Putting aside the debate about the road course versus the oval, NASCAR Cup Series drivers appeared to enjoy turning left and right in Saturday’s practice at Indianapolis.
“It’s different,” Brad Keselowski said. “It has its own flavor to it. All road courses have their own flavor, but this one has the feel of an F1 track where some of them are just road courses. This one is really well done from that perspective, and clean and nice.”
Teams had 50 minutes of practice today, the only on-track time they will have before Sunday’s qualifying session and race. There were no significant incidents Saturday morning, but drivers like Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones did wind up off course.
“It’s fun a track,” Hamlin said. “It’s got some good passing zones. It’s good so far.”
Martin Truex Jr. was the fastest in practice and said he likes the course. One of Truex’s teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch, said the course was fine but a little slick when trying to find grip and make speed. Busch didn’t feel his team did a good job of that.
According to William Byron, who was second fastest, the course is “pretty fun.”
“It’s flat, not a bunch of elevation change,” said Byron, who earlier this week got some tips and tricks on the course from fellow Chevrolet driver from the IndyCar Series, Rinus VeeKay. “It’s pretty easy this weekend.”
NASCAR is running both the Xfinity Series and Cup Series races on the road course this weekend, and the track is also hosting the IndyCar Series. The course layout is the same for all three series– 14 turns, 2.439 miles.
Not all stock car drivers agree with Byron’s take look at the course being easy, though.
“The corners here are very challenging in that when you make some of the infield better, it’s hard getting back up onto the big track,” said Austin Dillon. “I’m just trying to figure out what we need to do to make the car a little better in the higher-speed sections to just help set up for passing.”
Said Ryan Blaney, “The course is neat. Pretty tough to get the hang of. A lot of long straightaways and really heavy braking corners, and it’s really easy to lock your tires up, especially into (Turn) 12 there. It’s a weird transition.
“It’s cool to be at Indy no matter what it is. There will be a lot of challenges tomorrow for the race, trying to take care of your tires and your car and stuff. It was a fun day getting your bearings on everything. It’s a different road course. It’s flat. There is no elevation, not like (Watkins) Glen or Sonoma, where you have some dips. This is just flat. Different.”
One driver embracing everything about Indianapolis this weekend is Kurt Busch.
“It’s a fun course and it’s an historic feel, which is something cool for our series, to be going down the front straightaway the opposite direction like in the old school F1 days like when they came here in early 2000,” said Busch. “That’s kind of the feel of everything. And then to have IndyCar, Xfinity, (Cup), everybody here, it’s like the whole motorsport fraternity hanging out, and it’s really neat to see everybody’s smiles. So, a lot of emotions today.”