Sam Schmidt says full-speed ahead for new IndyCar

(via Las Vegas Review-Journal) – Sam Schmidt said the new IndyCar unveiled this week is sleeker and cheaper than the current one.

In time, he thinks it also will be faster.

“The idea is to break Arie’s record,” the Henderson team owner said in citing two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk’s four-lap qualifying record of 236.986 mph set in 1996.

Luyendyk set the speed standard in a year-old Championship Auto Racing Teams machine — the same style of car that inspired the new design.

Two 2018 cars — one Honda powered, one Chevrolet — were taken on shakedown cruises at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was selected to oversee the Honda prototype, which Schmidt called a big honor.

“I think we checked all the boxes,” said Schmidt, who also was featured in last week’s episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage” on CNBC. “It’s the look of the heyday of the 1990s without the big engine cover.

“We added a lot more downforce under the car with less bolt-on components, and that will save money for all the teams. All of it is very exciting, and the feedback from the (test) drivers (Juan Pablo Montoya and Oriol Servia) has been very exciting.”

The hope is that by eliminating expensive aero kits and transferring the road-gripping downforce they produced under the tub, the cars will be able to race closer together and pass more often — not that either has been an issue at Indianapolis, which over the past few years has produced some of the most exciting racing on the planet.

Schmidt said the aero kits were a “disaster” from the day they were announced. The chief reason given for add-on wings and bodywork was to make the cars look different from one another, but, as Schmidt said, “Ninety-nine percent of fans don’t notice the difference.”

While the IndyCar teams will incur a one-time cost to convert their current cars to the new spec, it is hoped the cheaper, streamlined design ultimately will lead to more teams entering the sport, and maybe even new engine suppliers.

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