I am writing this to hopefully serve as a guide in your thinking of how to setup your TPSCC car. I am a firm believer in the “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish then you have helped him feed himself for a lifetime” philosophy. That is the main purpose for this article. TPSCC is a thinking man’s mod and I hope this will help you determine some of those thoughts and specifically those about how to setup the car. You must not only know what the car is doing on the track but also what you want it to do and how the different garage options can help you achieve that. You will see me mention balance because it is the single most important aspect of racing. You must balance your aggression while driving. You must balance the aerodynamics of the car. You must balance every aspect of racing in order to succeed. There is no way I can possibly touch on or fully explain every detail about setting up a car here and I will not attempt to. There are many guides available on the internet which do a much better job than I can in explaining various aspects of the car. I will instead attempt to cover the basics of how to approach the garage options so that you know what to expect and how to get the full potential from your racing experience. With that said, lets begin with a discussion of the types of setups. Everyone has their own unique driving style and preferences on how they want the car to feel. This determines a great deal about what type of setup they will use but most setups fall into one of two categories which are Aerodynamic and Mechanical.
I will begin with Mechanical because it is the type with which most are familiar. A mechanical setup will generally use stiff front springs and soft rear springs. The front to rear weight bias is generally more towards the neutral side (ie 50/50) or slightly biased towards the front or back. This setup has allot of “give” and feel to it. It is generally more forgiving also which is an advantage. The vast majority of setups fall into this category as most previous racing games were geared towards it (NSR, NR2003, etc).
The Aerodynamic setup on the other hand is basically a complete opposite approach. An aerodynamic setup seeks to maximize downforce in order to gain grip rather than manipulating mechanical grip. Springs, shocks, wedge, and basically every garage option available are used to make sure downforce is maximized. Modern Nascar teams spend a good deal of time and money to maximize downforce on the cars through wind tunnel testing and special springs and shocks. While we don’t have a wind tunnel at our disposal for TPSCC we do have the Motec program which can be quite valuable. The data it shows will help fine tune everything from tire wear to ride height. I highly recommend it.
How do I go about generating maximum downforce?
Maximum downforce is generated when both front and rear downforce has been optimized. Front downforce increases as the ride height of the nose decreases. Basically, the lower the nose the more front downforce. You also have fenders on the front of the car. More fender flare equals more front downforce. Rear downforce is partially related to front downforce as well as having its own aspects. To maximize rear downforce, you want to keep the rear of the car (ie spoiler) as high as possible. A rear spoiler that is higher will catch more air and thus generate more rear downforce.
To sum it all up, the most total downforce is generated when the nose or front of the car is as low as possible while the spoiler or rear of the car is as high as possible (within reason).
Once you enter the garage with that statement in mind, the various options available to you take on a whole new meaning. The general design of the aerodynamic setup include soft front springs combined with a large front anti-roll/sway bar to keep the front end low in the corners. The rear springs will be generally much stiffer than the front springs in order to keep the spoiler up when cornering. This type of setup is used almost exclusively on the Cup circuit today. Â Try to find the balance between front and rear downforce as this is where the car will handle best.
While every track requires its own setup, similar types of tracks share certain spring ranges for the front and rear. In general, tracks with less banking (ie less than 18-20 degrees) will use front springs in the 450-550 range while tracks with more banking will use springs at 600 or above. As always, there will be variations to this but this should serve as a starting point. Rear springs are generally above 800 with an aerodynamic setup. Springs of this strength and above help to keep the spoiler up in the corners in order to maintain rear downforce and stabilize the car. While the general minimum for rear springs is around 800 lbs, it is not out of the ordinary to see rear springs of 1200 lbs. Again, it all goes back to driver preference and aerodynamic balance so experiment quite a bit to see what works best for you.
