IndyCar mandated that both Chevy and Honda reinforce their aero kits before the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana this weekend. We got a chance to see these changes first hand during the free practice sessions on Friday. Here’s a look at what each manufacturer did to combat the debris problem we saw in St. Petersburg.
Chevy had two main regions to focus on when it came to making their adjustments: the front wing upper endplate and the rear bumper pod. Starting with the upper element, Chevy bulked up the part by adding four bolts and a reinforcement ring to the base of the upper and attaching that to the wing (shown in black with four silver bolts above). This reduces the chance of the upper being broken in the case of car to car contact on the side. This piece was very fragile in St. Pete and was a relatively simple fix.
Next we head to the rear of the car where Chevy has reinforced the bumper pod. They added a bar on the inside of the pod going diagonally from the left front to the right rear. This is highlighted in yellow on the No. 22 car above. The addition of this bar reduces the likelihood of the pod crumpling in or losing its form during contact.
Honda’s changes to their aero kit were all centered at the front of the car, specifically on the front wing endplate. Honda has added two carbon fiber-esque pieces to the inside and outside of the front wing endplate to strengthen it. This is pictured in Derrick Walker’s hands below. The pieces glue on and add a good amount of structural support to prevent the plate from breaking in the event of contact.
The same piece, although slightly wider, has been added on the bottom side of the wing below the endplate, too. This helps support the three flap setup Honda has gone with on their kit, which is quite fragile as we’ve seen. These reinforcement pieces should make the wing that much stronger and make it less likely to break after light contact.
NOLA Motorsports Park is a fairly wide track with lots of run-off area, so we may not see just how beneficial these additions are this weekend. However, when the series heads to Long Beach, another tight street course, next week, we will get a good look at how well the reinforced kits hold up.
IndyCar announced on Thursday that it has “mandated structural upgrades to strengthen designated Honda and Chevrolet bodywork components” ahead of this weekend’s race at NOLA Motorsports Park, according to a press release.
The modifications include the addition of components that will improve the overall strength of the bodywork for both manufacturer entries, Chevrolet and Honda. The components have been redesigned by each manufacturer and approved by IndyCar for implementation.
“We applaud both Honda and Chevrolet for their efforts to implement these changes,” said Derrick Walker, IndyCar President of Competition and Operations. “With a quick turnaround from St. Petersburg, our partners were very diligent in making these enhancements in time for this weekend’s event,” he said.
“We will continue this collaboration and expect additional improvements in the future.”
The upgrades introduced to the aero kits “were implemented to minimize the amount of damage to bodywork components in the event of car-to-car contact.”
“IndyCar delivers a quality racing product and we will always be proactive to implement changes that benefit our fans,” Walker added.
“These upgrades are a good first step that will make immediate improvements to the race this weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park.”
According to Rule 10.6.4.4 of the Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook, 20 points will be deducted for a non-minor engine repair. Eleven of the 12 Chevrolet engines in the field underwent repairs following the St. Petersburg race.
All Chevrolet and Honda competitors are using the first of their allotted four engines covering 10,000 miles for the season.
Engine manufacturers, drivers and entrants receive championship points corresponding to their finish in a race (points are awarded to both manufacturers’ top three race finishers). Bonus points are awarded to the corresponding driver who earns the Verizon P1 Award (one point) and the manufacturer leading the most laps (two points).
Manufacturers also can reap 10 points for each engine that reaches its 2,500-mile change-out limit. But 20 points will be deducted for an engine failing to complete its life cycle and 20 points will be deducted for an engine undergoing a non-minor repair that requires a component change, subject to INDYCAR approval. The latter is what occurred with the 11 Chevrolet engines.
Juan Pablo Montoya earned 50 points for the St. Petersburg race win, followed by Team Penske teammate Will Power’s 40 points for second and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan (35 points). Power earned Chevrolet a bonus point for claiming the Verizon P1 Award. Chevrolet-powered drivers led 105 of the 110 laps to earn two additional points, for a total of 128 for the race.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was the highest finisher among Honda drivers, in seventh place. He earned 26 points for the manufacturer, which totaled 70 points. Following the Chevrolet sanctions, Honda holds a 162-point advantage in the manufacturers’ championship heading into the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana on April 12.
We finally got our first look at aero kits on track and racing during the Grand Prix of St. Pete last Sunday.
|A look at the rear of Charlie Kimball’s Chevy aero kit during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. — Photo: John Cote|
Chevy power dominated the day and locked out the first two rows of the grid during qualifying.