March 20, 2012  |   By Marshall Pruett - SPEED

Updated Speedway Aero Pieces Making Progress

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After making its first appearance in the wind tunnel two months ago, the IZOD IndyCar Series continues to gather data on a new Speedway-spec rear wheel pod design that should help to increase the Dallara DW12’s top speed.

The DW12’s limited pace in testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year signaled the need to reduce overall aerodynamic drag, which led to Dallara searching for ways to extract more straightline speed with a car that was already rather slippery.

A number of smaller items were produced to help with the drag reduction initiative, but the most visible—and visually appealing—change has come from brand-new rear wheel pods, which saw more wind tunnel time this week when Team Barracuda BHA team visited the Windshear facility in North Carolina.

“We tested a version of what there is now in January with Dallara when [the series visited] Windshear,” said Will Phillips, INDYCAR’s VP of Technology. “Those tests formed this version, which is now finalized. It is very efficient. It’s one of those rare items that adds downforce and removes drag.”

The revised “Cadillac” wheel pods (as some teams have called them, thanks to the 50’s-style fender fins) also offer a slight weight reduction compared to the first-generation units because the fins make one traditional aspect of the Speedway rear wing package redundant.

“The new Super Speedway rear wheel guard, which is for Indy and Fontana only this year, does not run with a rear wing end plate,” Phillips explained. “Because it also removes the rear wing endplate, you end up with a slightly reduced overall weight.”

Although the new Speedway rear wheel pods were designed specifically for big ovals, the vastly improved look of the units, when compared to the boxy units that came with the car, would be a welcome addition to the DW12 on road and street courses.