Chicagoland Speedway hosted 13 drivers and 10 Monster Energy Cup teams for a two-day organization test on Tuesday.
While the 10 teams and drivers shook down race-specific cars for the upcoming Tales of the Turtles 400 on Sept. 17, the additional three drivers — Alex Bowman, David Ragan and Drew Herring — represented the manufacturers and focussed solely on testing with a wheel force transducer to acquire data from forces and torques of the wheels.
Although Bowman hasn’t had a lot of seat time in competition this season, he’s spent plenty of time between the simulator and track testing for Hendrick Motorsports. At Chicagoland Speedway, where the 24-year-old Tucson native earned his first top 10 in Cup while subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. last fall, Bowman was gathering tire data for the Chevrolet partners.
“The wheel force car is a collaboration between HMS (Hendrick Motorsports), Ganassi (Racing) and RCR (Richard Childress Racing),” Bowman said. “The wheel force car has a big wheel force sensors on it — so it can gather a lot more data than a regular car can. We kind of have a set process of what we’re going to go through and what changes we’re going to make instead of chasing speed. It’s all about gathering data, not about what makes the car faster or slow.”
David Ragan piloted the wheel force car for the Ford Camp. Like Bowman, the exercise was more about collecting data than finding speed for the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford.
“They have their test plan that all four Ford teams collaborate on to run through — air pressures and different settings,” Ragan said.“It’s an opportunity for me to come and make a few laps and offer some good data that all our teams can all look through and make decisions on the compound that Goodyear brought.
It’s my job to run consistent smooth laps and give consistent feedback that will allow them to dive in and make good decisions for our tires to have the most grip that they can. You don’t really look at the time chart and try to go as fast as you can because there’s a lot of extra equipment on this car, so it’s a little different than the others.”
This is the second time the 31-year-old second-generation racer has tested at the 1.5-mile track in Joliet, Ill., this summer. Ragan took part in a two-day tire test for Goodyear on June 6-7. The additional track time should help when he returns next month.
“We were just here with our 38 team for the actual tire test,” Ragan said. “So it’s good to be back and make a few laps. Any time you’re at a race track and you get to run some laps, you pick up a little bit. Hopefully, we can provide some data that we can learn from before the races come back.”