CHAMPCAR/CART: This Week in Ford Racing, April 27, 1999

THIS WEEK IN FORD RACING Tuesday, April 27, 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series After a one-week hiatus from competition, the drivers of the FedEx Championship Series return to action with their annual visit to Nazareth Speedway. The big ...

THIS WEEK IN FORD RACING Tuesday, April 27, 1999

CART FedEx Championship Series

After a one-week hiatus from competition, the drivers of the FedEx Championship Series return to action with their annual visit to Nazareth Speedway. The big story this weekend is CART's decision to require the teams to run the superspeedway wings for the first time at Nazareth Speedway. In the past, the Champ Cars have run with the high-downforce road course wings.

Ian Bisco, vice president, Cosworth Racing and Jim Hamilton, chief engineer, Patrick Racing both spoke on the challenges that this new wing formula poses from both an engine and chassis perspective.

IAN BISCO, VICE PRESIDENT, COSWORTH RACING - FROM AN ENGINE STANDPOINT, WHAT CHALLENGES DOES CART'S MANDATE OF RUNNING SUPERSPEEDWAY WINGS POSE? "It is safe to say that the engines won't work as hard. There will be a lot more off throttle occurrences and the driver's application of power will need to be more precise because you don't have the grip. Mileage should also be improved as well because the cars are set up with less drag."

YOU MENTIOND FUEL MILEAGE, WHICH LAST YEAR WAS A KEY TO JIMMY VASSER'S 1998 WIN AT NAZARETH . . . "Mileage should definitely not be as much of an issue this weekend. With the setup the teams were running on the cars last year, full wings on the front and the back of the cars, a lot of drag was created which made it necessary to run full-throttle much more than the drivers will have to this year. If you could carry maximum wings with maximum downforce, you tend to have longer sustained full throttle periods which ultimately translates into using more power and more fuel."

WHAT KIND OF ADVANTAGE DO YOU FEEL THE FORD-COSWORTH ENGINE MAY HAVE OVER THE COMPETITON IN NAZARETH? "One advantage that we may have this weekend is our smooth power transition. With less grip, getting on and off the throttle, especially on the restarts, is going to be very tricky. If you remember last year there were a lot of cars that had problems spinning out on restarts because of the cold weather."

Jim Hamilton of Partick Racing adds insight from an engineers perspective regarding the challenges and pitfalls that face Patrick Racing as they prepare to contest for the win at Nazareth.

Hamilton, who joined Patrick racing in 1997, supports the vehicle dynamics program and technical programs for the cars driven by both Adrian Fernandez and P.J. Jones.

JIM HAMILTON, CHIEF ENGINEER, VEHICLE DYNAMICS, PARTICK RACING - WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF CART'S DECISION TO RUN THE SUPERSPEEDWAY WINGS AT NAZARETH? "Certainly in the best of times Nazareth is a very challenging track. I think we are open minded about the decision to run the superspeedway wings."

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS GOING TO BE FOR YOU IN REGARDS TO MAKING THE CAR COMFORTABLE FOR THE DRIVER? "Nazareth is a narrow, very fast, bumpy, blind, scary place in the best of times. It is a very flat track with very little, what I like to call, NASCAR banking. It is a challenge for the engineer but it is more of a challenge for the driver. You have three turns of different radius, different speed, different banking, different slopes, different pavement, and different bumps. You really have four turns at Nazareth because when you go through turn three there is kind of a no man's land where you have to apply the power, yet the wall is there, and the driver must keep turning without a completely defined line. So it's a tough track at the best of times. Taking off the downforce just adds to the challenge in just about every way. Where you use to run turn one flat, now, you may not with the new configuration. It's a big challenge. I remember working with a driver at another team who had extensive F1 experience and after his first outing at Nazareth he said, "If it is like this the whole weekend, I am going back to England," and that was with high downforce. The fear is that it is going to close what was kind of a no passing zone down further. For us it is going to be a bit more interesting because we are going to be running in a mixed situation (Adrian Fernandez in the Reynard and P.J. Jones in the Swift)."

HOW MUCH OF A BENEFIT IS IT GOING TO BE TO HAVE THE CHANCE TO RUN THE CARS ON THURSDAY? "The traffic (on the track) will help bring the track in. The weather, at least right now, seems like it will cooperate. You won't have the combination of a green, cold track with wind and a car setup that may not be suited to the track. So, I don't think it's a particularly bad idea."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , P.J. Jones