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• The car
In 2003 George implemented a "spec formula" car, meaning every car on the track has the same chassis and the same engine. But the chassis in use, the Dallara IR3, has a major fault: It creates a large, turbulent aero wake, which prevents close racing. This problem will most likely be solved in 2012, when Bernard hopes to unveil a new car. There are five designs being considered, but several sources say that Bernard is particularly intrigued with what's called the Delta Wing car.
A dead ringer for the Batmobile, the Delta Wing features an airplane-fuselage type of body, covered wheels and a rear fin. It would be cheaper to build than the current car (about $600,000 versus $1 million), use less fuel and still be able to reach 235 mph on big ovals like the Brickyard. The lower cost could entice more teams into the sport, but Bernard's biggest hope is that a funky new design injects a certain coolness factor. "Indy was once known for its innovation," Bernard says. "We've got to bring that back."
• Developing American drivers
This year's 500 had only nine American-born drivers in the field, the fewest ever. Bernard has a plan to lure young talent to open-wheel racing, and it can be summarized in one word: money.
"I want to give a $10 million bonus to the driver who wins the series," says Bernard, who hopes to implement this bonus next season. Right now the vast majority of young American drivers aspire to reach NASCAR because that's where the big paydays are. By raising the payoff in IndyCar, Bernard believes he can alter this dynamic.
• Keeping Danica
Patrick had a rough May. She was booed during Indy qualifying after she blamed her slow laps on her team engineers, and she was booed again on Sunday during prerace introductions. A nonfactor for most of the 500, she made a late charge to finish sixth.
Though Patrick has only one career victory, she's still the most visible driver in IndyCar. It would be a devastating blow to the series if she bolted full-time to NASCAR, which she's considering doing in 2012 when her contract expires with Andretti Autosport. Patrick currently is watching Bernard closely.
"NASCAR has really treated me well," says Patrick, who has made three Nationwide Series races this year and plans to make nine more. "Randy has reached out to me, which is something that didn't happen in the past. I like him. We'll see what he does."