What to watch for: IndyCar Race 1 at Houston (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN & Live Extra)

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BRING YOUR MOUTHGUARDS

Course designers have ground down the Turn 1 bump that wreaked havoc during last year’s Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston weekend, along with a few other spots. But even with the fixes, they’re still racing on a parking lot and this rough, 1.7-mile course is still tough to navigate. Keep an eye on the Turn 2 chicane, where Will Power and Jack Hawksworth got air over the curbs in yesterday’s practice session. Some overnight grinding took place on said curbs, but we’ll have to see if it helps matters.

BEAT THE HEAT

Double-headers are always a grind for the teams, and when you throw in Houston’s summer heat and humidity, things only get more difficult. Temperatures are expected to be around the high 80s and low 90s for today’s 90-lap race, and tomorrow’s 90-lapper has conditions looking about the same. Surely, some of the drivers are already hoping that this event goes to a night-time format in 2015.

POWER SURGE?

Will Power is your current points leader, but is starting 18th in this afternoon’s Race 1. However, this shouldn’t faze the Aussie, who took Race 1 of the Detroit doubleheader after starting 16th and finished second in Detroit Race 2 after getting penalized early for avoidable contact. Houston is a bit bumpier and more compact than Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, though. That could hinder Power’s ability to drive through the field.

ANOTHER LOOK AT LUCA

Luca Filippi has carried a stout pace in Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s second car. He was fourth overall in Friday practice, and this morning, he was able to advance to the Firestone Fast Six and ensure himself a solid starting position for Race 1. An unlucky late yellow cost him a Houston podium in last year’s first race, but if his work so far is any indication, he’ll have a solid opportunity to get that Top-3 result this weekend.

IndyCar race weekend doubleheader schedule at IMS road course

IndyCar weekend schedule Indianapolis
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The NTT IndyCar Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third time this season but with a weekend schedule that will put the action in front of fans for the first time in 2020.

The track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course will play host to IndyCar and sports cars series over four days. The action will begin Thursday with practice and concluding with an eight-hour race Sunday featuring the Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge America.

The NTT IndyCar Series will hold a Friday-Saturday race doubleheader called the Harvest GP presented by GMR.

ENTRY LISTS: Who’s racing IndyCar at IMS this weekend

The name is a nod to the Harvest Classic, which was held Sept. 9, 1916 to help the track stay solvent during World War I. The event had three races of 20, 50 and 100 miles (all won by Johnny Aitken) that was the only racing held outside May at IMS from 1911-93.

A limited crowd of 10,000 will be allowed each day this weekend, and those fans will be the first to experience new video boards, concession stands, restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity.

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Harvest GP:

(All times are Eastern)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Thursday, Oct. 1

Noon — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America test session
2:25 p.m. — IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)
6:20 p.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 1 (NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Friday, Oct. 2

10:20 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
1:40 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
3:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 (USA Network, NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Saturday, Oct. 3

10:20 a.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC Sports Gold)
12:10 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America qualifying
2:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC, NBC Sports Gold)
5:30 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America pole shootout

IndyCar weekend schedule: Sunday, Oct. 4

10 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America race