IndyCar teams trying to understand new bodykits

2015 Chevy Body Kit
2015 Chevy Body Kit

In college terms, this is cram week at IndyCar team shops.

The last of the new bodywork kits arrived Sunday, with teams increasing staffing to handle arrivals on the required delivery date.

Ganassi Racing will field four cars this season, which means the initial Chevrolet kit shipment amounted to about 500 pieces – with manuals on how they fit and can be utilized.

Ideally, teams would have taken delivery two months ago, but this was the schedule agreed upon, and it's tight. For most teams, transporters must be rolling toward the first test next Thursday, with the debut session March 14 at NOLA Motorsports Park near New Orleans.

"In a way, it's a blessing the Brazil race didn't happen," said Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull of the March 8 cancellation. "No matter the structure, size and resources an IndyCar team possesses, it's still a busy time.

"We've been beavering away."

A walk through of Chip Ganassi's Indianapolis shop Thursday showed just that. While most of the normal chassis work was being done in the center of the complex, staff members in auxiliary rooms were standardizing new pieces so they could seamlessly be transferred from one car to another.

"Each (piece) has its own personality," Hull said, laughing.

Hull said no single Ganassi car is ready to roll out, but the four primary cars would be assembled by next week. An ample supply of backup cars, he said, might have to wait until closer to the season-opening race weekend — March 27-29 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

So far, photographing the cars is not permitted. Honda hasn't even shown its design publicly; that will come March 15, although it is expected to have its teams at the NOLA test, where 22 car-and-driver combinations likely will convene.

Currently, only pieces for the road course configuration have been distributed, but Hull said three-fourths of them transfer to the superspeedway configuration. Ganassi's first such test will be May 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition to Chevrolet and Honda designing different-looking kits, teams will have the option to use the pieces they believe give them the best chance to be successful. That might include leaving off pieces to reduce downforce and drag to increase straight-line speed at the expense of being faster through the corners.

Hull compared the process to having core Lego pieces but varying the attachments to make "a boat, a plane, a road grader or a school bus."

"You still put a person in each, but at St. Petersburg you may want to (use all the pieces for downforce) but at NOLA maybe you only use 80 percent of them so you're faster on those longer straightaways." IndyStar

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