CHEVROLET FOCUSES IRL PROGRAM ON PANTHER RACING Chevy Indy V-8 Powers Scheckter and Enge in IRL Season Opener HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- You hit more bull's-eyes with a rifle than with a shotgun. That's the strategy that GM Racing is pursuing in the...
CHEVROLET FOCUSES IRL PROGRAM ON PANTHER RACING
Chevy Indy V-8 Powers Scheckter and Enge in IRL Season Opener
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- You hit more bull's-eyes with a rifle than with a shotgun. That's the strategy that GM Racing is pursuing in the 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series with a tightly focused engine program that's aimed at producing victories for Chevrolet.
GM Racing is concentrating its technical resources on the championship-winning Panther Racing team. Chevy Indy V-8 engines will power Panther Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge in the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 6.
"Preseason testing showed the competitiveness of the Chevy Indy V-8 engine package," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL program manager. "We made significant gains in engine performance over the winter, and we have validated those gains. Recognizing that our competition has made progress as well, I believe that Chevrolet will be a serious contender in the IndyCar Series in 2005. We've aligned Chevy with the right team to win races."
Three years ago, Chevrolet powered 85 percent of the field in the season-opening IRL event at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with 22 entries using Chevy Indy V-8 engines. Now the shift from supporting virtually the entire grid to a single team has allowed GM Racing to accelerate its engine development program.
"In the past, our focus was on reliability and producing enough parts to supply the teams," Negri explained. "Now we can concentrate our engineering efforts on tuning and tailoring the Chevy engine to suit a single team. Although Chevrolet will conclude its IRL program at the end of the season, we haven't lifted the throttle on the engine development program -- and we don't intend to."
Chevrolet has a tradition of success in Indy-style racing. The red Bowtie has scored 103 open-wheel victories, won the Indianapolis 500 seven times, and claimed six open-wheel championships since 1987. GM engines have won 66 IRL races and 62 poles, more than all other manufacturers combined.
"We may be outnumbered, but we're not outgunned," said Negri. "Our goal is to do the best possible job for Chevrolet and Panther Racing."
The season-opening race will be the first event at Homestead-Miami Speedway featuring the 3.0-liter version of the Chevy Indy V-8, which was introduced in May 2004. The four previous IRL events at the 1.5-mile speedway were contested with more powerful 3.5-liter engines. Last year Chevrolet claimed two of the top three starting spots with Alex Barron qualifying on the outside of the front row at 216.904 mph and Tomas Scheckter third on the grid at 216.673 mph. Scheckter finished fifth when he was caught out on a yellow flag; he led 22 laps and was in contention for a victory.
In addition to the 3.0-liter engine, IRL teams will also have to adjust to a new chassis package.
"The chassis updates for 2005 are primarily for road racing, but there is also a new underwing that has added more downforce to the Dallara chassis," said Kevin Bayless, GM Racing's aerodynamics and chassis specialist for the IRL series. "The new underwing was not available for the open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, so teams will have to re-evaluate their setups for both qualifying and the race."
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 always a possibility," Bayless added. "Direct sunlight and warm temperatures can affect grip. Consequently the challenge to the teams will be to decide how much to increase downforce for the race."
The Toyota Indy 300 is the first round of the 17-race IRL IndyCar Series. The race will be televised live on ESPN at 2 p.m. (EST), March 6.
General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader since 1931. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 324,000 people around the world. It has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in 200 countries. In 2004, GM sold nearly 9 million cars and trucks globally, up 4 percent and the second-highest total in the company's history. GM's global headquarters are at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.