2014HoustonMPruettSun62914 1318Verizon IndyCar Series front-runner Simon Pagenaud could have a busy off season if current discussions to conduct Formula 1 testing during the off season come to fruition.

RACER has learned the Frenchman is in line to test Honda's new 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that will make its F1 debut next season with McLaren.

"I've been in touch with some people, some promising things are happening, so we'll see," he said.

Asked if Honda would facilitate the test, the cagey 30-year-old acknowledged the link to the Japanese manufacturer, but stopped short of mentioning them by name.

"I hope they would...why wouldn't they?" Pagenaud said with a laugh. (Scroll down for Robin Miller's video interview with Pagenaud.)

2014Mid-OhioMPruettFri8114 038Pagenaud spent his early years training on the European open-wheel ladder before turning his attention to North America where he won the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic championship at his first try. Despite impressing during his rookie Champ Car season with Team Australia, Pagenaud, like many other drivers at the time, found himself without a ride when the series was purchased and shuttered by IndyCar.

He was thrown a lifeline by Honda in 2008, positioned as teammate to Gil de Ferran in the Brazilian's new Acura LMP2 American Le Mans Series team, and went on the secure the 2010 ALMS LMP1 title with Highcroft Racing. Select IndyCar drives became available the following season as he blended open-wheel outings with Peugeot LMP1 factory obligations.

Pagenaud would join the modest Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team full time in 2012, earning Rookie of the Year honors after placing fifth overall with the IndyCar minnows, and improved to third in the 2013 championship, splitting IndyCar giants Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing. He currently sits fourth in the standings with two wins. Pagenaud also ranks as IndyCar's top free agent, and has been linked with Andretti Autosport and SPM.

The native of Poitiers is renowned for his testing and development abilities. Pagenaud has played an integral role in the development of numerous Honda sports cars and its 2.2-liter direct-injected twin-turbo V6 Indy car engine, making his inclusion in Honda's future F1 testing plans a natural consideration.

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Marshall Pruett's images from the Honda Indy 200.

Click on the image below to view the full-sized gallery.

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Steve Eriksen, vice president and chief operating officer of Honda Performance Development, met with the media at Mid-Ohio to discuss the state of Honda's development of IndyCar aero kits for 2015, among other topics.

MODERATOR: Going to cover a couple of topics with Steve today that are a bit more forward-looking, the first being kind of an update, if you would, on the status of aero kits for the 2015 IndyCar season.

STEVE ERIKSEN: Aero kits are proceeding to the schedule that IndyCar has laid out. There's quite a bit of work involved in them. I think when you guys see what the aero kits look like in person, you're going to be surprised how open the rules are.

IndyCar has defined some boxes, and you have to work within the boxes. But apart from that, it's pretty open. So I think the target of having distinction between a Chevy car and a Honda car is going to be achieved, because it's so open on the rules that you're going to see quite a bit of variation, I think, between the cars – the details particularly.
I think you'll end up in sort of like a sports car situation where people are going to be looking at all the little details on the car, and it's going to generate quite a bit of interest.

We've got a test window coming up October through January. IndyCar allows six days to each manufacturer to go out and do track testing. Obviously that's going to be pre-production testing before you actually get to the final stages of the aero kit.

Teams have to place their orders by November 1 to get receipt of aero kits on March 1. So the teams will have to be squared away, signed up, place their orders November 1, then the aero kits show up on March 1. The first races with those will be the domestic races here in the U.S.

You talked about the timeline a little bit for on-track testing. Can you give us an idea of where we are in the process? You've done some virtual testing and some other development in advance of the on-track component. Give us a little bit of that chronology.

Just as we've done in IndyCar aero development years ago, just as we do on the sports car side, the bulk of the development is done in the digital domain. Then we have had a series of wind tunnel tests to verify that the correlation between the virtual world and the real world is where we need it to be. We've done quite a bit of that testing.

That so far has shown very good correlation, so we believe that the projected performance targets that we're seeing are going to be met in the real world.


hpd patron 5 3 14Let's move to sports cars for a moment. The new ARX-04b makes its debut in 2015. It's a beautiful car. We know the Extreme Speed Motorsports team is going to run it in the TUDOR Championship. Give us an update on where that project stands, perhaps if we have the possibility of seeing other cars out there in addition to the Extreme Speed entries.

Our target was to have six cars planned for next season. I have every confidence that we'll have all six out there.
The balance between World Endurance Championship or the TUDOR Championship kind of depends on the politics and balance of performance happens in the U.S. But I expect that all six of the cars we've targeted will go out to teams.

The progress on the car is going really well. We're planning to put the first cars together in late October, then they'll be on track in November. You can see them in person.

The car itself, it takes everything we learned from the last times that we had to do new cars. If you look back on the history, there was the ARX-01a, which debuted in 2007, then the 01b came out in 2008, which was a major update. The 01c was developed for Le Mans. That was a car that raced and set all kinds of records in 2010. We didn't have opportunities to do updates to the car until we created this new car because of the ACO regulations.

What you'll see is essentially the behind-the-scenes work that has been going on for years in our sports car program finally come to light. All the things that have been happening in the virtual world over the years is going to be coming together in this new car.

We made a special emphasis on the safety in this car. If you look at the regulations and you look at LMP1 versus LMP2, there are some differences in safety requirements between the two cars. Our P2 car is going to have all of the P1 safety requirements in addition to the P2 safety requirements. We've gone above and beyond. Although that adds expense to the car, it's going to have every safety advancement we can put in the car.

This is not part of the regulation requirement, but we're adding the fuel safety interlock system, which is the same system on every IndyCar here, which we developed. That same system of ours is going into the sports car as well. That's another safety enhancement.

We're also pushing the TUDOR Series to go back to ACO-style pit stops with the requirement that you can't work on the car until fueling is done. We feel that's an important safety benefit that should be put back into the series.
I think it will also save teams money because they'll be able to double, triple, even quadruple stint their tires. I think it will help make the racing more interesting because you'll have this back and forth between a DP car, which is really using the cars properly, then a P2 car for which the tires are not designed to operate with that type of car.
When the 04b comes out, I think you'll see a lot of neat refinements on that car. It's going to be a special car.

You expect some mix of 04b cars, chassis, between the World Endurance Championship and the TUDOR Championship, correct?

That's correct. If I was guessing today, and every day changes, but if I was guessing today, I'd say there will be four in the TUDOR Series and two in the WEC.

Finally, a little more immediately, we are pleased to see the Acura TLX GT racecar here making its debut at Mid-Ohio this weekend. Didn't really know until late yesterday afternoon and on into the early evening that it was going to come from Road America after a successful test there.

Talk with us a little bit about that project and what it means. Actually it's kind of the flagship for Acura Motorsports right at the moment.

