Indy A Tough Track To Master

There are several tracks on the NASCAR Winston Cup schedule which are considered difficult to driver. Andy Petree Racing driver Bobby Hamilton picks Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the site of this weekend’s Brickyard 400, pointing out that the track’s four corners provide challenges for cars at high speed.

Because of that speed, IMS has installed the SAFER Barrier “soft wall” to protect drivers. The walls are placed in the turns to lessen the impact of a 3,400-pound stock car when it hits the barrier. During testing last week and the week before, most drivers didn’t even notice the new barrier, which will be used in NASCAR competition for the first time this week.

Why do you think Indy is the hardest track to race on in the Winston Cup Series?

“It has four distinct corners that we go into wide open, but you have to approach each one of them differently. Most tracks we race at allow you to take your car and flow into a corner, which helps you into the next one. The smoother you are, the better you come off that last corner. In Indy it’s different. We go wide open down the straightaway and then go into a sharp corner. Instead of flowing into the next corner, we have to straighten up the wheel and then turn all over again. One turn doesn’t help you slide into the next one because you have to approach it different than the one you just came off of. If you make a mistake, it is a long time before you are back at that spot to try it differently the next time. It’s fast there and a lot depends on your horsepower, but you have to focus on those four turns.”

Did you notice the soft wall program during the test session? Was the diamond-cut groove a big difference?

“I forgot all about the soft walls when I was there testing. I didn’t even notice them when I went around the track. I guess because my focus is not on the walls, but on the turns. If I am looking at the walls for some reason, it’s usually not a good one.

“I didn’t notice a lot about the grooving that everyone was hyped up about either. It’s good that they are trying to improve the facilities and make it friendlier to race on. It makes you feel better coming to places where they are applying technology to make our sport safer.

“This place has a lot of history. I haven’t always ran well here, but after the test session we felt pretty good about some things we figured out. I am anxious to test them during practice and see if other teams found out the same things that we did.”

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