren’t worrying Castroneves

St. Pete winner tells Alabama paper he’s not concerned about glitches

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The new Dallara DW12s ran in anger for the first time last Sunday in St. Petersburg, and sure enough, there were a few problems along the way in their opening race. While none of the 26 drivers experienced engine failures, there was a long list of mechanical problems that knocked multiple drivers out of the 100-lap affair in Florida.

With only five days to recover before the event weekend begins at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Race Day: Sun, 2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network), there may be a few more instances of equipment trouble at Barber Motorsports Park. But one driver in particular, St. Pete winner Helio Castroneves of Team Penske, isn’t too worried about the prospect.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner told The Birmingham (Ala.) News‘ Doug Demmons that while he had some “misfirings” on his No. 3 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet during Sunday’s event, he has faith in his compatriots on the Bowtie Brigade:

“I have no doubt that the Chevy people will put it all together. [The first race] was a big test for everybody.”

Chevrolet-powered drivers claimed four of the top five positions on Sunday in St. Petersburg, with Scott Dixon as the lone Honda-powered driver in second place. But after the race, some of those Chevy pilots — including third-place finisher Ryan Hunter-Reay and fourth-place finisher James Hinchcliffe — cited having to keeping RPMs up on their cars during caution periods to ensure their batteries wouldn’t fail.

“Things were revved up completely,” said Hunter-Reay, who admitted to “putting around in sixth gear under yellow” at one point during the race. “It didn’t feel good at all. We had to do it to charge the battery. It’s something they’re hopefully going to have changed for the next race.”

We’ll have to wait and see if Chevy is able to solve this seemingly lurking problem during the week.

…We’re really talking a lot about batteries

In a Tuesday statement, KV Racing Technology said that upon investigation, a “battery related issue” was the cause of Tony Kanaan’s early exit in St. Petersburg, Florida. Kanaan was running 10th at the time of the issue, which put him out of competition after a mere 21 laps.

“After reviewing the results of that investigation, we have determined that the power loss was a result of a battery related issue and have taken the necessary steps to rectify the problem,”  said the team’s general manager, Mark Johnson.

The issue handed TK a 25th place finish and an early hole to climb out of in the championship. But the Brazilian returns to Barber after making up 18 positions to get a sixth-place finish in last year’s race there.

Lotus: More engines coming

Lotus’ engine situation will look to get better in the weeks ahead. Group Lotus director of motorsports Claudio Berro has told Mark Glendenning of Autosport that ten total engines will be available to his company’s five entrants (Sebastien Bourdais, Katherine Legge, Alex Tagliani, Simona de Silvestro and Oriol Servia) at Barber — with a goal of 25 for the season.

Despite supply troubles rearing their head in St. Petersburg with Bourdais not getting his powerplant until the night before last Friday’s first practice session, the Lotus gang didn’t do too badly on Sunday. Leading the way was Bourdais, who broke into the top five in the middle stages of the race before falling off the grid on Lap 73 to mechanical issues (Tagliani wound up with the top Lotus finish in 15th). And while none of the five have the power to match the Chevy and Honda squads, nobody blew a motor in St. Pete.

Which, for them, may be the most important thing of all at this point.

Other cool stuff

Kanaan and his team’s outing last weekend will be featured on the first episode of NBC Sports Network’s “INDYCAR 36.” The 30-minute show is set to air this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET as a lead-in to the network’s race-day coverage…

The official Twitter hashtag for this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is #HIGPA

Graham Rahal will be greeting fans on Thursday from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. ET at the IZOD store inside The Outlet Shops of Grand River in Leeds, Alabama. Two-seater rides are also slated to take place there from 6-7 p.m. ET according to the Shops…

Fan activities at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend will feature, among other things, the ferris wheel from the late Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Also, the Park also has a new addition to its array of unique sculptures around the track. If you’re heading to the race, be sure to say hello to the Lady of the Lake as you go through the main entrance…

Quotes/materials taken from league, team and manufacturer press releases were used in the making of this article.