At this point I want to explain a bit more about how and why the Motec program can be so useful. The Motec program records and displays (among many other things) the ride heights of the left front, right front, left rear, and right rear at every point around the track (ie dynamic ride height). On every track except the super speedways where restrictor plates are used you will want to focus on the heights in the corners as this is where downforce is most critical. Specifically, you will want to focus on three major sections of the corner which are entry, middle, and exit. As we talked about a little earlier, you will want both the left front and right front ride heights to be as low as possible. Try to get these as close to zero as possible without bottoming out the car as this can disrupt the car. Once you get both front corners of the car at or below 0.5 inches you are getting close. For the rear of the car, optimum downforce occurs when you keep both the left and right rear above 4.5-5.0 Â inches (dynamic ride heights) when possible. The right rear will generally be higher than left rear so the average height of the two rear corners should be in the 5.0 inch range. Â Of course, these ranges for the front and rear are considered optimal for downforce and may not be desired in all circumstances and at all tracks. Â Also, keep in mind that the dynamic ride heights can vary quite a bit from the ride heights chosen in the garage.
Restrictor Plate Tracks
Because these tracks are different than basically every other track you race on I decided to give them a separate section. While most of the same setup options are available for these tracks, you will want to concentrate on drag rather than downforce. Â Downforce increases speed in the corners because it increases grip to the tires but it also increases drag on the car. This isn’t a huge issue at most tracks since the Cup cars have around 800 Hp but this is not the case on the restrictor plate tracks. Â On the restrictor plate tracks, the cars have much less power and grip is not as much of an issue as raw speed which comes from reducing drag. Less drag means more top speed so setups for this type of track generally focus on reducing drag wherever possible. Think of drag as the opposite of downforce and it will help you make decisions about how to setup the car. The front fenders are a great example. Increasing the amount of front fender flare increased front downforce which is great at most tracks but not at restrictor plate tracks because they also increase drag. Because of that teams generally use the minimum amount of front fender flare. Â Getting the front nose down and the rear spoiler up increases downforce but also increases drag so that is also not desired. Try to get the ride heights as close to the same front to rear as possible in order to reduce drag. Â For example, if your left front ride height is 4.5 inches and your right front height is 4.9 inches then you will want to try to get the rear ride heights as close to those as possible.
I don’t think I can overemphasize the importance of this section. How you treat your tires will determine how fast you go. Plain and simple. These tires can take allot of abuse but be prepared to pay the price for overaggressive driving. It is easy to overdrive the corners and overheat the tires which will lead to a loss of grip. This type of tire does not wear in a linear fashion. Rather it tends to lose allot of grip initially and then wear more evenly towards the middle and end of a run. Let’s talk about a few of the basic aspects of the tires.
First is camber. Camber is the inward or outward tilt of the tire. Teams use camber to generate the most grip in the corners by maximizing the tire’s contact patch with the racing surface. The amount of camber changes as the suspension changes. When the suspension travels downward (undergoes compression), the tire gains negative camber (top of tire gets closer to the car). The opposite happens when the suspension of the car moves upward or rebounds. Why is this important? It is important because having too much camber or too little camber will increase tire wear and also result in a loss of grip.
The second important aspect of tires is temperature. Tires have a certain temperature range in which they operate best. Try to keep the tires within that range to achieve maximum grip. Going above the desired range will result in a loss of grip as well as increased tire wear. Try to keep the left side tires in the 200-220 range while the right side tires should be in the 230-250 range. (degrees in Fahrenheit) That takes care of the total tire temperature but there is also the second aspect of tire temperature which is the temperature of the outside, middle, and inside of the tire. Â These temperatures will vary sometimes by more than 20-30 degrees or more depending on several setup components such as camber. The main thing to keep in mind is that the tire has the most grip when the tire is properly inflated meaning the middle temperature is between the inside and outside temperatures. Also remember that these tires can take a few laps to warm up to the desired temperatures so don’t be fooled after only one or two laps on track. Give the tires 10-15 laps to come up to temperature on the 1.5-2 mile tracks while shorter tracks will require more laps.
Tire pressures are our next topic. You will find that these tires build up quite a bit more pressure than has been experienced in previous games. It is normal for the left side tires to gain between 6-8 pounds of air while the rights typically gain twice that number. In the game each tire is preset with the Goodyear recommended minimum. Starting the car with tire pressures close to or at these minimums is usually desirable for longer runs while shorter runs such as qualifying will need increased tire pressures.
