Not all components were available. Not all options utilized. Not all performance optimized from the engines.

So what was the takeaway from the two-day Verizon IndyCar Series all-teams test of the new aerodynamic bodywork supplied by Chevrolet and Honda at Barber Motorsports Park? For starters, both manufacturers’ road/street course and short oval kits produce considerably more downforce, which makes the car more demanding to drive but quicker in high-speed corners.

“Man, my neck is really sore from the (strain of) braking. There’s going to be some drivers with really thick necks after this season,” reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power quipped after the final session on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course.

Power, driving the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, recorded the quickest lap time (1 minute, 7.3118 seconds; 123.010 mph), which was a second quicker than his 2014 Verizon P1 Award-winning time on the track for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Laps times are projected to tumble further when the Firestone Firehawk alternate tires, which increase track grip, are utilized in qualifications and races.

“Some of the corners here in the old cars were almost flat, and now they’re flat out when you go through them,” said Scott Dixon, who posted the second-best overall lap time (1:07.3996) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. “If this is any indication of the speeds, I think you will see a lot of track records broken this season.”

Added Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe: “There is still some bit to come and a lot of development to do. This car is going to get better and better through the first half of the year as we understand more and more. To see the times we’ve been doing given the warm track conditions (at Barber), it gives you a lot of confidence heading into St. Pete to see records fall.”

Twenty entries were within one second of Power’s chart-topping lap time over the four sessions, so – at least initially – there’s not a noticeable disparity between the manufacturers’ aero kits and power derived from their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. Graham Rahal had the quickest lap time (1:07.6203) among the Honda contingent.

“I think some places you’ll see where the Honda aero kit maybe has an advantage in some areas and the Chevy in others,” 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay said.

The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be contested March 29 on a 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit that incorporates a runway of Albert Whitted Airport. The inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana is on a flat 2.74-mile, 13-turn road course that many teams have or will get in laps before the April 10-12 race weekend.

The manufacturers traveled divergent paths in designing the characteristics of the aero kits, and the results are considerably different to behold.

“The biggest thing is obviously the looks for most people,” Dixon added. “I think the new cars with the aero kits look cooler now. Both cars look very different, which is exciting for fans and for the series. But I don’t really care what it looks like as long as it goes fast.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here