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Delightfully delivering up delicious dishes of daredevil driving for decades, Texas Motor Speedway’s consistently been one of the most exciting tracks IndyCar visits, a real highlight of the schedule and an all around big deal. Located north of Fort Worth and just south of Denton, it’s an area that’s been hit hard by flooding in recent weeks. Happily the floodwaters are receding and the forecast looks good for Saturday.
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A spectacular oval staple on the schedule, TMS opened in 1997 and has hosted twenty six IndyCar races in its history, not counting CART‘s cancellation fiasco in 2001.Two visits per year were common in the good ol’ days with winning margins in the thousandths of seconds and championships regularly decided. They say in Texas everything’s bigger and both TMS and IndyCar racing there certainly measure up.
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Its high banked mile and a half racing surface has witnessed terrifying crashes, victory lane smack downs and some of the most memorable finishes of the modern era of the sport. An impressive list of former drivers have won at Texas including Tomas Scheckter, Dario Franchitti, Gil de Ferran – who won his last ever start there from the pole, Al Unser, Jr and San Hornish, Jr. In fact Sam – rest his NASCAR soul – is a three time winner at Texas dating back to Panther Racing’s halcyon days, rest their souls.
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Arie Luyendyk not only won but also received personal congratulations in victory lane from legendary ornery Texan AJ Foyt. With speeds historically reaching over 230 miles per hour, the racing’s thrilling at TMS and of course dangerous, as well. Davey Hamilton, Kenny Brack and others suffered horrifying, life altering crashes at TMS, winding up in the catch fence before visiting the hospital and ultimately rehab. Even the crashes are bigger at TMS.
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As Napoleon put it, “that which is large is beautiful,” and while he did eventually grow tired of Louisiana – after NOLA who can blame him? – the Emperor would never have found Texas tedious. Today Texas Motor Speedway holds over a hundred and eighty thousand permanent seats stretching continuously and toweringly around its circumference. Fans entering the track are greeted by a race car seemingly floating on water, a cool effect and welcome to the enormous facility. The speedway also features the world’s biggest video board, fittingly.
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At power house Team Penske, Helio’s won four races at TMS in over a dozen starts. Will Power won in 2011, achieving his supposed “breakthrough” oval win only to be followed up with little circular success since. Ed Carpenter won last year’s race in thrilling fashion in a three lap shootout over Power, prevailing by half a second after a stinging Indy 500 disappointment. Sound familiar? With Carpenter, Newgarden and Chevy power, CFH will be a team to watch on the big oval Saturday night.
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At the other end of the engine spectrum Dale Coyne‘s going with British blonde bombshell Pippa Mann and Tristian Vautier this weekend, adding both beauty and another Frenchman to the mix, while former Penske jockey Ryan Briscoe‘s filling in for rehabbing James Hinchcliffe at SPM. Briscoe’s an obvious choice as he won at Texas in 2010 from pole.
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IndyCar racing under the lights on a large, fast oval is as good as it gets for fans of artistry on wheels. When the series goes to Texas, it’s must see racing on a grand, gorgeous stage. We’re thankful IndyCar continues to keep the date in Denton every year – it’s one you definitely shouldn’t miss on NBCSN Saturday night.
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