The modern racing car is incredibly sensitive to weight and its placement. I read that a 100 lb difference in driver weight could be worth 1 mile an hour around Indy. Had she needed to carry 100 lbs more, she would have qualified 12th, instead of fourth. Over the course of the race, that one mile an hour diference would have left her more than a lap behind the leaders.
Roger Penske's cars could not qualify for Indy one year, they just wouldn't handle well enough to make the field. In a post-mortem review of the car design, they detrmined that if they could have shifted about 15 lbs of overall car weight to each front tire of the car they could have run fast enough to make the race. But they had made some design descisions on engine placement before the season that prevented them from shifting the weight frontward without radical surgery on the car. They purchased another car design that had shown qualifying speed, but ran out of time and did not make the race with it.
So Team Penske, with 10 prior Indy 500 wins on the books, could not make the world's biggest race for a lack of 30 lbs on the front tires.
Sports car drivers have been fired for gaining less than 30 lbs.
<small>[ 06-02-2005, 11:03 AM: Message edited by: BigJon@Work ]</small>
"I am a 12 foot lizard." GCR Jan 31, 2006