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Houston Update: Temporary chicane installed at Turn 1, grinding set for tonight

Oct 4, 2013, 1:58 PM EDT

Houston Scenics Getty Images

UPDATE (6:57 p.m. ET): INDYCAR has announced that qualifying for tomorrow’s Race 1 will follow the same format as that of Race 2. That means the drivers will be separated into two groups, with each group getting 12 minutes each to throw down their best laps. The overall sessions will remain at 30 minutes.

Earlier today, INDYCAR president of competition Brian Barnhart said that a temporary chicane was installed at Turn 1 to allow track time for all of the series at Reliant Park.

Additionally, course designer Martyn Thake also said that grinding will take place at Turn 1 later this evening for a more permanent solution to the problem that has delayed this morning’s on-track activity.

“It’s been a unique challenge the last 96 hours turning the parking lot into a race track right after the Texans’ game [on Sunday], with so many things moving and interlocking at the same time,” Thake said. “It was very hard to get a full assessment of the surface.

“…The area where we’re experiencing problems right now is actually the area where the Texans keep their field between games. This concrete hasn’t actually been driven on for six, seven years. It’s an area we were unable to explore too closely until we were able to take over the facility and the [time] pressure of the construction prevented us from doing any in-depth testing.”

Thake anticipates that a full day of racing will be had on Saturday after the grinding is complete.

In the days leading up to the race weekend, workers had been thrashing to get this temporary layout set up following the conclusion of last Sunday’s aforementioned NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans at nearby Reliant Stadium. The stadium is positioned outside Turn 6 of the course.

The delay resulted in an altered schedule, with the IndyCars’ original 90-minute practice session broken into two 45-minute blocks – one from 2-2:45 p.m. ET and another from 5:30-6:15 p.m. ET.

Qualifying for Saturday’s IndyCar Race 1 and Sunday’s Race 2 were pushed back to those respective mornings. There will be no Firestone Fast Six sessions this weekend.

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