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While IndyCar’s new body style has taken most of the headlines this season, there’s a lot under the skin that drivers are adapting to going into this weekend’s Phoenix Grand Prix.
The race is Saturday at 9:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Qualifying is Friday at 8 p.m., also on NBCSN. Live streaming is available at Sportsnet NOW. You can get live scoring and updates at IndyCar’s Race Control.
Open wheel has always been on the cutting edge of technology starting with the simple rear view mirror at the dawn of the sport down to the safer wall barriers that help protect drivers in the event of a crash. Now there is more.
This is the second race of the young season with drivers adjusting to LED data screens on their carbon fiber steering wheels. And, most noticeable to the fans, there are the graphic displays on the side body work allowing timing and scoring to show a variety of things, including each car’s speed.
A busy month of April for the Verizon IndyCar Series kicks off this weekend with the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix (April 7, 9:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at the newly rechristened ISM Raceway (formerly known as Phoenix International Raceway).
What’s more, as the first oval race of the year, it will provide a glimpse into how the 2018 aero kit will perform on circuits that feature left turns exclusively.
Perhaps no track was more negatively impacted during the aero kit era than ISM Raceway, with the events from 2016 and 2017 featuring a lot of single-file racing as drivers struggled to get close enough to each other for overtaking to be a regular facet.
However, two days of pre-season testing at the one-mile oval gave way to optimism that the new 2018 universal aero kit would improve matters, with tire wear also becoming a factor as drivers practiced long runs over the two days of testing.