Apron project at Indianapolis delayed for one year

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Back in December, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles revealed that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was likely to re-install the track’s previous “apron” in order to spice up the action for its NASCAR events.

But now comes word that the apron project has been delayed for at least one year, with Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star reporting that NASCAR officials wanted more time to study the effects of changes made to the track.

The Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series will race at Indy on July 26 (NNS; Indiana 250) and 27 (Cup; Brickyard 400), respectively.

“They asked if we could postpone [the project] so they could test it,” IMS president Doug Boles told Cavin today. “We said, ‘That makes sense; we understand that.'”

Boles also noted Indianapolis’ rough winter, which delayed multiple other track projects over the off-season; since the area took longer to warm up, officials decided not to run the risk of having the track not be ready for 2015 Indianapolis 500 activities.

Speedway crews had planned to begin re-installing the apron following the conclusion of its vintage racing weekend in early June.

The apron has been targeted as a way to increase passing for the stock cars at Indy, which have not also produced a great show on the 2.5-mile rectangular oval. An apron has not been in place at Indy since the early ’90s, when a series of bad IndyCar crashes compelled the track to remove it.

However, as Cavin reports, the delay on this project should be just that as Boles says that track shareholders have approved the re-installation.

Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.