Power, Course Woes Are Big News In Baltimore
Defending race winner and IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power led shortened opening day of practice for the Grand Prix of Baltimore.
Power turned a lap of 1 minute, 21.4572 seconds in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car during a 30-minute practice after course issues shortened morning practice and forced series officials to install a chicane on the main straightaway.
Erecting a temporary tire barrier chicane on the Pratt Street main straightaway was the most prudent and effective solution to alleviate the effects of a bump in a section of the pavement near the light rail tracks on the Pratt Street straightway.
“I believe the problem with the track is the pavement before you get to the railroad tracks,” INDYCAR president of competition Beaux Barfield said. “A lot of the problem is the tracks are the high ground in that area, whereas the pavement in the Turn 7 area or at pit in the tracks are the low ground, so it’s easy to pave across them and achieve what we’re able to there. As quick and as easy as that is and it appears to be, it’s really impossible to do the same thing to do on the backstraight. It’s really an unfortunate challenge there for us.”
Barfield said that paving over the tracks was probably not an option and that the future of the course is open to question.
“It would require what I think would be a pretty significant commitment from the City, and beyond what they already showed us, it would be a pretty tall order,” Barfield said. “They’ve been great with a lot of the paving they’ve done in other areas. It would probably include a significant repave job and what my expectations are for an event like this and it would an above and beyond what we’ve asked for. For what we created today with a little simpler chicane, I’d live with us being able to do this event like that in the future.”
Simon Pagenaud, who clinched the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award at Sonoma, was second qucik (1:21.4883) in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car.
Scott Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, was third (1:21.7211) and Ruberna Barrichello (1:21.9194) in the No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology car. James Hinchcliffe was fifth in the No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com car for Andretti Autosport.
Groups for the first round of qualifying will be determined from the morning (9-10 ET) practice session.
Removal of the chicane, widening of the right-hand Turn 1 and reshaping Turns 5-6 (also the pit entrance) were alterations to the circuit based on driver feedback from the inaugural race in 2011. Construction started July 30 under the direction of NZR Consulting, and the company and its local workforce didn’t take control of the full 2.04-mile, 13-turn course until late Aug. 30.No Comment