Texas Motor Speedway

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IndyCar tests at reconfigured Texas test minus some Hondas

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Helio Castroneves immediately noticed the differences at the fast Texas Motor Speedway oval where he has won a record four IndyCar Series races and led more than 500 laps.

Castroneves and other IndyCar drivers, minus several Honda entries, tested there Wednesday. They got their first laps on the 1 1/2-mile track since it was completely repaved and significant changes made to Turns 1 and 2.

“Very valuable anytime you can come to a play when it’s completely new, because it’s completely new right now,” Castroneves said.

“It’s a different layout for sure,” Simon Pagenaud said.

The Texas test was supposed to be a full-field open test with 22 cars. But points leader Sebastien Bourdais and several Honda cars were held out as a precaution because their engines had higher mileage on them. Other cars not testing included entries designated for four-time series champion Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Ryan-Hunter Reay.

Instead of his usual No. 9, Dixon did laps in the No. 83 car of Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Charlie Kimball. Dixon had the fastest lap of the morning session at 219.362 mph, topping last year’s pole-winning speed at Texas.

While maybe preferable to have more Honda cars on track, Dixon didn’t think it would be too much of a disadvantage in the testing to gather data on the track’s new surface and configuration. Cars also ran in groups at times to help determine downforce levels for the June 10 race.

“Always valuable to get track team as a team, I believe. Multiple cars, maybe not so much,” Dixon said.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Honda and IndyCar had agreed for that team’s No. 5 to use a manufacturer spec engine, with James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin sharing time in the car. But the car was parked after an install lap when Chevrolet made an official complaint based on a series rule that doesn’t allow for spec engines in open tests.

Since IndyCar rules allow spec engines only for safety, engine or tire tests, Hinchcliffe will be able to run the car for a tire test Thursday.

The Firestone 600 at Texas last summer was delayed 2 1/2 months, starting June 12 and ending August 27.

The race was red-flagged because of rain after 71 of 248 scheduled laps June 12, after having been postponed a day by wet weather. The race was still under caution when it started to rain again as track officials worked to repair the safety barrier after a scary crash involving Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden.

Daly and Newgarden didn’t participate in the resumption of the race, which Graham Rahal won on a last-lap pass to beat Hinchcliffe by eight-thousandths (0.008) of a second, the closest IndyCar finish ever there.

Newgarden on Wednesday ran his first laps at Texas since breaking his collarbone and sustaining a small fracture in his right hand during that crash.

“I haven’t really thought about it much to be honest with you,” Newgarden said. “I missed the race, which sucked, but it’s great to be back. I love this track.”

Texas decided to repave the track and do extensive drainage improvements after both NASCAR weekends last year also were hampered by rain. The old asphalt had become porous, almost like sponge, making it difficult to dry in a timely matter.

As part of the project, the banking in Turns 1 and 2 was reduced from 24 degrees to 20 degrees and the racing surface widened from 60 to 80 feet in that area.

“It is actually quite different,” Will Power said. “It’s a tighter radius, less banking. But once the grip comes, once you’re wide open, it’s very similar.”

The IndyCar test came three days after Jimmie Johnson won his record seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series there. Johnson started from the back of the field when NASCAR raced on the redone surface without any previous testing.

More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

Texas repave complete; Carpenter thinks ‘five-wide’ possible for IndyCar

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Texas Motor Speedway’s repave process is complete and was formally unveiled on Monday at the Dallas/Fort Worth 1.5-mile oval.

The repave process started in January and ran right on schedule, as completions to the banking change in Turns 1 and 2 occurred with a full repave of the racing surface and pit lane.

TMS President Eddie Gossage hosted both NASCAR and IndyCar stakeholders. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell and past NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Chris Buescher were there from a stock car perspective while INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye and Ed Carpenter Racing owner/driver Ed Carpenter were the from the open-wheel side of affairs.

A ceremonial lap was completed with Chevrolet SS pace cars (which, having had a ride in one before Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IndyCar opener, are quite nice).

Carpenter, who won at Texas in 2014 for his most recent victory, said the change to Turns 1 and 2 could drastically alter the racing on display there.

“I’m excited to get out there in an Indy car,” said the driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. “Obviously, the Chevy SS is nice and can get some speed, but it is a lot different car from an Indy car. But from what I could tell, it’s greatly improved, a lot smoother and I think the reconfiguration as drivers and teams we like challenges and it’s something different.

“Having diversity between 1, 2, 3 and 4 is something good for racing obviously and with it wider Indy cars may be able to go five wide through there.”

