Upgraded metal curbing inside Turn 5 has finally stopped cars from cutting that corner
Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach From the Track

What People Aren’t Talking About at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Story Credit: Jared DePouw
Photo Credit: Jared DePouw

Bad things about the new car

Just about everyone agrees that the new universal aero kit has been the greatest thing to happen to IndyCar in a very long time. But I wanted to know if there was anything that the drivers didn’t like about the car. Well apparently you’d be hard pressed to find a driver with anything bad to say about the new car. “Honestly, it’s really good” said Josef Newgarden. “It sounds silly because everybody is like, wow, this car is amazing, feels good, looks good, it’s different, but it is an improvement. They’ve done a really good job. It looks much better. It’s very difficult to drive now, especially from what we’ve come from. You’ve gotten used to this blanket of downforce, very high downforce cars where you can get aggressive with the way you drive the car. Now you still drive the car aggressively, but you really have to watch all your inputs, and it makes it a lot more difficult just from a driving standpoint, from a setup standpoint, so you have to think about what you’re doing, what you’re compromising. There’s not a lot that I think we dislike about it. I think it’s good.”

But there was one thing that Newgarden would like to see. “I think we still want more power. I think that’s probably the No. 1 thing we’re still looking for, but that’s coming. IndyCar is planning on bringing that forward in the next couple years, so I don’t think we have many complaints about it.”

And in fact IndyCar is planning on allowing Chevy & Honda to make major improvements to their engines over the next few years. Having the universal aero kits will allow the manufacturers to spend their money on engine development instead of aero kit development. Now while the days of 1,000hp engines doesn’t seem to be on the horizon, any amount of increased engine power will do nothing but help the Indy car go that much faster.

The weather

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend 4 full days here in Long Beach, and what a difference in weather compared to my home in Grand Rapids, MI. It’s been nearly 80° and sunny everyday here in Long Beach, until today. While the morning warm-up session was sunny, the clouds began to roll in the late afternoon. So to get an idea of how this would impact the race, I spoke with Ben Bretzman, Race Engineer for Simon Pagenaud. “Hopefully the tires will hold on a little better,” said Bretzman. “It was hot yesterday, track temp was real hot. So probably won’t be as bad of degradation in the tires but we’ll see. People will be playing with downforce levels a little bit also to see if they can get an advantage on the straight here since you’re on the straight for 14 seconds.”

Ed Jones, who finished third, added “Degradation wasn’t really much of a factor for us. I think getting up to speed was a bit more difficult because of the cooler conditions, and for us anyway, the balance usually when it was hotter was quite different to the cooler conditions, and I think that helped us in our position quite a bit.”

Turn 5

If there was one turn here at Long Beach that was the easiest to cut, it would easily be Turn 5. The wide right-hander has commonly been prime for cutting as in years past there was only minor curbing there which did little to deter cars from cutting the corner. However, for this year the track decided to upgrade the curbing to this:

Upgraded metal curbing inside Turn 5 has finally stopped cars from cutting that corner

That’s right, metal curbing which will stop cars from driving over them. This was proven during the race when Ryan Hunter-Reay drove over the curbing by accident and immediately punctured his right-rear tire. Strangely enough I did see IMSA and PWC cars driving right over the curbing with no issues, but the first time an IndyCar drives over it a tire goes flat.

Jared DePouw
Jared is the founder of RealOpenWheel.com but works as a small business accountant. He also officiates high school football and lacrosse in his free time.

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