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Teams Set to Tackle Revised Track Layout at IMS

TUDOR Championship teams tackle new GP layout at IMS…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Indianapolis Motor Speedway has leveled the playing field by providing a revised race course for Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix.

While the GRAND-AM Rolex Series raced at Indy the past two years on a 2.534-mile layout, this weekend’s competition will be on a 14-turn, 2.435-mile layout that was first used by IndyCar in May.

“Based on what we saw with the IndyCar race, I think it’s going to be good,” said Scott Pruett, who will drive the No. 01 Telcel Ford EcoBoost/Riley.

“There are more passing zones, and will add a new element to the race. We’ll pretty much have to [throw away our old notes]. They’ve repaved the whole place and changed the layout, so pretty much everything we’ve learned over the years without a doubt is not going to carry forward.”

Pruett was a four-time competitor in the Indianapolis 500, leading eight laps in his final race in 1995.

Christian Fittipaldi was that year’s Rookie of the Year with a second-place finish. He feels that the paving will be the biggest difference from the past two years.

“I don’t think the course will be that much different,” said Fittipaldi, who co-drives the Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP with Joao Barbosa. “They added a chicane on the last corner, and changed a little bit in the infield. But all in all, it’s pretty much the same track – but with a lot more grip.

“Last year the cars were sliding all over the place, but this year it should be a lot more interesting – not only for us drivers, but for the fans as well. I think the racing is going to be a lot closer, and we’re going to see more overtaking maneuvers.”

Barbosa agrees with his teammate.

“I think it’s going to improve the racing,” Barbosa said. “The Speedway did a great job resurfacing the track. We have a lot more grip, so we should be able to go racing a lot better. The track configuration changed a little bit, but the overtaking and braking zones are still pretty much the same. I think it will be better racing, for sure.”

The changes to the course will be only one of the changes that defending winner Ryan Dalziel encounters this year.

After winning the 2013 event in a Daytona Prototype for Starworks Motorsport, Dalziel now drives an HPD ARX-03b/Honda Prototype for Extreme Speed Motorsports, joining Scott Sharp in the No. 1 Tequila Patrón entry. Unlike many of his former DP competitors, Dalziel recently had the opportunity to test on the revised layout.

“We had a great test at Indianapolis with ESM, and we feel we’ll have a good car there,” Dalziel said. “The new layout is very different, and the improvements are all good.”

Winners of the Rolex Series GT class in 2012, Andy Lally and John Potter now co-drive the Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America in the TUDOR Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class.

“It will definitely be a little different in how we drive it, but not how we approach it,” Lally said. “I’m not sure how the changes will suit our Porsche, but it will be interesting. I’m very happy with what they did with the old infield section, but I’m not sure about how the new section leading onto the front straight will work. We tested and we did OK, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Current Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Grand Sport (GS) points leader Trent Hindman is taking a “wait and see” attitude about the revised layout.

“I’m going to reserve judgment until I actually walk it and see it in person,” said Hindman, who finished fourth at Indy last year in his Continental Tire Challenge debut. “The track looks quite a bit different, but it’s still Indy. We hope to be just as competitive as we were last year.”

Street Tuner (ST) points leader Eric Foss will be competing in his first Continental Tire Challenge race at Indy, although he raced in the 2012 Rolex Series race for Park Place Motorsports and participated in the initial Continental Tire test in 2011.

“I think the new chicane (Turns 13 and 14) is going to provide a lot of passing opportunities,” Foss said. “Murillo Racing is working on making our BMW more maneuverable in the low-speed corners. The changes will definitely create more action for the fans.”

So on one hand, the race course used for TUDOR Championship and Continental Tire Challenge competitors will feature a revised layout with new paving.

While that may make for some changes in the racing, one factor remains constant: it’s still the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and all of the IMSA competitors are looking forward to making the best of their opportunity to “kiss the bricks” after winning on Friday.

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