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Iowa IndyCar post-qualifying quotes, Saturday notes

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NEWTON, Iowa – Here’s a number of notes and additional qualifying quotes from Saturday at the Iowa Corn 300, ahead of tonight’s final practice from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. CT.

NOTES

  • Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, told NBC Sports that he hopes the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule will be released “sometime in August,” which follows on a report from NBCSN contributor Robin Miller for RACER.com earlier this month.
  • Alexander Rossi’s No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda was a busy car in morning practice, for good reason. By running 125 laps, Rossi sought to mileage out his engine – and did so successfully with his Andretti Autosport team in the process of changing it out before final practice. Team strategist Bryan Herta said the team focused on full tank runs while Rossi “wasn’t too happy” with the patches.
  • Sebastien Bourdais made “a lot of changes” to his No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet which improved the car hugely from the test. And he’s done well in coming back at short ovals; he was 24th to ninth at Iowa last year and of course at Milwaukee, the race before that, went from 11th to win the race.
  • The only difference between the two Ed Carpenter Racing cars is their wing and camera mount accents.
  • The four Penske and four Andretti teammates each had media availabilities, although the funniest exchange of the day came when Juan Pablo Montoya – who remains in the orange DeVilbiss colors of his No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet – had to leave unexpectedly.
  • Here’s the exchange:

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, that’s for sure. We didn’t get a win yet. So we really want to — you can go. Go.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Can I go?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He has to go to a drug test. Make sure you get the bag, not the bag on the side.

QUALIFYING QUOTES

Josef Newgarden, No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet: “Our car was good but in hindsight wish we had a bit more. Still a great run. Has speed in it. I feel confident in it. I wish we had a tick more. It’s tough when you’re second! I’d rather be fifth than second. We have a great Fuzzy’s car.

“JR (Hildebrand) is great. He’s a diamond. Car was a rocketship last year so had a great base, and he added some pep. Added some things at the test to take it to next level. Figured it out with the bumps. JR is huge. Great teammate. It’s so fortunate to have him to work with.

“My hand is getting there. Not there where I want it. Still a little broken, but fine.”

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet: “I was hoping for a little better to be honest. Thought top five. Missed the balance a bit. It’s been a weird year. We haven’t had consistent cars with all of them on the same pace. I’m getting a little frustrated with… myself. Still feel good with where we are. Can’t quite put our finger on it. I shouldn’t let frustrations boil over. I just set the bar high.”

Max Chilton, No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet: “I was quite shocked to be honest with you, because I could tell on the out lap it was a bit loose! I knew my teammates were lifting… We went to their setup. Thought we should have stayed we were. Loose is not ideal… so on the first lap I saw a 3 (183) and thought, ‘Oh no, it’s not 83, it’s a 73.’ But it was near a pole time! So I kept it lit on the second lap. Jumped on radio, where am I, they said P3 good job. Great to be fastest Ganassi. Must have a good touch around this place. Tomorrow is what counts. We’ll work hard in the 30-minute session. As a rookie that’s a decent result.

“It’s not hugely different. Why it helps. I have the experience of winning last year and speeds aren’t hugely different, I know what it feels like in qualifying.”

Mikhail Aleshin, No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda: “Slippery I would say. Temperature is more hot. So the track was more slippery.”

Graham Rahal, No. 15 Mi-Jack/RLL Honda: “Similar aero package to Phoenix. I think what we face the most is aerodynamic inefficiencies. I think our engine is good. But a lot to overcome. Our competitors are allowed to improve as well.”

Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet: “Pretty good. Reasonably slippery. Surprised at how low grip it was. It was free. Slid around a lot. Started with a good car this morning. Learned a lot from Max who tested last week and Scott who tested in May. Haven’t seen this place in a year and that’s probably a good thing given how the bumps have changed!”

Tony Kanaan, No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet: “It went from a neutral track to an oversteer track. I wasn’t expecting it at all to be honest. We haven’t changed car at all. Same car 17.2 to 17.4. Other series running. Track almost 25 degrees hotter. Caught me by surprise. I don’t know where we will end up, but that was for sure I got out there.

“It’s actually worse now [on the low line] because ARCA ran a lot. I’m comfortable both lines but it will still be pretty tough.

“It’s lot bumpier in 3 and 4. With old tires you have tendency to slide a lot more. And it’s bumpy. A lot will try to run the high line. Low line who can run it, might be a big advantage.

“You can’t compare a night race to a day race. I think everyone will start race conservative. When you pit here, if it’s under green, you lose 3 laps.”

