An engineering Q&A session with Mike Bugarewicz and Nick Sandler; engineers on the No. 17 Crown Royal team as they look ahead to what the organization hopes to learn at this week's preseason test at Daytona International Speedway.
Looking ahead to this week's test at Daytona International Speedway, what is your focus from the engineering side?
"Essentially it's an all new track for us," said Sandler. "The first step for us will be to look set-up wise and see what we may need to have different with the new surface. The old Daytona surface was really challenging handling-wise for drivers, and before, our focus was helping with mechanical grip as well and making sure that our cars had low drag (resistance). Now with the track being as smooth as it is with the new pavement, we're hearing that it's a lot more like Talladega Superspeedway, which really makes our focus more about getting minimal drag and less about problems with mechanical grip."
"One of the biggest things we've worked on when it comes to working on set-ups for our superspeedway cars is right height control," stated Bugarewicz. "This means that we're working on minimizing how much the splitter on the car wants to move around while our cars are out on the track. You want your splitter to be low to the track in order to achieve the best aerodynamics."
"At every track you're making a compromise between aerodynamics and making that trade-off with how much grip your chassis makes," explained Sandler. "So when we go to a track like this new Daytona, our compromise is more on the body control side, since the surface is now a lot smoother with the new surface."
What's the first thing you will work on now to adjust the car at a place like Daytona?
"The rear of the car is essentially locked in at a speedway due to specifications from NASCAR," said Bugarewicz. "Anything that we would make adjustments to would usually be forward from the rear axle of the car. It's usually things with the front suspension that we'd focus on and make adjustments too in order to help our car."
"In the past you would work to optimize mechanical grip, but now the cars are pinned down, the surface is so smooth, that we think our focus is just going to be decreasing drag. We don't think that drivers will be talking about a handling issue at Daytona this week during the test per say. We're just going to make sure that we have a great aerodynamic car to get the most speed that we can out of it."
"It means that a lot of the work that goes into these cars will have taken place before we even get to the track now," stated Sandler. The cars are in and out of the wind tunnel, they're getting measured repeatedly, we take it to the k-rig to measure suspension travel, and by the time it's loaded on the truck, we should already have minimum drag set."
Does the smaller restrictor plate affect you all?
"Every team has the same plate mandated by NASCAR," says Bugarewicz. "We just work with that plate and make sure that we get the best we can out of our cars, but we have great horsepower thanks to our Roush-Yates engines."