INDYCAR will have an open test at the track on April 12, just a couple days after the next round of the season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 9, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 runs on Saturday, June 10, also on NBCSN – which resumes NBCSN’s portion of the season through to the end of year in Sonoma on September 17.

Texas Motor Speedway’s repave, redo chugging along (VIDEO)

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Texas Motor Speedway track president Eddie Gossage has offered an update on the redevelopment and repave process going on at the 1.5-mile Speedway, noting the change in banking to Turns 1 and 2, improved drainage, and a repave of pit road.

You can check out the update in the video released from the track. The project is targeted to be done roughly a month before the first of two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekends in April. The Verizon IndyCar Series races at Texas on June 11.

Texas Motor Speedway set for repave to be done by mid-March

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Texas Motor Speedway endured a challenging 2016 season with rainouts and weepers delaying both its NASCAR and INDYCAR weekends.

INDYCAR added a touch of humor with a new title sponsor for its 2017 race, with Rainguard Water Sealers confirmed in December on a multiyear deal.

Now, hopefully the need for said sealers – or other track drying elements – won’t be required as Texas has today announced a new, major repaving project that the speedway plans to complete about a month before the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend in April.

IndyCar will be back in its usual June date – June 10 – this year after the remainder of the 248-lap race from Lap 72 onwards was postponed from June 12 until August 27 this year.

Track president Eddie Gossage said even though drivers love the old track surface, with it being 20 years since the Speedway first hosted NASCAR Cup and IndyCar races in 1997, the inconvenience to fans was worth the fresh round of investment.

“The fans are why we are doing this,” Gossage said in a release. “The old pavement no longer dried as quickly because through the years of use and weather, the asphalt became porous, kind of like a sponge. Even if we only had a brief shower it was taking us far too long to get the track dried in order to get on to the racing. We owe it to the fans to present the best possible race track so they will be assured of seeing NASCAR and INDYCAR races even if we face some brief inclement weather. This will accomplish that goal.”

Of note, NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan hinted in November that a repave at Texas was all but inevitable, and an idea stemmed from NASCAR on NBC reporter and part-time Camping World Truck Series driver Parker Kligerman to not just repave the track, but reconfigure it as well.

The key details of the repave are below, via the release:

  • It will be a complete repave, construction of an extensive drainage system and a re-profiling of the 1.5-mile oval configuration.
  • Lane Construction Corp., with offices in neighboring Justin, Texas, will handle the repaving project and is known as the preeminent paving company for NASCAR speedways.
  • The repave will feature an asphalt mix similar to the surfaces at SMI sister tracks, Kentucky Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The mix used in conjunction with the construction method will aid in the track’s properties of an “aged” track.
  • For the installation of the French drainage system, trenches will be cut in numerous locations on the frontstretch and backstretch to provide multiple points for water to drain away from the facility more quickly and efficiently than the current system. The drainable mat installation that will tie into a continuous toe drain will aid in the drainage of the track as well.
  • In addition to the repaving and drainage system, Texas Motor Speedway will undergo a re-profiling in Turns 1 and 2 to give the venue a more unique layout from its currently symmetrical 24-degree banking in all four turns. While Turns 3 and 4 will remain unchanged, the banking of Turns 1 and 2 will be decreased to 20 degrees with the racing surface width expanding from 60 to 80 feet in that section of the track.

Here’s the repave details in infographic form (infographic courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway):

texasrepave

Rainguard Water Sealers signs on as Texas IndyCar title sponsor

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Cue the jokes about how Texas Motor Speedway’s new Verizon IndyCar Series race title sponsor, Rainguard Water Sealers, was a year late, as track drying delays from rain helped postpone this year’s race from June to August.

But the new title sponsor is on board for the next three years, through whatever weather exists at TMS. Which is a good thing, because it confirms both the race and the sponsor through 2019.

“We extremely pleased to have Texas Motor Speedway and ‘America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race’ serve as the initial sponsorship venture into motorsports and sports in general for Rainguard Water Sealers,” Eddie Gossage, Texas Motor Speedway president, said in a release. “We look forward to providing Rainguard with an exceptional first experience as an entitlement sponsor and help the company attain their goals through this sponsorship agreement.”

Firestone has been the race’s title sponsor of what is now the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 since 2010. Prior to that, Bombardier Learjet sponsored the race from 2005 to 2009, when Texas dropped from having two races on the annual IndyCar calendar down to one.

Rainguard was founded in 1969 as a manufacturer of architectural grade coatings used in the construction industry, and developed speciality sealer products starting in 2010.