How will the quality of racing differ on this year’s Indianapolis 500 with the new safety device for aero screen driver on cars? It’s the one big variable 33 NTT IndyCar Series teams have tried to solve since the first rounds of opening practice, and so far most drivers have reported an added challenge in drafting and overtaking their rivals.
Due to the change in aerodynamic profile, created by the aeroscreen, and the running of the race in the middle of the summer, Bryan Herta, who is co-owner of Marco Andretti’s pole-sitting No. 98, expects Honda, expects Sunday’s 200-lap race to make those with a few rewarding passes to make.
“We always talk about track position at Indy, and normally we talk about it in terms of track position for the last 50 laps, the last 20 laps of the race,” he said. ‘But this one, because we lost a little downforce with the aeroscreen; it blocks some of the air to the rear wing etc., (and) we also have with the extra temperature we have in August, we have higher track temps, which also takes grip of the cars. It’s a different Indianapolis 500 than a May could be.
“I think that what we see, the factors are combined to make the car move, it’s a little harder to follow closely. What we think may end up happening a little harder. So now, instead of thinking in terms of the last 20 laps, the last 50 laps, and trying to position yourself with track position, now we say, ‘Geez, if you have track position at any point in the race, you should do everything you can to cling to it because you may not be able to get it back. ‘”
Herta’s prediction is not exactly what JR Hildebrand, who starts 32nd in his No. 67 Dreyer & Reinbold Chevy, wants to hear. Considering the aerodynamic difficulties encountered last year when driving in a pack of cars, Hildebrand hopes to find himself in situations where he is close to the lead car in which group he is loading on Sunday.
“For us, at least I do not expect it to be harder than last year,” he said. ‘So when you sit right behind one car, it’s like,’ Okay, this seems pretty simple, ‘but then the difference between one car back and four cars back and 10 cars back, like,’ Oh, my God, this has suddenly become really troublesome. ‘I think that’s the thing a lot of guys talk about.
“Match day looks like it will be almost as hot as for a lot of practice. Everyone will run at least some reeds on the back wing. You will just try to get enough downforce to get through a run and try to run as close as possible to the man in front of you through the corner. ‘
Hildebrand says to look for the timing of some passes to be harsher than normal.
“The Ganassi boys ran the full span back, which is a super ineffective thing from a drag perspective, but they were equal to guys who came through Turn 2 and Turn 4,” he said. ‘Sometimes they came right through the corner and couldn’t even make the pass at the end of the straight. It will be a lot of late passes in the corners.
‘I think the biggest thing will just end once you’re in a train of cars, guys for you, they’ll have a little hustle and bustle at some point at the exit of Turn 2 and turn 4. It’s going to be premium that you are ready to take advantage of those moments when they happen, because it’s usually not easy to be close by through the corners to just look straight up and blow through. “
Beginning of the last series, Hildebrand will learn more than most about the art of communicating with the aeroscreen during his 10th Indy 500.
“One of the things I noticed when we were there is one time you hit within three or four lengths of the car, if you’ve kind of been blown by that turbulence bubble, cars clean up pretty well. for that last bit, “he said.
‘That I hope. I’m still optimistic. I have to be optimistic, start where we are! ‘But I’m still optimistic that we can maintain the thing well enough, just mechanically, that you do not have to be all of the aero to get the thing through the corner. And hopefully the car can be put in that kind of sweet spot if you need it. ”