IndyCar reacts to Walker's pending departure
LEXINGTON, Ohio (AP) Will Power expects Derrick Walker's life to be a lot less stressful now that he's stepping down as IndyCar's president of competition.
''I think Derrick probably stood back and had a look and thought, `At my age, what am I doing here? I can enjoy life a lot more than this.' Honestly, I think he'll be happier for it,'' said Power, the defending series champion. ''I think he'll go back to doing what he loves, which is running a race team, and probably hanging out in Florida.''
Walker is resigning his position at the end of the season, saying Thursday the time was right to move on after 2 1/2 seasons on the job. Walker has been involved in racing for over four decades, and Power is one of several successful drivers who have driven for him during his time as a team owner. So those two have a relationship that goes beyond their current roles in the open-wheel series.
IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said he believed Walker felt he'd lost the support of the paddock. Miles also said Walker felt responsible for issues that have plagued the introduction of aero kits in 2015, and for incidents that led to a late change in qualifying rules for the Indianapolis 500.
''It's a tough job. I feel sorry for anyone who gets put in that position,'' said Power, who is preparing for Sunday's race at Mid-Ohio. ''No one's going to be satisfied, right? You've got a lot of people to satisfy.''
There are three races remaining in the season, which ends Aug. 30 in Sonoma, California.
Three cars went airborne in preparation for the Indy 500, leading to an emergency rule change the morning of qualifying. The new body kits introduced this year were brittle. A series of reinforcements were made after the season-opening race, where a fan was struck in the head with a piece of debris that had flown over the grandstands.
Walker did help IndyCar land Boston as a new race in 2016, and helped introduce a road course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
''He's been trying really hard, continuing to rebuild IndyCar and getting it back to the top,'' driver Sebastien Bourdais said. ''I think we've seen growth, we've seen good things.''
Walker has also been managing a team in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
''It's hard, obviously. He was running a full-time team and trying to do this, which I can tell you is an extremely tough job,'' said driver Scott Dixon, who had the fastest IndyCar practice time Friday.
Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development, said he has a good working relationship with Walker and wishes him the best. Honda is negotiating with IndyCar for an extension to its engine supply agreement, which expires at the end of the season.
''The negotiations aren't with Derrick - it's not with Derrick and Honda, it's with IndyCar and Honda,'' St. Cyr said. ''The other people involved in that process know the details. We expect it to move forward seamlessly.''
St. Cyr did not give many details about the contract talks, but he indicated there's been plenty of progress.
''Back when we started this, we had a lot of discussion about some of the technical issues and the technical vision moving forward,'' St. Cyr said. ''I'm happy to say that we have resolved and we have written in writing resolution on a lot of those technical issues. Some of them we have verbal agreement. There's still one or two issues that we're trying to work through.''