Acura2The TLX is kind of a ground-breaking activity for HPD as a company. It's our first foray as a company into GT racing. That's a new step for us.

The other thing that's kind of ground-breaking for us is that it's an all-wheel-drive car. That's a new level of complexity that we haven't dealt with before. I think when you get a chance to see the car in person, you'll see how technically sophisticated the car is. It's an amazing work of art. It's been a joint project between the RealTime Racing guys and the HPD folks.

HPD had a significant role in the car. We did all of the electrical systems design for the car, front to back. All of the suspension design was done by HPD. The aero was all done by HPD, as well. For us as a company, it was a great challenge for our associates.

The RealTime guys put a lot of work into it as well. They worked on the engine positioning and the fuel system, a number of other areas of the car. So you're going to see really the best that the two companies together can do in a GT car. It's an impressive piece of work.

I think when you get a chance to see it, there will be quite a few surprises in there.

Q: Is the expectation that all Honda IndyCar teams will run the Honda aero kit?

The teams are allowed to run the Dallara current kit or the manufacturer's aero kit. Teams have that option, but I can't imagine them selecting it. There would be no logic for that.

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Q: When you begin supplying aero kits for next season, will there be ongoing development, a piece that can't be touched, as some of the other engine components can be?

The answer lies in what changes happen in the regulations in the coming period. If I look at the regulations as they are today, the 2015 aero kit, when you homologate it and introduce it, it remains unchanged through the 2015 season, then you are allowed three boxes.

Basically if you look at the regulations, there's a series of boxes. The boxes surround certain sections of the car. You might have a side pod box, you might have a front wing box, a rear wing box, engine cover box, etc.

In 2016, you're allowed to do three boxes, take three of those boxes, and revise them further. If the rules stay the same as they are now, you'll see a 2015 car, then you'll see an updated 2016 car.

As long as a team stays with the same manufacturer, the base components would stay the same. Then just those three boxes, whatever you chose to update, you'd buy those new parts.

Q: (Inaudible question regarding consultation between OEMs to stabilize rules packages in sports car racing.)

We participate in all of the manufacturers meetings that happen all in France. Some of our guys get a lot of frequent flyer miles. We spend a lot of time in those meetings working with other manufacturers to try to create a logical and pragmatic set of rules that truly achieve the target of cost control.

I think in general the P2 formula has been pretty good. The foresight that the ACO had in creating that has generally worked. I think the challenge is now that the trend is toward coupes instead of open-top cars. The cost of a coupe is more expensive than an open-top. There probably has to be some adjustment of that cost-cap price just to recognize you have things like doors and air-conditioning that you have to add to the car, which you didn't have to before.

Q: (Inaudible question regarding Honda potentially joining the DTM Series.)

I'm not aware of any plans to do so. I guess I'm on a need-to-know basis. Our focus is on the GT program and Pirelli World Challenge.

Q: They had to revise some of the standard parts on the [Dallara] DW12 as they were developing the aero kits. How difficult is that?

Yeah, certainly there were some fairly last-minute, past-last-minute changes made by IndyCar which definitely impact the whole aero kit. But the changes they were making were being made for the right reasons. I think it affected both manufacturers in the same way.

I think the decision that IndyCar made to do that was the right thing. We supported them in that. We just said, "OK, we've just got to get on with it," and that's what we're doing.

It's definitely a reset. Development in the digital world is wonderful because you didn't have to throw away any parts, so...

Q: Do you have a set target for performance gains provided by aero kits in 2015?

Absolutely. It's the same as what we do on our engine program. We go through and set a performance target that we expect to achieve. We monitor, just as on the engine program, our progress towards that target over time. Based on that you can impute an expected performance at the end of it.

We're doing the same thing with the aero kit. We do a tracker of the performance of the aero kit. You can watch over time as it approaches our target.

At this point it looks like we've got every likelihood of reaching the target we set. It's going to be a pretty impressive performance.

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So the Verizon IndyCar Series' street races are done for the year, and there's just one month to go, into which are crammed Mid-Ohio, Milwaukee, Sonoma and Fontana. IndyCar at Mid-Ohio should put a smile on the face of any race fan who loves natural road courses with their fast corners and topography that demands a driver commit to corners when he can barely see the apex and can't yet see the exit.

Mid-Ohio is a very spectator-friendly environment, too, with panoramic views of several turns, and the lineup of racing this weekend at the Honda Indy 200 is truly fantastic: double-headers for Indy Lights and Pro Mazda, a triple header for USF2000, and the always thrilling variety of the Pirelli World Challenge, which will feature the race debut of the new Acura TLX GT.

History at the 2.258-mile circuit is deep, stretching back to 1961 when Les Griebling started carving the layout into 200 acres of farm land in Morrow County. Aside from a straightening of the Thunder Valley section soon after its construction, a 1990 widening of the track surface and a welcome bypass of the chicane that slowed the entry to the crucial Keyhole turn, the track has remained unchanged since its first race in July '62.

This weekend's Honday Indy 200, the 14th of the 18-race 2014 IndyCar season, will be 90 laps, and the expected front-runners will surely have learned from last year's event that three stops should be the default option, even if there are a couple of short yellow-flag periods. Last year, it was pitiful to watch the likes of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Scott Dixon attempting to do a two-stopper and therefore having to cruise around two seconds-plus off the pace. Willy P and RHR made it work to a certain extent, rolling home fourth and fifth, despite having no caution periods to help their fuel situation, but by then they'd been jumped by those who realized early that converting to three stops was faster. Chip Ganassi Racing's Charlie Kimball ran flat out from one-third distance and came home a deserving winner ahead of Schmidt Peterson Motorsport's Simon Pagenaud.

Those who switched to a three-stop strategy late in the game – Scott Dixon, notably – screwed their races. Dixie finished seventh, beaten by his championship rival Helio Castroneves who, after a disastrous qualifying had lined up 14th. This meant the Brazilian smiler was committed to three stops from the word go and he just put his head down and charged – one of his finest drives of the season. Gaining eight spots in a race with no caution periods and on a track where it's difficult to pass is highly impressive.

This year, again, Castroneves arrives at Mid-Ohio as championship leader, but with a far smaller cushion over his nearest rivals – Power is 13 points back, Hunter-Reay 69, Pagenaud 71 and Juan Pablo Montoya over 100 behind. Since Helio is also a Mid-O winner – he won this race in 2000 and '01 – he was an obvious choice to provide RACER editor David Malsher with some insights to the challenge.

lat feistman moh 0813 00136DM: I assume lessons have been learned from this race last year and that everyone will be going for three stops, unless there's a huge number of yellow-flag laps...?

