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TEAMS, DRIVERS HAPPY WITH TEST OF NEW CAR AT INDIANAPOLIS
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - Nine teams jump-started their preparation for the 96th Indianapolis 500 by testing the new IZOD IndyCar Series car Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Participating teams and the INDYCAR engine group gathered data regarding handling characteristics and performance levels from their Chevrolet- and Honda-powered cars.
One car/driver combination from each team was invited to participate. Driving Chevrolet-powered 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines in their Dallara chassis were Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing), Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology), Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport), JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing) and Helio Castroneves (Team Penske).
Driving Honda-powered cars were Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), Mike Conway (A.J. Foyt Racing) and Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing).
The cars were run in the 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 new IZOD IndyCar Series car will make its competitive oval debut Sunday, May 27 at the 96th Indianapolis 500.
2012 Looks to be an exciting year in open wheel racing!!
With the recent addition of Lotus, along with Chevrolet joining Honda, the future of the IZOD IndyCar Series is bound to be full of excitement. All 2012 IndyCar chassis will be powered by turbocharged V6's.
Next on the agenda is engine distribution. Everyone wants to know how the distribution will play out but I believe teams should decide which manufacturer they will work with.
While They won’t force teams somewhere they don't want to go, it's imperative that three manufacturers in a 24-car field get as close as possible to eight cars each. We can't afford to have everyone run with two manufacturers and leave the third one hung out to dry. We've talked a lot about learning from mistakes of the past and that is definitely a mistake that's been made before. All that does is leave manufacturers in an uncompromising position and they are forced out. So getting the balance right will be tricky.
With no definitive distribution system in place, they have some options under discussion. With teams being put in positions of having to make these decisions, it brings an air of freshness to the sport. But while teams need to be responsible for their decisions, they also need to understand the entire business model and what's best for IndyCar long term.
Following Chevrolet's announcement there seemed to be a lot of questions regarding whether all teams with the same manufacturer will have equivalent specs. And the answer to those questions is a definitive “Yes.” There will not be a so-called development team running components that are not available to others. As I've said before, the same specification engine must be available to all other teams at all times.
Also welcomed are the fact that Lotus and Chevrolet have expressed interest in building an aero package. In early December, I expect to say, “Here's the framework of how the aero regulations are going to apply.” That's a reasonably lofty goal but, the sooner the rules are out, the more time people will have to make a decision on whether or not they want to participate.
There needs to be a set of regulations that we can give to prospective aero kit manufacturers. There has been a lot of interest in aero kits from companies outside of the engine manufacturers. Interested parties will receive a set of guidelines that define the intent of the aero kits – how they're going to work, what they get in return, how it relates to teams and how many times they're allowed to change in a season. Some of the box dimensions will come at a later date because at the moment we're trying to write rules for something that doesn't exist yet. Once things have evolved a little further with the vehicle and we've at least got some idea of what the Dallara bodywork is going to be, then I think we can further define the box areas.
Chassis-wise, we're spending a lot of time on driver fit, driver comfort and, particularly, aero stability. We've delayed the chassis process by a of couple weeks because of the need to make adjustments and look at some alternative development areas, with thoughts more toward long term. The partnership with Dallara is going exceptionally well and they're starting to make significant progress. Communication is very strong and that's the way it needs to remain, not just throughout this project but for as long as they're involved in the series. Dallara broke ground at their new facility in Indianapolis last week and that really backs up their commitment to the IZOD IndyCar Series.
A majority of the prototype 2012 car will be generated in Italy. Compared to the current car, the technology has improved extensively, not just in the car itself, but in the design and build processes being used. Dr. Terry Trammell and IndyCar's Jeff Horton have compiled a huge amount of data related to driver seats, seating positions and what happens in an impact, among other things, and they've been waiting to use this information in a new vehicle. Indy cars are fast and we see some big shunts, particularly on ovals, so we're working hard on safety. Being able to extract drivers from the car more easily after an accident is also a priority.
The only chassis components that will carry over from the current Dallara are the wheels and dampers so when we talk about a new car, it really will be new. I can confirm that Xtrac, which has a long tradition of excellence with IndyCar, will continue to supply gearbox components. Containing costs while allowing a reasonable business model for all is a tricky balancing act because there is a different business proposition for each entity. But it's our duty to do what we think is right for the IndyCar Series without running anyone out of business and Xtrac will continue to be a great partner.
The teams have already provided a good amount of information on vendors, parts supply, current prices, quality of components and technical support which means I have a lot of data in hand before making any decisions. Communication between IndyCar and the teams seems to be getting ever better. The owners have a monthly meeting and often extend an invitation for a project update. From my perspective, the team communication part – not just from the owners themselves but particularly the team managers – has been really good. If we stand together, the re-entry of Chevrolet and addition of Lotus along with the continued commitment from Honda can only improve the situation within the IZOD IndyCar Series. I don't think anyone can deny that.
Will Indy Car racing in general to change? Absolutely. Anytime multiple manufacturers are participating in any area not everything will be equal. I doubt all aero kits will be equal or all engines will achieve the same fuel mileage but that's what competition is all about, right? The problem is, it's been so long we've all forgotten.
