Your cheatin' heart

Posted by Iannucci | 5/21/2007 | 8 comments »
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Surpise, surpise! Robin Miller decided to put down the op-ed (mostly) and get down to actually reporting news, and darned if he didn't break an intriguing bit of information.

SPEED has learned that Honda engineers caught the cheating during the first week of practice and informed IRL officials.

"All I'm going to say is that we saw methanol in the fuel and there was also some water involved so obviously it was to help create more power," said Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development.

"I'm not going to say who was doing it or how they were doing it but we stopped it by removing the air temperature sensors from everybody's car.

"And we caught it before qualifying."
To paraphrase Captain Renault, "I'm shocked, shocked to find that cheating is going on in here!" Cheating? In motorsports? Who knew?

Miller outlines that one team was caught cheating, but that any punishment will be handled internally. TrackSide Online follows up on this report by detailing how the cheating occurred and notes that this is likely the reason Honda has only given teams a single fuel setting for green flag conditions on Sunday.

Neither TSO nor Miller revealed who the cheating party was, but the quote "we caught it before qualifying" will certainly lead to idiots like me speculating that this could be the TCGR team. After all, the Target Twins went from running at the top of the early T&S charts to qualifying in the second row. Just sayin'.

Miller goes on to note that the cheater will not likely be publicly identified for fear of repurcussions from sponsors. It would stand to reason that identification would likely be the most effective form of punishment, as a team would much rather pay a fine and go back to cheating in new and more creative ways - but this is open-wheel racing and loss of sponsorship for a single team could have league-wide effects, such as lower car counts or loss of a major team to a competiting series.

So don't hold your breath on finding out.

The net effect of the single fuel setting for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing could play out one of two ways. Either the cheating teams no longer have a speed advantage and the race becomes contested by more than the usual handful of entrants, or other technological advantages become more pronounced and teams that might have thought of gambling on 500 miles of fuel conservation are suddenly left with no chance.

Oh, the drama! Either way, we will all know the full effect in a week.

UPDATE: On 5/22 the IndyStar fingered the guilty party: Dreyer & Reinbold. A team official said it was just “a dumb mistake.”


  1. Anonymous // May 21, 2007 5:04 PM  

    Gee, I wondered why Mr Hair Gel went from dominant to midpack....
    Ought to remove some driver's points as well..

  2. Jennifer Coomer // May 21, 2007 8:34 PM  

    Oooh, drama. I bet you're right. It sure would explain a few things about Pole Day. I tell ya I don't trust that Chip Ganassi any farther than I could throw the boy. And we all know that wouldn't be far.

  3. Anonymous // May 21, 2007 9:10 PM  

    Robin Miller was talking about this last night on Wind Tunnel, and Dave Despain asked Miller if it was Ganassi (for the same reason that Jeff indicated - Wheldon and Dixon's lackluster performance on Pole Day). Miller said that he wasn't going to say who it was, but that it wasn't any of "the top three teams" (Penske, Ganassi and Andretti Green, I presume).

  4. Iannucci // May 21, 2007 9:16 PM  

    If it isn't one of the top teams my next guess would be D&R, since Buddy Rice supposedly blew an engine in Kansas.

    Again, just guessing. Probably not the most productive way to pass the week, but no less entertaining.

  5. Anonymous // May 22, 2007 12:15 AM  

    Since Miller wanted to keep it an "internal affair", it stands to reason that he would do anything to deflect suspicion. I think it enough evidence to note which team had a notable fall-off in performance, and that sure wasn't anyone like D&R...

  6. Puretone Audio // May 22, 2007 5:14 AM  

    Notice how Mr. Miller did not mention the "drama" of Honda dialing back the power as practice speeds crept towards the 230 mark, which gets the Iron Hand all fidgety with visions of flying cars. At least two drivers commented on the power outage and being "turned down"

  7. Anonymous // May 22, 2007 8:03 AM  

    I think anyone who tries to jump to conclusions about TCGR or anyone else for that matter is wrong. This is the problem with not exposing cheaters publicly...leads to unfair speculation. Sponsors be damned, I think ICS fans have a right to know when a team cheats. Period. Disappointed that they're considering it a 'family matter....' it ain't. End of rant.

  8. Jennifer Coomer // May 22, 2007 11:38 AM  

    It was D&R.