FORT WORTH, Texas – The Firestone 600 will have to wait another day for its completion. Another two months, in fact.
The scheduled 248-lap event at Texas Motor Speedway – the ninth race of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season – was stopped after 71 laps today by heavy rain. INDYCAR and track officials announced that the race was suspended and will be completed Aug. 27 as a night race.
“We certainly want to come back and have a full race for the fans here in Texas,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations. “The people at TMS do a great job, so what we will do, per our rulebook, is start the race from where we stopped. So we will come back and start the race from that point.
“This is unique. It hasn’t happened for a little while, but there are a lot of unique things here and we’ll look forward to coming back Aug. 27.”
The race was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but lingering wet track conditions from daylong rain prevented it from starting. The 22-car field took the green flag at 2:48 p.m. ET today, but was able to complete only 71 laps on the 1.455-mile oval before storms returned. A race must complete at least half its lap distance to be considered official.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe was leading the race when the red flag came out. The cars will restart the race in August in the same order in which they were scored at the completion of Lap 71.
“We maybe could have hung around and try to get it dry tonight and run enough to get halfway, but that’s not right,” said Eddie Gossage, Texas Motor Speedway president. “We want to give the fans a race. That’s the plan.”
The last Verizon IndyCar Series race to start one day and finish on another came at Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2011. The race was red-flagged for rain and standing water on the track after nine laps May 1 and finished the next day. The last time an event was postponed until later in the season was at Texas Motor Speedway in 2001, when the race scheduled for Sept. 15 was delayed until Oct. 6 following the 9/11 tragedies.
Drivers Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden were involved in the only incident of the first 71 laps, when Daly’s No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda spun in Turn 4 and collected Newgarden’s No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. The two cars slid into the SAFER Barrier on the outside wall before coming to rest along the frontstretch.
Newgarden was transported to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, where he was diagnosed with a fractured right clavicle and small fracture in his right hand, according to Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR medical director.
“Thank you to Dallara, INDYCAR, the Holmatro Safety Team and everyone we work with at Texas Motor Speedway,” Newgarden said. “The car held up great and the response from the safety team was amazing. I’m banged up a little bit, but I’m generally OK.
“That’s all thanks to INDYCAR and all the work everyone within the series does. I am feeling a little pain but I hope to be ready to rock and go again soon. We had a great car today, it just did not go how we had planned.”
Daly was uninjured in the incident.
“I didn’t expect that slide at all,” Daly said. “We were consistently running and, all of a sudden, the rear (tires) just totally lost grip. I felt like I floated all the way through the corner.
“I should have recognized it but it was definitely a rookie mistake. I was trying to stay a little bit lower because I knew Josef was coming. Maybe by pinching it a little bit, I just put too much load on the right rear.”
The Texas Motor Speedway schedule for Aug. 27 includes a practice and driver autograph prior to completion of the race. Broadcast information will be announced at a later date. Tickets for the original race date will be honored for the resumption. For more information, visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
The next Verizon IndyCar Series race is the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, from June 24-26. It will mark the return of Indy cars to the scenic 4-mile permanent road course for the first time since 2007. Race-day coverage begins June 26 at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.