IRL: Fontana: Chevy preview

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes for the Toyota Indy 400 * The Long Run The IRL IndyCar Series returns to California Speedway for Sunday's Toyota Indy 400. With two miles of sun-baked asphalt, 14-degree banked turns and a grueling...

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes for the Toyota Indy 400

* The Long Run

The IRL IndyCar Series returns to California Speedway for Sunday's Toyota Indy 400. With two miles of sun-baked asphalt, 14-degree banked turns and a grueling 400-mile race distance, the race will be a test of speed and endurance for both drivers and engines. California Speedway is a fraternal twin to Michigan International Speedway where Tomas Scheckter twice drove Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara through the field in July to demonstrate that his car and engine were the equal of any on a 2-mile track.

* On the Record

Chevrolet and Pennzoil Panther Racing have perfect records in the Toyota Indy 400, scoring back-to-back victories in 2002 and 2003. Last year's race was one for the record book, as driver Sam Hornish Jr. set the mark for the fastest race in motorsports history with an average speed of 207.151 mph over 400 miles. He notched the Chevy Indy V-8's 103rd win since 1987.

It was a punishing day at California Speedway with temperatures in the high 90s, track temperatures approaching 140 degrees and a wilting desert wind. The race was slowed by only one caution period that lasted six laps. Despite the adverse conditions, Chevy engines had a spotless reliability record.

Chevrolet-powered IRL teams are returning to the scene of last year's record-setting time with a 3.0-liter engine and an aerodynamic package that debuted in May. With two races remaining on the 2004 IRL schedule, GM Racing is focused on putting Chevrolet back in the winner's circle.

* A Turn in the Road

GM Racing participated in last week's initial road racing test at Homestead-Miami Speedway with Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara driven by Alex Barron and Ed Carpenter. Wet weather added to the challenge in the IRL's first foray onto a road course.

"Running in the rain gave us an unexpected opportunity to learn about traction control on a wet track," said GM Racing IRL program manager Joe Negri. "We also gained valuable experience with shifting in a road racing environment that we can apply to next season."

* Fontana Engineering Notes

"California Speedway is very similar to Michigan International Speedway and will use a similar low-downforce speedway aerodynamic configuration," said GM Racing aero and chassis engineer Kevin Bayless. "The track has a few bumps that the teams will have to address with their chassis setup.

"The aero setup will certainly depend on the temperature on race day, which affects how much downforce is needed to run two-wide," Bayless noted. "With the current aero package, the cars have less downforce in standard trim than they did last year, so the team engineers will monitor the weather to see how much downforce they need to add. They can achieve the same level of downforce as last year, but there is a drag penalty that goes with it."

* Chevrolet Drivers on California Speedway

ALEX BARRON, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara: "I'm very excited about running at California Speedway. I know Chevrolet has done some things and being my home track I definitely want to do well there. We're always trying as hard as we can, and hopefully everything will come together and we have a good race day."

ED CARPENTER, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara: "I'm looking forward to racing at California. We had a really good test for Chevy at Texas, and I think we found some positives to take to California. Our car has been getting better and better all the time, especially on the 1.5-mile tracks. We had a great car at Kentucky and a really awesome car at Chicago. If we can keep that going into Fontana and Texas and get a little help from Chevy, we'll be good."

FELIPE GIAFFONE, Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet Dallara: "The track at Fontana is close to Michigan International Speedway, but handling is a little more important at Fontana. It's critical to have a good setup for the race. Even though the race track is big and wide open, the car has to handle well. It's easy to get lost. I've raced well in the past there, so I know how important it is to have a good car."

* Racing Around

Chevy drivers scored victories on a winding road course and a quarter-mile drag strip last weekend. The Corvette Racing team rolled to victory at Road Atlanta, extending its winning streak in the American Le Mans Series to nine straight races. The championship-winning Corvette C5-Rs turned in a 1-2 finish in the GTS class and co-drivers Ron Fellows and O'Connell claimed the drivers championship for the second straight year. A pair of Monte Carlo Funny Cars faced off in the final round of the NHRA O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, with Del Worsham defeating Cruz Pedregon in the all-Chevy final round. Dave Connolly, a 21-year-old sensation, scored his second Pro Stock victory of the season in a Chevy Cavalier.

Chevy is competing in IRL, NASCAR Craftsman Truck, NASCAR Nextel Cup, NASCAR Busch Series, and NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series events this weekend. Chevrolet is the only manufacturer that currently competes in America's premier stock car, open-wheel, drag racing and road racing series.

* About GM

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, employs about 325,000 people globally. Founded in 1908, GM has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. GM today has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in 192 countries. In 2003, GM sold nearly 8.6 million cars and trucks, about 15 percent of the global vehicle market. GM's global headquarters is at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. More information on GM and its products can be found on the company's consumer website at www.gm.com.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ron Fellows , Alex Barron , Cruz Pedregon , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing , Corvette Racing