By Sandra McKee
The Baltimore Sun
4:27 PM EDT, August 31, 2012
IndyCar is bringing back the chicane to keep the course at the Grand Prix of Baltimore safe for drivers.
The issue of a rough track at the approach to the light rail tracks surfaced during Friday morning practice when rookie Simon Pagenaud's Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda took flight.
Restoring the chicane -- a man-made series of tight turns that had been removed from the course at drivers' request following the inaugural Grand Prix -- will force drivers to slow down at that part of the course.
A grinding effort to smooth the approach to the tracks by NZR Consulting, which designed the track, failed to improve the situation enough to solve the problem. So, IndyCar competition director Beaux Barfield said a chicane is coming back.
"We owe it to our fans and to our promoter to have on track action this afternoon," Barfield said.
The chicane being used today is temporary, made of tires in a traditional, left, right design that is a reverse from the one employed last year. Tonight, workers will install the permanent structure.
The track problem delayed the schedule, moving the IndyCar practice session to 3:40 p.m., about an hour later than originally scheduled.
Following Pagenaud's aerobatics in his practice session, IndyCar stopped that one-hour period about 25 minutes early so they could talk to drivers on pit road about the situation and what should be done.
Pagenaud was shaken, but uninjured from the flight his car took. After getting out of the car, he suggested bringing back the chicane as a possible solution.
Fellow driver Graham Rahal was also critical of the course, saying, "This is one of the bumpiest tracks, and one of the worst paving jobs we've seen. Right now, it's hold on tight and see what happens."
American Le Mans Series cars also had trouble with the tracks. GT driver Bill Sweedler in the Lotus/Alex Job Racing cosworth had the worst of it, breaking the front nose of his car when it took off and landed hard.
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