Ask a Verizon IndyCar Series driver about his favorite racetrack on the schedule and it won't take long to get an answer.
Whether it's the fast and challenging Road America in Wisconsin or the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, every driver has a track he couldn't live without. But what if you narrow it to one corner on one track that they love more than any other? The decision gets more difficult.
“Man, that's like saying who is your favorite girlfriend,” said No. 28 Andretti Autosport DHL Honda driver Ryan Hunter-Reay.
“People can tell you their favorite racetrack, but a favorite corner is very specific. I am thinking Road America, but I can't really lay out a corner. I can't give you one.”
While choosing a single turn isn't an easy task, the most memorable corners on any racetrack are the ones where the drivers are on the ragged edge between glory and disaster.
It can be a thrilling and nostalgic experience all at once, insisted No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon.
“It's kind of like going from a junior category to the next bigger class and the first few laps when you are going through those corners a lot faster, you are really just holding on,” he said. “Those significant corners throughout different tracks around the world are the ones that bring back memories of moving up categories.”
While it was a tough choice for some, one thing was clear when asking this bunch of speed junkies about the turn they love the most: They all picked ones that were fast. Here are some of the answers.
Ryan Hunter-Reay: Turn 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ... maybe
“I am thinking Turn 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway because it's where most of the passing is done and a lot has happened of that corner, but it depends on the wind direction if that is my favorite corner or not. Turn 1 at Pocono is pretty unreal and the Carousel at Road America is definitely in my top 3 because every lap is on edge through there and you can barely keep it flat with a good car. It's a very tough corner and all the drivers respect it because of that.”
Conor Daly: Turn 13 at Barber Motorsports Park
“The fast chicanes at Barber Motorsports Park are really fun, but I had a horrible race there, so I might not be the best judge of it. The last fast chicane at the end of the back straight, Turn 13 (right), really demonstrates the ability of our cars. It's high G-load and you turn in flat — you don't even brake this year — and you accept this big compression up the hill. I talked to (Alexander) Rossi about it and there's more downforce than a Formula One car, for sure, and it's just really impressive to feel the car working through there.”
Sebastien Bourdais: Carousel at Road America
“You can just feel the tires deflecting completely and the car working and flexing. I wasn't so awesome there in the race, but in testing the car was absolutely mega and it was the first time I ever went through there flat. It was just an unbelievable feeling to be able to do such a hard, long-duration corner flat and on the ragged edge. I think we are pushing about four times gravity there and on a road course that is a lot. It's pretty steady in speed because you get in there and it's second-third-fourth and it's got to be about 135 mph. It's just flat — your foot is all the way down.”
Scott Dixon: Carousel at Road America
“I think the Carousel at Road America, just because it's so long, but that whole track is pretty fantastic. Especially in the current Indy car, but even in the old one, you are on the edge, man, the Carousel is pretty sweet. You want to be the guy who said: ‘Yeah, I went flat.’ It's just the loading, the commitment, there's not a whole lot of runoff so if you do spin or lose it there, you are going to destroy the car. It's like Indianapolis when you have a tailwind going into Turn 1, it's all about commitment and whether you can pull it off. You want your foot to go flat, but your brain is doing other things and it's hard to get them to do the same thing.”
Tony Kanaan: Turn 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
“Although they say all the corners at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are the same, Turn 1 is different. It has a little bit of a dip as you turn in and that makes it pretty tricky. You never know what to expect when you go through it because every lap is different. When you go through there, the little lump makes you feel like you are on a roller coaster and the car kind of takes off, and when it lands it always wiggles a little bit and you always feel like you are a bit on the edge.”
Charlie Kimball: Turns 3/3A at Sonoma Raceway
“I'd say Turns 3 and 3A at Sonoma (right), which is a left-right over a crest. It's really challenging and a lot of fun. It's fairly uphill initially and you come in pretty quick. There's a crack of the throttle and you get this big compression and, when it goes uphill, basically all you can see is the top of the catch fencing and the sky. You have to turn right over a blind crest and just catch the curb. As you come up over the hill, you know if you are going to be in the dirt, right where you want to be, or not carrying enough speed. It's just a light lift all the way through and it's a big rhythm section and from there it's downhill back to the next braking zone, so it's a really neat place at the top of the racetrack and it's a fast connected corner.”
Juan Pablo Montoya: Carousel at Road America
“The Carousel in Road America is one of the nicest corners. It's just so fast and so close to running wide open and it takes everything out of you. The G-force is really high, but just how fast you roll through the corner makes it really interesting. Everybody can brake late and everybody can go over a curb, but corners like that separate the men from the boys.”
Simon Pagenaud: Turn 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
“Turn 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the thrill of the speed. You are just motoring down the highway doing 240 mph in qualifying and there's always a little bit of an unknown. In qualifying, it's your first corner and you are not too sure what the balance is going to be, so you are going to have to adapt through the corner and your turn-in must be inches precise. The sense of speed is amazing and the way the car slides all four wheels up to the wall is something you don't feel anywhere else. And, you are at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an Indy car. It's the fastest we go all year and it's the most on the edge we are, too.”
Helio Castroneves: Turn 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
“Turn 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (below) is really nice because it is the toughest to make it happen in qualifying. It's not the same corner, you are about to start a lap at over 230 mph and when you finish that one you still have three corners to go that you have to hold your breath. If you make it flat out, now you're like, ‘OK, let's just finish the lap,’ but if you don't start out that way, it's tough for the rest of the lap. That's why it's so difficult.”