FORT WORTH, Texas – The changes made to Texas Motor Speedway since last year’s Verizon IndyCar Series race were in full display for opening practice this afternoon for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.
The session was delayed nearly three hours to dry the 1.5-mile oval from heavy rain overnight and this morning, but the fact that the track was made ready at all is a testament to the new drainage system installed underneath the newly repaved track surface.
Current points leader Scott Dixon set the pace in the one-hour session with a best lap of 223.422 mph in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda. Charlie Kimball, Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate in the No. 83 Tresiba Honda, was second fastest at 221.861 mph but registered the top lap without an aerodynamic tow from a car in front, at 220.623 mph.
“The NTT Data car is pretty fast and I think all the Ganassi cars are quick,” Dixon said. “We’ll just see how qualifying shakes out. But to be honest, it’s Texas; qualifying isn’t going to mean too much. You’ll still have to have a good car over the long run and take care of the tires, especially with the track configuration change.”
This was the only practice scheduled ahead of single-car qualifying at 4:15 p.m. ET, which airs live on the NBC Sports app and NBCsports.com. An encore qualifying telecast airs at 7 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN.
In addition to the repaving and new drainage system at Texas Motor Speedway, Turns 1 and 2 were reconfigured from 24 degrees to 20 degrees and widened from 60 feet to 80 feet in that area.
"They did a great job with the repave and the redevelopment of Turn 1 and 2, but adding drainage as well," Kimball said. "For us to be able to get nearly an hour of running before qualifying this afternoon was fantastic."
Alexander Rossi was third fastest in practice at 221.317 mph in the No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda. Graham Rahal, the defending Texas race winner fresh off a doubleheader win sweep last weekend in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, was fourth (221.175), ahead of Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti (221.020) and reigning Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (220.828). It gave Honda the top six positions in practice.
A final 30-minute practice is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. today and streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Saturday’s 248-lap race airs live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 8 p.m. ET.