Three distinct oval racetracks are on the schedule the next three weekends, starting with the Firestone 550 this Saturday night under the lights on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.
Separate tests were conducted in February and May at Texas to set the baseline and confirm the aero package for the high-banked oval. Scott Dixon was quickest of 11 car/driver combinations during the May test at 24.6644sec (212.371mph).
“Comparing it to the old car, we're not that far off (on lap times),” IndyCar vp of technology Will Phillips said. “We're running as much as 70 horsepower less than the old car, so the efficiency of the car is significantly improved.”
Last week, IndyCar issued a technical bulletin for the Texas aero package to distinguish it from the one used at Indianapolis last month, as follows:
• Rear wing mainplane between minus 5 degree and minus 10.5 degrees
• Standard speedway rear wing endplate
• Standard rear wheel guard
• Two-thirds radiator inlet shutter
• Rear wheel infills
• Sidepod top deck
• Underwing strakes and sidewalls
Front and rear wickers are an area teams can experiment with during Friday's pre-qualifying practice session to add or remove downforce.
Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, told IndyCar.com he appreciated the range of options on the car afforded by the sanctioning body.
“Instead of coming here with a 10-degree rear flap that created more pack racing and people didn't have the options to try to separate themselves and create different strategies or be fast for 20 laps but have to lift later on in the stint, there are options,” said Dixon. “It will be difficult to drive for a race stint, which I think is good.
“Having the car in a situation where you can take a lot of downforce off, it's pretty difficult and qualifying could actually be difficult for a change. At Texas, that's pretty big.”
Qualifications are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. local time on Friday. NBC Sports Network's qualifications show is at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the race scheduled for Saturday night, live on NBC Sports Network, at 8:00pm ET.