FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, June 8, 2000 - MBNA Pole qualifying for the Casino Magic 500 was delayed until 1:15 p.m. (CDT) Friday to give Indy Racing Northern Light Series officials more time to analyze data from two similar accidents...
FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, June 8, 2000 - MBNA Pole qualifying for the Casino Magic 500 was delayed until 1:15 p.m. (CDT) Friday to give Indy Racing Northern Light Series officials more time to analyze data from two similar accidents that occurred during the first practice Thursday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway.
The second practice session, scheduled for Thursday evening, was canceled.
Indy Racing practice will resume from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday. Final practice will take place from 4:45-5:15 p.m., as scheduled. The Casino Magic 500 is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Davey Hamilton and Jimmy Kite crashed in similar but separate accidents during the first practice session Thursday afternoon. Both drivers hit the retaining wall with the right side of their G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone cars, incurring heavy damage. Neither driver was hurt. "We do not feel comfortable until we examine all of the data and put a fix into play," said Brian Barnhart, Indy Racing League director of racing operations. "We believe it has to do with the suspension in the right rear. There is no data yet that has it isolated to the G Force only. "The track is not significantly different from last October to now. We've talked to a lot of drivers that tested here, and they have not indicated any significant difference between October and now."
Said Eddie Gossage, Texas Motor Speedway general manager: "The drivers said, 'There's no difference in the track from October.' Brian (Barnhart) said, 'There's an issue with the geometry on the cars.' We just came to the mutual agreement, 'Let's be safe.'"
The Indy Racing League introduced new chassis for the 2000 season from manufacturers Dallara, G Force and Riley & Scott. The suspension geometry is different in the new cars, Barnhart said.
Drivers agreed that the postponement was the right idea.
"It's the same for everybody," said Northern Light Series points leader Buddy Lazier. "Unfortunately, we didn't do any testing here with the new cars or the new motors. So it will definitely affect us. We need every minute on the track we can get. But the one thing that's great about the IRL is that they always err on the side of safety, and that's the way it should be."
Said defending event champion Scott Goodyear: "Hey, it's not an issue. We' ll come back and do it tomorrow. Safety is always the first thing, and I trust that the IRL and TMS made the right call. Of course, this all means that I will have to get up earlier tomorrow."