New Speedway bodywork gets first on-track test
After a few test days and two races -- all on road and street courses -- Ed Carpenter is eager to stretch out at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during an April 4 test session of new aerodynamic components to be used at the 2.5-mile oval for the Indianapolis 500 and at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway on Sept. 15.
Specifically, INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips and the INDYCAR engine group will gather data and feedback regarding handling characteristics and performance levels from the nine participants driving Chevrolet- and Honda-powered cars producing about 550-570 horsepower for the oval.
"I'd be disappointed if we didn't get to that 220-222 (mph) range, and that last little bit will come as teams dial the cars in to the track during the week of Indy and 225 is the target," said Phillips, who over the race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, met with officials from the three engine manufacturers regarding the framework of 2013 aero kit regulations.
Indy 500 practice begins May 12. The four-lap average pole-winning speed in 2011 was 227.472 mph by Alex Tagliani.
One car/driver combination from each team was invited. Carpenter (owner/driver for Ed Carpenter Racing), Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology), Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport), JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing) and Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) will participate with Chevy's 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine.
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), Mike Conway (A.J. Foyt Racing) and Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing) will run with Honda engines.
Spectators can watch the event (9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. ET) from the South Terrace grandstand and the Turn 2 viewing mounds near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
"It's the first opportunity for us as a team to get this car out on an oval and it's great that it's Indianapolis with it being the first oval race the most important race," said Carpenter, who's driving the No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka /Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet. "It's hard to really go into a test like that with a huge plan because we really don't know what to expect, but I'm happy that the opportunity is there to test with other cars there and start to figure out what this car needs to win the Indy 500."
The cars will be run in Speedway configuration with the new rear-wheel guards that are taller, lighter and have a slightly different shape than the sets being used on the road/street circuits and the oval races at Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile.
The rear-wheel guards are the only mandatory component for the test day. Teams can experiment with a rear-wing mainplane angle of between 0 and -10 degrees, underwing strakes and sidewall extensions (to keep air from becoming turbulent under the car), wickers on the front- and rear-wing mainplanes and the beam wing, and radiator inlet shutters.
The rear-wheel guard/wings work in combination with the other bodywork to create less drag and more downforce. Minimum car weight will be 1,535 pounds (excluding driver and driver equivalency weight).
The Dallara-designed and -produced components were tested by INDYCAR over the winter in both scale model and full size in the wind tunnel in response to lap speeds and handling feedback in testing at the Speedway with the prototype chassis by Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan.
"I have not run on the oval with this car," IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Helio Castroneves said. "I think certainly we're going to work together with other teams so we can see how the car runs in the pack. I'm glad we're able to do this test before the Indianapolis Month of May."