Corners double the challenge for teams at Indy
From the crew chief perspective, this weekend's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is very challenging in regards to setting up your car.
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This will be the first time we have raced at Indianapolis with the new car and tire combination. As you may recall, last year's race turned into a debacle as tire issues prevented less than 10 laps of racing before problems arose. So not only did we have a poor race, but teams weren't able to learn much about the new car at the track. But following extensive testing by Goodyear since that fiasco, we have a new and improved tire combination that we hope will allow us to go there and concentrate on racing and not trying to survive like last year.
On the plus side, the teams have a lot of time under their belt with this car now. So I think everyone goes there with some confidence as opposed to last year when teams were still trying to wrap their arms around this race car.
Same but different
While on paper there are three 2.5-mile tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule — Daytona International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway — they are not all the same. Indianapolis and Pocono have some similarities, but the only resemblance shared by Daytona and Indy is that they're both the same length and they're both asphalt tracks. That's it.
The banking in the turns at Indianapolis is only nine degrees, which is only about a fourth of the banking we have at Daytona.
The one thing that makes Indy unique is even though it is considered an oval, it really is a rectangular-shaped track. At most tracks we go to, you have the entrance, middle and exit off the corners. At Indy it's all doubled. You have four entrances of the corner. You have four middles of the corner and four exits. So it's almost double the challenge these teams are used to. If there are two turns you really want to get off of there with a lot of throttle, it is Turns 2 and 4. You need all that speed built up because it's what carries you down both those 3000-foot straightaways.
Trust me though, to win Sunday you have to nail the entrance, middle and exit of all four of the corners. You can't just get a little bit of it right, you have to get it all right. It is just an extremely challenging racetrack because it's almost where the law of physics takes over. With an open-wheel car, they will go 220 mph where as we will see Cup cars at Indy go anywhere from 180 to 200. You have to remember that the open-wheel cars are a ton lighter and have a ton more downforce than our stock cars.
This weekend, I don't think you will see the track change that much over the course of the day. If you are good when the race starts, there's a pretty good chance you will just have to fine tune on it all day.