HC: Probably, probably....And I think that also comes from things learned this year, too. It's been strange that this year, two-stop strategies have not worked well – if we ignore Toronto, which had shortened races. The pace of the races has meant those drivers trying to save fuel to do just two stops have been too slow, and vulnerable to being passed by the three-stop guys. So if Mid-Ohio has no cautions again like last year, I think it will have to be a three-stop race again, yes, for everybody.

You didn't have any option last year – just flat out from mid-grid, but that was a very, very strong performance.
Oh man, yeah, that was great fun! We were able to make a lot of passes, although unfortunately TV didn't show them. We cured a problem we'd had in qualifying in time for the race, and we were so strong. I didn't make any big mistakes, the pit stops were great, Roger's strategy was awesome and we got ahead of the guy we needed to beat. I just hope we don't have to do that again! I mean, I want us to be that strong again, but starting much further forward.

LB1 4738 

When a race is green all the way, and the track has gotten grippier and grippier over the weekend, how tough is Mid-Ohio on your arms and neck?

It is very, very demanding, but because the grip level at that track just gets stronger and stronger, I actually find it more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge. Physically, I've got to say there have been tougher years because in combination with the change in tire compound, the cars are not holding on as much as they used to. But mentally, Mid-Ohio is very tough. This track surface is so strange that you can gain almost five seconds per lap from the beginning of practice on Friday to the end of the second practice session. Incredible! So you're constantly thinking about what to do to adjust your car to suit the present track conditions and also the conditions you expect to find at the end of a stint or session.

But you're also thinking, OK – can I turn in here now? Can I get hard on the throttle here now? You're constantly trying to find this new limit. You're chasing it. So that's very interesting but also mentally demanding, but if you can do it better than the next guy, it's also very satisfying.

MO2It seems each year Firestone makes little tweaks to compounds, to keep everyone guessing. Plus, this is only IndyCar's third road course of the year, second natural road course. It must be a relief that at least hear you get three long-ish practice sessions before qualifying.

Correct. And to be honest, Firestone does a very good job, and having compounds change a bit shouldn't really matter; we're all facing the same situation, it's up to us to adapt as quick as possible. And sometimes the big teams get it wrong and the smaller teams get it right and that helps mix up the racing, as we've seen over the past three seasons. We never know what to expect or who our main competition will be from one race to the next. That's interesting, and it's exciting for the fans, too.

Given the high grip levels, does that make it easier to nurse your tires to make them last until the end of a stint?

It helps, yes, because your grip lasts longer. Your car isn't sliding across the surface of the track; the tires are gripping to the rubber already laid down there, so you're not getting the tires graining by sliding like you would on a street course where eventually the tires just give up if you push too hard for too long.

I wondered if the fact that all the Mazda Road to Indy junior formulas now use Cooper tires, is that influencing how much grip your Firestones can offer? Often, rubber compounds don't work well together and instead of making the track gain grip, the junior cars actually make it more slippery for you.

And this weekend we have the Pirelli World Challenge too, so that's another tire compound down. Hmmm... From what I remember, the only real times we've thought about that was at Long Beach and Barber, and to be honest it wasn't that bad in terms of disturbing how you balance the cars. There is a difference, but not too bad and not for too long; and again, it is the same for all of us.

I tell you, the biggest time we have that situation of tire compounds not working great with each other is when we run on the ovals the same weekend as the NASCAR Trucks, which use Goodyear. Now, that really is challenging and can alter the balance you use in the next practice or in the first stint of a race. But at Iowa this year, the rain washed a lot of their rubber away so it wasn't a big deal.

OK, enough about tires. I just find Mid-Ohio fascinating from the grip point of view. Let's talk push-to-pass: is it right to assume that the only place to really use it is out of Turn 2, because it's followed by that long, long straight?

It's interesting because it depends on how your car is handling. Last year, my car was turning in very well through Turn 2, so I could stay on the butt of the car ahead and activate there and use it and feel the benefit early, and I didn't even need to outbrake the guy at the end of the back straight; I was already ahead and could move back across to take the best line for Turn 4. But actually, Turn 1 you can hit push-to-pass there for the run down to Turn 2. The only problem is that Turn 1 is a high-speed corner, fourth gear, so if you're close behind a guy and you've lost quite a lot of downforce, it's a little more difficult to set up the preparation for the passing move. You've really got to get the timing right in terms of turning in and getting that extra horsepower coming in.

If you lift off the gas because you can feel you're running wide without the downforce, that's the push-to-pass wasted, yes?

No, no, it stays on for 10 seconds but, if you've lifted off the throttle a little, you've probably lost your momentum so effectively it has been wasted. As soon as you activate, it's on and you need to use it. That's a shame, because in Toronto, I wanted to talk to Roger while I was behind Ryan Hunter-Reay, and tell him that Ryan's tires were going away, and unfortunately instead of the radio button, I hit the push-to-pass button in Turn 3 in a first-gear corner, where unless you've put yourself in the right position, you can't use the extra power. I was like, "Oh man! I've just wasted a push-to-pass!" That's common, actually; the heat of the moment, you can push the wrong button. I remember Will [Power] telling me about a time he wanted to talk to the team while we were under full-course caution, and he also hit the wrong button and wasted a push-to-pass. Under yellow, when we're doing 50mph and aren't allowed to overtake. Ha! But seriously, I tell you, man, that's only funny when it happens to someone else...

lat levitt mido0812 08324 

As a spectator, I've always felt Turn 1 at Mid-Ohio looks like one of the most demanding corners in the series. Is that how it feels from inside the cockpit? is demanding, and so is Turn 11, because they're both taken in fourth gear. But Turn 11 is a little bit tougher, because you're not only bringing the speed in but you're also having to set yourself up just perfect for the Carousel, where you can lose a lot of lap time if you don't do it right, because that Turn 12 goes on for a long time. Get it wrong and that will lose you momentum down the pit straight and so you're going into Turn 1 slower, and so then someone close behind who's got it right – and has maybe used his push-to-pass right – will get you on the run down to Turn 2. Mid-Ohio is a place where everything you do in this corner can affect you in the next corner and maybe the next one, also, you know what I mean?

But Turn 1 is demanding itself, you're right, especially because there's a bump just as you're turning in there, and you've got to just hit it right to let you go through there flat in fourth. But you sort of have no choice, because the way to overcome the effect of the bump is to stay flat on the throttle so you have maximum downforce. If you slow down as you hit that bump, it upsets your entry to the corner. It's a balancing act: if you get it just right, it's easy. Get it a little bit wrong and you have big trouble on the exit.

And in the race, you also have the distraction of other cars emerging from the pits, too...

Yeah, correct. But in the race you maybe aren't so on the edge there, so your rhythm is a little bit different and you can cope with that...unless the car coming out of the pits pulls over onto your line when it's not up to speed. Then you have to make a decision fast.

