Andretti expects tire deg at Texas despite shortened stints
Marco Andretti says that Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.44 miles will remain demanding on IndyCar’s tires, despite the series imposing a 35-lap limit on each set.
Andretti, heading into his 15th season as an IndyCar driver, said: “Texas always puts on a heck of a show. I actually like how it's been running. It's almost running like a high-speed short oval now because there's a decent amount of deg (tire degradation) after a couple laps on a stint.
“It might be easy for a couple laps for whoever is running out front, but then it gets… not strung out, but you have to work to pass cars. It's not going to be as pack racy. Maybe at the restarts on newer tires, but I think the good cars will be able to go towards the front now.
“We're not going to have long stints. We're going to have 35-lap stints, so the deg won't be as bad. But just watching my onboard last year, still after five laps it gets very tough to drive, which I prefer.
“So yeah, I think it's going to be fun."
The Andretti-Herta Autosport driver also observed that with practice, qualifying and the race all packed into one day for this 2020 season-opener, the Genesys 300, teams would have to take care not to go down technical blind alleys.
“For me, I think the only difference is just a one-day show and having to go right away,” he said. “I don't mind. Is it different? I don't know. Our approach is different because of circumstances at the track that particular day.
“But our preparation is very much the same with our engineers, and we have to actually watch we don't get too creative with all this time off and just remember to stick to the basics because there's not a lot of practice. It's show up and go [and] I think honestly most of the oval events can be one-day shows once we get going.”
Alexander Rossi, who in Texas will have not only four fulltime teammates – Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Zach Veach and Colton Herta – but also the Genesys-sponsored James Hinchcliffe, said that having that many cars on which to try technical tweaks during practice could prove to be a double-edged sword.
“The fact that we do have multiple drivers is good come race day, but we have to use that information correctly,” said the driver who finished as championship runner-up in 2018, and third last year. “I've said it many times before, we have a huge opportunity to really kind of try different things across different cars, but it's also easy when you have that many cars and that many opinions to kind of get lost a little bit.
“I think the way that the team has been structured this off-season is really, really good, and I have a huge amount of confidence in our ability to process that information, but we just have to keep that in mind, especially on shortened events when you come back to have a debrief and you have five opinions flying around and you don't have a lot of time to make the decision. You've got to categorically go through the things and be able to process the information that you can use for yourself or not.”
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