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New aero package at Indy also could have impact on engines this weekend

Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400

Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400

NASCAR via Getty Images

While the focus has been on how the aero package will impact the cars this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it also will affect engines.

Richie Gilmore, president of Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines, says the new package will allow drivers to stay in the gas longer. Previously, Gilmore said RPMs would range from 7,000 to 9,500 during a lap around the 2.5-mile speedway with the wide gap because drivers let off so much in the corners.

Gilmore says computer modeling shows that drivers will roll out of the gas less. He estimates the RPM range will be between 8,000 and 9,000. With the narrower gap, the engine will run more and that will create extra heat.

“You’ve got take care of the pistons and the engines,’’ Gilmore said. “It definitely changes the tune-up for the engine. It’s going to change the fuel mileage.’’

By being on the gas more, the fuel window could shrink.

With the engine doing extra work, Gilmore says he wants his teams to be cautious. Typically, teams run 100-150 miles in practice at Indianapolis before the race.

Teams can change engines before Saturday’s qualifying without penalty. Gilmore says he’s told his teams they should limit themselves to 200 miles of practice on their race engines.

“We’ve run a lot of stuff on our dynos,’’ Gilmore said “We feel comfortable coming here and giving them an extra 50 miles of practice. I think if we go over that, that’s a time when we have to change an engine after practice.’’

Teams that will use ECR Engines this weekend at Indianapolis are Richard Childress Racing (Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Austin Dillon and Brian Scott), Furniture Row Racing (Martin Truex Jr.), JTG Daugherty (AJ Allmendinger), Germain Racing (Casey Mears), Tommy Baldwin Racing (Alex Bowman) and Hillman Racing (Landon Cassill).

Gilmore said his group will make some adjustments with its engine package for the Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. The Darlington race will use the same low-downforce package used two weeks ago at Kentucky Speedway.

“Probably the biggest comments we got out of the drivers was they had to get out of the gas more with less downforce,’’ Gilmore said. “All the drivers would like to have more bottom end. They would like more torque to the engine to get through the corner better and help the car turn.

“We’ll probably change our engine combination a little bit more for the tracks that we’re going to with less downforce.’’

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