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March 11, 2015

Teams acquire 'real-world data' during testing


Johnson doesn’t participate, but his No. 48 does

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CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson wasn’t participating in Wednesday’s open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway, even though a No. 48 Chevrolet was making laps on the 1.5-mile track.

Johnson, a six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, was 115 miles or so away, taking part in a “fun run” at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with students in the Go Far Running Club of Rich Acres Elementary School.

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The No. 48 entry, being driven by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, was one of three cars taking part in the test that was running wheel force transducers, data-gathering devices that provide significant information to Goodyear, the auto makers and the teams.

There was a stark white Ford (from Roush Fenway Racing) and a flat-black Toyota (Joe Gibbs Racing) running the WFT pieces as well.

The No. 48 entry wasn’t a car that the team would use in competition, Keith Rodden, crew chief for driver Kasey Kahne, said. It’s simply a test vehicle provided by HMS.

According to Chevrolet officials, other teams in their group will supply a similar vehicle at future tests, depending on which teams are scheduled to take part.

The crew working on the car Wednesday was made up of members from Kahne’s own team as well as HMS employees that will eventually work with XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott when he makes the move to Sprint Cup next season, according to Rodden.

“The 48 (team) isn’t here, that’s the car we use because you have to retrofit it,” he said. “It’s a little easier to get all the drivers’ seats in and out of that car. We don’t have one car per every car number (at HMS) for wheel force (testing).”

According to the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rulebook, one open wheel force transducer (WFT) vehicle per manufacturer is allowed for open team tests and team staffing for the car “is at OEM discretion.”

The vehicles must be driven by one of the open team test drivers (a driver not already taking part in the test would not be allowed to participate). However, the driver does not have to be the same driver used in the NASCAR-approved tire test held prior to the open test.

The wheel force transducer is “a giant load cell that the tire is built around on the rim,” Rodden said, “that tells them how much vertical load there is, how much lateral load there is.

“There are also sensors that hang off of it that can tell you the camber angle and the slip angle on the track.

“NASCAR allows Goodyear to test all the tires and in turn Goodyear sends the tire data to the OEMS and they distribute it to us.”

It’s one more way, he said, for teams to acquire “a little bit more real-world data.”

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