With two races of feedback to draw from, the NTT IndyCar Series has elected to make its experimental expansion to 75-minute opening practice sessions a standard part of its remaining road and street course events.
The first experiment took place in June at Road America where the increase from 45 to 75 minutes received responses from the paddock that were generally positive, and with more laps being turned in that session and the extended first session at Mid-Ohio, the series will continue with the longer outings to start each event.
“We’ll do these for the rest of the year,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER. “It seems like it’s worked fine and if we look at the data, we’ve ran more laps by doing this, so that’s good. So even if it’s the rookies that are the ones that mostly go out there for the first 15-20 minutes, that’s great. We still have cars on track.”
The only exception is expected to be found at the upcoming Brickyard event on the Indianapolis road course where IndyCar takes part in a condensed event as part of the NASCAR weekend. Opening practice is likely to be 90 minutes long and feed directly into qualifying for the Saturday race on July 30.
“We got here because the 45-minute practice session would open and everybody would just sit there,” Frye said. “You want practices where there are cars on the track for the fans, so we worked to come up with what we thought was the right mix of tires and time. And now we’ve extended the time a little bit on Friday afternoon and on the first weekend we did it there were something like an extra 160 laps that were ran and at the next one it was 200, more than the way we did it before.”