INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Derrick Walker took a break this week from being the general manager for Ed Carpenter Racing to get himself immersed in his new job as head of IndyCar competition.
It put Walker in the awkward position of wearing his white team shirt into a series meeting that could create new rules and new packages for everyone in the series. In other series, some drivers and teams might consider it a conflict of interest when a representative of a pole-winning team is conducting league business three days before the biggest race of the year. Walker doesn't see it the same way.
"Nothing we were talking about or looking at doing will have any impact," Walker said Thursday. "If it did, I wouldn't be involved in it."
Walker finds himself with an unusual perception problem.
His job with Carpenter's team won't end until after the 97th Indianapolis 500 is completed. If all goes according to plan Sunday, Walker will begin working for IndyCar on Monday.
Until then, though, Walker is doing double duty. The discussions at Thursday's meeting focused on the future of racing in this series, and afterward, Walker and Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles walked into the speedway's museum and announced they were looking at ways to break speed records that have stood for 17 years.
At the same time, Walker wants to make safety a prime concern, which is one reason drivers don't seem to have any concerns with what's going on behind closed doors.
"It's great to have Derrick taking that position," said three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves, who drives for Team Penske. "That's a big responsibility and I believe he's the right guy to be in that spot, so I'm glad he's taking over."
The respect for Walker runs deep in Gasoline Alley.
Dario Franchitti, another three-time 500 winner, was thrilled two weeks ago when it became apparent Walker was about to take the job. It was a refrain widely heard in Indianapolis garages throughout the month.
But Walker wants everyone to know one thing - he wouldn't do anything to give Carpenter's team a competitive advantage on Sunday.
"Whether people believe that or not, I don't know," Walker said. "But I wouldn't cross that line."