IRL: Phoenix: Chevy preview

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes For The IRL Copper World Indy 200 * May the Downforce Be with You While Star Wars' Luke Skywalker harnessed the Force in his battle with the dark side, Chevrolet teams will attempt to harness every...

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevrolet Notes For The IRL Copper World Indy 200

* May the Downforce Be with You

While Star Wars' Luke Skywalker harnessed the Force in his battle with the dark side, Chevrolet teams will attempt to harness every ounce of downforce for the IRL IndyCar Series' duel in the desert at Phoenix International Raceway. The flat and fast 1-mile PIR oval emphasizes handling, car setup and driving skill.

The aerodynamic package that will be used by the five Chevrolet-powered Dallaras in Sunday's Copper World Indy 200 has changed significantly since the IndyCar Series' open test at PIR in early February.

"Dallara has developed a new underwing and some aerodynamic bits since the open test in Phoenix," explained GM Racing chassis and aerodynamics specialist Kevin Bayless. "With the changes in the chassis and aero rules for 2004, total downforce has been reduced about 10 percent since last season. The cars were capable of producing more than 4,000 pounds of downforce in short-track trim a year ago, but they will have approximately 400 pounds less downforce for this event. That's a significant change that is likely to become apparent in the race.

"The track has also changed since the IRL raced at PIR in 2003," Bayless continued. "The wall outside of Turn 2 has been relocated outward and the banking increased slightly, which should open up the racing line. The weather is another factor: If the temperature is high and the track is slippery, teams are going to be fighting for grip.

"Looking at engine performance, the gains in horsepower made during the off-season have been offset by the mandatory vent in the air box. Consequently the Chevy Indy V-8's power level on the track will be similar to what it was at the end of last season."

* The Power Perspective

"Phoenix International Raceway is an entirely different type of track than Homestead-Miami Speedway where we began the IRL season," commented GM Racing IRL program manager Joe Negri. "On a short oval like PIR, the balance of performance tilts toward the drivers and teams more than at a high-speed track like Homestead, where horsepower is a decisive factor.

"Overall we were very pleased with the Chevy Indy V-8's power and reliability in Homestead," Negri noted. "Chevy was at or near the top of the speed chart in every practice and qualifying session. It was disappointing that there wasn't a Chevrolet driver on the podium, but that is a reflection of how competitive the IRL series has become. With 12 or 15 cars capable of a top-five finish, the final results can hinge on the variables of racing luck. Every Chevy-powered driver was very competitive on race day and was certainly capable of a high finish.

"There were no mechanical issues with any of the Chevy engines in the first race of the season," Negri reported. "We are continuing to improve the 3.5-liter engine package, and have begun dyno testing the new 3.0-liter version that will race at the Indy 500."

* Phoenix Firsts

Mario Andretti scored the Chevy Indy V-8's first victory at PIR on April 10, 1988, driving a Lola chassis powered by the first-generation 2.65-liter turbocharged Chevy engine. Other Chevy-powered open-wheel winners in Phoenix include Rick Mears (1989-90) Arie Luyendyk (1991) and Bobby Rahal (1992). GM engines have won six of the seven IRL races contested in Phoenix since the series introduced its naturally aspirated engine formula in 1997. Unheralded Jim Guthrie won at PIR in 1997, Scott Sharp won in 1998, Scott Goodyear in 1999, Buddy Lazier in 2000, Sam Hornish Jr. in 2001 and Helio Castroneves in 2002.

* Racing Around

Chevrolet is competing in four major American motorsports series this weekend. In addition to the Chevy Indy V-8s at PIR, Chevy Monte Carlos will race in the NASCAR Nextel Cup event in Darlington, S.C. Chevy Pro Stock Cavaliers and Monte Carlo Funny Cars will compete in the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., and the championship-winning Corvette Racing team will run for a second straight victory in the GTS division at the American Le Mans Series' 12-hour endurance race in Sebring, Fla. Chevy races to win across the spectrum of motorsports, and is the only manufacturer that currently competes in NASCAR Nextel Cup, the IRL IndyCar Series, NHRA drag racing and ALMS road racing.

* 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 www.gm.com.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Arie Luyendyk , Jim Guthrie , Scott Goodyear , Helio Castroneves , Bobby Rahal , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears