IndyCar’s days of drivers running wide at Circuit of The Americas’ Turn 19 without fear of repercussion are over.
RACER has learned the NTT IndyCar Series will put a stop to the practice seen during its inaugural event at the Texas road course where drivers freely extended the corner by driving past the corner exit curbing to carve a wider and faster trail through COTA’s penultimate turn.
At the 2019 COTA weekend, drivers had mixed reactions to the unenforced use of Turn 19, which offered higher speeds and reduced lap times by ignoring the painted line to demark the end of the racing surface and the start of the expansive runoff area.
Polesitter Will Power summarized the general feeling most offered at the time:
“Turn 19 is obviously just interesting,” the Team Penske driver said at Spring Training. “You have to use the rule to be fast. The rest, it’s a difficult track.”
Starting next February at the Spring Training event held on the sprawling 20-turn facility, IndyCar officials will install a new timing line at the exit of high-speed left-hand corner. With the electronic monitoring loop in place, drivers will be required to cross over the timing line to the left of the curbing in order to trigger the system.
The only way to miss the new timing line is to run wide at Turn 19, which will create an alert for IndyCar’s timing and scoring staff to investigate the reason for straying from the intended track limits by reviewing on-board or trackside video.
It’s believed IndyCar’s race control team will void any qualifying laps at COTA where the Turn 19 timing line is missed. In the race, violations and unique circumstances, such as drivers going side-by-side where the outside driver is forced into the runoff area, will be reviewed before some form of penalty is assessed.