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IndyCar St. Pete

New asphalt blamed for incidents in St. Pete practice

IndyCar Series sophomores Callum Ilott and Kyle Kirkwood believe the new pavement between Turns 3 and 4 at St. Pete is more slippery than the rougher surface used last year.

Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet

Opening practice for the first round of the 2023 IndyCar season saw several drivers including Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin, Christian Lundgaard, Graham Rahal and rookie Benjamin Pedersen make damaging contact with the wall, under power on the exit of Turn 3 and under braking for Turn 4. Others had to take to the escape road at Turn 4 including Will Power and Simon Pagenaud.

In addition, one of the red flags was caused by a concrete patch on the new surface crumbling and creating gravel out of Turn 3.

Queried about what had changed, Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott said the new Tarmac had “made it quite slippery for a lot of people – I think for everyone.” He also said there was a “massive tailwind” into Turn 4.

Added Kirkwood of Andretti Autosport, “I feel like there's multiple contributing factors to probably what you saw out there. Not Turn 3, but Turn 4. First of all, there's new pavement. I'm not sure if the bump has gotten worse or better there. Right at the initial brake pressure…

“Ultimately it had less grip. We expected it to have more grip because that's what happened last year in Turn 5 – they put new pavement, and there was actually more grip.

“But now there's definitely less from Turn 3 to turn 4. That may change with evolution.”

Kirkwood, said the difference in grip was particularly noticeable in Turn 3.

“For me even last year it was flat out of the pits [on cold tires],” he recalled. “This year I didn't take it flat once. There's quite a big bump at the apex of it.

“We actually got word from the Andretti Indy [NXT] guys that Hunter [McElrea] went long. It's something we're going to have to work around no doubt.

“Considering it's new pavement, you'd expect it to be stellar, but it's actually not.”

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