At first glance, the two-mile, D-shaped Auto Club Speedway seems relatively simple enough. With a track width of 75 feet wide, it allows for lots of maneuvering. And with an ample supply of banking (14 degrees in the turns, 11 degrees on the front stretch), it allows for plenty of speed.
But ever since IndyCar adopted a lower downforce configuration for their Dallara DW12s on the bigger ovals, speedway racing has gotten a lot less easy than it had been just a couple of years ago. Robbed of that precious downforce, drivers will have to be on the wheel from green to checkers.
Meanwhile, their crews on pit road will have to make the right adjustments to keep their cars humming along as the race shifts from day to night (green flag is set for 5:50 p.m. local time).
Another thing to keep an eye on are the bumps and seams in ACS’ asphalt surface, all of which can prove very tough to deal with. It was one of those seams in Turn 2 that caused Will Power’s early spin and crash in last year’s season finale there – which in turn helped enable Ryan Hunter-Reay to take the championship at the end of the night via a fourth-place result.
As you’ve probably gathered, setting up the car to handle ACS’ tricky surface will be every bit as important as having loads of horsepower.
Click the video above to take a virtual lap around ACS, and be sure to tune in to the MAV TV 500 this Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra for your online or mobile device.