The Indy 500 is one of the most important races in motorsports and this year’s event saw a new-look Indianapolis Motor Speedway, thanks to overnight work on pit lane. The track was shut for the night after Friday practice session, with workers repairing some areas that had been damaged by Saturday’s race.
The “ally pit crew death” is a recent tragedy that has been in the news. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has released an update on their progress with the construction of their new pit lane, which will hopefully prevent any more accidents like this one.
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIA — As IndyCar drivers returned to work at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday, Jimmie Johnson set the quickest lap of his career.
There were no spins, no collisions, and less chatter about the smooth warmup lane this time.
Instead, on the historic 2.5-mile oval’s bustling second and final day of testing, racers battled to the top of the speed chart. Thirty-one of the 32 drivers competing in next month’s Indianapolis 500 race raced at speeds over 229 mph.
As hundreds of spectators watched from the mounds outside the speedway’s museum after the rain stopped, warm, bright, and quiet weather provided a calmer atmosphere than Wednesday.
“On the No. 2 vehicle, everything is running well. It’s not like taking two strides ahead and one step back, or the other way around “Josef Newgarden, a two-time series champion, stated after setting the fastest time of 229.519 seconds. “I’m really secure in what we have and feel comfortable showing up wherever.”
He ought to. Newgarden has now won two games in a row.
Takuma Sato of Japan, a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, came in second with a time of 229.427. Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner and seven-time NASCAR champion, finished third in 228.767. Chip Ganassi Racing took five of the top ten slots, with Johnson finishing eighth at 227.900.
The nagging question, on the other hand, was never about speed.
Everyone was waiting to see whether the warmup lane glitch, which caused three race winners to spin and two collisions on Wednesday, had been resolved. Kanaan spoke with racetrack president Doug Boles late Wednesday night about the findings, and before the track reopened following a four-hour rain delay, he told colleagues to take it carefully and exercise common sense.
Track personnel spent five hours pulling tires through the apron, according to Boles, in the hopes of improving traction. An investigation indicated that the historic 2.5-mile oval had 25% greater grip than the exit to pit road, which is thought to be due to more usage on the track after Rapid Penetrating Emulsion was applied last autumn.
The chemical helps the track dry faster, allowing everyone to return to work on Thursday, and Kanaan believes the late-night labor paid off.
“It was better in lane one today,” Kanaan said, “but they realize they still have a lot of work to do.” “If there’s one tune that’ll get it done, it’ll be this one.”
Kanaan claims that track authorities have told him that the track would be grinded if necessary before the May 29 race.
The perfect weather kept most cars on the track for the whole session, but none of them spun, which was a pleasant relief.
Will Power, the 2018 Indianapolis 500 champion, claimed it seemed like he was driving through water when his vehicle completed a 360-degree spin in the first turn, sending him perilously close to traffic. Colton Herta, a potential 22-year-old, was pushed to take a higher line by Power’s vehicle, which drove him into the wall.
Following Herta’s accident, which was the second in less than an hour, series organizers decided to halt Wednesday’s testing early to allow for a more complete investigation.
“The eye test says the grip level will be back up, and the tennis shoe test says it will be,” Boles said early Thursday.
It’s not the first time that drivers have expressed concern about the 113-year-old racetrack.
Only six Formula One cars competed at the 2005 United States Grand Prix due to concerns that Michelin’s tires would only survive 10 laps. Three years later, the Brickyard 400 in NASCAR was overshadowed by a similar incident involving Goodyear tires. The oval was used for both races.
Last year, Cup drivers raced for the first time on Indy’s road track, and the race was hampered by failing curbing that sent some cars flying and injured others. The race was red-flagged by NASCAR authorities so that track personnel could remove the curbing before the 200-mile race.
Then there was Wednesday.
Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner, spun in the warmup lane before the race had started. Helio Castroneves of Brazil was sent skidding into a grass strip and hard into the second turn wall with around 80 minutes remained in the day’s third and final two-hour test session.
Castroneves and Herta were both evaluated and discharged from the track’s infield medical facility immediately after colliding with the wall.
Both were allowed to drive on Thursday, but Castroneves’ vehicle had sustained too much damage.
Boles said he apologized to Castroneves over the phone.
“I take this very seriously because you want this to be the most unique racetrack in the planet,” Boles said. “What I want, and I’m sure we’ll figure out before race day, is for you to get in and out of the pits as quickly as possible.”
Johnson, on the other hand, may have been the largest winner.
“It’s a pretty cool experience, and now I understand why the men around here simply grin when I ask them what it’s like to go fast,” Johnson said. “I’m beginning to develop that grin, and I’m looking forward to it.”
The “indianapolis race track” concerns at Indianapolis Motor Speedway faded after overnight work on pit lane. The issue was that the pit lane was not wide enough to accommodate cars coming in and out of the pits, and drivers were forced to slow down or stop completely.
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