After a thrilling and safe show at Texas, IndyCar begins its short-oval tour Saturday at the Milwaukee Mile. IndyCar's Will Phillips is confident the aerodynamics developed for the Dallara DW12 will continue to deliver there and at the following Saturday's race at Iowa Speedway.
The short-oval aerodynamic package for the 1.0-mile, flat Milwaukee track and 0.875-mile, progressively banked Iowa Speedway is closely aligned with the road/street course platform. The lone mandatory element is the addition of front brake duct backing plates, while two-thirds radiator inlet shutters are options. Rear wheel infills and sidepod top decks (drag reductions) are forbidden.
Eighteen drivers tested May 29 at Milwaukee and 21 at Iowa Speedway on June 12, and Phillips said those tests proved the effectiveness of the package.
"The package worked well at Milwaukee and I expect the same at Iowa for two exciting races," said IndyCar's vp of technology.
The final element of the aero package devised for Texas Motor Speedway in an IndyCar/driver collaboration proved to be what almost every competitor sought in the first race of the new car on an 1.5-mile oval.
"There was plenty of passing, an exciting finish and a safe race," Phillips said of the 228-lap race under the lights won by Justin Wilson in the No. 18 Sonny's BBQ car for Dale Coyne Racing. "Would we have tweaked the package slightly if we had to do it again? Not much. We made the drivers work hard, which is something they have been asking for."
Most drivers who utilized the one-eighth-inch wicker were able to run almost flat until the Firestone Firehawks wore and the fuel load lightened to conspire to make the car became a handful. Still, it was the alternative to the pack racing that drivers were attempting to steer clear of.
"This is the best racing I've ever had on an oval," said Team Penske's Will Power, the series championship leader by 36 points over Scott Dixon. "You had to lift, you had to look after your tires, you had to really drive the thing – it was moving around. That is just the sort of racing that we need at these sort of tracks."
"We put on some great shows this year, and we need to keep that buzz going," agreed Chip Ganassi Racing's Graham Rahal, who was overtaken by Wilson for the win at Texas after brushing the Turn 4 wall in the late stages. "I saw guys going forward like crazy one stint, next stint they were falling back like crazy, and I was one of them. That's phenomenal. That's the way it should be. That's the way it used to be.
"And, ultimately, the goal here is to put more butts in the seats out there and more eyes on the TV. If racing like this keeps helping it, then I'm all for it."