Road course to oval conversion easy as 1-2 ...
May 9, 2014
Race cars in various stages of dress are lined up four abreast in the Dale Coyne Racing garages at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where members of the Illinois-based team will spend the better part of a month.
In fact, after setting up shop for the April 30 Verizon IndyCar Series Open Test on the road course, they’ll move out May 28 after switching out components from their three Indianapolis 500 cars to prep for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix road course doubleheader that weekend.
It’s a transition that required considerable forethought. Dale Coyne Racing has regular drivers Justin Wilson and Carlos Huertas entered in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and added a car for Pippa Mann for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 25.
“We had to pretty much get everything built ahead of time,” team manager Darren Crouser said. “We had planned to run three cars, so that was built in. (Wilson’s) Speedway car was built in February and set aside, and we carried it as a spare for the road courses races. Pippa’s car also was in trailer at Barber (for the April 27 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama). And we had the components ready to go for Carlos’ car after coming here from Barber.”
The No. 19 entry has an oval and road/street course chassis for Wilson, while Huertas’ No. 18 chassis has been converted from road course configuration (for the Open Test) to oval configuration (for the May 5 Rookie Orientation Program) and back to road course spec for Grand Prix of Indianapolis practice, qualifying and the race.
One more full conversion is required on the No. 18 car to prep it for opening day of practice May 11 for the Indianapolis 500, and the team has brought in the crew from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing (which in mid-April pulled out of the sports car series) to run the Indy 500 program for Mann.
“We have an entire back half of an oval car and have a complete suspension corners for the front built up for Carlos’ car,” said Crouser, noting that the crew also has to move the Honda engine from the No. 19 road course chassis to the other. “There’s a lot of work in small amount of time to have all three cars out Sunday afternoon.”
Indianapolis Motor Speedway facilities crews also have a quick turnaround to move tire barriers, retaining walls and fencing in time for the noon (ET) ceremonial green flag waved by Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner and former Indianapolis 500 competitor Sarah Fisher on Mother’s Day. Similar exercises were conducted in the summer of 2012 and ’13 with conversion from the road course used for a Grand-Am Series race to the oval for stock cars.