Carpenter: Domed skids demand more practice on Texas bumps

IndyCar’s only owner/driver says the addition of domed skids for superspeedways will require drivers to do more research during practice sessions at Texas Motor Speedway.

Carpenter: Domed skids demand more practice on Texas bumps
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet with Ed Carpenter
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Domed skid plates, that see the underside of the Dallara IndyCar bulged outward by 9mm at the centerline in order to slow down a spinning car, were introduced for superspeedways this season. While several teams (primarily Honda-powered) fought against them at first, it became a non-issue at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

However, domed skids are literally and figuratively expected to cause more friction at bumpy 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, especially since IndyCar has warned teams it will be strict in tech inspection about how much the domes are scraped.

For the teams and drivers, the complication is that the bumps around TMS are not uniform across all lanes.

Carpenter told Motorsport.com: “I’d say we just have to be smart in practice and run in enough lanes to know where the bumps are, how bad they are and figure out what ride-height we need to run.

“If you don’t do a good enough job in practice and figure that stuff out, and you grind too much of the dome away, you probably deserve a penalty.

“But I don’t think it should be a problem if we do our research out there on track. In the past, even without domed skids, you had to have enough ride-height to clear those bumps anyway, otherwise it would slow you down or cause instability.”

Ed Carpenter Racing tested at TMS late last year and, along with several other teams, returned in early May before heading to Indianapolis. Carpenter noted improvements in the team’s data in the intervening period.

“When we tested here last fall, just when the decision was made to run domed skids, initially it was a bit of a challenge,” he said. “I felt like by the time we got back here in May, we had been able to adapt and make the car better.

“The thing is, there’s a loss in grip for everybody mainly just by having the ride-heights that much higher to clear the dome over the bumps, but it’s not something I’m worried about. We’re all in the same boat, using the same stuff.

“I think we proved in May that it’s not going to negatively affect the racing and I think the package we’re going to race here should offer better racing than last year. It should be a great show.”  

ECR good enough to win

Josef Newgarden currently lies fourth on the Verizon IndyCar Series points table, but has yet to win a race this year. Meanwhile for Carpenter, the Saturday evening race at Texas will be only his third race of the year, since he competes only on ovals.

Nonetheless, Carpenter is confident that his team can fight for victory at TMS as it did in 2014.

He told Motorsport.com: “We had a pretty productive test. There are some things we need to work on, but I feel pretty good about where we were at when we left the test.

“And since then, through the month of May at Indy, we learned some more things about our updated superspeedway kit that I think will be a great help now it’s time to actually race here.

“So I’d say Josef and I feel like we’re here with cars that should be good enough to compete for the win.”

 

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