Series veterans getting up to speed with new Indy cars

These cars are ‘very different beasts,’ a wide-eyed Hinchcliffe ‘ It was only a matter of time. Follow IndyStar Motor Sports Insider Jim Ayello on Twitter and Facebook: @jimayello.

Series veterans getting up to speed with new Indy cars

LONG BEACH, Calif. ‘— That didn’t take long. A little bit more than a month. That’s it. That’s how long it took Verizon IndyCar Series veterans to start feeling comfortable behind the wheel of a 2018 Indy car.

Think back to a month ago. Think back to the comments we heard after the first practice session of the season: a collective, holy (expletive).

When asked what part of the 14-turn St. Petersburg (Fla.) street circuit was the most challenging, eight-year veteran James Hinchcliffe coyly replied: ‘From Turn 1 to 14, I think, if I were to pick one.’

These cars are ‘very different beasts,’ a wide-eyed Hinchcliffe added with a chuckle. ‘Everything in the back of the car is different. Everything in the front of the car is different. The aero map is different, mechanically what it needs to be efficient, with the aero. Having to reprogram your brain as to what normal is with this car has been a huge challenge.”

It was the lack of downforce. For years, these drivers had grown used to a car that would stick to the track almost no matter what they did. They could throw it into corners and not have to worry much about losing control. Now they’re wheeling low-downforce cars that degrade’tires quicker than ever and makes them feel like they’re ‘driving on ice,’ as Graham Rahal put it after his second-place finish at the opener.

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  • Publisher: USA TODAY Sports
  • Date: 2018-04-14T00:12:57+00:00
  • Twitter: @usatodaysports
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Not to change the topic here:

What Drivers Are Saying about Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): “What a win for Team Penske at Phoenix. We feel that coming off that win, we’re going to be strong heading into Long Beach. The crew has worked hard on our street course program since St. Petersburg and we’re ready for the challenge. I know that it’s a race my team and I really want to win and we’re ready to put the No. 1 Verizon Chevy in the best spot to make that possible. Street courses are always fun but Long Beach is really special with the history of that place. It’s also awesome that Team Penske’s IMSA program will also be racing this weekend which gives fans even more to be excited about and we’ll all be cheering them on.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I’m really excited for the next round, the second street race of the year. The ABC Supply car was very fast in St. Pete. Hopefully, we will have a great car in Long Beach as well. It’s a track and a place I’ve never been to before so I’m pretty excited. We’ll work hard to minimize the problems we had in Phoenix. I think we have a fast car, we just need to concentrate and do a great job in the races.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda, 2017 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach winner): “I always say this, but we look forward to Long Beach every year. It’s one of the greatest events on the calendar, one of the longest-running events, one of the best attended… it’s definitely a highlight of the year. Last year was obviously pretty special taking the win! The entire team has had a really strong start to the season, and St. Pete went well for us, so we’re cautiously optimistic that our street course package is going to be strong. That said, Long Beach is a different racetrack than St. Pete, and with this new car, everyone is constantly improving, so we’re certainly not taking anything for granted. We’re going to have to work really hard to get the Arrow Electronics car at the front this weekend, but the team’s been doing an incredible job so far and hopefully, we can keep the momentum going.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “Life right now in INDYCAR is pretty good. I definitely can’t complain with how competitive we’ve been in the first two races. Long Beach is going to be a new challenge. We’re going to have to start from zero again, but I’m really happy with where we are as a team and how we’re working together. Hopefully, we can keep this little run of performance going and try to score some good points in the Lucas Oil car.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Long Beach has such an amazing history. It’s a truly iconic American event that started gaining a lot of popularity with Formula 1 back in the day. With the layout of the track, it’s one of the best street circuits anywhere around, and more importantly, you actually get to race there. It took me forever to get to victory lane there but we managed to accomplish that a few years ago, and I hope we can return to that form again this year in the PNC Bank car.”

  • Publisher: MotorSportsTalk
  • Date: 2018-04-13T16:06:06+00:00
  • Twitter: @MotorSportsTalk
  • Citation: Web link

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