CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING Supercars engineer Andrew Edwards is playing a role in helping Trackhouse Racing prepare for the inaugural Chicago Street Course event.
A former stalwart of Brad Jones Racing, Edwards joined Triple Eight last year as Shane van Gisbergen’s race engineer and proceeded to oversee the most dominant campaign in Supercars history.
The quietly spoken Edwards is in the United States now helping van Gisbergen and the team which fields two frontrunning cars in addition to the Project 91 wildcard entry.
This weekend marks the first time in history that the NASCAR Cup Series has raced for points on a street circuit, although the concept is not entirely new to the category as explored by V8 Sleuth yesterday.
Having met teammates Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez and sat in on meetings last weekend at Nashville Superspeedway, van Gisbergen has this week had a test at the Charlotte Roval plus simulator time.
“I wasn’t involved in their debriefs from the oval stuff but now in the preparation for the street course, they have sort of relied on me a little bit to help and also Andrew Edwards is over here helping,” said the 34-year-old Kiwi.
“He has given some information of what we do on street courses because they have never done it here before.
“It’s great to have him here, but those guys are sharp here as well.”
As for his initial impression of the car, van Gisbergen declared “it’s everything you dream of”.
“It’s a proper race car, turns good, brakes good, it’s really, really fun to drive and you can feel everything.”
He later added: “I haven’t changed style too much, like I got a few laps but it was just more acclimatisation and getting used to the team, how the car is, how it changes gear and not much performance stuff.
“We weren’t allowed to change anything with set-up and there was no lap times or anything like that, so I’m not really sure what the car is like on the limit yet.
“I did get some longer runs to feel what that was like. I guess I am more confident now that I have driven it, it feels not too far away from what I was used to.
“The brakes are awesome, the way it turns it’s very reactive and has so much more feeling than what I thought it would have – it was quite surprising, in a good way.
“I’m just confident that I’m comfortable. The team’s awesome, they have done so much to accommodate me to make sure I’m comfortable and having the extra week here is great prep.”
Another surprise he’s found is just how technical the stock car racing series is.
“It’s very, very impressive to see how they work,” said van Gisbergen.
“From the outside, the cars look very simple.
“When you’re looking at them as a driver, they have got no flat shift, they have only got one button on the wheel and stuff like that; they look very basic but they’re anything but.
“How much they’re running on the edge to get the cars as low as possible on the diffuser without bottoming or hitting the skid blocks, there’s a real science behind it and when they’re talking about changing tyre pressures by 0.2 and 0.1 in the race, it’s so much more technical than I thought.
“All of the little things matter and especially now for them, they have kind of gone to a spec car (as of last year).
“All of the parts are the same between the teams, like every little thing matters and the detail that they go into is very impressive.
“It’s similar to what we do but we don’t have the simulator capabilities I guess that they do.”
The Cup Series race in Chicago starts at 7:30am AEST on Monday July 3.
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