James Ince: Success at Vegas is blowing in the wind tunnel. If Johnny Benson enjoys success at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday his Crew Chief James Ince knows where to credit the success -- the NRC wind tunnel in Ottawa, Canada. That's where...
James Ince: Success at Vegas is blowing in the wind tunnel.
If Johnny Benson enjoys success at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday his Crew Chief James Ince knows where to credit the success -- the NRC wind tunnel in Ottawa, Canada. That's where the Valvoline team spent 52 days last season and plans to spend even more time this season massaging their Pontiacs for aerodynamic advantage in its Nascar Winston Cup races.
James Ince On The Importance The Wind Tunnel Will Play In Las Vegas:
"Pretty much everything we do in preparation for a track like Vegas occurs in the wind tunnel in Ottawa, Canada. The wind tunnel tells us basically what to do with our Valvoline Pontiac. When we go and test we try to match up the springs and keep the attitude of the car the way we had it in the wind tunnel.
"For us, at the Valvoline race team, the wind tunnel is extremely important to us and we put a good deal of emphasis on utilizing the wind tunnel. We understand springs and shocks, we understand the chassis, and we understand mechanical grip. The wind tunnel keeps us from making mistakes in the way we put bodies on and stuff like that. We are still human beings and make mistakes. But, the wind tunnel shows us our mistakes. Every car is different and every car has its own personality. Without the wind tunnel it would take two or three races before you understood that car's personality. Even with the wind tunnel you still have a learning curve when you come to the track but by Sunday you understand what it wants."
How Much Do You Use The Wind Tunnel?
"We spent 52 days and about 12 hours each day in the wind tunnel last year. We always send three engineers and a couple of fabricators. It's like watching paint dry on the wall but when you get into it and start to understand the numbers and what is going on it becomes extremely interesting. Especially seeing how such a small change can affect the car. The truck drivers never really have a good time there."
Should Nascar Ban Wind Tunnel Use?
"Unless Nascar went and bought them all I don't see how they could ever effectively limit our wind tunnel research. You can't ban what you don't own."
Will Cup Teams Ever Build Their Own Wind Tunnels?
"They are building wind tunnels in Charlotte right now. So as this sport evolves I think you are going to start seeing more and more of them get closer and closer to Charlotte. That would be nice. We go to a great facility in Canada and it gets us all the information we need to get. But, it is still a 15 to 18 hour trip up there."
How Much Is Your Wind Tunnel Budget?
"We spend a lot. A whole lot. It's closer to $1 million than zero. I don't think anyone in the garage goes to the wind tunnel as much as we do. As a smaller race team, even though it is an expensive resource, it is one of the resources that we can spend our effort on that gives us a better chance of competing."
Ince On Las Vegas:
"We tested there. It's a place we like to race and like to go visit. It's an aero and horsepower place. Having the right attitude of your racecar while still understanding the mechanical side of the equation is important."
Johnny Benson on Las Vegas:
"Vegas is a different type of track. Horsepower and aero are real important and so is getting through the corners. Qualifying can get interesting. Vegas is a "hold your breath" type of qualifying run. When you qualify at Rockingham you are already slipping and sliding when you come off pit road so you kind of have an idea what the car is going to do. At Vegas it is a go or no go. You go down in the corner you hope it is going to stick and if it doesn't stick, depending on which end of the car you lose, it's going to be big. If you are tight you slide up the track. If you get loose you better hang on. Any track that has a lot of grip, when you lose it, becomes pretty big. From a driver point, Atlanta is probably the most challenging but Vegas is pretty interesting."