IndyCar might reinstall chicane for bumpy Baltimore track

UPDATE #3 The grinding did not do enough. They are putting a chicane up.

08/31/12 Barfield just announced that they have a change in plan. The city has a grinder onsite and they will attempt to grind the track during the lunch break. The consultant thinks they can fix it with grinding. If not they will go with the chicane.

08/31/12 Article updated with more quotes below.

Beaux Barfield

08/31/12 IndyCar Race Director Beaux Barfield just told and other media here in Baltimore “Last year, I know there were some unofficial tests performed (on the front straight). When drivers had some clear laps, they sent them straight through the (Pratt Street) chicane. The feedback from the few drivers who tried that was we should come back without the chicane. That’s what happened, and immediately after letting cars on track (today), we saw that it wasn’t doable."

Referring to the San Jose Champ Car race in 2005 Barfield said, "I know from events we’ve had in the past with railroad tracks in play that railroad tracks can change overnight. I know the (light) rail hasn’t been active, but my point is from last year to this year, it could have changed a lot with the way those tracks settle. So based on driver input and looking at the video, I thought it was appropriate to end the session early, talk to some drivers directly, get some input and come up with a plan.

"My original plan did include not running for the rest of the day, but I think we have come up with a plan that we can put out cars this afternoon. Bottom line is, with that happening, this evening there will be a big project out there to either lay some pavement down or rebuild the chicane. It’s a shame because based on the feedback we got last year, and the effort the promoter has made, it was the right direction to go.

"Obviously, we proved pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to work."

(About the grading done to the run up to the railroad tracks): “The reality is the grading that I saw down there was only to get the paint up from the centerlines and a crosswalk. It doesn’t look like it was grinding done to change the profile of the pavement. From what I see out there, the profile of the pavement, the front edge before you get to the tracks is just enough of a lip that it bottoms out and launches the car, so I believe, for example the things we’ve been discussing, there would be some pavement required to go in there. But it would very risky because it’s still completely unproven. We could go put pavement in there tonight, but if it doesn’t fix the problem we’re having this same conversation tomorrow.

"I think as much as I’d rather have pavement than a chicane, I think our best option, since we proved it worked last year, is put a chicane in."

(Would that lead to more track time?): “We’re stuck in the schedule that we have with everything else going on. I don’t see us getting any more track time."

(Is there a smoother line drivers could take in lieu of adding a chicane?): “I know there’s a smoother line on the left side, but it’s a very narrow window. With that being what it is, and from the driver feedback, it’s appropriate to take these very drastic measures."

With the elimination of the chicane the speeds are 10 MPH faster down the straight so drivers are complaining of bumps further down the straight. Barfield feels that is because of the higher speeds which the chicane will resolve as well.

Barfield said cars will practice this afternoon with tires laid out to mimic the chicane so drivers get used to it before tomorrow. Mark C. reporting from Baltimore.

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