MO4Talking of pit lanes, Mid-Ohio is very tight and compact. How much of an advantage is it that you will have first pit box because of the second grid at Toronto being sorted by championship position?

Yeah, it's definitely a help; I think Mid-Ohio actually is the smallest pit stall we have in the whole series. But because it's a road course, and we have big angles available on the steering rack, so we also have the best chance at getting out. But yes, that pit lane will always be tricky, I think. I remember me and Hunter-Reay got together at pitlane exit in 2010 and he ended up getting the bad side of that.

Attitude-wise, is there anything you'll be doing different now you're in the lead of the championship again?

Well, hopefully we qualify at the front and can take it from there. But I also have to look at my teammate Will, because he's my closest rival at the moment. However, I cannot race my race according to what he's doing. I just need to keep doing my best in each situation. It's not like last year, though; with 100 points available in the final race, you can't play the game like if there weren't all those extra points available. At this point, take the necessary risks but don't take unnecessary risks, and try and finish ahead in all of them.

So you're going to have to take chances against your championship rivals, but if you're running second behind say a Scott Dixon or a James Hinchcliffe, that's OK because you're still ahead of the guys who won't beat you to the title.

Exactly. If, I'm ahead of Will and Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud, I'm not going to go crazy trying to pass someone who's not in the fight for the championship. But having said that, you want to also push forward because of those double points in Fontana, because what if you have a bad night there? That's what you've got to think about. If you've got a good car here, you need to take advantage of it. Last year, I was more conservative and it didn't pay off, so I need to do something different than I did last year.

While we're talking, I also want to say what a big help Roger Penske is, being full-time on my radio: he's unbelievable. He gives key information, we debate, and he makes the call according to what he sees and what information I give him. I realize when all of us drivers and team strategists and engineers get together before the race, it looks like a Penske board meeting, but it means that Roger and all of us are fully aware of everything going on. So when it comes time to make a strategy decision out on the track during the race, I trust Roger completely: we've all shared all our knowledge with him, and now it's time for him to read the race, and do what he needs to do.

That really worked for me well at Mid-Ohio last year, despite all the things that went against us, so I'm hoping it can work for us again.

Tech Mailbag

Have questions about the technical side of racing? Send them to:


Q: I have been wondering about a couple of things on the F1 cars regarding the engine cover and rear wing. Even before the F-duct, we used to see large shark fins on the engine cover, but now there is only a minimal area on some of the cars. Why is that? I was also wondering why F1 cars don't make use of the goose neck/candy cane style of rear wing pylon. I would think that they could integrate the DRS mechanism into it. With the way the some of the Le Mans Prototype cars have the required fin line up with a single candy cane pylon, I'm surprised we haven't seen something similar in F1.
Daniel, Atlanta, GA

MP: It's more of a general answer than a specific one on F1 engine cover fins. Trends, either driven by interpreting the rules or through genuine innovation, are often followed and eventually change. Team Penske was one of the originators, if not the very first Indy car team to add small fins to their engine covers in the early 1990s, and barely two races went by before most of the other teams had their own versions installed. Looking at the 2014 F1 designs, Williams has a pronounced blade-like fin that follows the general contour of the engine cover while McLaren has a much smaller blade running down the MP4-29's spine. Depending on the shape of each team's engine cover and the aerodynamic benefit they feel will come from the height of a fin, different decisions are made.

On the swan neck rear wing mounting solution, keep in mind this year's F1 rules require the exhaust outlet to run down the middle of the chassis – below where a single swan would normally be mounted to the chassis without interruption. Despite this rule, you will note swans are being used, but not in the same bog and obvious manner they're employed in LMP1. They can also serve as the actuators for the DRS system, adding another layer of complexity to their design in F1.

Q: What suspension design changes can be expected if F1 adopts 18-inch tires? Also, can 18-inch tires be adopted to the current Indy cars?
Redding Finney

MP: Other than changes to where the A-arms mount to the uprights, I would not expect to see anything significant in terms of suspension development if and when F1 moves to larger wheels and tires. Almost anything can be adopted to a spec racing car, so the answer is yes on IndyCar. Depending on the wheel and tire sizing, bodywork clearance would be the first knock-on item to consider, and with a possible change in brake vendors being considered, disc and caliper fitment would also need a re-think, along with brake cooling.

PoconoQ: Superspeedway spring rates: How do the spring rates at each corner affect the DW12's handling in corners at Indy and Pocono? I understand that a softer spring gives more grip, but how do they prevent the right front from bottoming out yet give the RF proper grip?

Fuel mileage: You made the observation that Honda had better fuel mileage than Chevy at Houston. However, it seemed that Chevy closed the gap or even had better mileage than Honda at Pocono based on what I saw from the stands. What can the engine manufacturers change on the engine from race to race to improve mileage?
Aaron, Lafayette, IN

MP: There's more than one philosophy on open-wheel springing when it comes to ovals. Most engineers choose their springs, and they are almost always different at each corner, to provide optimal crossweighting – a high spring rate on the right rear to push diagonally across onto the left front, and so on. In basic terms, yes, a softer spring will provide more mechanical grid, but the spring isn't the only adjustment or tool to manage ride height while cornering. Anti-roll bars will control chassis lean, ride height settings obviously play a big role, and depending on the engineer, packers or bump rubbers will be used to prevent the car from bottoming too heavily. A track like Pocono definitely asks for more mechanical grip than Indy, for example, so you'd see teams working more on mechanical compliance than at a track where a solid and stable aerodynamic platform plays a greater part in achieving fast lap speeds.

On fuel mileage, manufacturers are constantly evolving their respective engine mapping – it's the most accessible outlet to find gains between races. As for Houston vs. Pocono, keep in mind mapping on a street course where drivers are coasting into the brake zones, at partial throttle many times each lap, and working up and down the gears is a lot different than a big oval where they spend most of each lap at wide open throttle. It's easy for one manufacturer to get the jump on wide-open mapping while the other ekes out an advantage on partial-throttle maps.

Q: I just finished reading the various State Of The Union pieces, and I'm just amazed at how amateurish the whole merger was handled. Especially with the prototypes.

Would it have been SOOO bad if they left all of the classes unchanged from 2013 and (gasp) had 5 classes for 1 season? The DP teams have sunk ridiculous amounts of money I to updating their cars to compete with the P2 entries, and for what? IMSA could've said, "OK for 1 season we'll have both a DP and a P2 class (in addition to PC, and the two GT classes). 2014 will be a transition year as we build for the future". They'd have a full year of technical feedback to work with when it came to trying to integrate DP and P2 under 1 roof.
Otto Kinzel

MP: Technically, spiritually, and in every other related word that ends in 'ally,' you're spot-on, Otto. I said the same thing last year, have said it this year and continue to wonder why separate points for P2s and DPs seemed like too tall of a task to handle. Granted, I love how far DPs have come with the long overdue upgrades IMSA approved, but seeing as how I didn't have to pay for any of those upgrades, my opinion means little to cash-strapped DP team owners.

