Eventful Weekend in Houston Ended Before it Started

Houston, Tx. (Oct. 4-6, 2013)

Robby was looking forward to the Houston GP weekend at Reliant Park, as it would be his first street course race.  Due to the packed schedule of the event, and the Indycar double-header the Playboy Mx-5 Cup would see limited track time, making the it difficult to learn the track.  Considering the limited track time Robby understood the importance of attacking the first practice to learn the track as quickly as possible.  The first practice, set for 7pm was delayed because of track surface problems which resulted in a tire wall chicane on the front stretch, but otherwise it went well for Robby, and although he wasn’t able to get a clean lap, he pretty much had an open run through every corner, which was paramount in learning the limits of the track.  “The curbs were very tricky at this track,” explained Foley, “It was hard to judge how much curb to take.”  The track designers of the GP of Houston tried to extend the braking zones for the Indycars, so they placed apex curbing through what would normally be the optimal line.  This made the track more narrow, which made it nearly impossible to go side by side.  At the conclusion of practice Foley found himself in P3 which he was happy with considering the traffic.

Qualifying, like practice would be under the lights, but that didn’t stop the heat.  Even at 7pm it was still in the 90’s with 100% humidity making it pretty hot in the car.  There was a brief red flag at the beginning of qualifying, before the Skip Barber cars were sent out.  The session resumed, and when the Skip Barber cars went out after the first lap Robby was fast, he maintained P2 throughout the session until he had a brake fade issue, sending him lightly into the tire wall.  Robby was able to continue, but the brake fluid was boiled eliminating the possibility for another fast lap.  “It was very hard to keep the brakes cool,” said Robby, “At this track they never get a rest with the lack of straightaways, so you really have to be conservative, which is difficult to do in qualifying.”  At the conclusion of Qualifying Foley was P2, a good place to start for the race.

Unfortunately, just before the cars were going to roll, in the final laps of the second Indycar there was a massive crash.  Dario Franchitti and Takuma Sato got into each other, sending Dario’s car airborne into the fence.  Some fans did sustain injuries resulting from the flying debris.  Dario was also okay after sustaining a broken ankle and two fractured vertebrae.

Robby was disappointed not to race, but was relieved to hear Dario and all of the fans were okay, “We as drivers accept the fact that we could be injured, but the fans don’t sign up for that.  They come with their families to watch us put on a show, so I take great exception any time I hear of a fan being injured,” said Foley.

Robby looks forward to the Penultimate round of the Playboy MX-5 cup, at one of his favorite tracks, Road Atlanta!