Story Credit: Jared DePouw
Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo
One of the biggest stories with the Universal Aero Kit is the impact that reduced downforce would have on tire degradation. So far throughout the 2018 season, we have seen an increase in tires wearing out over the course of stints. The main reason for this is that by having less downforce, the tires have to work harder to keep the car on the track. As such it only makes sense that the average lifespan of tires would decrease compared to previous years.
Drivers have been saying that a full tank of fuel could make it almost 90 laps, and that based on fuel alone the entire race can be done on only 2 pit stops. However given the extreme tire wear that happens at Iowa Speedway, expect to see cars begin to pit around 50-60 laps. In fact, the difference in speeds between new tires and those with about 60 laps on them is about 15mph so just imagine the difference at 90 laps when the fuel runs dry.
Busy Hands (and Feet)
Iowa Speedway is rough and bumpy. In fact, multiple drivers have referred to Iowa Speedway as “the Belle Isle of ovals.”
Having such a bumpy track means that drivers will be extra busy in the cockpit to keep the car facing the proper direction. Combine this with the changes brought by the Universal Aero Kit and you have a car which can be pushed to the limits even harder. “I think you can get a little bit more violent with it, in a good way, in that if the car starts reacting aggressively, you’re sliding all over the place, you can save it” said Josef Newgarden.
“It gives you a lot of opportunity to save it, and I also think it invites you to drive the car a lot more sideways, which is fun for us as drivers, and I think visually it looks better, so hopefully that translates and you see a little bit on the on-board cameras, and I hope that translates to the race.”
Expect to see a lot of passing in the race, especially once cars begin to pit and the field breaks sequence. Last year we had 12 lead changes and a total of 255 on-track passes for position, nearly 1 per lap. Having a track with nearly 3 full lanes for cars to take and having to lift in the corners will greatly help with the excitement compared to tracks like Phoenix which only have 1 lane.
“Back in 2016 you were used to just being flat out and having baby lifts as the tires degrade, but really used to being flat on the throttle. And now right with new tires, you’re having to lift pretty early in the corner to try and make sure the front is going to be stuck, make sure you have enough rear grip underneath you” said Newgarden when asked about lifting.