Monday, July 16, 2012

Pivotal #EdmontonIndy May Prove P2P Strategy Key To Winning

Edmonton Indy race start last year - The secret to the IndyCar engine’s success is how its twin turbochargers boost performance and throttle response. With the ability to reach 12,000 rpm, the power plant is the highest-revving direct injection engine in current racing competition. Image Credit: Edmonton Indy (2011)

Pivotal #EdmontonIndy May Prove P2P Strategy Key To Winning

Going into the 11th race in a shortened 15 race season, the driver’s championship is as competitive as ever. Ryan Hunter-Reay has vaulted into first place after winning three straight races, while the Franchitti, who won his fourth drivers’ championship in 2011, has struggled. He’s in eighth spot, 13 points ahead of Briscoe.

The last two years ended in disappointment for the Penske driver, Will Power, who ended up in P2 on the last race of the season, and up until he lost his left front tire to a Josef Newgarden weakened broken wing section that came off and caused a puncture, he looked as though he would be able to retain the points lead built upon with three season wins of his own.

Last year, Will Power was behind Dario Franchitti and needing a win to get back into contention after loosing points in Toronto. This year, Power is pretty much in the same position but this time his chief rival is Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay who is ahead by 34 points by winning on two ovals and one road course. The Achilles heel for Penske and Will Power in securing a championship has always been ovals. Edmonton represents a must win situation as it did last year for Will Power but all things are not the same.

First off, we find ourselves in the infancy of the DW12 era with new engines. It appears that this new chassis outfitted with the Chevrolet engine, performs a little better than the Honda engine under racing conditions. Of the top five drivers in the points chase, four of the five are powered by Chevrolet engines (P1 – Ryan Hunter-Reay, P2 – Will Power, P3 – Helio Castroneves, P5 – James Hinchcliffe). The only Honda to spoil the “bowtie” party for the championship is Scott Dixon in P5.

Secondly, the IZOD IndyCar Series has decided to add another wrinkle into the mix for Street/Road courses – of which four of the last five races are to be contested. This driver controlled element to performance is called Push-to-Pass or P2P. These new engines are outfitted with a turbo-charger which boosts additional power through compression to the engine and the P2P gives each driver additional boost controlled by a button on the steering wheel for a total of 100 seconds.

Rexall Edmonton Indy Speedway - Edmonton City Centre Airport IndyCar race track configuration detail - pre-2011 in yellow / 2011 configuration in blue [ctrl-click image for "A virtual lap of the Edmonton Indy" video]. Image Credit: (2011)

The reason P2P is very important to a driver’s strategy at Edmonton is because of the unique character of the new layout introduced just last year (so the contending drivers have seen the track before). The track is a 2.25 mile temporary road course set up on an airport runway/tarmac in Edmonton.

The course is unusual in that it tracks counter-clockwise and features 13 turns, a nasty hairpin turn that separates two long straights made from a landing/takeoff runway, and another slightly curved straight that dives into another situation similar to ” Turn 3″ at the end of the only high speed straight in Toronto.
Turn 1 out of the pits and at the end of the long straight past the Start/Finish line (the longest of the new layout). The corner is an unusual left hand power turn (120%) that leads to a speed section with a slight right-hand kink at Turn 2 and a high-speed left/right jig at turns 3 and 4.

The second kinked straight ends at Turn 5 in another hard left-hand turn (curved 180%) that tracks through a curvy section that was used in the previous layout.

Lastly, starting at turns 10 and 11, a long 150 mph straight made from a landing/takeoff runway that ends in a nasty hairpin at turn 13 that starts the process over again with the longest straight (3/4th of a mile – nearly 200 mph) in this course.

Whoever has the best strategy to manage and where to engage the 100 seconds of P2P just may end up having the advantage on this course.

Again, turns #1, #5, and #13 are pivotal to the fortunes (or lack thereof) of these teams and drivers and the  Edmonton Indy is uniquely situated in the season, with just 5 races left, to set the tone to the end – Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, Grand Prix of Baltimore, and the season finale at Auto Club Speedway.

… notes from The EDJE

Event Information:

Edmonton Indy, Edmonton, AB, City Centre Raceway, Knockout Qualifications, ending with the Firestone Fast Six – 2:00 to 3:15PM ET Sat. July 21, Race Coverage – 11:00AM to 4:00PM ET Sun. July 22 on NBC Sports

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