The push-to-pass test Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway didn’t get rave reviews from the four drivers on hand, but it did get their attention.
Experimenting with more boost for the 2023 engine, Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, Pato O’Ward and Scott Dixon ran alone and together in a pack to gauge the affects of the additional horsepower.
“I’m not sure if it was 50 or 60 more horsepower; the manufacturers never tell us,” said Dixon after parking his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda for the day. “But using the longer variation of P2P, it jumped our speed up 5-6-7 mph. With the draft, you arrive at the corner 10 mph faster than normal, and I think we all had some ‘Oh crap!’ moments, because it’s not what we’re used to.”
“I’m not a big fan of overtake on a superspeedway, because we’re all very vulnerable and sometimes crazy situations (arise) that aren’t necessarily good and might make the racing worse. It’s going to raise the speed and abuse the tires, so there are lots of questions to answer.”
Rossi is not a fan of push-to-pass at IMS either following his run in the Andretti Autosport Honda, and he had a solid reason.
“Indy is always a fuel-saving race and nobody is going to use theirs until the end. Then everyone is going to use it to defend, so it’s not going to change anything,” said the 2016 Indy 500 winner.
Newgarden represented Chevrolet (along with McLaren’s O’Ward), and said it was a learning experience in his Penske machine.
“It was an interesting day, a data-gathering day,” he said. “We ran the car in a couple of configurations with some good cars, and there were some good parts and some not so good. I don’t know that you necessarily need it here at Indianapolis, that’s my initial feeling. Maybe we try to implement it at a short oval.”
Newgarden was more impressed with what this May could bring.
“The hole in the underwing is filled, we’ve got strakes on the car, and there are more aero parts you can play with as a team. I think we’re all looking forward to that.”