Modified Texas Track Won't Hurt the Racing, Says Rahal

Modified Texas Track Won't Hurt the Racing, Says Rahal

Graham Rahal, who won last season's frantic race at Texas Motor Speedway, says the track's new surface and reprofiled Turn 1 will still allow the Verizon IndyCar Series cars to race well.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver held off James Hinchcliffe to win by 0.008sec at Texas last year, after the mid-June race was suspended for bad weather before one-third distance, and was then completed in late August.

However, since then, the track has been reprofiled at Turn 1 and been resurfaced.

Rahal told "I feel the track is a lot different. Turn 1, for me, used to be a case of wanting to turn in, get down to the white line, and then hold it for a second before starting to release it on the exit. Now you're trying to hold it down there, and the corner just keeps on going and going. It feels like the radius is now more like Pocono's Turn 1.

"The track is a little bit shorter - where the white line was, they've moved it in 40 feet or whatever - so now it feels different, it's also visually very different, and the pit-out lane is much narrower now, too."

The changes, said Rahal, would help maintain the quality of racing for which Texas Motor Speedway has become renowned.

"Yeah, the important thing is, I get the sense we're going to put on a good show," he said. "I didn't see a third lane coming in at all in Turn 1, but I saw guys getting three-wide on the exit of Turn 2, then staying three-wide down the back chute, and being able to stay a little bit higher through 3 and 4.

"The big help there is the resurfacing work. The bumps seem to be a lot better, which is great because honestly, on the old track surface, they were beginning to hurt the racing. It became hard to run that top lane because you didn't want to hit a bump that sent you into the wall. I don't think that's a worry now."

Asked if he found that tracking the tighter radius of Turn 1 was hurting the front tires, Rahal said: "Well… not this time. The tires seemed really good.

"But I always caution everyone about reading too much into these tests. I was happy in the test, but it was around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. I guarantee when we come back here it's going to be 20 degrees hotter.

"And it was cloudy, whereas when we come back in June that track will be getting a lot of sun. For example, at one point in the test, the track was only 74 degrees; when we qualified last year, track temp was 134!

"So I don't want anyone to get too ahead of themselves because it could be a complete different ballgame in two months."

One curiosity Rahal found was caused by TMS hosting NASCAR's Monster Energy Cup and Xfinity Series rounds last weekend, and it may have a bearing on the IndyCar race in June which will be, as usual, supported by the NASCAR Trucks series.

"Most years I find the NASCAR rubber that's down there has always been fairly compatible with our Firestones," said Rahal. "But in the test, that was not the case at all.

"It was really pulling up off the surface in the first half of the day, so it took us a while to get that off the track. At the end of the test the track was a totally different color than at the start. It's strange, and I'm guessing it's a by-product of how the new surface reacts with the NASCAR [Goodyear] tires."

Regarding the RLLR team's performance, which resulted in second-fastest time in the test, Rahal said: "We were pretty pleased with it. I didn't change much on the car all day because we showed up with a setup which, for whatever reason, works really well there these days - after years of sucking at that place! So that makes life a hell of a lot easier.

"But again, like I say, in two months' time we could have a whole new situation to deal with."