IRL to cut speeds in time for Indy

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      INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indy Racing League will cut engine
horsepower to reduce speeds next season, a move accelerated by the
death of driver Tony Renna and serious injuries to former Indy 500
winner Kenny Brack in separate crashes two months ago.
      Brack broke his back, a thigh, his breastbone and both ankles
when his car made contact with another, spun into the air and
crashed during the season-ending race at Texas Motor Speedway. Ten
days later, Renna was killed in a similar crash when his car went
airborne at close to 220 mph during private tests at Indianapolis
Motor Speedway.
      Starting with the Indianapolis 500 next May, the IRL engines
will be reduced from 3.5 liters displacement to 3.0 liters, cutting
horsepower about 10 percent and reducing speeds by about 10 mph,
IRL vice president John Griffin said Friday.
      There was "little doubt" the change would have occurred even
without the Brack and Renna crashes, he said.
      "Those incidents facilitated it among the manufacturers in
working with us and realizing we were going to have to make some
changes for next year," Griffin said.
      A report on the IRL's investigation of Renna's crash is "near
completion," he said.
      Helio Castroneves' pole-winning speed of 231.725 mph at
Indianapolis this year was the fastest since Arie Luyendyk's record
236.986 qualification in 1996, before the IRL went from
turbocharged to normally aspirated engines. This year was the first
with the latest chassis-engine package.
      "Obviously, the manufacturers and the people that work for the
teams certainly got up to speed very quickly with the new package
this year," Griffin said. "Historically, they find ways to
increase speeds in years two and three of these types of packages,
so Brian (Barnhart) wanted to find a way to reduce speeds going
into 2004."
      Barnhart, the IRL operations chief, has been concerned about the
escalating speeds, particularly at Indianapolis, Griffin said.
      "From Brian's standpoint, this was year one of a new engine
package. They came out of the box at pretty significant speeds. ...
It was a goal of Brian's to find some ways to reduce speeds in
anticipation of returning to Indianapolis in 2004."
     
      (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)