IRL: Milwaukee: Chevy preview

Chevy Bowtie Bullet Points * The Miracle Mile The second half of the IRL season begins at a track that is both new and old. The Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 is the Indy Racing League's first event at The Milwaukee Mile, the world's oldest ...

Chevy Bowtie Bullet Points

* The Miracle Mile

The second half of the IRL season begins at a track that is both new and old. The Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 is the Indy Racing League's first event at The Milwaukee Mile, the world's oldest operating speedway. The fairgrounds facility has hosted motor races since 1903, predating even the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This venerable venue has a rich heritage of open-wheel racing that began with turn-of-the-century "speed contests" and now embraces the winged warriors of the IndyCar Series.

Chevrolet has had a presence at the Milwaukee Mile for decades, beginning with the stock-block Chevy engines that offered aspiring racers an economical entry into open-wheel racing during the USAC era. With the arrival of purpose-built racing powerplants, turbocharged 2.65-liter Chevy Indy V-8 engines won four consecutive years in CART-sanctioned events in Milwaukee: Rick Mears drove Penske Chevrolets to victory in 1988 and 1989, and Al Unser Jr. and Michael Andretti won with Chevy-powered Lolas in 1990 and 1991 respectively. Since then, Chevrolet has visited the Milwaukee winner's circle in numerous NASCAR events with production-based cars and trucks. Sunday's inaugural IRL event will mark the first appearance by a naturally aspirated Chevy Indy V-8 on the legendary 1-mile oval.

* A Matter of Degree

With 9-degree banking in its sweeping turns and a width of 70 feet, the Milwaukee Mile is flat and fast. This wide-open track rewards consistent handling and a tenacious chassis setup.

"In Milwaukee the cars will use a short-oval aero package that's similar to the one used in Richmond," explained GM Racing aero/chassis specialist Kevin Bayless. "The relatively low banking in the corners doesn't provide a big gain in mechanical grip, so the teams will maximize aerodynamic downforce, especially for the race. The challenge in qualifying will be to see how much the car can be trimmed out while still running flat. For the race, however, the crews will put back as much downforce as possible, particularly if the driver wants to use the outside line for passing.

"The IRL open test in Milwaukee was shortened to one day by rain, but the teams that tested there have a good starting point for their setups. Although many of the drivers and crews have raced there previously in other series, this will be their first event with the IRL aero and chassis package, so it will be a challenge to adjust to the track as conditions change during the weekend. The IRL cars will share the track with USAC cars, so they will also have to contend with the differences in the rubber put down by the various series.

"Milwaukee's turns are wide and sweeping, so traction control will probably not be crucial," Bayless noted. "However, at the end of a long run when the tires are worn and the fuel load is light, traction control could become significant."

* Chevrolet Drivers on The Milwaukee Mile

ALEX BARRON, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara:

"I am looking forward to going back to Milwaukee. I've raced there four or five times, and I think there's always good racing there because it's so flat. It seems like there's a lot of passing going on because it's really wide, and some of the cars go off quite quickly. We have some experience there in the IndyCar Series. We did a test there, and it went quite well. A lot of the guys who are here with the team have experience there, as well. I think we have a good background and a good car setup. We'll just build on that when we get there for the first practice session."

TOWNSEND BELL, Panther Racing Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara:

"I won there at Milwaukee in Indy Lights in 2001, then in CART, I raced there as well. I don't think the track's changed a whole lot. It's a fun place to go. We run maximum downforce there with the IRL package, so that makes it a lot of fun, too, because the speeds are pretty high, and you're driving the car quite a bit."

ED CARPENTER, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara:

"I'm looking forward to racing on another short track. I felt comfortable at Richmond, which is another short track. I didn't have an opportunity to test there due to rain, but I'm really looking forward to the challenge of racing at The Milwaukee Mile."

FELIPE GIAFFONE, Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet Dallara:

"It's a nice, flat 1-mile track and different from most of the ones we visit. You have to be spot-on with the setup because there's not a lot of grip, so a good setup makes a world of difference. I always loved racing Indy Lights there. It's a great town and track to come back to."

TOMAS SCHECKTER, Panther Racing Pennzoil Chevrolet Dallara:

"I enjoyed both times we tested in Milwaukee. It's an interesting track, there's a lot of history there, and we look forward to being a part of it. The Panther guys are ready for a good result, and we feel like all the work from the people at Chevrolet is going to pay off. There were some struggles in the first half of the season, but we expect things to turn around for us starting this weekend."

-gm rcing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti , Rick Mears , A.J. Foyt
Teams Panther Racing