Whatever, we have a blended Prototype class with three distinct vehicle types (don't forget the DeltaWing) and the racing – at least among the individual P2s and DPs, instead across the entire class – has been good. I'm hoping the series can make some tweaks for 2015 that makes the Prototype racing better than good and closer to great.


Q: After Aleshin's crash (in Toronto) I heard a few comments on "WE NEED ROLLCAGES TO PROTECT OUR GUYS." F1 also talked about that a few years ago after that crash in Spa's first turn when Alonso almost got decapitated. I saw a guy posting an image of an open-wheel car with a roll cage--do you think we'll have to look after things like that in open-wheel competition?
Chip Toone

MP: Yes, at some point, F1, IndyCar, and every other form of professional open-wheel racing will need to evolve and adopt some form of protective canopy. Massive head injuries happened more often than anyone wants to remember prior to many of the modern safety advancements that were spurred on in the 1970s. From Francois Cevert to Tom Pryce, bludgeoning or worse has taken place, and many of us lost a dear friend in Dan Wheldon when he was struck by a steel pole just three years ago this October.

As open-wheel racing looks to take its next steps creatively and through logical safety improvements, the thought of drivers racing in tiny cockpit with their heads exposed seems like a left-over relic from back in the day, not something we continue to practice as an afterthought in 2014.

Q: I have given up on P2s being able to win races in TUSCC this season. They are able to be fast and win poles, but under the present circumstances, they can only win races at certain tracks and under certain very specific conditions.

Do you think any of that will change next season when most if not all of the open-cockpit P2s are replaced by P2 coupes (HPD, Ligier, etc.)? Will the fact that these are new designs (compared to the existing ancient P2 designs) help them compete with the DPs?

Aside from that, are there likely to be any BoP Changes coming for next season that would make the racing more competitive between P2s and DPs? New Tire regs, perhaps? More downforce/less horsepower for DPs?

MP: I absolutely believe a new generation of P2 coupes will be more competitive than the current fleet of open-top Morgans, ORECAS and HPDs. Keep in mind that most of the P2s we've seen in IMSA this year, barring the Multimatic-Mazda chassis, are getting rather old. Aerodynamic gains alone will be a big help, and as even the Multimatic has shown, cornering speeds are always going to be impressive. The Ligier JS P2 dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans on its debut in June, and but for some wonky new-car mechanical issues, was on its way to a decisive class win. The improved aero and mechanical efficiency won't fix the torque and tire warming deficit they face against DPs, but if they can reduce their lap times elsewhere, we could see the two types of cars mingle a bit more under braking and off the corners.

No clue on what IMSA will do for next year. I know of a few ideas that have been batted around, but we'll have to wait and see if any of them become a reality.

Q: Are air boxes present or absent in the 2015 aero kits? I caught a piece of a discussion about that on one of the forums and there didn't seem to be a clear answer. Also, from Walker's comments I'd guess that the sidepods will look substantially different. In a good way. And that's good. IndyCar!
Mike Thurman

MP: IndyCar aero kit manufacturers can keep or ditch the overhead airboxes, and from everything I've been told, both have binned them so we should have Champ Car and CART-style low-slung engine covers. Not so sure the sidepods will be as drastically different as we'd hoped; Walker told RACER last month that allowing more freedom with sidepod design is the one regret he has with the 2015 regulations.

Q: I have really enjoyed your mailbags this year, and although it is a bit late, I have two questions about this year's Le Mans:

1) Before the season started you wrote that the new fuel consumption rules would have a strong effect on the racing at Le Mans. Was the effect as big as you expected, and how did it show up during the race?

2) I don't know if this was a trick of the light or not, but the spacer between the swan neck and the rear wing on the Audis seemed to be a transparent material. What was it made of?
Campbell Perry

MP: Great question, Campbell. I was very concerned the racing would suffer due to the fuel consumption restrictions placed on the LMP1-Hybrid cars, and so far, it looks like those fears have been unfounded. To be fair, everything during pre-season testing said the new rules would indeed dial down the ferocity of LMP1-H competition; one team reported coasting between 0.5 to 0.7 kilometers per lap to meet the maximum fuel consumption limits, but based on what I've seen firsthand at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the costing isn't obvious, nor does it detract from the show.

The actual mount between the carbon swan and the main rear wing element is made out of metal – looks like aluminum.

2014LM24PruettTues61014 420Q: I found Rob Edwards' answer about Schmidt Peterson staffing very interesting, The technical staffing sounds about right, but I was surprised about the "three commercial and office staff." Where are the people who solicit sponsorships and work with sponsors on events? Where are the people who handle the advertising and public relations activities for the team? Who is doing their website and social media? Do the teams and drivers, and therefore the series, have such a low profile and sponsor problems because no one is working it?

Sam Schmidt is an inspirational story that could be told in every market. Aleshin is interesting story that would be easy to present in every market. Pagenaud is a proven, successful driver with two wins and a fourth place in the title fight. Good, interesting stories are sad when they are not told.
John in Charleston

MP: It's not uncommon for a smaller team like SPM to outsource many of those marketing/PR/sponsor hunting responsibilities. Rather than pay full salaries for 3-5 people, healthcare, benefits, etc., it's a wise move to sign an annual contract for a fraction of the cost to acquire the same services.

2015 Lights

Q: What would have to be sacrificed to make an Indy Lights car that costs $75K instead of $235K? Safety? Reliability? Drivability compared to the DW12?

Or is there enough interest in teams to shell out $1 million for a primary and backup for two drivers (before engine lease)?

By the way, the car does look sharp. I just hope there's enough interest to get more than a handful of them on track.
Alan K, Raleigh, NC

MP: Awesome question, Alan. To hit that price point, it would need to be a spaceframe car and carry over a lot of the existing components from the 2002-era Infiniti Pro Series car. Mass producing a full carbon tub, a bespoke bell housing, sourcing a proper transmission, all of the data systems, electronics and paddle-shifting bits, brake systems, suspension, dampers, wings, bodywork and the floor has become an expensive endeavor – no matter who's manufacturing the car.

Going to a chassis made from either a steel tubeframe wrapped in aluminum panels or a spaceframe monocoque using aluminum honeycomb panels would be the first area to save money, but the last open-wheel ladder series car I worked on that featured that type of construction was the Swift DB-4 in 1991, and even then, only the bottom half of the chassis was made from aluminum honeycomb – the top half was carbon. Reverting back to decades-old construction materials and methods would drop the price, but I'm not sure we'd be maintaining the necessary level of safety.

