Apr 4, 2012
Aesthetically, Tony Kanaan described the new car with a reconfigured aerodynamic package for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 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.”
Click it: Combined test Timing & Scoring report || Video: Ed Carpenter on the oval
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 and the beam wing, and radiator inlet shutters.
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.”
Pole Day is May 19 and Miller Lite Carb Day, featuring the final practice, pit stop competition, the Freedom 100 Firestone Indy Lights race and mid-afternoon concert by Lynyrd Skynrd, is May 25.