GM Racing's Joe Negri and Kevin Bayless answer questions on preparation for the unique track shape and conditions at this weekend's IRL race GM Racing and its Chevy drivers, Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge of Panther Racing, are preparing for the...
GM Racing's Joe Negri and Kevin Bayless answer questions on preparation for the unique track shape and conditions at this weekend's IRL race GM Racing and its Chevy drivers, Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge of Panther Racing, are preparing for the second IRL race of the season, the XM Satellite Radio 200 on March 19. After a strong showing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, members of the GM Racing team answer questions on building upon that success at Phoenix International Raceway.
Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL program manager
What did you learn in Miami?
"Going into Miami we knew we made significant gains. Testing showed that we looked pretty good relative to the other manufacturers but you never really know until you start racing. Homestead confirmed for us that our engine with the Panther cars is going to be a potent combination. Just like the other manufacturers, we are continuing to improve our engine for every race."
Were you surprised to be that competitive in Miami?
"I was not surprised to be as competitive as we were. I fully expected that we would end up with a top three finish which we would have, had we not had an accident."
In Phoenix, will you use a different engine specification? "There will not be a brand new engine spec for the Phoenix race. We will make calibration changes that suit the race track to the existing engine and continue to improve on that engine."
What are the challenges at Phoenix International Raceway?
"Our challenge for the whole year is to end up with a decent showing at the end of the race with so few entries. Phoenix is a very difficult track with very tight racing, very fast turns and a lot of accidents. We just have to be there at the end. I think that the improvements we made in the engines for a track like Homestead are also going to show up in Phoenix because we've also significantly improved the mid-range of the engines. I fully expect our competitiveness to be there. Going to a track like Phoenix, the driver and team play a major part in the success. With the Panther team and drivers like Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge, we expect to have good results."
Kevin Bayless, GM Racing aerodynamics and chassis specialist
What will you do differently with the aerodynamic and chassis set up in Phoenix compared to Miami?
"With the banking and the length of the track at Homestead, the amount of downforce that the rules require is sufficient for the cars to be flat out all around the track. In Miami everything from a development standpoint is focused on drag reduction. When we go to Phoenix, it changes completely and all of our focus is on generating more downforce. The drag penalty is something we accept knowing that we will still go faster because of the downforce. That will really be the case if it's hot and windy, which is often true in Phoenix. That's one of the challenges we face this time of year. We can have days where the temperatures are in the upper 60s and mid 70s where the atmospheric conditions help keep a lot of the downforce. But as the temperature reaches 80 and 90 degrees, the air density drops significantly and we lose a lot of that downforce. If that's the case this weekend, we'll be fighting to gain that back."
What are other challenges with aerodynamics and the chassis in Phoenix?
"One of the unique aspects of the track is that it's not a pure oval. The corners on the two ends of the track are a different radius so it takes a compromise to get the car set up to work well in both ends. It is definitely more challenging to find a set up that performs well at both ends. The team that finds the best compromise will be quicker."