Simply put, if you go low-tech, the price comes down, but with a 12-year-old Indy Lights chassis currently in use and painfully small grids, it's safe to say going even lower tech with a next-generation car would make the problem worse. A kid wanting to reach the Indy 500 or F1 wants to drive a cutting-edge car at the top rung of the ladder and, in 2014, those cars aren't cheap.

Another aspect to consider: While Dallara hopes to sell dozens of IL15s, it's doubtful they'll push more than 12-15 out the door by the time the 2015 season begins. It's a comparatively low-volume market and from an economy-of-scale standpoint, having to make 15 of something costs more than producing 30 or 60 of the same item. As the Lights series continues to rebuild, hopefully they'll move a lot more cars but, at least for now, Dallara has to set its pricing based on limited sales.

Q: Please explain the FRIC system in F1 cars.
James R. Thomson

MP: Here's what I wrote in the last Mailbag, James:

FRIC is a relatively modern concept that connects the front and rear shocks through a hydraulic management system. Most racing cars have independent front and rear suspensions which must be set up to manage roll, dive, and squat. Teams do their best to get the front and rear settings close enough to have both ends of the car working in unison – creating a good balance for the driver – while also delivering a high level of performance.

With FRIC, some F1 teams have tied all four corners of the car together through hydraulic actuation – done away with each end acting in a true independent manner. The biggest benefits include running lower ride heights and better ride height management – controlling the car's floor to generate more downforce.

Q: Will Buckypaper replace carbon fiber and bloom energy replace fuel and batteries when it comes to racing car construction, or is it just too expensive and not that important things to be replaced?
Cheers from Brazil,

MP: I'd say Buckypaper is the most likely to be adopted right away, provided its rigidity and deformation in an impact exceeds current state-of-the-art carbon-fiber. Bloom's fuel cell concept is really interesting, but in racing, size and weight matter, and if they can miniaturize a unit to replace an internal combustion engine, there's no reason it couldn't be used. Like most new technologies, both items are in their infancy, but as someone who grew up in an era where new technologies were embraced in racing, I'd love to see some of the spec-minded series open the door to these kinds of innovations. Beyond tech advancements, the commercial opportunities are also considerable.

Q: Based on your experience of engineering racecars, how many people would it take to properly engineer and work on a USF2000 or Pro Mazda car, and could a person use Formula SAE members to do some of the work?
Joe, San Jose

MP: Hi Joe – greetings from 15 miles up the road. Formula SAE experience would be perfect for any team on the open-wheel ladder or in sports cars. For USF2000, one mechanic and one engineer – sometimes, it's the same person doing both jobs on a single-car team, and for a multi-car team, it's not uncommon to have individual mechanics and an engineer plus a data engineer handling the fleet. You'd also see the same model in Pro Mazda – it's all about the size of the team.

Q: Regarding the Dave Sims article on RACER (about IMSA's lack of a traveling safety team -Ed) : We all know that the NASCAR control of sports car racing is devastating to the sport. I, like Sims, go way back. In fact my first endurance sports car race as a fan was 1962 at Bridgehampton. I've traveled the U.S. to see endurance events and have done Sebring 15 years and the 24 at Daytona six times but not since the original IMSA died.

The disbanding of the IMSA team is a disgrace. (My other passion is 410 sprint cars. I'm amazed at the safety at many ovals: OK, lack of safety). I'm amazed the manufacturers who have made the GT (no need to say LM) racing so great are staying with this model. Is there another John Bishop out there to poach the best to start the new IMSA?

On a positive note: they have improved things since the yellow flag event at Sebring, but again the Glen was a disgrace. Fans don't want competition manufactured!
Ed Church

MP: The IMSA Safety Team was a great point of pride for all those at the ALMS, including its top brass. I know for a fact that serious discussions are taking place about its possible return.

IN1 5176

Q: Since they say that Ford has no interest in returning to supply engines for Indy cars and that Cosworth wants to, under another manufacturer's name, has anyone considered contacting maybe Jaguar or Volvo since they are no longer under the Ford ownership? That would be neat! Seeing some engines supplied by Jaguar, Volvo, Volkswagen, BMW, or maybe even Aston Martin.

The return of Buick power would get my attention, too, even though I know they're owned by GM which gives us the Chevys; but it would be sweet to see some engine manufacturer expansion, as everybody else is saying. And I agree. I know it's a pipe dream but at least I should think Jaguar could be at some liberty being owned by TATA. Imagine: Jaguar-Cosworth engines. I just hope that if that was considered by the Indy car big bosses, that there's enough time to test and work out every bug so it doesn't end up like Lotus in 2012. And hopefully much more competitive compared to when they raced in Formula 1.

And as for what everyone says that the people who run the IndyCar Series is doing a pathetic job. I have to agree. Curse Tony George for the Split. Clearly Cheech Marin would do a much better job at running and promoting the series than what we've got right now.
Aaron, Media, PA

MP: Unfortunately, Cheech doesn't know the right people at many of the car companies you mentioned, but IndyCar President of Competition Derrick Walker does and has met with some of them and a few others about joining the series. Jag would be the most obvious of those you've mentioned – so much of their current marketing plan involves promoting itself as a high-performance brand, and for a relatively small sum (compared to NASCAR), they would have a great chance to elevate their brand through open-wheel in North America.

rainQ: I have several questions:

1) If temporary street courses present different conditions and challenges when compared to road courses, how come Firestone doesn't develop a rain tires specific to these circumstances? Taking Toronto into consideration, I remember that when the track was just wet it was way too slick. Does it all boil down to ROI & costs or is my idea too far-fetched?

2) I may be mistaken, but It looks like the concrete fencing required for temporary street circuits greatly reduces water drainage. Can't they figure out a way to install a hose with ducts in critical areas right next to and along the bottom of the fencing and hook it to a ventilation/vacuum system? Also, if possible, install it on the opposite side of the preferred driving line to minimize the chance of it getting damaged and turning into debris. It could also help with the lack of airflow caused by the fencing.

3) A lot has been said about the P2 tire temperature problem. Weren't P2s required to change their wheel size for the reunification of the series? Wheel size makes a huge difference in unsprung weight, offset, etc. If so, wouldn't it be better for them to be allowed to go back to the original wheel size and have Continental develop a better compound for the P2 characteristics?
Rudy Lopez, Canton, Ohio

MP: Firestone makes excellent slicks and has made excellent rains in the past. As you point out, their prices have gone up and they've had to reduce costs, so I'd suggest the lack of rain tire options has to do with budgets. They certainly don't lack the knowledge or capabilities to manufacture rain tires that would have allowed drivers to race harder at Toronto.

