Who will be the King of the Infineon speed charts? SONOMA, Calif. -- This weekend will be a reunion of sorts, as Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrichÂ® Tires Cup will compete on the same racing card as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. That reunion...
Who will be the King of the Infineon speed charts?
SONOMA, Calif. -- This weekend will be a reunion of sorts, as Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup will compete on the same racing card as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. That reunion will be an interesting one, as both types of cars require their own unique driving style.
Although a Winston Cup stock car has nearly 100 more horsepower than a Trans-Am Series car, it sports smaller tires and weighs nearly 1,000 lbs. more, essentially making the Trans-Am Series car faster. Other differences include the body, which is made of composite materials on a Trans-Am Series car, and out of aluminum on a Winston Cup car; and fuel injection, which is allowed in the Trans-Am Series, and illegal in Winston Cup. The Winston Cup Series mandates four makes and models of cars--Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Pontiac Grand Prix and Dodge Intrepid R/T--while the predominant cars in the Trans-Am Series include: Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Viper, Ford Mustang, Jaguar XKR, Panoz Esperante, and Qvale Mangusta. Convertibles are not allowed.
Although drivers differ on which car is more difficult to drive, many said that each are very different in terms of handling and drivability.
Two-time Trans-Am Series champion and former Winston Cup driver Scott Pruett said the biggest difference to him is the length of the race. The Trans-Am Series race is scheduled to cover a little more than 100 miles, while the Winston Cup race will cover more than twice that.
"Making pit stops really makes it different," said Pruett, who currently sits second in Trans-Am Series points. "We'll do three pit stops in the Winston Cup race, whereas we won't do a pit stop in the Trans-Am Series race.
"The tires and the weight of the vehicles are different," added Pruett. "You have to be very careful because you have a lot more horsepower in a Winston Cup car than a Trans-Am Series car, and you're racing 42 cars. All those things together make for a longer day, as well."
"It really is a lot harder to drive a stock car on a road course," said Greg Pickett, who won the 1978 Series championship and is a three-time winner of the Infineon Trans-Am Series race. "It's the weight of the stock car. They have a lot of power. They're on harder and much skinnier tires, they weigh about 1,000 pounds more than a Trans-Am Series car and they have less aero. Consequently, the stock car slides around a lot more. Stock cars are very hard on their brakes, so you only have good pedal for three or four laps at a time. Then you have to take it easy and conserve the car. It's more difficult because they are so imprecise.
"Our cars can be driven with finesse and precision because they have a lot tire and brakes," added Pickett, who has competed in several NASCAR Southwest Tour stock car races here. "Our overall lap times will be faster. I think we'll be three or four seconds faster."
Trans-Am Series points leader Johnny Miller echoed Pickett's sentiments. Miller has tested several times for Winston Cup teams.
"Stock cars react very differently to driver input," said the driver of the No. 64 Eaton Cutler Hammer Jaguar XKR. "They're a lot heavier, with basically the same type of brakes and smaller tires. So, they have less grip and have to have softer springs. They move around a lot and are less precise to drive."
According to Gary Blalock, Tire Engineer for Trans-Am Series spec tire supplier BFGoodrich® Tires, the tires each series specifies are very different.
"Our tires are a lot wider, and have a softer compound," said Blalock. "And that makes a big difference. The last time we ran together was at Watkins Glen in 1998. We were more than one second quicker then. I've tested at the Glen since with the Cup cars and Trans-Am Series cars on the same day. That delta continued. I expect us to be one second quicker, but I've never run the new configuration. We've gotten better aerodynamically, and the cars are better mechanically than they were the last time we ran here. The Winston Cup cars have more horsepower, but poorer aerodynamics and brakes. Brakes are a big issue at Infineon."
The Trans-Am 100, part of Infineon Raceway's NASCAR weekend, is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 22, following the Winston Cup Series race. The race will air, on tape-delayed basis, on the SPEED Channel, on Friday, June 27.