FORT WORTH – Roush Fenway Racing’s Sprint Cup teams haven’t been strong for a while.
Other NASCAR teams have been using a computer software called Dymola – also used by some Formula 1 teams – for a while.
Roush’s three-car operation is a late adopter of the physical modelling and simulation tool. According to the website of Claytex, a company that specializes in it, Dymola is used to “make model-based designs of complex engineering systems.”
Team owner Jack Roush explained to NASCAR Talk his decision to implement the software this year.
“We made some changes on the staff this winter, they had some ideas,” Roush said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “We asked our brightest engineers to scratch their heads and they came up with some ideas that were a little outrageous and it took us a while to react and get the hardware lined up for what the thinking was.”
Out of the head scratching came Dymola, a program that originated in Formula 1 and has recently made its way to the NASCAR garage area and a Roush organization that has one top-10 finish and two laps led through six races.
“We had it actually for Las Vegas, the first time there and that was interesting,” Roush said. “But we really didn’t have confidence in it. Now we have confidence in our software, we’ve got an improved aero dynamics package, we’ve got an improved chassis dynamics. Our cars seem to have more speed than they had at Fontana or Las Vegas.”
This weekend also sees the three teams debuting cars that Biffle said have been in development for five months.
The use of Dymola and the work put in over NASCAR’s off week led Roush to say he already feels a measure of success after two practice sessions at Texas, a track Roush has won at nine times since it opened in 1997 with NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton’s first career win.
“All the drivers got out of the cars in the first practice and said they had speed, they just need to achieve the balance they need,” Roush said, but then delved into issues all three cars have encountered on track so far.
Biffle, while taking 35 laps in the first 90 minute session, was hampered by a “bad set of tires” the team spent most of practice dealing with. Bayne’s No. 6 team narrowed down an issue stemming from either a failed wiring harness, a connector or a relay, while Stenhouse’s No. 17 had complications in the suspension.
“Our weekend so far has not been flawless,” Roush said. “Every one of the cars had something that’s frustrating, but there have been streaks of encouragement, inspiration and brilliance for what they’ve been able to do given our adversity.”
Even if the adversity continues past Texas, Roush says NASCAR’s current championship format allows them wiggle room for their development.
“It’ll be an opportunity to get our season started as we like,” Roush said. “With the way NASCAR’s got the championship qualifications organized, you’ve got 25 mulligans. All you’ve got to do is win one of these races in the first 26 and you’re ensured a seat in the championship run.”