Great idea on aiding drainage, and P2 wheel size isn't the issue. DP teams were the ones that went to new, lighter single-piece wheels for 2014. P2 wheels have been/are plenty light – a slightly softer compound would do the trick, but I doubt separate P2 and DP tires will ever happen. I've asked, and received a vaguely hostile reply from the vendor on that topic...

Q: With the new aero packages coming out, will IndyCar have to change any rules to keep the cars competitive? New bodywork will mean downforce levels may vary between the two cars, but I understand wing main plate angles are specified at some tracks. Will this specified angle cause a car with more downforce from the bodywork to dominate at street courses and bring up the rear on the big ovals? Will the two manufacturers be able to come up with new wing designs (and crazy front wing vanes like F1)?
Ryan D. Gamber

MP: I sure hope they don't. Allowing genuine innovation and creativity into the series for the first time in ages is great. Balancing those cars if one has a superior design would seem like a massive waste of everyone's money. If Chevy or Honda finds an edge, they need to keep it until the other one can respond with a better mousetrap. Look for downforce to go way up on road and street courses, and drag to come down on big ovals. I don't expect either manufacturer to end up far ahead or behind at any track. You could see some creative wing profiles, but I don't think they'll be too insane. Wings have been sent into the wind for many years – there's not a lot that's left to discover.

Q: As we know, the new engine for Indy Lights is a turbocharged inline-4 made by AER (having previous experience with that kind of engine through their work with Dyson Racing). The last P1 Dyson car had an engine designated as the MZR-R by Mazda and the P80 by AER. As the new Indy Lights power plant is designated the P63, are there any similarities or shared components between the two? And is there a future for that engine in sports cars?
Patrick Palony

MP: I asked the fine people at AER to help with an in-depth answer to your question, Patrick:

The AER P63 engine is a new and features proven components and applications from the previous, port-injected P07 and P70 / P80 inline 4-cylinder turbocharged designs. The P63 engine has been optimized for a single-seater application and at present there are no plans for the engine to appear in sports car racing.


 89P4508Q: I see Formula E (pictured, ABOVE) is scheduled to visit Long Beach on April 4 next year on a track slightly different than what IndyCar uses. Based on the 2014 IndyCar schedule, this race would be one week prior to a potential IndyCar race. Is IndyCar moving to a different track, and is IndyCar concerned a Formula E race so close on the calendar might impact promotion/attendance?
Lou, Edina, MN

MP: It's the same track, and IndyCar should be concerned. I'd work with the folks at the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and the FIA Formula E series to fold their event into the Grand Prix at Long Beach – it benefits all parties.

919 hQ: I keep hearing surprise that the Porsche 919 doesn't use it's exhaust energy recovery system in the anti-lag role. I've also heard Sam Collins of Racecar Engineering say he feels Porsche is wrong to think that they wouldn't benefit from it.

My question is, why is this being said? If you are harvesting wasted energy from the exhaust what is the difference if that same energy is applied to spin up the turbo or if it is used on the front axle, which would then put direct power to the track while the turbo is "lagging"? Seems to me Porsche is right here, especially when you consider that Audi dropped the anti-lag system on the R18 and that F1 teams only run what they are told to run, and therefore do not necessarily have the most efficient system.
Eric Hall, WI

MP: Great question, Eric. Attempting to read the mind of my dear old friend Sam Collins is always a perilous endeavor, but I'd guess he's referring to one key item. First, and as you rightly point out, the instant-on power provided by the hybrid system helps to minimize any effects that turbo lag would induce, but with the turbo ERS helping to keep the turbine spooled up when the driver's off the throttle, you'd get a faster build of power from the engine and the hybrid power combining to increase acceleration. Think of it as adding onto what the hybrid system sends to the front wheels.

Second – while there would be a benefit to using an ERS-based anti-lag system due to the sheer size of Porsche's single turbo mated to a small-displacement 4-cylinder engine, it's likely they determined the reward was minimal, and as the most efficient LMP1-H car in the class, I'd assume they were concerned about parasitic friction.

On one final note, Porsche has also been revealed as a LMP1-H constructor that doesn't mind bending the truth when it comes to revealing the systems and functionalities the 919 contains beneath the bodywork. Statements made about using/not using ERS anti-lag should be taken with a high level of skepticism.

Q: Ignoring for the moment that Acura just fried a production NSX in Germany, a growing number of companies are producing hybrid sports cars that will be hitting the market in 2015/2016, but there is nowhere to race them. Where do you think we will first see BMW, Porsche, Honda and McLaren racing their hybrid sports cars? ACO? GT3? What are the challenges of balancing the performance of these machines?
Ed Joras

MP: My guess is Pirelli World Challenge, if they want to bring them Stateside. We're a ways off from hybrid GTE cars, and I'm not sure how many GT3 pro-am drivers/owners, at least at the moment, want the hassle of hybrid cars to deal with. It's definitely a question that needs answering from the ACO, FIA and IMSA ASAP.

Q: Perhaps this is technical perhaps not. I watched qualifying for the Grand Prix of Hungary this weekend and I watched Rosberg turn a 1:23.310 in Q2 on the soft tires. I then saw him turn a 1:22.9 in his first Q3 run and then a 1:22.715 on the soft tires later in Q3. Had he run soft tires in Q1 it would have likely been a high 1:23. I get that the track evolves as rubber it put down, but why does it evolve so much in qualifying and not much in practice? Is it because on long runs drivers aren't laying down as much rubber as they do when they push qualifying runs? To give you an idea drivers ran 730 laps in Free Practice 2 and 293 laps in qualifying. Yet over the course of qualifying the track improved significantly more than it appears to do in practice.

MP: Rubber being put down helps, but keep in mind the type of lap time progressions seen in qualifying come because it's the first regimented session of the event. Prior to qualifying, teams use free practice sessions to work on a variety of options like chassis setup, tire degradation, testing of new components and 20 other things that involve articulated run plans. Rarely will you see a team send a driver out with the sole mission of producing the fastest lap from start to finish until the end of the final practice session prior to qualifying. The same is true in IndyCar and most other series – outright lap speed is something that tends to become a focus when qualifying nears, and up until that point, shaping the car into race trim – through trying different setups, tires, etc. – is all that really matters. You will have an exception at tracks where grid position plays a major part in how the race will finish, but those are select instances on the calendar.

Bounty Hunter5Ryan Hunter-Reay has now added an Indy 500 win to his IndyCar Series title...but it shouldn't stop there. The Andretti Autosport ace wants more of both.


Destiny, in the pre-ordained sense of the word, is a myth. While plenty people (including many of us at RACER) felt Ryan Hunter-Reay was destined to win the Indianapolis 500 one day, it was a foolish/optimistic way of thinking – as the man himself highlighted in his post-race press conference, sitting alongside his team owner, Michael Andretti.

