IndyCar qualifying on the Houston street course has been postponed and a temporary chicane installed on the approach to Turn 1 in order to address track problems that delayed the start of this weekend’s double-header.
Track time was put on hold after bumps on the entry to Turn 1 proved so severe that Pirelli World Challenge cars were being launched during their morning practice session.
Qualifying for the first race will now take place on Saturday morning, with the second grid to be determined by a session on Sunday morning. The Fast Six format will be dropped in favor of a 30-minute session; however, series officials have yet to decide whether all cars will run at once, or whether the field will qualify in two groups.
IndyCar president of race operations Brian Barnhart said that installing a temporary chicane will allow cars to run today, with the first IndyCar practice session set to start three hours later than originally scheduled.
Additional repair work will be carried out overnight.
“I think we’re got some pretty good solutions in place for the weekend,” Barnhart said. “We’ve put a temporary chicane on the front straightaway at Turn 1 and that is a temporary chicane to allow us to get some track time. A more permanent fix will take place this evening, but obviously people can still learn a lot about the rest of the racetrack.
“The temporary chicane is to slow the cars down and direct them toward the left side of the track where the bump isn’t so bad.”
Martin Thake, director of operations for the Houston race, said that the problem could not have been identified earlier due to the short amount of time available to build the track.
The circuit was constructed in just 96 hours due to the Reliant Park facility’s use by the Houston Texans’ NFL team last weekend.
“It was a unique challenge, the last 96 hours, turning the parking lot into a race track right after the Texans game,” he said. “So many things were moving at the same time, it was very hard for us to do a full assessment of the surface when a facility like this is used as much as it is.
“The area that we’re experiencing a problem with is underneath where the Texans keep their field between games. This concrete hasn’t been driven on in seven years. So it was an area that we were unable to explore until we took over the facility and that prevented us from doing any in-depth testing. We’re going to be grinding the surface this evening and anticipate a full day’s racing tomorrow.”