IRL: Nashville: Chevy preview

Chevy Bullet Points * Now for Something Completely Different The IRL IndyCar Series will hold its final night race of the season on Saturday under the lights at Nashville Superspeedway. The Firestone Indy 200 is the last of three night...

Chevy Bullet Points

* Now for Something Completely Different

The IRL IndyCar Series will hold its final night race of the season on Saturday under the lights at Nashville Superspeedway. The Firestone Indy 200 is the last of three night races on the 2004 schedule, and the only event on the IRL tour that is contested on a concrete oval.

"With a 1.33-mile lap length, Nashville Superspeedway is the shortest track the IndyCar Series races on with a speedway aero package," said GM Racing aero/chassis specialist Kevin Bayless. "Although Nashville is considered a speedway, it requires the high aerodynamic downforce usually associated with a much shorter track.

"The aero configuration will be very similar to what was used at the preceding race at Kansas Speedway, with the required rear wing angle increased from 12 to 20 degrees," Bayless explained. "Even with the steeper rear wing angle, teams will be seeking maximum downforce, especially for their race setups.

"The concrete surface presents a challenge because it typically has less grip than asphalt. The track is usually 'green' at the start of practice, with very little rubber, so the drivers and engineers will have to adapt to changing track conditions throughout the two-day event. It can take time for an outside groove to develop, so passing can be a problem until enough rubber is put down to widen the racing line. Adjusting shock absorber and springs to minimize the effects of bumps will be a top priority.

"A concrete track is typically not as sensitive to temperature changes as an asphalt track because its surface reflects some of the sunlight," Bayless noted. "Consequently there shouldn't be a dramatic change in track conditions from the start of the race in daylight to the finish after dark."

* This Is Only a Test

GM Racing conducted a one-day manufacturer's test at Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday in preparation for the upcoming Michigan Indy 400 on August 1. Panther Racing, Red Bull Cheever Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Patrick Racing participated in the closed test with their Chevrolet-powered Dallaras.

"The testing went very well and the speeds were encouraging, but without having our competitors on the same track it's difficult to judge the relative performance," said GM Powertrain IRL program manager Dennis Weglarz. "Conditions were hot and humid during the test, which is what you expect at this time of year in the Midwest."

Development of the 3.0-liter version of the Chevy Indy V-8 is continuing during the intense summer stretch with eight races in ten weeks.

"Under the strict IRL rules, engine development comes down to tuning the induction and exhaust systems for different venues, from short tracks to speedways," Weglarz noted. "We tune the induction and exhaust systems to optimize the power band that our simulation programs predict we'll need at each track."

* Barron Is the King of Nashville

Red Bull Cheever Racing driver Alex Barron has finished in the top five in each of his two IRL races at Nashville Superspeedway. Barron scored his first IRL victory at the track in 2002 with Blair Racing's Chevrolet-powered entry, taking command on a restart with 11 laps remaining. He finished fifth last season.

"Nashville Superspeedway is special for me because it's where I won my first IndyCar Series race," Barron said. "Since the track is concrete, the grip and setup are really different from the rest of the tracks we run on. The track surface is quite bumpy because the concrete is laid in sections, so your car bounces around the track a lot, which can be challenging. Nashville is one of the best tracks for restarts. You'll see a lot of overtakes because you're headed slightly downhill going into Turn 1. Even better, the race winner gets a one-off, hand-painted Gibson guitar."

* Music City Rewind

GM engines have won two of the three IRL races contested at Nashville Superspeedway. Buddy Lazier won the inaugural event in 2001 with an IRL Aurora V-8, setting the race speed record at 144.809 mph, a mark that still stands. Barron won in 2002 with a Chevy Indy V-8. Panther Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. set the track record for the fastest race lap last year at 203.757 mph with the soon-to-be-retired Gen III version of Chevy's IndyCar Series engine.

* Chevrolet Drivers on Nashville

ED CARPENTER, Red Bull Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallara:

"Compared to Kansas and Texas, you have a lot more to gain at Nashville from car handling than from speed. It's the only concrete track we race on, so it presents a new challenge for everyone. I've raced there twice in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, so I have a good idea of what to expect. Driving in a night race in an IndyCar will be different I'm sure, but I'm working really well with my engineering group, and I think it will be a good track for us."

FELIPE GIAFFONE, Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet Dallara:

"I wasn't there last year, but it's a fun track. Because of the concrete, it's a little bumpy, and you always have to look for the best part of the track. The car has to be working well over those bumps. It's the only track I remember which is 1.3 miles, in between our more standard distances, so the car has to be handling really well. I'm looking forward to going back."

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

"I'm looking forward to getting to Nashville and having a chance to experience the race track there. This weekend will be easier for the Panther Racing guys because we've already developed a chemistry and now the focus is just on racing. We tested in Michigan, so we're way ahead of where we were at Kansas Speedway."


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Alex Barron , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing