Graham Rahal to test Indy road course on Wednesday

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Graham Rahal will test a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda this coming Wednesday, Sept. 4, on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as the track continues to think about staging an IZOD IndyCar Series race on the infield circuit in May of 2014.

Several configurations of the circuit will be tested by Rahal. It will mark just the second time that an IZOD IndyCar Series machine has turned laps on the IMS road course; the only other time came in the fall of 2011 as part of development for the then-new Dallara DW12 that made its on-track debut the following year.

Rahal has experience on the IMS road course, with runs in both Formula BMW and Firestone Indy Lights events.

“Anytime a driver can take laps at Indianapolis, even on the road course, it is a special day and I am happy to have been asked to be part of this test and to provide some input on how an INDYCAR might perform at IMS,” said Rahal in a statement from the Speedway.

“I have raced on the road course at IMS, so I already have a good idea of what to expect in an IndyCar over most of the track. It will be particularly interesting to run the car on different portions of the track, including the Turn 1 road course section.”

The Indianapolis Star‘s Curt Cavin reports that should a IndyCar road race at IMS come to fruition, it would be held on the weekend of May 10-11, 2014 – two weeks before the 98th Indianapolis 500 on May 25, 2014.

In the same Speedway statement, IMS president J. Douglas Boles said that there had been no decision made yet about a future IndyCar race on the road course. But he mentioned wanting to use the test to “help refine the investment we are planning to make to the track portion of our overall facility planning.”

The Speedway’s officials are looking to pour nearly $100 million into the facility in the coming years, and a part of their master plan could involve improvements to the oft-maligned road course.

“As we look to the future of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the goal is to make changes to the road course that provide the most flexibility for its potential use and create a layout that is entertaining for our fans and enjoyable for our drivers – whether it is for IndyCar testing or racing, sports cars, MotoGP or other uses,” he said.

IndyCar: Turn 5 gives drivers fits in Friday’s second practice at Barber Motorsports Park

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You’ve heard of the Fast Six in IndyCar, right?

Well, Friday’s second practice session for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama was the Frustrating Five – Turn 5, that is.

It almost might be easier to list those drivers that were not bitten by the cantankerous turn on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park layout in Birmingham, Alabama.

Close to 10 drivers in the 23-driver field suffered issues in the turn, ranging from running off the grass and back on, to getting stuck and having to be towed out, to suffering damage.

But by the time the one-hour session was over, Josef Newgarden took a big step towards defending his win from last year’s race there, being fastest in Friday’s second of two practice sessions.

Newgarden covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in a speed of 122.786 mph at a best lap time of 1:07.4345 minutes.

Spencer Pigot was second (125.599 mph/1:07.5372), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (122.129 mph/1:07.7971), Will Power (122.107 mph/1:07.8092) and last week’s winner at Long Beach, Alexander Rossi (122.065 mph/1:07.8326).

Sixth through 10th-fastest were Scott Dixon (122.044 mph/1:07.8445), Ryan Hunter-Reay (121.975 mph/1:07.8829), Takuma Sato (121.652 mph/1:08.0628), Marco Andretti (121.579 mph/1:08.1040) and Graham Rahal (121.572 mph/1:08.1076).

Now, speaking of all the incidents, here’s a list.

INCIDENTS:

* Right after rookie Matheus Leist spun early in the session in Turn 5, fellow rookie Zach Veach spun with about 45 minutes left in the session in Turn 5. Graham Rahal had to take evasive action to miss Veach.

But that wasn’t all, as Sebastien Bourdais followed in almost the same spot with a spin of his own roughly a minute later, and then Gabby Chaves also had his problems in the same turn, going into the grass but avoiding the gravel.

* Simon Pagenaud joined his Penske Racing teammate Josef Newgarden in the Turn 5 gravel. Newgarden spun into the gravel in the first practice session.

* Rookie Rene Binder, who has struggled in his inaugural season, continued to have issues, running into the wall and causing damage to the front end, needing a tow truck to get him righted.

It appeared Binder snapped part of the front suspension in the incident.

* Turn 5 saw James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan run off-track late in the session, but they were able to continue.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The third and final practice of the weekend will take place Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET, to be televised live on CNBC (with an encore performance at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN). The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, the weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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