The sound of Indy Cars will permeate the chilly Indianapolis airspace this week in an attempt to create a better racing product in May 2019. A host of six IndyCar Series stars will test new aerodynamic configurations at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as new tire compounds for Firestone.
While the track will be hot with veterans Ed Carpenter, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Alexander Rossi, Will Power and Graham Rahal, the current forecast for Wednesday’s test session is calling for temperatures reaching only the mid-50s according to Accuweather.
This will pose a problem for those in attendance as Firestone will only let drivers hit the track if the combined ambient (air) temperature and track temperature reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The forecast will also have an adverse effect on the aerodynamic testing plans as cold temperatures generate heavier air – and more natural downforce. Ideally, the series and Firestone would like temperatures to reach into at least the mid-70s and beyond to generate somewhat similar track temperatures to what can be experienced in May’s Indianapolis 500.
The latest edition of the Indianapolis 500 was one of the hottest races on record, and the scorching-hot temperatures wreaked havoc on INDYCAR’s new universal aero kit.
Adjustments were made to alter the front wing’s composition before racing at Pocono Raceway in August in an attempt to add more front downforce.
INDYCAR is planning to test this front wing mainplane extension on October 17, though the validity of those results may be inconclusive if the cold weather generates grip values that simply cannot be achieved in the heat of late May. The same theory will provide a bit of doubt when evaluating the tire choices that Firestone is set to test.
This is likely to be the last time INDYCAR gets a crack at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in 2018. There is an outside chance teams could test on the IMS road course through the end of the month, though this early wave of cool temperatures has left us with forecasted highs nearly 10 degrees below average on the Fahrenheit scale.
On August 6, Firestone conducted an oval tire test at IMS with Power and Dixon leading the charge that day. Testing this time around will also mean running on the oval after it was recently coated with an asphalt binding agent called RPE (recycled polyethylene) according to RACER.
The next scheduled open test on the Speedway oval will come April 24, though there will likely be some sort of private testing in March with Chevrolet, Honda and Firestone normally putting cars on the track ahead of the series-wide test considering recent trends.
Image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.