Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the few tracks Chase Elliott has already raced on in the Sprint Cup Series.
The 2.5-mile track was one of five Elliott raced on in 2015 while driving the No. 25 car for Hendrick Motorsports. The others were Martinsville Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Richmond International Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
While every track he visits in 2016 will be a new experience with the series’ low-downforce package, Indianapolis, and later Michigan International Speedway, will be even different for Elliott who finished 18th in last year’s Brickyard 400.
That race was one of two where NASCAR experimented with a high-downforce package, which featured a 9-inch spoiler and 1-inch wicker bill, a 2-inch leading edge on the splitter and a 43-inch splitter extension panel.
Elliott was at Indianapolis Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a Goodyear Tire test. It was his first time on the track in the No. 24 – which won the Brickyard 400 five times with Jeff Gordon – and with the low-downforce package.
“(Last year) was a little different than having the 3-inch spoiler on it and having something real small with much less downforce,” Elliott said. “It seemed like it required a little more brake getting into the corner. I’m not sure what the speeds were going down the straightaways relative to what they were last year, but it seems like it takes a little bit more effort to get the car slowed down for the corner than what we did the last race here.”
Also a challenge for Elliott and the other drivers in the test – Tony Stewart, Aric Almirola and Carl Edwards – is the teams are testing on different compounds at the same. Also, a car will react different on a near-empty track compared when 40 are on it for a race.
“It’s hard to say until you come back and have a bunch of cars on the race track at the same time, this place is so big,” Elliott said. “It’s really temperature sensitive and it’s such a big race track, a little bit goes a long way. So if the race track gets hot and your throttle pick-up point is delayed another 10-15 feet, there’s a big difference for how long these straightaways are.”
The Sprint Cup Series returns to Indy deep into the summer. The Brickyard 400 is scheduled for July 24 on NBCSN.