A competition enhancement designed to improve the racing for NASCAR events at Texas Motor Speedway has had the opposite effects for IndyCar races.
What became apparent last summer will continue into 2022 as IndyCar drivers will be unable to get off the bottom groove in Turns 1 and 2 at the Fort Worth intermediate due to the application of a traction compound for NASCAR.
“It’s a no-go zone,” Graham Rahal told reporters after a Wednesday test session at Texas. “When they repaved the track [in early 2017] and used the lime wash, it was slippery. The first Cup race they raced here, a lot of guys crashing. I remember talking to Jimmie (Johnson) about it. It’s just very slippery. Everybody here at TMS does a great job trying to find ways to find grip.
“Unfortunately, the dark black stuff is, from the data we got, is about 20 percent less grip than the bottom lane and a half so it’s still going to be a no-go zone.”
Rahal, who previously won at Fort Worth in 2016, is hoping for IndyCar to make changes to the competition package, alongside a different Firestone tire compound and for cooler temperatures making for better racing for the new doubleheader event on May 1-2.
“I think we’ll be able to put on a better show than what we had last year or the time before that,” Rahal said. “I’m sure when they repaved the track, they thought it was going to be the perfect combination. … Everybody here has done a great job to try to adjust to that and make it racy again. I think it’s getting closer.”
Andretti Autosports’James Hinchcliffe agreed with the overall sentiments from Rahal but added that additional grip could materialize if teams can find a way to make several laps up top and activate the traction compound.
“It might make that a little more feasible, but right now it’s still pretty slick up there unfortunately,” Hinchcliffe said. “We just need more guys trying to run up there at some point.”
The compound was added in the aftermath of the track’s 2017 repave and reconfiguration.
Freshly paved tracks provide so much grip that cars will often go single file because the top makes just as much speed as the bottom but is the longest way around the track. Texas Motor Speedway officials added the compound in the hopes that it would create additional grip to make the groove tenable for NASCAR races.
It’s had mixed effects.
In the case of IndyCar, it’s had no beneficial effect to date, with all involved looking for a solution over the next month.
What competition changes should IndyCar make to improve the racing at Texas Motor Speedway? Tell us in the comments section below.
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