Indy 500 test update: Thursday delayed for track drying after work on pit warmup lane


INDIANAPOLIS – Track maintenance crews at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway worked overnight to treat the hazardous area of the pit warmup lane where three incidents occurred during Wednesday’s Indy 500 test.

According to IndyCar officials, extensive tire dragging, and brushing was performed using two 800-pound tractor tires to put rubber down and remove any extra Rapid Penetrating Emulsion (RPE) treatment.

The RPE sealant was used on the track in 2018 to seal the surface. The pit warmup lane had that treatment applied over this offseason, and track president Doug Boles told the Indy Star later Wednesday night that the application might have factored into the lack of grip that caused three spins Wednesday.

Boles said during Thursday’s Peacock broadcast that the track had worked on dragging tires across the pit warmup lane until just before 1 a.m. ET Thursday.

RPE was developed by a company named Asphalt Materials, Inc. (AMI), and its most high-profile use of RPE has been at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A key part of what makes RPE effective is its penetrating, air-void-filling capability. Unlike a crack seal that simply covers the surface of a crack, RPE soaks into the pavement itself and decreases the permeability of the surface to which it’s applied.

Boles said the sealer helps seal cracks and prevent weepers (water seeping onto the track), but IMS staff also discovered that it helps improve track drying, too, since applications began after a 2004 resurfacing of the 2.5-mile oval.

Heavy rain swept through the Indianapolis area overnight and ended around 9 a.m. ET Thursday, delaying the scheduled 10 a.m. start for Thursday’s session (which will be televised on Peacock).

The plan for this morning is to dry the track, and Firestone officials then will re-scan the warmup lane and evaluate the affected areas.

“We’ll wait for it to dry off and have Firestone tell us where we are,” Boles said during the interview on Peacock, adding that the problem definitely would be fixed by the May 17 opening practice for the 106th Indy 500.

IndyCar is anticipating an improvement from last night’s treacherous conditions that saw former Indy 500 winners Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves and Will Power lose control of their cars on the pit warmup lane in three separate spins during Wednesday’s test session.

Boles said he had called Castroneves and other drivers involved in the incidents to apologize and ensure they understood the accidents weren’t their fault.

“I wanted to make sure Helio, Will and Alex knew it wasn’t their fault,” Boles said. “So I walked them through exactly what had happened with the racetrack and what we had done. Hopefully, today we’re in better shape.

“I want the drivers to know we get to do this because of them. It’s the fans and the drivers who make this so special. I don’t want them thinking in the back of their mind it was them. It absolutely wasn’t. I had a conversation last night with Josef (Newgarden), too, just to figure out what he thought about it. Just making sure they know it’s not them. It’s something we did. We’re going to fix it.”

If Firestone’s evaluation shows positive results, testing will resume Thursday. Day 2 originally was scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, and IndyCar has the option to extend the test session to ensure six hours of running time.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III