Hot laps on a couple of hot September days will benefit IZOD IndyCar Series teams in 2014 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other superspeedways.
Six drivers representing six different teams split among Chevrolet and Honda power are participating in a Firestone Racing test to develop a 2014 superspeedway tire and lay a foundation for the 2015 introduction of aerodynamic bodywork alternatives and the prospect of challenging the IMS track record in 2016 (the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race).
"Firestone never stops trying to give us a better product as a race tire," Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing said. "There are various things that they are working on, whether it be compound or construction. We're just here to give them feedback on how something feels."
Wilson, whose fifth place in May was a career high in the Indianapolis 500, joined reigning 500 Mile Race winner Tony Kanaan, three-time champion Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power for the sessions on the 2.5-mile oval.
Day one was designated for qualification simulations -- utilizing upwards of two dozen different compounds and specifications for seven-lap stints each. Longer race simulation runs were scheduled for Sept. 11.
“This kind of test is huge, especially for a driver and a team, because when we come away from here with a tire choice, and (Firestone will) let us know which one we’re going with for 2014, the guys testing will have a bit of a head start,” Andretti said. “Obviously there’s plenty of track time come Indy, but to have a day over the rest of the people really helps.”
The 98th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 25. Temperatures in the mid-90s, which set a local record, contributed to the data gleaned by Firestone Racing engineers.
“We’ve tested this time of year before and it’s not that relevant, really. (But) with 90-plus degrees and humidity, we’re learning a lot," said Franchitti, who drives the Honda-powered No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. "Firestone is going to learn a lot, too, and Honda is finding stuff, as well, so it’s really a win for everybody. When you’re asked to come and do these things, it’s a request you can’t turn down.”