Superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega create different challenges where setup is concerned. With the new ride height rule and changes being made with thought to spring stiffness there are as many ways to approach your setup as there are drivers. Keeping that in mind, in this week’s column we will focus our discussion on two of the basic factors that will certainly help gain you an edge in every race.
Pit strategy will be an important factor in this or any race so you will want to practice making pit stop adjustments on the fly. A lot of sim-racers find aftermarket button boxes help a lot in this area.
A wise man once said “Races are won and lost in the pits. When you are running up front you can work your ass off on every lap to gain a half second. In the pits you have the chance to gain or in most cases lose seconds “ – Michael Waltrip
Michael was a big fan of one of the low budget teams I used to work for. The team had an amazing driver and some fast Hendricks cars. They would lead many NASCAR races for hundreds of laps against teams with huge budgets, only to see their chance of winning destroyed by poor pit strategy and long stops. They were legendary for it.
Mr. Waltrip called their driver the “best driver that never won a race in NASCAR.”
Fortunately iRacing has provided you with a great crew. But you can do a lot to maximize your stops, pick-up time and — even more important — gain precious spots on yellows.
I recommend getting used to selecting right side tires only or even no tires. This will help you pick-up spots during early cautions when your tires are fine, putting you ahead of other drivers who just rush in to take a full can and four tires by habit.
Late in the race, should you find yourself having to make a green flag stop, practice taking no tires, a splash of gas and adding 5% – 10% tape. You might just get lucky.
This brings me to my next topic: temperature control. While the gear you select has a lot to do with how hot (and fast) your car will run, you can do some fine tuning with tape. Tape will increase aero downforce and give you a little extra speed.
Be mindful though, too much tape can lead to high temps and engine failure.
While I have not had time to test with the new updates, my strategy will be to slam the car to the ground, shift the weight back and lower the spoiler, make camber and caster adjustments based on the tire temperature, and research gear ratios to see if I can get a little passing power in the draft by running a lower gear ratio.
“iRacing has provided you with a great crew. But you can do a lot to maximize your stops . . .”
After deciding what gear I want to run, I will monitor my temps in and out of the draft. I have my dash meter set to blink at 250 for water and 270 for oil. Though it may not sound like it, this is actually a little conservative. I prefer it like this to give me a little room in the event I should take some front end damage so I won’t instantly overheat.
You will see that some drivers on iRacing will run aggressive tape, running right on the edge if not a little over the point where the warning light blinks. Then they will “Share” the air allowing their partner or whomever is running with them to run in front and cool down until they need the fresh air, at which point they will call for a “Switch.”
While this can be risky, it can result in extra passing ability in a pack as well as gain you some speed should you find yourself alone out of the draft.
Look for people in the practice sessions during the week who you recognize from your split. What I will do is go back and look at my last four or five races and find out who I am being paired with consistently and see if I recognize anyone in practice. If so, I will ask to practice running with them or I will make it a point to send them a message later that day offering to work with them (or even share my setup).
It’s always best to have a friend or two at superspeedways. The last thing you want is nobody to run with and watch the pack drive away from you.
I will make my Talladega setup available Friday on the Open Garage Forums for you to use Friday night or Sunday morning.
Good Luck and God Speed!