Conor Daly, No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda: “Our test wasn’t great. But we figured out how it would change. Car was sketchy to drive. So stacked on a ton of downforce but we could drive it. To run same lap as Hunter-Reay. We weren’t too far away from Hondas. We know we have a lot more to gain. We were OK today but the next session is the key. For us as tires go away it’s interesting. 1 and 2 is so different than 3 and 4.”

Latest INDYCAR Aeroscreen test continues to provide feedback; data to series

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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RICHMOND, Virginia – After completing its third Aeroscreen test since October 2, INDYCAR continues to collect valuable data and feedback from the drivers and engineers involved in testing.

The latest test of the Aeroscreen came Tuesday, October 15 at Richmond Raceway, a .750-mile short oval. Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been involved in testing dating all the way back to 2017 at Phoenix with the original “Windscreen.” Tuesday’s test was the first-time two-time NTT IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was able to test the device that partially encloses the cockpit proving greatly enhanced driver safety.

It was also the first time the current “Aeroscreen” designed and created by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Pankl and Dallara has been tested at a short oval – a track that measures under 1.5-miles in length.

The previous tests were at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 2 and the Barber Motorsports Park road course on October 7.

“It wasn’t a problem getting in the car today and relearning a new viewpoint,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com at the conclusion of Tuesday’s test. “It felt like a new viewpoint. It’s still an Indy car. It still feels like an Indy car. The car does a lot of the things it did before. It required some slight tuning differences to accommodate a different center of gravity and different total weight.

“Overall, it still felt like the same Indy car I drove three weeks ago. You get used to that new viewpoint within 30 or 40 laps. It was alien at first but halfway through the day it feels like home again.”

Newgarden’s Team Penske test team along with INDYCAR officials worked on changes to getting air into the cockpit and directing the air to the right place where the driver can utilize it.

“We’ve come up with some solutions that we like,” Newgarden said. “INDYCAR and the teams will continue to fine-tune this. That is why we are doing these tests. The main goal was to figure this out and fine-tune this stuff. We have come up with a lot of good solutions to all of the little things we have talked about that we have needed so when Sebastien Bourdais goes to Sebring (on November 5), it will just be another version.

“We are already close. Because they are such small details, it feels like normal racing stuff and we will come up with solutions for that.”

Some drivers who have participated in the Aeroscreen test has said, they almost feel naked without having the halo-like structure with a clear windshield protecting them on the race car.

“Once we got through a whole IndyCar season, if you took it off, it would feel really strange,” Newgarden said. “People adapt so quickly to a change, what the car looks like. Once you give us a couple of races and a full year, it will feel like home and something we are very used to as drivers.

“It is already starting to get that way. People are feeling more comfortable with it. The field of view is almost identical to the way it was before. Your peripheral vision is identical, the way you look out the front of the cars is identical, the way you see the tires is identical.”

Individual driver preference will allow for shading of the sun and that can be accomplished with the visor strips on the helmet and the tear-offs on Aeroscreen.

Drivers will also have a bit of a quieter atmosphere inside the cockpit. The partial enclosure makes it easier to hear his radio communication and the sounds of the engine in the driver’s car. It partially blocks out the sounds of the engines in the other cars and the rush of wind traveling at high speeds that used to buffet in and around the helmet.

“It has changed the noise level slightly inside the cockpit,” Newgarden said. “For me, it wasn’t super dramatic. It’s a slight reduction in wind noise. You’re not getting the wind directly over your head as dramatically as you would before. All that external noise has just been dimmed.

“You can hear the radio a touch better, things like that. But the engine noise is still quite prominent. It’s bolted directly behind us, so you still hear quite a bit of what’s going on in the car and the engine.”

Dixon was in the car at Indianapolis on October 2 and returned on Tuesday. The Barber test on October 7 included this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, in a Team Penske Chevrolet and Ryan Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Autosport Honda.

“The only differences are the openings on the front wing that creates some more airflow around the legs and body and a different inlet in the screen that was in place today,” Dixon told NBC Sports.com. “There were helmet cooling options since the Barber test because on the road course, some of the drivers were getting a little hotter.

“This project has been very in-depth. It hit the ground running very smoothly. There are some alternate options they are trying to create, especially on the street courses where we will experience hot condition. On street conditions, your depth perception changes because of how close you are to the walls, but we should get used to that.”

Two weeks ago, Team Penske driver Will Power said it takes a different style to get out of the race car because of the added height of the Aeroscreen.

That hasn’t been a problem for Dixon.

“That’s easy, man,” he said. “Just go through the hole in the top.”