CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Penske Texas preview

How does Marlboro Team Penske prepare to race at a new and unique track like the Texas Motor Speedway? Preparation for the inaugural CART event, the Firestone Firehawk 600 (April 29), at the Texas Motor Speedway began last season with wind...

How does Marlboro Team Penske prepare to race at a new and unique track like the Texas Motor Speedway?

Preparation for the inaugural CART event, the Firestone Firehawk 600 (April 29), at the Texas Motor Speedway began last season with wind tunnel testing to simulate conditions at the track. Data from last season's Michigan 500 and Marlboro 500 was also analyzed. The aerodynamics package used for the Texas race will be very similar to that used at the California and Michigan Speedways given speeds are expected to be closer to those found at these 2.0-mile super speedways than other 1.5-mile ovals. The key difference, however, is that the turns at Texas Motor Speedway are banked steeper than those at California Speedway. The corner pitch angle at Texas is 24 -- 60% steeper than California's pitch angle of 15.

"The uniqueness of Texas Motor Speedway revolves around horsepower, banking and drag as opposed to other ovals where downforce and handling are the prevailing factors," said Tom German, Race Engineer for the #1 2001 Marlboro Honda Reynard driven by current CART FedEx Series Champion, Gil de Ferran.

The Team will analyze data obtained during driver Helio Castroneves' test in Texas this February. Team engineers have taken the data acquired through the telemetry readings and run computer simulations to prepare for the 600 km (375 miles) race.

Marlboro Team Penske engineers are also able to look at the surface of the track through computer simulations to determine how the shocks of the car must be modified to run successfully at the new venue.

"Given the sophisticated simulation programs and data extrapolation, preparation for the inaugural race at Texas Motor Speedway will actually be fairly similar to preparing for an event at a circuit where we have already raced," noted German.

TEXAS FIRST IN FOUR OVAL RACE STINT

The race at the Texas Motor Speedway will be the first oval race of the 2001 CART season after two road/street circuits in Monterrey, Mexico and Long Beach, CA. A trio of oval races at Nazareth (May 6), Japan (May 19), and Milwaukee (June 3) follow the Texas event.

To prepare, the Team will utilize data from several sources. The previous year's race at each venue will be reviewed in conjunction with data from ovals run later last season, which reflects progress made throughout the year. Marlboro Team Penske will be using a new aerodynamics package at Nazareth and data from that event will be used for both Japan and Milwaukee. <pre> CART FEDEX SERIES POINT STANDINGS

1.   Cristiano da Matta         37
2.   Gil de Ferran              30
3.   Helio Castroneves          27
4.   Paul Tracy                 26
5.   Jimmy Vasser               18
6.   Michael Andretti           12
7.   Dario Franchitti           12
8.   Tony Kanaan                12
9.   Kenny Brack                11
10.  Nicolas Minassian           7

-MTP-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Nicolas Minassian , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske