Photo: Walter G. Arce Sr. /ASP Inc.

Indy Car Track Limits at Austin Sparks Debate

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

AUSTIN, Texas– INDYCAR decided on Friday to not enforce track limits at Turn 19 at Circuit Of The Americas ahead of Sunday’s INDYCAR Classic, but several NTT IndyCar Series drivers do not agree with the decision.

Turn 19 is a fast left hand turn before the pit entrance and that is the only corner INDYCAR decided to not enforce track limits, the series having placed bumps on the apex curbs and exit curbs of many corners to keep drivers honest.

However, many drivers do not agree with the decision to not have track limits enforced at the track’s penultimate corner, especially since the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers are dealing with track limits being enforced and their cars are almost ten seconds slower around the 3.41-mile natural terrain road course.

“I would like to see them enforced but it’s not my call,” said Tony Kanaan. “I expressed my frustration with that but that’s their decision so I can’t do anything about it.

“It’s a safety issue, it shouldn’t be allowed. I mean, that’s not a race track, that’s beyond the race track. If that was grass, we wouldn’t be using it. I strongly disagree with it.”

Kanaan has the highest number of starts in Indy car competition among active drivers with 361. Other drivers like Kyle Kaiser understand INDYCAR’s decision to not enforce track limits.

I think the track’s designed to have a little bit of buffer there in case you do make a mistake and go off so I understand why INDYCAR isn’t doing it,” said Kaiser, the 2017 Indy Lights champion. “It’s going to be hard to enforce during the race and getting into time penalties or position penalties can be confusing but I think the track was designed to go a certain way and we should respect that.”

Two-time Indy Lights series runner-up Jack Harvey believes INDYCAR should enforce track limits like any other championship would.

“I feel like every other series in the world has to do that so I was all about making sure we kept the track limits in the first place,” said Harvey. “My opinion hasn’t really changed on that and everything we’ve tested the last few days, I don’t know if you want to change it now because we’ve been doing it for two days. I thought at the test it was fine and if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Sebastien Bourdais said that there would be a drivers association meeting after the third practice session to discuss track limits and if anything would be done.

“There’s pros and cons and the bottom line is that the guys at INDYCAR didn’t feel like they wanted to enforce it and have to officiate it,” said Bourdais.

The INDYCAR Classic qualifying begins at 2:00 pm CT.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.