Pre-race tests and April's experimental street race in St Petersburg aside, Sunday's Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix will still pose a massive challenge to the mechanics and engineers of the IRL IndyCar Series.

Tom German is in his eighth season with Marlboro Team Penske, and his second as the race engineer for the #6 Dallara-Toyota driven by double IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr.

German has worked Gil de Ferran, Andre Ribeiro and with Scott Pruett at Patrick Racing. Before becoming a race engineer, German worked with Bridgestone/Firestone as a race tyre development engineer.

"It's a completely different car set-up than an oval, because you're turning left and right," says German. "The downforce becomes much more important because you don't have banking to help you through the corners.

"The things like the aero balance, the differential change dramatically. All your alignment settings, cambers, toes, change quite a bit. Because most of the corners are considerably slower than a Pikes Peak or Michigan, you run a lot softer springs to try to enhance the grip to improve your low-speed performance.

"There are a lot of blind corners and pulling uphill at reasonably high speeds, so you need good power and good gearing. You have to choose the right gear to accelerate out of the corner and up the hill before you go into the next corner.

"The testing (in April) helps tremendously because it gives the team and driver the opportunity to learn the track, where to accelerate, where the bumps are and those things. We're anxious to race there. In practice, we're constantly working on the set up, trying to improve the balance and grip of the car and getting the driver focused on what's important."



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