Positioning Of Grandstand, Course Setup Questioned Following Houston IndyCar Wreck

IndyCar driver Will Power "questioned the bumpy track surface and the position of the grandstand in the area of the street circuit involved" in Sunday's final-lap crash at the Shell-Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, according to Jeff Olson of USA TODAY.

Power said, "Next year they'll have to grind that section of the track down (to make it more smooth)." Olson notes debris from the wreck as well as a piece of the catchfence entered the grandstand. The grandstand's positioning — "on the outside of a high-speed, sweeping turn — also came under fire after the incident."

Power said, "You would never expect a grandstand outside a big sweeping corner like that." IndyCar, which returned open-wheel racing to Houston for the first time since '07, "had problems with the course starting Friday when the doubleheader race schedule was delayed after a large bump in Turn 1 delayed practice sessions as track and IndyCar officials erected a temporary tire chicane." Race promoter Mike Lanigan following the Friday delay "noted the short time he and his crew had to set up the course" because of the Seahawks-Texans game Sept. 29 at nearby Reliant Stadium.

Meanwhile, Power "praised the fence and the car for preventing a larger catastrophe." While a section of the fence "did end up in the crowd, Power noted that it effectively sent" driver Dario Franchitti's car "back onto the circuit and not into the grandstand" USA TODAY

CNN.com's Michael Pearson wrote the issue of fan safety has "long been on IndyCar's agenda." The issue was "amplified two years ago, when two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon died after his car struck a fence support" during IndyCar's season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. An IndyCar consultant last year said that it was "committed to investigating ways to better design barriers to prevent crash debris from reaching fans." CNN.com.

NBC's Brian Williams said Franchitti's "frightening crash … shook up the world of auto racing." SI Senior Editor Richard O'Brien said of safety at tracks, "It's impossible to completely protect the spectators using the catch fencing as it exists now because it's something you can see through" "Nightly News," NBC, .

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