CHAMPCAR/CART: Special Super Speedway test session at Michigan

By David Schilke - Motorsport.com June 12, 2001 Brooklyn, Michigan Michigan International Speedway Cart Special Test Session: New rear wing and 1 inch less boost The special test session on Tuesday gave Championship Auto Racing Teams a chance...

By David Schilke - Motorsport.com

June 12, 2001
Brooklyn, Michigan
Michigan International Speedway
Cart Special Test Session: New rear wing and 1 inch less boost

The special test session on Tuesday gave Championship Auto Racing Teams a chance to see how one inch less of boost and an addition to the back of the rear wing would affect the cars on super speedways. The hope is the new changes will slow the cars down and give better stability when drafting on high-speed ovals. The rule changes are a direct result from the increased speeds and horsepower due to the competitive nature of the series. Early this season the race at Texas Motor Speedway was canceled due to the unexpected speeds on the high-banked one and a half-mile oval. The cars were producing unprecedented g-forces over 5.0 at Texas. The new rear wing is intended to keep the cars down to a safe speed and allow the car to handle better through the airflow. The new wing produces more drag on the car while decreasing down force. One inch less of boost on the pop-off valve will result in reduction of power in the engine. The question is - how will the draft that has made super speedway racing so exciting with the Champ cars in the past few years be affected?

The test session began late in the morning due to rainy weather and high winds. Morning temperatures were around the mid 70's. With the race at Michigan International Speedway scheduled for July 22nd, the combination of the morning weather and temperature made for poor test conditions.

In the early sessions the drivers felt out the cars to see how the new changes would affect their performance. The five cars taking part in the testing never drafted with each other during the morning session. As for the speeds, Christian Fittipaldi posted the fastest lap at 32.439 seconds (221.955mph) in the early test session. Max Papis was second in lap times posting 32.832 seconds (219.358mph) and Gil de Ferran was third fastest with a 32.893 seconds (218.892mph) lap around the 2-mile super speedway

After an early test run Max Papis said, "The car feels numb." Papis cannot notice the difference of the drag in terms of speed; the car is running flat out. "The only thing different to me is the number on the dash board." Some of the drivers say that they can feel the drag. The morning speeds were significantly slower than last year's pole time of 30.645 seconds (234.949 mph) set by Paul Tracy.

In the afternoon the five teams hoped to see how the new changes would influence the draft. The Newman/Haas Racing team had to leave before the afternoon testing began. The other four teams did some drafting but there wasn't any testing of racing style drafting. Papis and Herta were drafting on the front straight and later Fittipaldi and Dario Franchitti were setting up a draft also on the front straightaway. de Ferran had a chance to see how the draft was with Papis later in the day.

By the afternoon the sun was out and the track temperature was around the expected temperature for the race in July at MIS allowing for more accurate results. In the afternoon Gil de Ferran was fastest with a 32.103 (224.278mph).

One of the drivers feels that the testing is not enough to conclude how the new changes will affect the cars in a race setting. Until the series comes to MIS in July for the Michigan 500 presented by Toyota it is uncertain how the draft will change due to the new ruling. In the past few years super speedway racing has been exciting with the record of official lead changes at MIS set at 62 in 1998. Hopefully the new rear wing setup and the one inch less of boost will allow for slower and safer speeds while still retaining the exciting close racing with multiple lead changes caused by the draft.

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FAST LAP REPORT

Gil de Ferran 224.278

Christian Fittipaldi 221.955

Dario Franchitti 220.406

Max Papis 219.740

Bryan Herta 219.727

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Max Papis , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Bryan Herta