After a three week hiatus, IndyCar finally returned to action on Friday, on the streets of Houston. After the long break, teams and drivers will now get extremely busy. The Grand Prix of Houston will feature two races this weekend, and then it’s off to Pocono next weekend for 500 miles of racing. There were two practice sessions today, and the heat, humidity, and curbs all made for a very challenging day.
The morning practice session was led by rival drivers Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. Power’s best lap was 1:00.440 while Simon was a tick behind at 1:00.695. Right behind those two were Sebastien Bourdais, Takuma Sato, and Tony Kanaan. There were 23 cars that posted times, which included Luca Filippi, who ended up being the story of the day.
Pagenaud led the afternoon practice session, with a best lap of 1:00.410. Ryan Briscoe was second quick, and Filippi, Castroneves, and Mikhail Aleshin rounded out the top five. The session ended a few minutes early due to a hard crash for Jack Hawksworth. The BHA driver hit the curb in Turn 2, and slammed into the outside wall after his front end came off the ground. They will grind that curb down tonight, to prevent cars from getting airborne. Drivers were given time after the afternoon session to work on standing starts.
There were many improvements made to the course since last year’s race. There was a slight bit of work that needed to be done to the track early in the morning session. Many cars were hitting the curbs, which launched the front end of the car up into the air. Helio Castroneves was spotted wearing a brace on his wrist earlier in the day. Dario Franchitti is not in Houston this weekend, he is at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England.
Qualifying for each race this weekend will begin at 11 AM ET, but will be tape delayed on television. NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the races will start at 3 PM ET, with the green flag set for 3:45 on both days. Saturday’s race will feature a standing start, while Sunday’s race will use the traditional rolling start.
Below are the highlights from Friday, courtesy of IndyCar.