INDIANAPOLIS – It may be opening night for the Indiana Pacers, but 5 miles to the west, there were Indy Car’s circling the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway too. Yes, it’s mid-October and cars were on track on Wednesday afternoon.
It was all part of the series and Firestone trying to gain as much information in order to improve the racing on the three stops on superspeedway tracks in 2019.
See, while some may have said that they liked how the Indianapolis 500, DXC Technology 600 (Texas) and ABC Supply 500 (Pocono) went last year, many of others didn’t. The series didn’t want to ruin the slingshot type of racing that those three tracks produced with the DW12.
For example, from 2012 though 2017, the Indy 500 never saw less than 32 lead changes. All were race records. While there were 30 this past May, most were occurring during pit sequences.
This past year’s ‘500 saw cars separate much further than in year’s past. That wasn’t the goal for the 2018 universal aerokit. See, the series wanted to create even closer racing. On road/street courses as well as short ovals, the cars during the aerokit era (2015-2017) had way too much downforce and a lot of dirty air in wake. That combination led to high speed parades. On superspeedways, it was the perfect combination though.
For 2018 and beyond, IndyCar was hoping to fix all of that. Instead, they flip flopped it. The road and street courses produced some of the best racing all year. Short ovals were even improved. The three superspeedways, well those went backwards.
So, six drivers took to IMS on Wednesday in order to gain as much data as they can in order to tighten up the racing again next year.
Will Power, Alexander Rossi, Ed Carpenter, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal turned several laps on a mild yet sunny afternoon and were pleased with what they found after pounding the pavement for nearly seven hours of on track activity.
These were the best ones to get too. Five of the six finished in the top 10 this past May, including 1-2-3-4. Combined, these six drivers led 156 of the 200 laps run back on May 27. So, to get the most data, these are the top picks.
The six said that the tire configurations they were running today was for 2019 and that there definitely was way more grip. Granted, it was 40 degrees cooler on Wednesday than what it was back in May. Part of the higher grip levels were seal coating on the track’s surface, a brand new tire and some aero updates. It led to a productive test.
All six said that they felt more stuck to the racing surface than they were five months ago. That’s a good thing.
How well will Wednesday’s test translate over to next year?
It’s a start in a lengthy process that IndyCar is working hard to perfect. While Wednesday was the second test of the offseason on superspeedways, the series is working hard on making sure they can tighten the gaps up for next May and beyond.