IndyCar: GP of Houston preparing for second chance

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Last year’s Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston was not an altogether pleasant weekend.

The Houston doubleheader last October may have revived the Verizon IndyCar Series championship race going into the season finale, but that aspect was overshadowed by a pesky bump in Turn 1, a constantly revised schedule of events, and of course, the crash that ended the career of Dario Franchitti and injured 13 fans via flying debris.

Now the series is set to head back there at the end of the month, and naturally, there are questions about what the promoters are doing to ensure that this year’s running is less troubled.

ABC affiliate KTRK reports grandstands in some of the track’s high-speed areas are being pushed farther away, presumably in response to the Franchitti wreck that took place in Turn 5 of the temporary circuit at NRG Park.

Franchitti was sent airborne and slammed hard into the catch fence, spraying debris all over the course and into a nearby seating area.

Course designer Martyn Thake told KTRK that the crash was a perfect storm of circumstances.

“There are racing incidents,” he said to the station. “If you would’ve sat down and tried to describe [the crash] to me, I would’ve said a million to one shot.

“It’s just a matter of everything happening at the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Additionally, some parts of the circuit are also getting a repave to make things smoother. The Associated Press relays word from Thake that the Turn 1 area has been demolished and new concrete is being poured there.

Construction of the Grand Prix track began with a ceremony today that saw Will Power, Takuma Sato, and Mikhail Aleshin get inside forklifts and move the first barriers into place. The trio also signed autographs for local fans.

The Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston will air LIVE on NBCSN June 28 and 29 at 3 p.m. ET.

IndyCar at IMS Friday: How to watch, start times, live streaming info

IndyCar Indianapolis start times
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With three races remaining in the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon has a commanding lead and history on his side entering Friday’s opener of the Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time series champion leads defending champ Josef Newgarden by 72 points.

Since 2014, the points leader with three races left has won the championship in five of the past six years, including Dixon in ’18.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the championship standings following every round after opening 2020 with three consecutive victories. Dixon also led the points by 78 points with three races remaining when he won the title in 2008.

Dixon, Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are championship eligible.

Anyone outside 108 points of the lead after Indy will be eliminated heading into the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Here is the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course schedule for Friday (all times are ET), including details and start times:


Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV schedule for Friday

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1: 3:30 p.m., USA Network, NBC Sports Gold and streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for IndyCar on NBCSN this weekend with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.


IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway start times, information

COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 3:53 p.m.

GREEN FLAG: 4 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (207.35 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in Indianapolis.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate (A 10th set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie.) Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.

PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 57 degrees with a 0% chance of rain at the green flag.

QUALIFYING: 6:20 p.m. Thursday (NBC Sports Gold)

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 25 drivers racing this weekend at Indianapolis