IndyCar drivers find flaws in Baltimore Grand Prix race course

IndyCar drivers found a number of flaws during Thursday afternoon's track walk, their first up-close-and-personal look at the course for this weekend's inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix.

The drivers brought up varying concerns, but nearly all agreed to take a wait-and-see approach.

Graham Rahal noticed there is a lot of work still being done, and he worried the late paving of the train tracks near pit road by the B&O Warehouse might not set right overnight. He also didn't like the chicane — an an artificial feature creating extra turns — around the train tracks on Pratt Street.

"[The curves] are too slow and too tight," Rahal said.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver did add that he thinks "it has all the makings for a great race. I know there was a lot of people upset over the traffic problems, but at a new venue there are always teething problems."

Ana Beatriz noted that the walls and curbs aren't ready, and she noticed "a big bump" going in to the first turn.

"I think it will be a very tough track," said Beatriz, who is in her first full season with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. "There are corners with asphalt and corners with concrete. There's a spot where the rails are on [Turn] 13 that are very bumpy."

Ryan Hunter-Reay viewed the first turn at the end of the Pratt Street straight with trepidation.

"It's going to be a bit bumpy in the car an inch off the ground, and the first turn looks very tough," he said. "The start will be difficult. There will be almost 30 cars going into that 30-foot by 30-foot squeezed space. We're capable, but it won't be easy."

Hunter-Reay, who drives for Andretti Autosport, said the IndyCar series has tracks with tighter turns, but not so close to the starting line.

On a full lap down Pratt Street, drivers estimate cars will get up to nearly 180 mph. On the starting lap, however, the cars will take the green about halfway down the straight.

That means speeds prior to the braking area will be lower, maybe 130-140 mph, and then the drivers will try to shave off 100 mph over a bumpy terrane in hopes of going into the curve at no more than 40 mph.

"You really need traction when you're braking, and with the bumps it will be a moving target," Hunter-Reay said.

But all of them agreed on three points.

There will be a good amount of passing opportunities.

It's difficult to tell exactly how the track will be until it's completely finished and they actually drive their racecars on it Friday.

And the site couldn't be better.

"It's the perfect place to hold a street race," Hunter-Reay said. "The location is perfect. It's an amazing area, and I hope the race works. I also hope I like the track."


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