In order to minimize risk to crew and drivers, multiple IndyCar teams are choosing not to overnight in Texas for the race weekend. They will instead have a single marathon day that will see stamina pushed to the limit.
In addition to the condensed, one-day track schedule, teams are doing their best to keep all their personnel safe from exposure in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This includes minimizing time away from home for the whole crew which adds to the unique challenges of this weekend’s race.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal revealed that he will be staying near the track the night before the race, but his crew will not. The rest of his team will be flying out of Indianapolis at 4:00 Saturday morning, getting the car prepared for the track a few hours later, performing race duties all day, then returning home at about 2:00 Sunday morning.
The crew members of Meyer Shank Racing and Team Penske will have a similar schedule with early morning flights planned out of their home bases of Ohio and North Carolina respectively.
A.J. Foyt Enterprises is taking a slightly different approach, choosing to have all of the crew members arrive in Fort Worth on Friday and get a solid night of rest before the long day on Saturday.
Talking about his team’s decision, team president Larry Foyt said, “The more I just thought about it, I thought it was much less risky to get there Friday evening, have a night in a hotel, be well-rested.
“We are going to drive back [to Houston] Saturday night after the race, but I felt like driving in Saturday morning, doing the race, and coming home was just way too much.”
All drivers and crew members will have a test of their endurance on their first day back to the track, battling a forecast high of 98°F (36°C) in addition to a tough travel schedule and a long day of work on the car.
As fatigue sets in by the evening, mental mistakes could be a deciding factor when the cars take the green at 8:00 PM Eastern Time from Texas Motor Speedway.