IRL: Homestead: Chevy pre-race notes

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes for the Indy 300 Homestead-Miami Speedway Round 1 of 16, Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Sunday, Feb. 29, 2 p.m. EST TV: ESPN (live), 2 p.m. EST * Team Chevrolet Features New Faces 2004 Chevrolet...

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes for the Indy 300

Homestead-Miami Speedway
Round 1 of 16, Indy Racing League IndyCar Series
Sunday, Feb. 29, 2 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN (live), 2 p.m. EST

* Team Chevrolet Features New Faces 2004

Chevrolet is powering five drivers in the season-opening event of the IRL IndyCar series: Panther Racing's Tomas Scheckter and Mark Taylor, Red Bull Cheever Racing's Alex Barron and Ed Carpenter, and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Robbie Buhl.

Taylor, an IndyCar Series rookie, and Scheckter will race for the first time with Chevrolet power at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Although Scheckter has competed in the IndyCar Series since 2002, this is his first race with a Chevy Indy V-8. Rookie of the Year candidate Carpenter competed in three races last season with Chevrolet power in PDM Racing's Dallara. Barron scored his first career IRL victory with Blair Racing's Chevy Indy V-8 in Nashville in 2002, and Buhl used GM engines in both of his IRL victories (Loudon, N.H., in 1997 and Orlando, Fla., in 2000).

* A New Angle

With 20-degree banking in the corners, the reconfigured Homestead-Miami Speedway oval is essentially an entirely new track for IRL teams. The new high-banked turns and changes in the aerodynamic regulations mean that setups used in previous years are now obsolete.

GM Racing aerodynamics and chassis specialist Kevin Bayless has been working overtime in wind tunnels and computer simulations to assist Chevy teams in coming to terms with the new track. Information from GM Racing's aero/chassis development program is shared among all Chevrolet teams.

"The steeper banking in the corners reduces the downforce requirements compared to previous IRL races at Homestead-Miami Speedway," Bayless explained. "However, rule changes have also affected the amount of downforce the cars can produce. For example, the height of the rear diffuser exit is 1/2-inch lower and the downforce-producing tire ramps and brake backing plates have been removed. The cumulative result of these changes is that the cars have significantly less downforce than they did a year ago.

"The cars have also changed since last month's open test in Homestead," Bayless noted. "Dallara has recently introduced some underwing modifications, so the effects of those changes have yet to be seen. There was very little side-by-side running during the test, so there are still questions about race setups to be answered.

"To be successful this weekend, teams are going to have to find the right balance between minimum drag and adequate downforce for the race."

* Wind and Weather

Florida's famous sunshine and ocean breezes are variables that also can affect performance at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"The track is close to the ocean and cross winds are a distinct possibility," Bayless said. "Direct sunlight and warm temperatures can affect grip. Consequently the teams may decide to increase wing angles or add wickers to the wings to increase downforce for the race."

* Chevy Shines in Sunshine State

Chevrolet and Dale Earnhardt Jr. dominated the recently completed Daytona Speed Weeks. Earnhardt drove his Monte Carlo to victory in the Daytona 500, the Busch Series race and a 125-mile qualifying race.

Chevy will be racing in Florida throughout March. Pro Stock Cavaliers and Monte Carlo Funny Cars will compete in the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., and the championship-winning Corvette Racing team will run for a second straight victory in the GTS division at the Sebring 12-hour endurance race.

Chevrolet races to win across the spectrum of motorsports. Chevy is the only manufacturer that currently competes in four major American racing series: NASCAR Nextel Cup, IRL IndyCar Series, NHRA drag racing and the American Le Mans Series.

* GM's Checkered Past in Florida

GM engines have won six of the seven IRL races contested in Florida since the series introduced its naturally aspirated engine formula in 1997. Eddie Cheever won at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla., in 1997 and 1999. Tony Stewart won in Orlando with GM power in 1998, and Robbie Buhl won at Walt Disney World in January 2000. Sam Hornish Jr. won back-to-back IRL races at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2001 and 2002. Three winning teams in the IRL's Florida events are using Chevrolet power in 2004: Cheever Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Panther Racing.

Chevy has won a total of 103 Indy-style races at the start of the 2004 season. The first-generation 2.65-liter turbocharged Chevy Indy V-8 won 86 times and claimed 80 poles in the PPG Indy Car World Series in 1987-93. Chevy returned to open-wheel racing in 2002 with the 3.5-liter naturally aspirated Chevy Indy V-8 that has won 17 races and 11 poles in IRL competition.

* 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.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Alex Barron , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Corvette Racing