Archive for May 16, 2012

By: Wm. LaDow

Published in the Post-Tribune, a Chicago Sun-Times Media Publication — May 16, 2012


The fastest speed of the month, 223.676 mph, was recorded Tuesday by Marco Andretti in the Andretti Autosport – Team RC Cola Chevrolet-Dallara during practice here Tuesday at the Brickyard.

The entire field ran fast as they continued in their quest to bring their car’s aero-dynamics in line with the increase in horsepower to be unleashed on Friday.

Thirty cars took to the track, laying down 1,602 laps in another day of increasing speeds as eight drivers broke the 221 mph mark.

Track activity got so hectic with an ever-increasing amount of tow (draft) that the discussion about qualifying has changed from speed to downforce. It has become an “equal opportunity tow” as drivers don’t have to wait for teammates to hook-up with as each other as every car is creating such a large hole through the air.

For the last four days, the Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus powered teams have been running the boost level on their turbochargers at 130 kPa (kilopascals). As part of the new car technology initiative, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the boost is going to be increased to 140 kPa. It’s estimated that this increase in boost will equate to 40-50 more horsepower, resulting in speed increases of 5 mph, on top of the 223 mph barrier broke today.

Add that to the propensity of the newly designed cars to tow each other around this 2.5 mile speedway and there is a real concern beginning to surface about the cars having enough grip in the corners come race day.

Graham Rahal made the point at the end of practice stating: “When we pull wing off that thing (car) you lose a lot of downforce, with very little loss of drag. When we remove all the downforce to go a mile an hour or two miles per hour faster, it’s going to be interesting (when in addition we add the engine boost) come Friday and Saturday.”

Rahal went on to say: “Everybody is out here is saving up tires and saving up engine miles so they you just run, and run, and run come Friday.”

Since the Speedway opened for practice, IndyCar race teams have run 4,632 laps equaling 11,580 miles all without incident. There hasn’t been so much as a scratch laid on a car or the speedway wall.  

It has truly been “the quiet before the storm.”

Come “Fast Friday” there will indeed be no faster place than here at the Brickyard.



Photos by John Cote – Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway