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Baltimore and Sonoma track layouts tweaked

This year's races at Sonoma and Balitmore will see the respective track layouts feature a number of alterations to improve the racing action, series officials have announced.
The IZOD IndyCar Series has confirmed that there will be changes to this year's track layouts for the the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on the last weekend of August and the Grand Prix of Baltimore at the start of September.

Construction on the 2-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit in Baltimore started on Monday ahead of the race on September 2, and officials confirmed that the main straightaway on Pratt Street would no longer include a chicane, turn 1 would be widened and the shape of turns 5 and 6 - which includes in the pit entry - would be reconfigured for this year's second holding of the event.

"I talked to a number of drivers to get their thoughts about the chicane and the recommendation was with some grinding it would speed the cars up going into Turn 1 about 7 mph," said IndyCar's Tony Cotman, whose company NZR Consulting contracted to build the circuit. "Without the chicane I think it will improve the show with a longer run into turn 1, which will be widened to create a better passing zone and will be a good viewing place.

"Then we looked at turns 5 and 6, which was a difficult combination last year, and we'll change the shape of the corner, which may entice some passing. There is terrace seating there that puts the track right under their noses. There are some other subtle changes like the shapes of walls."

The intention is to add additional overtaking opportunities and improve competition for the race, which was a big success in its début on the IndyCar calendar in 2011. However, disputes between the original race promoters and the local authorities had left the event in doubt for 2012 until new promoters were appointed in February.

There had been no doubts about the series' return to Sonoma Raceway in California, although the name itself will seem unfamiliar for the circuit formerly known as Sears Point and most recently as Infineon Raceway. The ten-year naming deal with Infineon Technologies came to an end in June, and the venue is now going by the name of Sonoma until a new naming rights deal is signed.

Last year's IndyCar race at Sonoma was memorable for an almost complete lack of incident, with the three Penske drivers starting and finishing in the same order in a top-three lock-out. Race organisers have made a number of changes to the circuit for this year's race, which will be held on August 26 a week before Baltimore.

The run down to the hairpin turn 11 will be lengthened by 200 feet to make a deeper turn giving drivers more opportunity to out=brake their competitors, or to get a better run out of the turn and set up a pass into turn 12. The exit from the Bus Stop (turn 9) will be widened, and turn 7 has been remodelled into a new hairpin.

As a result of the changes, Sonoma will now be a 12-turn, 2.31-mile track, with organisers stressing that the changes had been made with made with the input of the drivers to improve the on-track action.

“The modifications to the Sonoma track layout will enhance the competition on the track, making it a better show for the fans and more challenging for the drivers,” said IndyCar director of operations Bill Van de Sandt.

“This was something we worked on in the offseason and I think it is really going to make for some exciting racing,” agreed last year's race winner Will Power, who will be among 23 drivers to spend a day testing the new layout for the first time on August 17 before the race weekend.



Related Pictures

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Cars battle on track at Infineon Raceway. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Overhead shot of turn one on the street course at Baltimore for the double-file start. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Will Power (inside) and Graham Rahal (outside) go into the tight turn 1 at the start of the race. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
The field lines up in double-file down the start/finish straight. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Chevy Racing sweeps the podium with race winner Sebastien Bourdais (center), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races in Toronto, Canada. Second-place finisher Helio Castroneves (left), driver of the #3 PPV Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, join the celebration. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Cars on track at a wet Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones  for IndyCar Media)
Ed Carpenter on track at Iowa (Photo by Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, races to a third-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, takes over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon won the pole and finished in fourth-place. Kanaan led for most of the race and finished third. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan lead the pack at the start of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan leads the field during the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe (left), driver of the #8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, talks with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, during qualifying Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Briscoe qualified fourth, Kanaan second and teammate Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 won the pole. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates winning the pole Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Dixon will start in the front row with teammate Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, who qualified second. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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