New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a flat, one mile oval that calls for a combination of driving skills and setup knowledge to stay competitive over long runs. The long straights and flat corners require decent braking skills and a consistent driving line. Drivers will want a setup conservative enough to conserve the tires while maintaining the ability to stay on pace. By practicing restraint you will have a chance to take advantage of opponents who use-up overly aggressive setups early.
After running the provided setup for 30 laps the car was tight on entry and cut loose unpredictably on exit. I would think it would be challenging for any newer driver just jumping in the car. In addition, the car didn’t rotate well in the center for me so I figured we would be best-served to look at the front suspension before reaching for the track bar.
The first and most obvious adjustment would be in weight distribution which on the stock setup is placed all the way to the rear. Moving the weight forward will tighten the car on mid-corner and exit.
Looking at the tire temps and comparing them with the camber revealed that the front suspension was setup more for a track that had some form of banking rather than a flat one mile oval. This was fine as that tire wear and temp on the left front outside was way beyond acceptable when compared with the rest of the tire information.
In turn, the right front wasn’t using the enough of the inside of the tire. I decided that by finding a balance between being less aggressive on the left front and more aggressive on the right I could even- out the wear over long runs, reducing the amount of drop off. To achieve this task we bring the left front tire angle (camber) back towards the car, not only evening the tire wear but bringing the tires closer to perpendicular to the track surface while under load, thus using more of the entire tire. In addition, increasing the negative lean in the camber of the right front tire helps not only use more of the inside of tire but to loosen the car on entry. This helps us get a better line through the middle and reduces the push, but does not eliminate it.
The next observation I made was that the caster settings did not allow for the right tire to rotate with the left front properly, causing the car to be “jerky” in the turns. We can experiment with this setting by first bringing the caster on the left front back towards the center of the car and pushing the caster on the right front forward. This will allow the right front tire to “pivot” better around the turn, further helping to reduce the push in the middle. You will want the car to have the feeling of “rolling through the center.” You will notice this in the way the car seems to track along the visible grooves in the pavement.
Once we have adjusted our caster and camber settings to a point where the car seems to sink in and rotate around the corners, we still find the car a tad loose on exit. However rather than a large adjustment in the track bar in the beginning of this process, our “tad loose off” can now be remedied with a small adjustment (down) in the right side track bar.
The water/oil temperatures were nowhere near hot, so I made an adjustment to both the gear and the tape level. For a rear gear I selected the .86 with a 30% tape level. I was still not near the hot level, but my temps were within operating range and left some room in the event I happened to sustain any front end damage.
After 30 laps with the new setup I found the car rotated well, and was more stable on exit. I also noticed a decent reduction in drop off. In practice I could run in a pack while having decent car control and, as long as I hit my marks and did not over drive, I found myself passing other drivers after 10-15 laps with no problem.
Restraint, consistency and conservation are the keys to a top ten in this week’s sim racing. Try to have fresh tires and a full tank towards the end so that, should you get that long green run, you are prepared to take full advantage of your setup strategy.
Good Luck and God Speed!