Test of Speedway aero kit lays foundation for May
Aesthetically, Tony Kanaan described the new car with a reconfigured aerodynamic package for the Indianapolis Motor Speedwayand Auto Club Speedway as "slick."
Adding his on-track perspective, Kanaan said the Dallara chassis tested April 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was superior to the chassis prototype he and Dario Franchitti drove on the 2.5-mile oval in autumn.
"It was more balanced than it was last year," Kanaan said. "We worked on it, we talked about it. Some people criticized (the car) at the end of last year, but it's a new car and we have to figure it out. Dallara did a great job, along with (INDYCAR vice president of technology) Will Phillips and the people at INDYCAR. It's going in the right direction.
"I went out of the pits and went flat out right away, so I have to say that the aero kit is definitely a little bit better. We're going to see some quality drivers giving positive feedback so when we come back here in May we can have the right stuff."
Nine IZOD IndyCar Series drivers participated in the morning and afternoon sessions on an off week in the schedule. Kanaan's No. 11 entry joined four other cars powered by Chevrolet - Ed Carpenter (owner/driver for Ed Carpenter Racing), Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport), JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing) and Helio Castroneves (Team Penske).
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), Mike Conway (A.J. Foyt Racing) and Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing) ran with Honda's 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 engine. A total of 495 laps were recorded on a breezy, mid-60s day.
Laying a foundation was the goal of teams. Characteristics of the car-engine package, along with tire wear, need to be discerned for initial setups for practice that begins May 12. Engineers then can dial in the car for qualifications and Race Day.
"It's different, no question about it, because we're so used to the other car," series championship points leader and three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves said. "Like anything else you have to develop it, and right now that's what we're doing. Every time we are at this place it's extremely important because you find out what to do and what not to do."
The only mandatory part of the Speedway aero kit that teams had to utilize was 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.
Teams could 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.
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 configuration we have now is the one we intend to come back with in May," Phillips said. "We need to look at what comes out of today and see if anything further needs to be changed. We'll get some feedback from teams and drivers (regarding) what the car is like in traffic and what it's like on their own."
The Dallara-designed and -produced components were tested in winter in both scale model and full size in the wind tunnel at the Auto Research Center in North Carolina in conjunction with INDYCAR in response to lap speeds and handling deemed inadequate the testing by Kanaan and Franchitti.
"Springs, ride heights … just trying to get the aero to the right attitude of these corners," said Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing. "It's just a steep learning curve the first time out on the track. Once you're behind the wheel, it feels similar to the old car through the corners.
Happy Fathers Day to Midwest Race Fans.. The Milwaukee Mile is back!
The Milwaukee Mile will be back on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series calendar, as the track website listed a June 16-17 date, although the website later took the post down. It was later amended to June 15-16, with the IndyCar race on the Saturday. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard had said in previous interviews he would reveal a 16th race at Monday's State of IndyCar presentation to the media in Indianapolis.
On its website, the track posted: “Find out who will be immortalized in the Milwaukee Mile record book this year.” More importantly, it included a link to Andretti Sports Marketing – who appear to be the promoters of the race.
A secondary post included a brief statement from the group that read: "Andretti Sports Marketing is thrilled to bring the stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series back to the Milwaukee Mile the longest continually operating motor speedway in the world. The (Insert sponsor name here) Indy 225 presented by (Insert sponsor name here) will rumble to life Father's Day weekend. Plan to have your family join three generations of (cont) join three generations of the Andretti family at the Milwaukee Mile, June 16 - 17." A full screen grab of that statement is posted below. That has been amended to June 15-16, with IndyCar itself confirming the event later on Friday.
Michael Andretti, who has now branched off into race promotion of his own with this development, released a statement in IndyCar's official announcement.
"Andretti Sports Marketing is excited about promoting IndyFest at the Milwaukee Mile,” said Andretti, CEO of Andretti Sports Marketing. “It's a historic track in a great city, and it's a place that has always been a favorite for my family. But, more importantly, it's an ideal track for Indy cars and always produces exciting racing for the fans.”
Kevin Healy, a 30-year airline industry veteran, has been named managing director of the Milwaukee IndyFest. Most recently he had worked with AirTran Airways, a longtime sponsor of Andretti's Andretti Autosport team. Tickets will go on sale March 1, with more information available on the track's website.
Rumors had been swirling for the better part of the offseason that a return to the track would happen, despite a small crowd when the race returned to the 2011 calendar this year on Father's Day. The Indianapolis Star reportedMilwaukee was targeted for a return at the start of January, and a week later, a source hinted to RACER.com that an Andretti would be “en route” to Milwaukee for further meetings with the State Fair Park board. Andretti confirmed the deal late Friday.
The addition brings the 2012 IndyCar calendar up to 16 rounds and means there will be five ovals on the list. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said it was very important for the series to have Milwaukee back on the calendar. "It is essential that we keep The Milwaukee Mile's legacy alive, and we stand committed to continuing its IndyCar racing heritage," said Bernard. "We know there are passionate IndyCar fans in Wisconsin that want to see a successful event at the track.
"Together with Andretti Sports Marketing, we can deliver great racing at a great value to the loyal fans in the area while adding to the storied history of The Mile."
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