The Verizon IndyCar Series announced plans for their new 2018 Dallara aero kits at the Detroit Auto Show on Thursday.
One driver who was at the media round table discussion was Team Penske’s new signing Josef Newgarden who replaces Juan Pablo Montoya in the No.2 Chevrolet alongside series champion Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Will Power while for the first time in their history Team Penske will run five cars at the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil as Juan Pablo Montoya will be in a fifth car.
Speaking about the new aero kit, Newgarden commented by saying:
You know, I mean, this is actually the first time I’ve seen these, too, so I’m with you guys in this boat, and obviously we’re going to have some private discussions next week with INDYCAR, which is really fun for the drivers, they really try and take our feedback and get with us before they do anything. So that’ll be fun.
But one of the things I really liked hearing from Jay is that what drivers have been screaming about for a long, long time is that we want more bottom side performance from the race car, we don’t want to rely on the top. You have to remember the racing product has been really, really good. It’s not like we’ve had a bad racing product. We have a great racing product. I think we just want to make it what you always want to make it. You’re always striving to make the car more difficult to drive, provide more separation in the talent of the drivers, and then make the racing product better. And I think that’s — the first thing that stands out to me, it’s kind of cool looking seeing the concepts of the side pods shrinking, the floor becoming a more prominent element, again, and then obviously there’s the Kardashian discussion of the rear. I think it looks really cool, and I’m excited to see more of it next week.
But if you want to take something from a driver, I think everything that Jay is saying is exactly what we’ve always been looking for, so it’s really exciting, and I always love hearing from Jay because he does a great job as well as all of INDYCAR, they’re really doing a great job of listening to what we want, what the team wants, and what’s going to work for the series and the manufacturers. It’s exciting to look at.
Newgarden was asked about the halo project which has been extensively tested by Formula One teams and was set to be introduced this season but instead will be introduced in 2018. Speaking about Halo and the Verizon IndyCar Series, Newgarden commented by saying:
Well, it’s obviously a sensitive topic, and I think you have a split — I don’t know if you’d want to call it split, understanding I’m not all drivers. That could be my take on it, and this is a driver’s take, this is coming from me personally, Josef Newgarden. I love the heritage and the history of open-wheel racing. I respect it. It’s why I’m in an open-wheel car. I don’t mind jumping in an Indy car the way it is right now. That’s the way I fell in love with it as a kid. I’ve got no problem jumping in a race car as it currently sits and driving in it. I think anyone will pretty much tell you that for the most part. There’s always going to be inherent risks to racing. You’re never going to get away from that.
I think the biggest thing INDYCAR is trying to do is put in their due diligence for what they’re trying to find. You can’t just make a knee-jerk reaction to something like this. You never know what type of knock-on effects you could have of just throwing something on a car and not being responsible about it.
When I look at just going into 2017 I feel very comfortable to get back in the car. Always have. I’ve got no problem with what we’re doing. I’m exciting to go racing in 2017 in an Indy car. But going into the future, I get to talk with JR Hildebrand every now and then, and he’s a really smart guy and fun to talk to, and I think he put it best that we’re going to be able to find a solution at some point that keeps within the spirit of open wheel racing and open cockpit cars and advance the safety of that. So what’s that going to look like? I think we’re working on it right now, and that’s exactly what Jay said. I think that’s coming down the pike, and I’m comfortable with that. I think we’re going to find something. We’re working on it. Formula 1 is doing the same thing. You don’t see them throwing something on the car right away, and that’s exactly what’s happening on the INDYCAR side, too?
Newgarden went on to say:
I think from the driver’s side, you always have questions. You go into the race shop, I got a question every day, tons of questions about what we’re doing, what we’re working on, and I think it’s kind of the same thing when you get to see the folks at INDYCAR and the leadership and the management. You kind of want to know where are we going, what are we doing, that’s our goals, what’s our thought process, what could we see in the next five years, and that’s what’s really encouraging. I like hearing from Jay quite a bit because I really think him as well as the other leadership part of INDYCAR, they’re really listening to what everyone wants, and from a global standpoint. So the drivers have things they want, the teams have things they want, the manufacturers have things they want. So when I ever get an opportunity to talk to Jay or any of the other staff, I always ask, what’s the car going to look like, how is it going to perform, what’s our objectives and why are you doing what you’re doing, and you’re getting a little bit of a glimpse of that, and I am, too. Like Alex said, this is the first time I got to see these sketches, as well, and we’re going to get to see more of that next week, and I think they’ll try and key the drivers in to what’s going on and get our feedback and try and make things go forward.
Behind closed doors, we’re always trying to help from the driver’s side. What Alex is talking about on the racing side, we’ve had great racing. It’s not like we have something we need to fix, but we’re always looking to make it better, and yeah, we want to make the racing product the best on the planet, and how do we make it even better than it is right now? Well, trying to get rid of some of the effect of air behind cars is really the biggest thing. Shifting everything to the bottom of the car, not having the dirty air come from the top, the cars generally perform better, and I wasn’t — Jay kind of alluded to a test that they did last year, and I was banged up so I couldn’t do the test at mid-Ohio, but J.R. Hildebrand was in my car doing it and Tony Kanaan was in it and I’m sure you guys saw the article, but I was there and I got to watch them go through the process with the technical group, and they really studied every part of the car. They took parts on and off, and they studied every effect they had. They had tons of tires, so you run through 10, 12 sets of tires, and they really want to understand exactly why everything affects what.
I think they’ve gone through and done a lot of due diligence to figure out how do we make this car even better than it currently is, and they’re trying to do that while making it look sexy because I think all of us as car as race car guys, we want a sexy looking race car. We want people to show up, and you’ll get this from the drivers, when they come to the racetrack, you want them to be wowed by the race cars. Whenever you see it in the garage area, you see them on the track, you see them in pit lane, you want to be blown away by what you’re looking at because the cool thing about Indy cars and open wheel race cars in general is you can’t see these thing anywhere else. It’s not like a production car. I mean, it’s kind of like a fantasy almost which is what makes Indy cars so cool.
The sexy element, making them bad ass looking, that’s really, really critical, and we’re going to tie the performance into that, too, so it’s just encouraging to hear all those points that they’re trying to hit from the INDYCAR side.
Speaking about what he wanted to see at the show Newgarden commented by saying:
I mean, I liked the Chevy Traverse to be honest with you. It looks like a baby Tahoe. Maybe that’s not super performance driven, but it’s pretty cool. I just got — I just saw it for the first time, and apparently it just had really good reviews about it. I thought the Cadillac, that concept Cadillac big sedan was pretty cool. I forget what it was called. The Escala, yeah. I thought that thing was sweet. I’m pimping my brand a little bit.
But I haven’t had an opportunity, I do want to see everything else. We saw Mercedes a little bit, we want to see BMW, but I got to see Chevrolet, and they have some pretty cool stuff. So I think that Traverse was cool. I’d mark that down if people need to get a car or a crossover, and then the Escala was really neat for the future.
Newgarden wasn’t the only IndyCar driver at the show as 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi was also in attendance with pair joking about the different cars, Rossi said:
The Honda Ridgeline Black Edition. It’s functional and cool. No, but it’s pretty — it’s all blacked out. It’s pretty cool.
While in response Newgarden commented by saying:
Not as cool as the Traverse, but that’s OK. It has a cooler in the trunk for all your Dr. Pepper/Snapple products, even though that’s not our thing anymore.
You know, Chevrolet is really doing a great job of integrating Verizon and the technology that Verizon brings through their cell phones and wi-fi service. The 4G, LTE, it really pairs well with the Chevrolet. You can’t get by that. It’s just — it’s science.