"This guy next to me is one of the quickest drivers ever to set foot in this place," said Ryan, "but things just didn't fall right for him on race days...He ran so strong for so many races, and it just never went his way."

Bounty Hunter4Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a place of extreme lows for Hunter-Reay since becoming its Rookie of the Year in 2008. Barely scraping onto the grid in '09 with a car whose weight distribution was all wrong; inadvertently triggering a last-lap shunt in '10 when his car ran out of fuel; failure to qualify in '11; a mechanical DNF in '12; missing a final chance to pass winner Tony Kanaan last year when the race finished under yellow. Surely, after those disappointments, the ultimate high was also going to come his way, too? Wasn't it?

Well, no, not "surely" at all. So, just in case this year's 98th running of the "500" was his last best chance, Hunter-Reay's resolve solidified during his shootout with Team Penske's Helio Castroneves over the closing laps. No one could honestly say he won because he wanted it more than his rival. Most Indy winners will tell you that victory at the Speedway makes you want it more, not less, and this was Helio's opportunity to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears in the four-time "500" winners' club. But Hunter-Reay's pass into Turn 3 on lap 197 was as revealing as it was thrilling.

Some may come to mis-remember it as the pass for the win. It wasn't: each driver retook the lead heading into Turn 1 on laps 199 and 200. But what that almost-in-the-grass moment did was demonstrate to Castroneves, as well as all who saw it, the extent of Hunter-Reay's ambition...and instinct. That was no calculated maneuver, but one that demonstrated Ryan's opportunism. OK, that same hold-your-breath-and-go-for-it attitude cost him a chance of winning Long Beach this year, but it also earned him the Baltimore win in 2012 that was key to his claiming the IndyCar Series title.

Bounty Hunter2This 230mph dive into Turn 3 may also have affected the outcome of the "500" race in a physical manner. On lap 199, Castroneves was back in front and, eager not to leave a gap down the inside again, he drove into Turn 3 hugging the inside line, while RHR was able to take the shallower, faster racing line. Consequently, he carried more speed along the short chute to Turn 4 and had a slight momentum advantage onto the front straight...which is where No. 28 passed No. 3 for the final time.

Ten days later, after several photo shoots (including one for RACER), media appearances (including The Late Show with David Letterman), and also a pair of bad races in the double-header at Detroit, Ryan gets a chance at last to talk about the future rather than the immediate past. Still, answering his call with "Is that Ryan Hunter-Reay, Indy 500 champion?" is something that just has to be done...

"Man, that doesn't get old!" says a cheery, but weary voice. "And it's not going to. This is one of those things that stays with you forever."

Right. But that doesn't mean it's mission accomplished for RHR. Just because he's now won the series title and the Indy 500, it's not like everything else is a bonus...

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Jeff Gordon took an emphatic victory in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, grabbing the advantage at the final restart to cement his place atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver led initially before falling back at the first round of stops, gradually working his way back up the order before passing teammate Kasey Kahne with 17 laps to go en route to a second victory of the season and his fifth at the Brickyard.

"I don't think there's a greater feeling for a race car driver than to be here in Victory Lane in Indianapolis," said Gordon. "I'm not usually good at restarts, but I made the restart of my life today when it mattered most."

Gordon passed polesitter Kevin Harvick to take the lead on the second lap, leading before a pre-planned competition caution period on lap 21.

Joey Logano, the only lead driver to not take the opportunity to pit, assumed the lead before a round of green flag stops commenced, after which Harvick re-assumed control ahead of Gordon.

Gordon takes fifth Brickyard victory

The pair were then both jumped by Kahne and Kyle Busch in the third round of stops, which took place partially during a caution period called after Danica Patrick stopped at the end of the pitlane with a broken axle.

Kahne retained the lead after the next caution period, caused by a spin for Trevor Bayne, with Gordon surging past Busch back into second. The Hendrick teammates ran nose-to-tail after their final green flag stops before the fourth and final caution was called as Ryan Truex lost power.

Gordon surged ahead at the restart, duly romping home to win by 2.3 seconds, with Busch taking second ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin, rising from a lowly grid position of 27th, and Matt Kenseth.

Logano was best of the Ford drivers in fifth, ahead of Kahne, who led 70 of the 160 laps before dropping back after the final restart.

Kyle Larson, Harvick, whose pace suffered as weather conditions improved, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon completed the top 10.

Jimmie Johnson finished last of the four Hendrick cars down in 14th, two places behind fellow title contender Brad Keselowski, who suffered minor damage after making light contact with Kurt Busch in the pitlane.

Results - 160 laps:Pos  Driver              Team/Car                     Time/Gap
 1.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet       2h39m41.000s
 2.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota              +2.325s
 3.  Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota              +3.807s
 4.  Matt Kenseth        Joe Gibbs Toyota              +5.839s
 5.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford                  +11.728s
 6.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet           +12.324s
 7.  Kyle Larson         Ganassi Chevrolet            +13.046s
 8.  Kevin Harvick       Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       +13.721s
 9.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet           +14.467s
10.  Austin Dillon       Childress Chevrolet          +14.956s
11.  Ryan Newman         Childress Chevrolet          +16.200s
12.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford                  +18.529s
13.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford            +19.442s
14.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet           +19.958s
15.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford            +20.556s
16.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota               +21.224s
17.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       +22.257s
18.  AJ Allmendinger     JTG Daugherty Chevrolet      +24.026s
19.  Brian Vickers       Waltrip Toyota               +24.510s
20.  Jamie McMurray      Ganassi Chevrolet            +25.582s
21.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                   +27.075s
22.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                   +28.170s
23.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Penske Ford                  +29.015s
24.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford            +29.663s
25.  Martin Truex Jr     Furniture Row Chevrolet      +31.101s
26.  Michael McDowell    Leavine Ford                 +33.352s
27.  Justin Allgaier     HScott Chevrolet               -1 lap
28.  Kurt Busch          Stewart-Haas Chevrolet         -1 lap
29.  Josh Wise           Parsons Chevrolet              -1 lap
30.  Landon Cassill      Hillman Chevrolet             -2 laps
31.  Michael Annett      Baldwin Chevrolet             -2 laps
32.  Cole Whitt          BK Toyota                     -2 laps
33.  Casey Mears         Germain Chevrolet             -2 laps
34.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet           -2 laps
35.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford                -2 laps
36.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                -3 laps
37.  Bobby Labonte       Baldwin Chevrolet             -3 laps
38.  Reed Sorenson       Baldwin Chevrolet             -4 laps
39.  Travis Kvapil       FAS Lane Ford                 -4 laps
40.  Alex Bowman         BK Toyota                     -4 laps
41.  Ryan Truex          BK Toyota                    -11 laps


     Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet       114 laps
     Trevor Bayne        Wood Brothers Ford            96 laps

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