For all of its oval races outside of the Indianapolis 500, the NTT IndyCar Series wants to make its teams have a modest increase in downforce available for use if the conditions warrant the uptick or the drivers feel it would offer an advantage.
The method to dial up downforce will come from optional bolt-on devices called ‘barge boards’ that affix to the leading edge of each car’s floor on the left and right below the sidepods. The small pieces will be allowed at Texas Motor Speedway, and thanks to a new design from Dallara, a second and different set of barge boards will also be optional for Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Speedway.
“We’re going to add downforce to three oval events,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER. “We’re big believers of less downforce and more horsepower, and we’ve gone to the UAK18 bodywork a few years ago that downforce down and we have the new 2.4-liter hybrid engine coming in next year which is the horsepower piece. But we also think that a little bit more downforce at these three ovals could enhance these events.
“So you don’t have to run the barge boards, which we think is key. We want to leave it in the drivers’ and the teams’ hands. We’re not mandating it. But it just gives them the opportunity to do it. We already tested the barge boards at Texas, and this can add approximately nine to 10 percent, or about 200 pounds of downforce part. We’ve spoken to the drivers and teams and they are good with it.”
Limited to racing on the bottom lane due to the application of PJ1 traction compound on the upper sections of the 1.5-mile TMS oval at NASCAR’s request, the bump in downforce for the March 20 XPEL 375 at Texas could prove to be a valuable option to consider with IndyCar’s slippery superspeedway aero package.
For the shorter 0.875-mile Iowa bullring and the 1.25-mile WWTR oval near St. Louis, which use versions of IndyCar’s road course package, the new barge boards contribute a smaller amount to the base high-downforce aerodynamic configuration.
“So at Iowa and WWTR, Dallara’s developed another optional piece which could add approximately 3-percent downforce to the cars, so about 150 pounds,” Frye added. “Our key is to make races as entertaining as we can possibly can, and if you remember a couple years ago at Iowa, it had like 995 on-track passes. And we think we can make WWTR even better. This just gives a little something more to lean on.”