1. INDYCAR provides aero options for teams at Texas
2. Bourdais ready for challenge of Texas
3. Andretti Autosport claims top pit honor at Belle Isle
4. Of note
1. INDYCAR provides aero options for teams at Texas: Verizon IndyCar Series teams will have the option of increasing downforce by about 300 pounds over the 2013 maximum aerodynamic specification for the Firestone 600 on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The more downforce, the more the car is pinned to the racetrack.
Using tools available to reach the higher downforce on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval would result in 50 pounds of drag on the chassis (with temperatures and pressures identical to 2013), which would slow the car but likely have less drop-off in tire degradation through fuel stints in the 248-lap (four-stop) race.
INDYCAR worked out the aero package with driver input and in collaboration with Firestone Racing during a mid-April test at the speedway. Firestone will supply the same tire specification and construction was used at Texas and the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval in 2013.
The option would put the field closer to the 2012 specifications, which Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon called "a perfect situation."
"It's a lot like Fontana. If you have a good car you can race yourself to the front and stay there but you have to keep following it because as it cools off throughout the night the track and the cars change," Charlie Kimball, driver of the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing car, said of the race under the lights.
Mikhail Aleshin, Jack Hawksworth, Carlos Huertas and Carlos Munoz will compete on the 24-degree-banked oval for the first time.
"The banking comes up very fast in the turns at Texas, which makes the car loose," Aleshin said. "I've spent the whole week leading up to the race watching previous years' races on the track. I know we'll have more downforce this year than the drivers did last year, so hopefully that will give us a bigger range of options to use for car setup."
2. Bourdais ready for challenge of Texas: Sebastien Bourdais has raced on some of most famous circuits in the world, but he remains a newcomer when it comes to Texas Motor Speedway.
The four-time Champ Car champion made first start at the 1.5-mile oval in 2013, but he's confident in his car heading into the Firestone 600 at TMS.
"I have only raced once in an IndyCar at Texas Motor Speedway, but we tested there after Long Beach," the Frenchman said. "The test went well. We started with our baseline setup and then worked on some changes that I think will help us this weekend.
"TMS is a physically demanding oval. It has high banking in the turns and because of the way it is laid out you spend most of your time turning at high speed pulling a lot of Gs."
Bourdais finished seventh in the Indianapolis 500, the first oval race of the season. He's looking to maintain that momentum at Texas, which is essentially a "home" race for KVSH Racing.
"Sulli (James "Sulli" Sullivan), one of the partners in KVSH Racing is from (Texas) and we are going to have a lot of sponsor guests attending the race," Bourdais said. "I feel we can have a good race."
3. Andretti Autosport claims top pit honor at Belle Isle: The No. 27 United Fiber & Data Andretti Autosport team of James Hinchcliffe won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for both races on the Belle Isle circuit May 31 and June 1. Firestone awards the team with the shortest amount of accumulated time on pit lane $5,000 during doubleheader weekends.
For each Verizon IndyCar Series event this year, with the exception of the Indianapolis 500-mile race, the team with the shortest amount of accumulated time on pit lane will be awarded $10,000.
4. Of note: The No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry will sport a red, white and blue chrome livery with primary sponsorship of Strike, a leading single-source North American energy services provider, for the Firestone 600 and Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers doubleheader June 28-29...Tim White is the new chief mechanic for the No. 11 KVSH Racing car driven by Sebastien Bourdais...USF2000 competitors Austin Cindric and Colton Herta are taking advantage of a break in the schedule to do some racing in Texas. Both are competing in the GRC Lites event in Austin, Texas this weekend.