Team Penske’s 2014 IndyCar champion Will Power has again suggested that the series should consider running the ovals at the same boost levels as in road/street-course trim.
At the moment, IndyCar’s BorgWarner turbochargers run at 1.3-bar (130kPa) on the superspeedways, 1.4-bar on short ovals (and for the Indy 500’s Fast Friday and qualifying) and 1.5-bar on road and street courses – with 1.65-bar as the push-to-pass ‘overboost’.
Power, Scott Dixon and other aces have regularly stated their desire for IndyCar’s engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda to be allowed to run road/streetcourse boost at short ovals such as ISM Raceway (Phoenix), Iowa and Gateway. And while the new 2018 aerokit’s downforce and drag reduction has increased the difference between terminal speed on the straights and apex speed, Power says more should still be done.
Asked in a Penske driver conference at Phoenix if these cars reminded him of the Champ Car which he raced on another short oval, Milwaukee, back in 2006, Power responded: “We just need more power. I think that was a big thing – how hard it was to get on the throttle on short ovals.
“That's why I thought we should use the road course power here… everywhere really, but particularly here. It's the most difficult short oval to have a good race.
“I think it would just create more tire degradation, more lifting, create another phase of the corner. Right now, when you get to corner and it's an easy bang [on the throttle]. [With roadcourse boost] there's more aggressiveness, and people make mistakes at the exits of corners. You can get a run on someone.”
One of the arguments against 1.5-bar on ovals is the fact that currently IndyCar insists each engine reaches 2500 miles before being changed. But Power said, “I think the engine manufacturers have had enough time with the engine now. The reliability is pretty good. I think that should be one thing to think about.”
Teammate Simon Pagenaud contradicted Power, saying: “I think the difficulty for the engine manufacturer is reliability. 500 miles with more boost is a completely different workout for the engine. The engines are designed and tested to run the boost level that IndyCar mandates. For a 500-mile race, developments being made at 1.3-bar boost, that would mean all the development that has been done all the years prior, that's out of the window.
“You have to restart development at a higher level boost, your components will wear more, then it will be a whole different program of research and development for Chevy or Honda, which might cost a lot of money. That's probably why it's not happening. It would definitely reduce the engine mileage.”
However, in an extensive interview with Motorsport.com last November, Honda’s race team principal Allen Miller appeared to side with Power’s point of view, stating: “I think we could sustain that boost at oval speeds and still make the 2500-mile limit on the engines. We’ve talked about that internally, although obviously we’d want to test and confirm.”