The Verizon IndyCar Series, Firestone and ISM Raceway will start the process of rubbering in a high line at the one-mile Phoenix oval on Wednesday.
The process, which involves towing the Firestone tires around the circuit with a special sled that compresses the rubber into the track surface while slowly rotating the tires to avoid flat spots and punctures, could add enough grip to the outer lane for drivers to venture out in practice and see if the single-lane circuit has been expanded to two.
Known as one of the tracks on the IndyCar schedule where competitive passing for the lead has been in short supply, the use of the high line in Turns 1 and 2, and again in Turns 3 and 4, has been all but impossible as tire marbles have made going offline a crashworthy offense. Provided a consistent layer of Firestone rubber can be installed where drivers haven’t ventured, the marble problem should be less of a concern.
With the tire-dragging device headed to ISM Raceway, all parties involved in the experiment will do a test run on Wednesday and go through a lengthier process on Thursday where the track will be swept and cleaned prior to three hours of lapping by the sled in the afternoon.
The process is scheduled to be repeated on Friday 20 minutes prior to opening practice, and twice on Saturday, with one two-hour dragging session set for the morning, and the final one-hour session shortly before the 250-lap race.