Questions remain over pitstop strategy in IndyCar’s Phoenix race

Although IndyCar’s spec 2018 aerokit theoretically allows the teams to make one fewer pitstop compared with previous races at ISM Raceway, it is not by any means a definitive calculation, according to one lead engineer.

Questions remain over pitstop strategy in IndyCar’s Phoenix race
Pietro Fittipaldi, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda
Michael Cannon, Dale Coyne Racing
Polesitter Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda
Polesitter Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda’s Graham Rahal stated: “The stint lengths here are considerably longer than last year because the car is so much more efficient, the fuel mileage is so much better that it cuts out a complete pit stop from what we've seen so far.

"By that, you're going a long way on tires, and the tires really aren't any different than last year, not much.

“[So] the last – jeez, it might be 20, but it's probably more like 30, 35 or 40 – laps is going to be a handful…”

However, Michael Cannon, who engineers Dale Coyne Racing’s #19 car – this weekend driven by IndyCar debutant Pietro Fittipaldi – said: “Really it all depends on when the yellows fall.

"We have seven sets of tires and some years we’re worried that won’t be enough; this year it could be more than enough. Because theoretically they’ve just got to make them last.”

Asked if there was a chance of some teams and drivers opting for that “extra pitstop” for fresh rubber in a shootout toward the finish, Cannon said: “The problem is, this is a track where short pitting [coming in early] isn’t a good idea. Because even on fresh tires, you can have a hell of a job getting around someone with 50 laps on their tires.”

Cannon confirmed that Fittipaldi, who will start a highly impressive 10th for his IndyCar debut, will start with virtually with same setup as teammate and polesitter Sebastien Bourdais, but with a little more left-front wing to help deal with the dirty air from the cars ahead.

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