The NTT IndyCar Series has confirmed it will hold a special session on Saturday to work Firestone rubber into Texas Motor Speedway’s second lane.
The plan, which has been suggested in recent years by Team Penske’s Will Power, involves sending a group of drivers out on new Firestone tires to run exclusively on the middle portion of the corners that have been negatively affected by the use of PJ1 traction compound during the Texas NASCAR events.
Despite dragging steel mesh behind a truck to scrape the PJ1 material off the upper lanes, unequal grip will be found between the clean bottom lane and the dark upper lanes that show the effects of the PJ1. To try and resolve the issue, IndyCar has devised a contingency plan that would push its second and final practice session on Saturday from 4-5 p.m. to 4:45-5:45 p.m.
Seven drivers will assist IndyCar during the special 4-4:30 p.m. second-lane session, led by Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Pato O’Ward, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Felix Rosenqvist and Takuma Sato. They will make use of 10 new sets of tires from the 2021 race; Power and Rahal will get two sets. The drivers will gradually work up to speed in the corners and lay down rubber on top of the PJ1 remnants.
To assist in grinding the rubber into the second lane, IndyCar will allow the participating teams to dial up the downforce — namely through an increased rear wing angle — to a higher specification than is allowed for Sunday’s XPEL 375 race while lapping for the 30-minute session. Once the session is over, those teams will have 15 minutes to dial out the added downforce, return the cars to race spec, and run the one-hour practice session to prepare for the 248-lap contest.
“I was kind of disappointed more people didn’t take advantage of it,” Power told RACER. “Like, there’s 10 sets of new tires and only six or seven people are taking them. Why wouldn’t you take a set and get some practice on the second line? I’m gonna do it. We’ll see what [seven] cars can do. Not ideal, but better than nothing.”