IRL: Michigan: Chevy preview

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes for the Michigan Indy 400 * The 400-Mile Dyno Test After back-to-back short-track races, the IRL IndyCar Series returns to a superspeedway for the Michigan Indy 400. With two miles of smooth asphalt,...

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes for the Michigan Indy 400

* The 400-Mile Dyno Test

After back-to-back short-track races, the IRL IndyCar Series returns to a superspeedway for the Michigan Indy 400. With two miles of smooth asphalt, 18-degree banked turns and a grueling 400-mile race distance, Michigan International Speedway will be a test of power and endurance for the engines that power the IndyCar Series.

"Our development program for the Chevy Indy V-8 is continuing, and we've focused on the next step in the evolution of our speedway engine specification for the Michigan Indy 400," said GM Racing IRL program manager Joe Negri. "The 400-mile race distance is second only to the Indy 500, and we expect that teams will run different fuel strategies. We're optimistic that we have come up with improvements that will help Chevrolet-powered teams in Chevy's home race."

* Michigan Chassis Notebook

While downforce was the chief concern at IRL events in Nashville and Milwaukee, the focus shifts to other characteristics at Michigan International Speedway.

"MIS is a low-downforce speedway, so the cars will run the same aerodynamic configuration as they did at Texas Motor Speedway," said Kevin Bayless, GM Racing aerodynamics and chassis specialist. "As with most speedway races, the aerodynamic setup comes down to how well the teams can minimize drag. In qualifying configuration, it's likely that handling won't be an issue, so the cars will be trimmed out as much as possible for maximum speed. In the race, however, the ride heights may be lowered slightly to generate some additional downforce. The goal is to run a competitive race with the least amount of downforce.

"The MIS track is really quite smooth considering the harsh winters it has to endure," Bayless noted. "There are a few areas with abrupt bumps. These don't necessarily upset the handling of the car, but if the rear tires lose traction momentarily going over a bump, the rpm spike can activate the IRL rev limiter. Teams will be working on their shock absorber and spring package so that the tires ride over the bumps smoothly.

"The track is quite wide and there will almost certainly be two grooves, so there should be many opportunities for passing," Bayless predicted. "Drivers will be working on setups that allow them to run the high groove in the race. That's probably going to be the place to be, as we saw last year when Alex Barron just nipped Sam Hornish Jr. at the finish line. To be competitive at MIS, a car should be able to run both lines equally well."

* The Son Also Races

Although Pennzoil Panther Racing driver Tomas Scheckter hails from South Africa, a nation where oval tracks are rare, he will literally follow in his father's tire tracks at Michigan International Speedway. Formula 1 champion Jody Scheckter competed in the International Race of Champions in 1975-77, driving one of 12 identically prepared Chevrolet Camaros. Jody finished fourth in the IROC IV race at Michigan International Speedway in 1977, his best finish on an oval in his three years in the series.

* Chevrolet Drivers on the Michigan Indy 400

ALEX BARRON, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
"I have some great memories from last season there. The win created a lot of publicity, and I think it has had a big influence on where I'm at in the 2004 season. We had a great test there, and it will be good to go back there with a lot of confidence."

TOWNSEND BELL, Panther Racing Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara:
"I was in Michigan once before, back in 2000 while I was racing in Indy Lights. It's a nice track. It reminds me a lot of Fontana. We had a good Chevrolet test up there a few weeks ago, and I'm interested to see where we match up with the other teams, especially in qualifying trim. We're looking to bring home another good finish for the Panther guys."

ED CARPENTER, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara:
"I am really looking forward to getting back up to Michigan. We tested up there, and I felt very comfortable on the track. It is going to be a big race for Chevy, since Detroit is so close. I'm looking forward to a good run on race day."

FELIPE GIAFFONE, Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet Dallara:
"I have some good memories from Michigan. Two years ago, we all kept swapping the lead in the last 15 laps. You definitely need to have power to be up there, but Chevy is working very hard, and I believe we're going to be strong. I've had some good races there in the past with the IndyCar Series, and even with Indy Lights, when I won there in 2000. Hopefully, I'm going to be coming out with some even better memories on Sunday."

TOMAS SCHECKTER, Panther Racing Pennzoil Chevrolet Dallara:
"I enjoy racing at Michigan, it's a place where I've had a lot of success in the past. I expect the same results this year, and I know Panther is going to give me a good car. Everybody on the Pennzoil Panther crew is ready to get things right and Michigan is a place where we've both performed well in the past. The Chevy engine test is really going to help us heading into the weekend."

* Racing Around

It's another full slate for Chevrolet this weekend as the Bowtie Brigade seeks to enhance Chevy's record as the most successful manufacturer in motorsports. The Chevy-powered entries in the IRL IndyCar series will share the track at Michigan International Speedway with the Silverado pickups competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Chevy Monte Carlos will race in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series event in Pocono, Penn., and the Busch Series race at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Chevy drag racers will conclude NHRA's three-week "Western Swing" at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. 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

-gm racing-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Alex Barron , Jody Scheckter , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing