Keselowski Expecting a Michigan Aerodynamic Wildcardby Kyle Pokrefky August 12, 2015 0 comments
Three weeks after its debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’s new high-drag aerodynamic package is scheduled to make its final appearance of the year this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
The high-drag, high-downforce package didn’t receive many positive reviews following its first race in the Brickyard 400 with various drivers labelling the package as ‘terrible’, ‘horrible’ and other various adjectives with negative connotations.
Entering its second race, there may be a possibility that drivers may change their tune on the package following the conclusion of Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
Speaking in a teleconference on Tuesday morning, Brad Keselowski stated that Michigan throws up several question marks as to if the aero package will behave any differently than it did at Indianapolis.
“Certainly it will be a bit of a wildcard race with the aero package,” Keselowski said. “That will be similar to what we race at Indianapolis with the Sprint Cup Series. We’re not really sure what to expect.
“Indianapolis was certainly a trial version, but Indianapolis and Michigan are two very, very different racetracks. So we really don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re ready for the challenge.”
What could make for an interesting contrast with the action seen at Indianapolis is the fact that Michigan boasts a much wider groove with drivers having enough room to run three-wide through a corner. Indianapolis on the other hand is (and likely always will be) a one-groove race course.
Despite the difference in the layouts of the two tracks, Keselowski still anticipates the cars to behave similarly to the way they did at Indianapolis when behind another car.
“I don’t expect it to be much different as far as the way the cars handle behind each other,” Keselowski stated. “Perhaps the only difference could be between the two tracks is Michigan has a much wider groove in theory and the potential to run different lanes in the corners.
“The way the aerodynamics work specifically a high‑draft package, you certainly want to be in line down the straightaway so you get the maximum effect of the loss of drag. But you want to be kind of staggered in the corners to try to keep the downforce in the corner where you need it to keep the car going through the corners as fast as possible.
“So Indianapolis you don’t have a lot of width to really pull that off. But I think at Michigan there is quite a bit more width to the track, especially down in turns three and four to where you could possibly pull that maneuver off.”
One thing Keselowski is certain on is that it will definitely be hot inside of the race cars throughout the duration of Sunday’s 200-lap race.
A major storyline surrounding the race weekend in Indianapolis was the heat that found itself being trapped underneath the cars as a result of not enough air getting into them during the draft. With the lack of cool air making its way into the cars, temperatures within the cars reached up to 140 degrees.
This weekend, Keselowski feels that the heat problems at Indy will be amplified and may result in more mechanical failures.
“I think the heat’s going to be even worse this weekend,” he said. “There is a large amount of concern across both the teams and the drivers, really all members, for this rules package coming up to Michigan. Specific to the fact that even though the track is wider and bigger, the significance of the draft is going to be even more important, so you’re going to have to stay in line as much as possible.
“As you stay in line, the car gets less and less air because that’s essentially how the draft works. And the speeds at Michigan are higher than they are at Indianapolis, which means the parts, specifically the drivetrain, are going to be even hotter.”
If anything, Indianapolis will have served as a test for the upcoming weekend in the Irish Hills.
“We kind of got a hall pass at Indianapolis with race day being a little bit later than normal with scheduling, and it was very cloudy most of the day and not quite as hot as we’ve been accustomed to in Indianapolis, where it appears that Michigan when we last checked the weather radar, it’s going to be full sun and mid‑80°, so that’s going to be the toughest race probably of the year physically with this rules package,” Keselowski continued.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images