In the Garage: Will The Record Fall At Indy This Year?

The full car display at Indianapolis of the new Honda Super Speedway car for the IndyCar Series. [Allan Brewer Photo]

Indianapolis—Honda Performance Development lead Allen Miller told a media luncheon on Friday that qualifying speeds for the Indianapolis 500 could jump “four or five miles per hour” this year with the enhanced aerodynamic capabilities and engine developments achieved over the last year.

“We do expect faster speeds this year,” he said at the Honda Hospitality area inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Qualifying speeds of four, five miles an hour (faster). That’s not an unreasonable improvement this year.”

Last year’s pole-sitter at Indianapolis was Ed Carpenter sitting on a speed of 231.067 mph in a Chevrolet-powered vehicle. The track record at IMS is, of course, held by Arie Luyendyk and was set in 1996 at a speed of 237.498 mph.

If Miller’s analysis holds true fans will not see a new track record at this year’s 99th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing qualifications. However, it could be very close—within a mile or two per hour.

He did, however, offer some hope for those who crave a “new track record” at the Brickyard.

“I think we started pretty conservative (last weekend during initial track testing of the Honda aero kit),” he said, “and the results were good. So we’re hoping for even more over the next week.”

Miller also spoke to the (so far) advantage Chevrolet-powered teams seem to be enjoying over their Honda-powered rivals.

He said the company is working hard to correct the deficits within the aero-kit rules, and the gap between the two manufacturers seems to be closing.

He cited Graham Rahal’s outstanding performance at Barber Motorsports Park last weekend as example.

“Without going into specifics, we’ve started to identify where we have some deficiencies,” he said.

Honda has gone back to the basics with more computer fluid dynamics and wind tunnel work, continuing up to the present day. He indicated the research has been on 50% models of the chassis in the wind tunnel.

They have also added staff, both at the track and at HPD’s California headquarters, to bring their best competitive effort to bear. HPD now has over 50 additional staff working on their Indy 500 operation.

“We’re not allowed to make drastic changes,” he continued. “We’re just trying to figure out how to take advantage of what we have now and put it back in a better performance standard.”

“We’re taking every step we can,” he said, “through testing to try to improve it.”

One area in which Honda can take particular pride is in the safety improvements they have made to the Dallara DW12 chassis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The small midline wicker that runs from front wheel assembly to the driver cockpit that Honda introduced a week ago has now been made mandatory for all INDYCAR competitors, including Chevrolet.

The “mini-fin” along the front of the car helps to prevent rollover of the vehicle in an accident situation.

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