IRL: Indy 500: Chevy preview

Chevy Aims for Indy 500 Victory with Improved Engine and Aerodynamic Package GM Racing R&D Programs Focus on Indianapolis Motor Speedway INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis 500 is the race to win in open-wheel competition. A victory in the crown...

Chevy Aims for Indy 500 Victory with Improved Engine and Aerodynamic Package
GM Racing R&D Programs Focus on Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis 500 is the race to win in open-wheel competition. A victory in the crown jewel of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series is a defining moment, and the primary goal of Chevrolet's IndyCar program is to put a red Bowtie in the Indy 500 winner's circle. The Chevy Indy V-8 engines that will power four teams in the 89th running of the American classic on May 29 are the result of an intensive development program that is focused on speed, stamina and efficiency.

The 33-car starting field for the Indianapolis 500 will be determined by four days of qualifying on May 14-15 and May 21-22. Chevy's IRL engine program is peaking at the perfect moment. In the preceding race at Twin Ring Motegi, Tomas Scheckter led 47 laps with Pennzoil Panther Racing's Chevrolet and came within three miles of victory. Although hampered by a radio problem that prevented communication with his crew, Scheckter nearly pulled off an upset win in Japan and clearly demonstrated the potential of the Chevy powerplant.

"The bottom line is that a year of hard work has paid off and we're going to Indy with what we feel is a very, very good engine package," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL program manager. "I'm enthusiastic about our chances at Indy."

Last year's Indianapolis 500 marked the introduction of a downsized 3.0-liter version of the Chevy Indy V-8 that replaced the larger, more powerful 3.5-liter engines used since January 2000. Twelve months of continuous testing with the 3.0-liter Chevy engine have produced improvements in both performance and fuel economy.

"We're encouraged because the engine that Scheckter used in Japan is very similar to the engine specification for Indy," Negri explained. "Everyone associated with this program is focused on winning Indy, and they have pushed to the limit to achieve that goal."

Chevrolet's prospects for success are bolstered by GM Racing's aerodynamic program that seeks to maximize aero efficiency on the immense 2.5-mile speedway.

"The Indy 500 is the primary focus of GM's effort in the IRL, and that includes the aero program," said Kevin Bayless, GM Racing chassis and aerodynamics specialist. "We've spent a significant amount of time in the wind tunnel, and we have developed pieces for every component that is open for development in the IRL rulebook. We're not running any aero parts as they come from the chassis manufacturer unless the rules say we have to.

"Last year's Indy 500 saw a number of technical changes with the reduction in engine capacity and the introduction of safety features that affected the race cars' aerodynamics," Bayless noted. "This year should be more routine. There is a new track surface to deal with, and it will be interesting to see how the grip changes through the month. The track was recently diamond ground, a procedure that produces sharp ridges in the pavement that offer a lot of mechanical grip. Historically the grip improves as rubber builds up on the track surface, but this year the grip could go either way as the edges left by the grinding are worn down.

"One of the most intriguing changes for the Chevrolet program is that Sam Schmidt Motorsports is running a Chevy Indy V-8 engine in a Panoz chassis," Bayless added. "Chevy teams have used Dallara chassis exclusively since the introduction of the current engine formula in 2003, so it will be interesting to see how the two chassis perform."

Chevrolet engines have won the Indy 500 seven times since 1988, powering a roster of racing greats that includes Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk, Al Unser Jr., and Helio Castroneves. GM engines have been victorious 12 times in the last 17 editions of the Indianapolis 500, adding Eddie Cheever Jr., Kenny Brack and Juan Pablo Montoya to the elite club of Indy champions. With focused engine and aero development programs, Chevrolet is aiming to continue its winning tradition at the Brickyard.

The Indianapolis 500, the fifth round of the 17-race IRL IndyCar Series, is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (EDT) on May 29 and will be televised live on ABC

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.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Panther Racing