HOUSTON -- IZOD IndyCar Series championship contenders Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon quickly displayed that their cars will be fast for the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.
Dixon, who enters the weekend doubleheader 49 points behind Castroneves, was second fast in the initial practice session on the 1.634-mile, 10-turn MD Anderson Cancer Center Speedway with a best lap of 1 minute, 07.0793 seconds in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Shell Pennzoil Team Penske car was .0243 of a second back in third.
Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, topped the session at 1:06.3983.
Click it: Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Practice 1 results
A second IZOD IndyCar Series practice is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (ET). Real-time Timing & Scoring augmented by the IMS Radio Network broadcasts for all on-track sessions is available on www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 app.
Practice sessions and qualifications for the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights were revised because of a surface issue in Turn 1. A temporary chicane to slow the cars was employed until grinding of the racing surface at Turn 1 could take place overnight. That area of Reliant Park is utilized to store the grass field for Reliant Stadium.
"It was a unique challenge the last 96 hours turning the parking lot into a racetrack starting right after the Texas game," said Martyn Thake, director of operations for the promoter. "There have been so many things moving and interlocking at the same time. A facility like this used as much as it is, it was an area we weren't able to explore too closely until we took over the facility.
"I think the solutions we've come up with will work out fine."
IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying for Race 1, scheduled for Oct. 4, will be held at 11:45 a.m. (ET) Oct. 5. The three rounds of qualifying for road/street circuits, including the Firestone Fast Six, were forfeited for a 30-minute session. The 90-lap Race 1 with a standing start will proceed as planned at 3:30 p.m. (ET).
Race 2 qualifying will replace the 30-minute warmup at 9:45 a.m. (ET) Oct. 6, followed at 12:30 p.m. (ET) by Race 2.
"It's going to be pressure-packed the next couple of days," Rahal Letterman Racing driver Graham Rahal said.
A 45-minute qualifying session for Firestone Indy Lights will be held at 9:35 a.m. (ET) Oct. 5, followed by the 50-lap race at 1:30 p.m. (ET). NBC Sports Network will broadcast all three races. Check local listings.
Castroneves knows his championship margin is tentative with three races remaining. Dixon swept the doubleheader in Toronto in mid-July to vault from seventh in the standings to second.
“At this point we have to go with the flow. If I have a good car, we’ll go for (the wins)," Castroneves said. "In this position, there’s more for us to lose than to gain. Those people in the attack mode have more to gain, but we’re not going to drive like an old lady and just try to finish the race.
"We have to be rough when we have to be rough and have to be smart. That’s our approach right now, and we have to get what we can out of the car. We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing, which is be consistent and get the most points we can.”