Houston Update: Temporary chicane installed at Turn 1, grinding set for tonight

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UPDATE (6:57 p.m. ET): INDYCAR has announced that qualifying for tomorrow’s Race 1 will follow the same format as that of Race 2. That means the drivers will be separated into two groups, with each group getting 12 minutes each to throw down their best laps. The overall sessions will remain at 30 minutes.

Earlier today, INDYCAR president of competition Brian Barnhart said that a temporary chicane was installed at Turn 1 to allow track time for all of the series at Reliant Park.

Additionally, course designer Martyn Thake also said that grinding will take place at Turn 1 later this evening for a more permanent solution to the problem that has delayed this morning’s on-track activity.

“It’s been a unique challenge the last 96 hours turning the parking lot into a race track right after the Texans’ game [on Sunday], with so many things moving and interlocking at the same time,” Thake said. “It was very hard to get a full assessment of the surface.

“…The area where we’re experiencing problems right now is actually the area where the Texans keep their field between games. This concrete hasn’t actually been driven on for six, seven years. It’s an area we were unable to explore too closely until we were able to take over the facility and the [time] pressure of the construction prevented us from doing any in-depth testing.”

Thake anticipates that a full day of racing will be had on Saturday after the grinding is complete.

In the days leading up to the race weekend, workers had been thrashing to get this temporary layout set up following the conclusion of last Sunday’s aforementioned NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans at nearby Reliant Stadium. The stadium is positioned outside Turn 6 of the course.

The delay resulted in an altered schedule, with the IndyCars’ original 90-minute practice session broken into two 45-minute blocks – one from 2-2:45 p.m. ET and another from 5:30-6:15 p.m. ET.

Qualifying for Saturday’s IndyCar Race 1 and Sunday’s Race 2 were pushed back to those respective mornings. There will be no Firestone Fast Six sessions this weekend.

MRTI: Sunday Barber Notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Mother Nature intervened heavily on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, and the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires both completed their second races of the weekend on a wet track.

Indy Lights saw Andretti Autosport’s Pato O’Ward complete the weekend sweep – he won Race 1 on Saturday – while Pro Mazda had a wet and wild race of survival that saw a pair of leaders go off, giving way to another first-time winner in Pro Mazda at the end of the day.

Reports on both races are below.

Indy Lights: Race 2 Victory Completes Dominant Weekend for O’Ward

Pato O’Ward celebrates his Race 2 victory at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Andretti Autosport’s Pato O’Ward completed a perfect weekend at Barber Motorsports Park by claiming victory in Indy Lights Race 2 on Sunday.

Officials were forced to move the race up to 10:45 a.m. local time (11:45 ET) due to weather, and Race 2 began under a rain shower.

However, it did not deter O’Ward one bit, who rocketed off into the lead from the pole, and was never headed on his way to winning by over five seconds.

In addition to winning both races, O’Ward led every lap in both races, completing a weekend of utter dominance for the 18-year-old native of Mexico.

Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni came home in second, his best finish since moving up to Indy Lights this year, with Andretti Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta rounding out the podium.

The Belardi Auto Racing duo of Aaron Telitz and Santi Urrutia finished fourth and fifth, with Telitz finally finishing a race after only completing a combined four corners in the first three races of the season.

Urrutia, meanwhile struggled somewhat and faded to fifth after starting third.

Andretti’s Dalton Kellett and Ryan Norman and Juncos’ Alfonso Celis Jr. rounded out the field in sixth, seventh, and eighth.

Results are below.

Pro Mazda: Harrison Scott Survives the Rain to Take First Pro Mazda Win

Harrison Scott and RP Motorsports celebrate victory in Pro Mazda Race 2 at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

RP Motorsport’s Harrison Scott managed to survive a track that started out damp, began drying out, and then became very wet during a downpour in the final laps to win in Pro Mazda Race 2 from Barber.

Scott, who started second, was able to pass Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson, the polesitter and Race 1 winner, on the inside entering Turn 5 on Lap 2, with Thompson running slightly off track on corner exit and falling back to third, with Team Pelfrey’s Andres Gutierrez going through into second.

Scott, Gutierrez, and Thompson stayed close the rest of the way, and Gutierrez even managed to make a nifty outside pass on Scott in Turn 5 on Lap 9 to take the lead.

However, rain, which hit the track briefly and stopped about 30 minutes before the race started, returned in the second half of the race, and progressively got heavier.

It all came to a head on Lap 21, when the slick conditions sent Gutierrez off course in Turns 7 and 8. He rejoined the track, but fell back to seventh, allowing Scott back into the lead.

Race Control quickly threw a caution as a result of the conditions, and the race finished under yellow, with Scott taking the checkered flag for his first Pro Mazda win.

Behind Scott, Thompson came home in second, with Juncos Racing’s Carlos Cunhas in third. Cunha’s teammate Rinus VeeKay was fourth, with BN Racing’s David Malukas rounding out the Top 5.

Of note: Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew was one of a couple drivers who pitted for rain tires under the late yellow, gambling that the race may go back to green – he was running tenth at the time. However, because the race never went back to green, Askew was relegated to 12th at the end.

Results are below.

Note: Check back later for driver quotes.

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