As mentioned before, how you drive the car is vital in determining how long the tires last and how much grip they have. Overdriving the car will quickly lead to overheated tires and less grip. Â Treat the throttle and brake pedals as if there is an egg underneath them. In other words, be gentle. Sudden changes in the acceleration or deceleration of the car can upset the car’s balance and lead to a wreck or spin. Â The most common way tire wear is accelerated is through impatience mid-corner. Â An impatient driver gets back in the gas hard before the car has “set” in the middle of the corner and abuses the right front tire causing it to heat up beyond its normal range. Â As a result, drivers will have to turn the wheel more than normal which often leads to a push-loose situation coming off the corner which heats up the right rear tire. Instead, wait for the car to turn and then smoothly accelerate off the corner. This will save the right front tire and also pickup your lap times. Â The other common way tires are abused is on corner entry. Â An impatient or overaggressive driver will push the car too hard into the corner and slide the car up the track heating the tires beyond their normal range. Â
This section is most definitely not for beginners. I specifically left this section to last because of that. The concept of coil-binding will appeal to those who have a grasp of the aerodynamic setup talked about earlier and a desire to take that type of setup to the next level. Coil-binding in general involves using a special spring designed to be used at the limits of its travel when compressed. Â When this limit is reached the coils within the spring touch and the spring cannot travel any further. The coils are bound together and thus the name. Â Coil-binding is the standard in today’s Cup racing due to its ability to control the ride height of the car which as we know is key in the aerodynamic setup. Â For the purposes of TPSCC you have the ability to coil-bind the right front spring only. Â The way you do that is by using the garage option of “packer”. You will find this option on the same garage screen as your springs and in the same section on the page as your springs and shocks among other things. You will have two options which are 0 and 4.00 inches. Using a setting of zero means that you will not be attempting to coil-bind the RF spring while a setting of 4.00 means that you intend to bind the RF spring. You notice that I said using a setting of 4.00 means you intend or are attempting to bind the RF spring. Â The reason I said that is because using this type of setup takes some time and testing to get right. Â It is not as simple as using the 4.00 setting and you are done.
Once you have chosen the 4.00 setting you are ready to begin testing different springs and in particular the right front. Â The main benefit of coil-binding is that you are able to use a softer RF spring than normal without bottoming out the car. Â Depending on different factors such as driving style, track banking, and others you may be able to use a RF spring that is 150-250lbs or more less than normal. Â The benefit is the softer spring will allow that corner of the car to ride lower and thus generate more downforce. Â This will help the car turn better due to the additional front downforce. Â You will find that while this type of setup works great at some tracks, other tracks will be more difficult to make this work properly. Â As always testing and practice are the keys. Â Along with its effect on the right front spring, this type of setup also has a few more things that you will likely see as a result. One is wedge. Â This type of setup yields itself to the use of more positive wedge than other types of setups. You may also find yourself using more front weight bias and different shock settings.
A note on driving this style of setup. Â While this type of advanced aerodynamic setup makes allot of sense in the wind tunnel, it does tend to “feel” much different when driving. Â The front of the car will travel (movement up and down) more which can upset the car if not setup and driven properly. Â The traditional mechanical setup usually feels like the RF is doing all the work and driving the car while the aerodynamic setup feels like the right rear is driving the car. Â The use of coil-binding magnifies that feel of the aerodynamic setup. Â Finally, you may notice that the car bounces when coil-binding. This happens when the limits of travel are reached on the RF and is normally most noticeable when using a very soft RF spring which reaches this travel limit very quickly.
Setting up a modern Cup car requires allot of thought and work and TPSCC is a reflection of that. Â You must play the role of crew chief as well as driver and both carry equal weight in importance. For those of you who love playing around in the garage and figuring out how things work, this mod will fit your skills nicely. Â For those of you who would rather not look at the garage options and just race, I would suggest teaming up with someone who does enjoy the garage as there is no way around the importance of the setup on the car. I urge you to start by using a base setup and learning to drive that competitively before starting to change things in the garage. Â There are setups available for the mod from ThePits as well as other sites. Â One of the worst mistakes a beginner can make is to change the car before he even knows how to properly drive the car.