Graham Rahal: Someone needs ‘to apologize to fans’ for Firestone 600 delay

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FORT WORTH – The Firestone 600 has had four different scheduled start times beginning with 7:50 p.m. ET Saturday night.

The race finally started just before 2:50 p.m. ET Sunday afternoon.

About 20 minutes after the fourth start time of 2:06 p.m. ET, Graham Rahal voiced his displeasure at the drying efforts of the track, saying fans at Texas Motor Speedway and watching on TV should receive an apology an apology.

Track dryers were still on the track as late as 2:35 p.m. ET working on weepers on the apron and the backstretch. At 2:41 p.m. ET, when drivers were called to their cars, the temperature at TMS was 89.2 degrees but felt like 98 degrees according to wunderground.com.

“It’s tough, because weepers only get worse when the sun hits the track,” Rahal said.  “Fans don’t understand. No one has come on TV at track. Eddie Gossage or somebody should come on TV to apologize and explain what’s happening. We’re all sitting here and waiting.

“I feel terrible for the fans. Obviously they’re watching. We appreciate everyone tuning back in, and particular the ones sitting here in the heat.”

Gossage tweeted in response to Rahal’s comments.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was one of a handful of drivers that had inspected the track.

“There’s just some weepers that are really causing some issue. It sucks the water back out of ground. Heat brings it out,” Hunter-Reay told CNBC, saying the biggest concern was wet spots on the apron.

“If one car touches the wrong spot it creates a really bad deal and you’d kick yourself if not even trying,” Hunter-Reay said. “If this was a test day, we wouldn’t be running.

“We can essentially dry the racing lines out. It’s more the areas that don’t have a jet drier, like the apron. I could run right now.”

 

Supercross’ return Sunday in Salt Lake: Start time, TV, info for watching

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Nearly three months after the postponement of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Monster Energy Supercross is returning to action.

Sunday’s Round 11 is the first of seven remaining 2020 events to be completed. All are being held at Rice-Eccles Stadium, on the campus of the University of Utah, with no fans in attendance.

Here’s what you need to know …

BROADCAST/STREAMING SCHEDULE

Television coverage will begin at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, then will move to NBC from 4-6 p.m. ET.

The event also will be streamed on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports App, and NBC Sports Gold’s Supercross Pass, which also will stream live qualifying for the event starting at 1:30 p.m. ET.

COVID-19 IMPACT

Earlier this month, Feld Entertainment senior director of two-wheel operations Dave Prater confirmed that protocols for the final seven races will include COVID-19 testing for everyone on-site at Rice-Eccles Stadium. A negative result will be required to enter the stadium’s perimeter; only one test will be necessary as long as the person remains in Utah throughout the seven-race stretch.

Additional protocols include temperature checks (administered when someone enters the stadium perimeter), face masks, increased sanitation efforts and social distancing.

TRACK MAP

Prater also noted there is a different track map for each of the seven remaining rounds. “You might not see as different a track as you would from Indy to Salt Lake, but it will be a different track,” he said. “The lanes will be the same but with different obstacles.”

Click here to see the map for Sunday’s event.

FORMAT

A standard event format will be used for the seven remaining rounds, except for the season finale on June 21, which will include an East/West Showdown in the 250SX class.

  • 450SX Class – 40 Riders based on current point standings and 2020 top 100 number or combined season qualifying results
  • 250SX Class – 40 Riders based on current point standings and 2020 top 100 number or combined season qualifying results
  • Two qualifying sessions will be held for gate pick
  • 250SX Class – Two Heat Races and a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ)
  • 450SX Class – Two Heat Races and a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ)
  • 250SX Class Main Event
  • 450SX Class Main Event

WEATHER

Riders will face a heat wave in Salt Lake City. Weather Underground forecasts temperatures near 90 degrees at race time under partly cloudy skies.

WHEN WE LAST LEFT YOU

On March 7 at Daytona International Speedway, Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Eli Tomac earned his fourth career Daytona Supercross win in the 450SX class. Tomac erased a nine-second deficit, took the lead from Honda rival Ken Roczen with two minutes to go before the white flag lap and went on to victory.

In the 250SX East class, 18-year-old Garrett Marchbanks became just the fourth rider to claim their first career 250 class win at Daytona. Marchbanks held on after absorbing late-race pressure from reigning 250SX East champion Chase Sexton.

Extended Highlights – Daytona 450SX

Extended Highlights – Daytona 250SX

Tomac – who has become a father for the first time during the shutdown – currently holds the 450SX class championship lead by three points over Roczen. Reigning champion Cooper Webb is in third place, 29 points back.

In the 250SX East class, Sexton leads the way by 10 points over Shane McElrath, followed by R.J. Hampshire, 18 points back.

REST OF THE SCHEDULE

After Sunday’s opener, here are the details for the remaining six rounds:

  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).