Newgarden foresees easier following, greater parity at 2021 Indy500
Penske's Newgarden says IndyCar's aerodynamic changes were felt at the IMS test, adding on with which engine manufacturer the advantage lies.
The new aerodynamic package was first tested in November, as IndyCar sought to address some complaints about the previous package and the sort of racing it produced. At this month's open Indy500 test, the new configuration was used, and Newgarden said the effects were "definitely" felt, with increased ease of following the most notable change.
The American adds that, with increased downforce, racing will be easier this May. "10 cars back, it's always going to be difficult. But I think they've made the ability to follow better. That balance separation between clean air and dirty air is definitely reduced. Some of them are tricky to drive, some of these parts.
"I think you're seeing some split camps here along pit lane. Not everybody is running the same stuff. That's been interesting to watch. There's more downforce on the car. I think the balance shift in traffic is less. Yeah, the ability that we're going to have to race compared to last year will be better," Newgarden said.
Although in 2020's Indy500 saw racing only between the leading two cars in a pack, with others out of touching distance no matter how close or comparable on pace, Newgarden foresees this trend breaking in 2021, and says drivers nearer to the rear of a pack will have a better opportunity this year.
"I think you have a better opportunity this year looking at the amount of downforce we have, the balance shift in and out of traffic. I think you have a better opportunity to fight for the win in the third or fourth car in line. I think more than that, you are a quick car during the race, you somehow find yourself in the back, I think you have a better opportunity of making your way forward.
"Those two elements will automatically help the show. But you don't want to have it so easy where we're packed up the entire field the entire time. I think that's something that you would want to avoid. I think it will be a lot better than last year as far as the ability to race up front. Time will tell. But I think you'll have a better show," Newgarden said.
Newgarden also forecasts increased parity between Honda and Chevy power this year, after a less even 2020. "It looks a lot more even this year, is what I would say at the moment. Someone could obviously be miles ahead by the time we get to the month of May. It's possible. But I would say it looks a lot more even right now than where we were at last year."
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida and edited by Darshan Chokhani]