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PHOTO: INDYCAR, CHRIS OWENS

Episode 35: IndyCar Oval Aerokits

Perfect weather greeted teams and fans alike for opening day of the Indianapolis 500 this past Sunday. May 3rd kicked off the start of a month of testing and events leading up the the 99th running at the famous track, and so far its shaping up to be quite a race!

The big news of the weekend was the on track debut of the oval aero kits from Chevy and Honda. Honda’s front wing features a traditional rectangular planform, while Chevy opted a more elliptical trailing edge.

On the side pods, Honda doesn’t stray too far from the road course design by removing the winglets in front of the rear tires and raising the fairings to compensate. Meanwhile, Chevy removes the dive planes from the rear wheel fairings, giving a clear view of the channel between fairing and the rear of the side pod.

Out back, both camps have gone with smaller, single element rear wings, ditching the high downforce road wings. Honda has kept their winglet extensions, while Chevy relies on the main wing alone.

Several teams were also testing slight variations of the kits. A small number of Chevy teams featured small gurney flaps on the front wing, and Helio Castroneves’s car had some extra slats near the rear of the side pods. A few Honda teams were also trying out new cooling inlet geometry.

While the battle for lap times will surely heat up as the month goes on, Chevy cars had a slight advantage on Sunday, claiming four of the top 5 spots, and 6 of the top ten. Juan Pablo Montoya set the fastest lap of 226.722mph aboard his Team Penske Chevy. Fellow Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud claimed second and fifth respectively, while Marco Andretti was the sole Honda driver in the top five, taking third. Scott Dixon of target chip gannasi was fourth. Currently 1.79mph separates the top ten drivers. Speeds will likely climb and the gap will tighten as qualifying gets closer, but for now the single lap track record set of 237.498MPH set by Arie Luyendyk looks like its in no danger of falling.

Expect to see more changes as the month continues as every team claws for an edge, likely right up to race day. Be sure to tune in to the Slipstream podcast for a more in depth look at the aero kits in the coming weeks. The lead up to the 500 should be an exciting one this year.

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