All IZOD IndyCar Series teams will be permitted to participate in the opening practice session at Sonoma on Aug. 24. Teams will be given a ninth set of tires that can be used in the 75-minute session, which begins preparations for the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.
IndyCar President of Competition Beaux Barfield said the decision to open the session to all teams allows them an equal chance to adapt to the recently modified 2.31-mile layout.
"There have been several changes to the track and this allows everyone an equal chance to learn the layout," Barfield said. "There is a test this week that does allow everyone an opportunity, but we wanted to be sure everyone had the chance to get miles and see the three fairly significant changes to the track."
The modifications to the turns, which were announced earlier this month, are as follows:
• The entrance into Turn 11 will be extended by 200 feet before drivers encounter the hairpin. This will give drivers more space to out-brake each other and set-up a passing opportunity before the right-hander into Turn 12. The geometry of the modified Turn 11 will mirror the shorter turn used for IndyCar in previous years.
• The exit of Turn 9 (aka The Bus Stop) will be widened by 10 feet on drivers' left, giving competitors additional width in what was already a passing zone. The exit of the turn will now be 50 feet wide.
• At Turn 7, instead of the looping right-hander, drivers will now encounter a U-turn. The new turn will force drivers to out-brake each other, similar to Turn 11, and create a passing zone. Previously, drivers could maintain speed as they made the looping right-hander.