Will Power, who has taken pole six times at St. Petersburg, says last night’s changes to Turn 3 have made the track more of a challenge for the drivers.
After USF2000 and Pirelli World Challenge cars suffered damage at Turn 3 yesterday as they went light over an undulation and skittered into the outside wall, changes were made overnight, moving the left-side wall back 40 feet, and on the right side new curbing was installed. This radically reprofiled the corner and slowed the cars down, which Team Penske’s Power says makes the track more difficult.
“I think they’ve got it right,” he commented. “It wasn’t bumps [that caused a problem], it was the camber of the road when they repaved it. They repaved it as one road and then another, but for us they need to repave it as a corner, which I’m sure they’ll do for next year.
“The city has done a great job of repaving, and it looked so nice and smooth, but there just happened to be a hump.
“[Regarding the modifications], before it was a fifth-gear corner – you were just grabbing fifth at that point – and I think it’s now a third-gear corner, which makes it a more technical track. Before you were just wide-open. So now it’s harder, it’s an actual corner which will be more fun.”
Power said despite the extra grip provided by the resurfacing, the track was now less physical because it’s smoother.
“We didn’t feel that much extra grip in the first session; the car was all over the road,” he said. “But it’s definitely really smooth, really nicely done, and sets the standard for how street courses should be.”
Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda driver Scott Dixon, who beat Power to fastest time of the day, said the new surface would offer the chance for better racing.
“I think they’ve done a fantastic job and next year they plan to finish resurfacing the whole track, and I think it’s going to be better for racing. It seems like it’s very smooth across both sides of the track. Into Turn 4 and Turn 1 has been a bit challenging sometimes in the past.”
Power agreed, saying: “There will definitely be a lot of lanes to pass on because it’s smooth, especially into Turn 1 and 10. I think the aerokit has made the racing tougher and close, but what I see is the tires are degrading quickly which is what creates good racing, so I think it will be a good race.”