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.”

 

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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