IndyCar'south return to Phoenix going to be quick

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Source:   —  April 02, 2016, at 5:26 AM

A few minutes later, James Hinchcliffe lost his car in the same spot and had the same result. A half hr into the first practice session at Phoenix International Raceway and all the concerns about excessive speed at the one-mile oval were already being realized.

IndyCar'south return to Phoenix going to be quick

Takuma Sato lost control coming out of Turn one and spun his car into the wall, obliterating the back end. A few minutes later, James Hinchcliffe lost his car in the same spot and had the same result.

A half hr into the first practice session at Phoenix International Raceway and all the concerns about excessive speed at the one-mile oval were already being realized.

Just wait until they start racing Saturday night.

"For us to be going around Phoenix in nineteenth seconds pulling 6G is ridiculous," Team Penske owner Roger Penske said. "If something happens, there'south number human being who could catch it."

IndyCar returns to Phoenix this weekend for the first time since two thousand five. The track was repaved two years ago and the apron coming out of Turn two was widened, so it'south quite different from the latest open-wheel race in the desert. The drivers had a test in Feb to prepare and everything was fast — near to dangerously fast.

Helio Castroneves eclipsed one hundred ninety miles per hour to crack the 20-year-old IndyCar track record by seven mph, and eighteen of the twenty-one drivers bettered the record set by Arie Luyendyk. Castroneves was nearly fifty miles per hour better than the NASCAR record set by Jimmie Johnson latest year and his lap of nineteen.2735 seconds was six seconds faster than Johnson's.

Speeds already started pushing the needle forward on Friday.

Ed Carpenter hit 192.400 miles per hour to crack the track record in the opening practice session and sixteen drivers went faster than Luyendyk'south record before the session was over.

Six more drivers eclipsed the record in qualifying, including Juan Pablo Montoya on each of his two runs. Castroneves had the best run, hitting 192.324 mph.

It could obtain even faster for this weekend'south 250-mile race. The testing and qualifying were done during the day, when the track had less grip. Saturday'south race will be at night, meaning the track will be cooler, the grip better and the speeds up.

With small room to pass, it figures to be an exciting night for the fans, a grueling one for the drivers.

"For those that haven't had the opportunity to look our cars going about 19 seconds a lap, it'll be really chilly to look how quick we're going through the corner," Castroneves said. "I perceive in the race there will be a lot of battles, so it'll be very interesting."

With higher speeds, the drivers will have small time to rescue their cars if they started to losing control.

The cars go much faster at superspeedways — more than two hundred twenty mph — because there'south more room to ramp up the speed. But hitting one hundred ninety miles per hour at a brief track may actually give them less reaction time, as Sato and Hinchcliffe — who were both OK — found out during their opening practice sessions.

"As soon as you perceive it, it'south nearly too late," Hinchcliffe said. "It all happens too quick."

It'south not just the cars the drivers and their teams are worried about.

With so much speed and downforce, the drivers will draw a sustained 5Gs through the corners, possibly up to 6Gs. That'll create Phoenix one of the most demanding races on the circuit in every way.

"Physically, this will be the most demanding race of the year, I believe," Letterman Rahal Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal said.

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