Texas Race Review: Honestly Edition

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Team Penske – the clear class of the field starting 1-2-3 – suffered from tire issues all evening, opening the door for Scott Dixon. The five second victory was his third at Texas Motor Speedway, the forty third of his career and put him in rarefied air in third place on the all time wins list. It couldn’t happen to a better guy, honestly.

NBCSN’s pre-race covered the gamut, from the Penske trio up front to Rossi’s 500 win as well as Power’s. Oddly, in the booth they featured three guys – two of them beefy – in powder blue t-shirts. The ever likable Dixon said he “loves driving IndyCars,” and when asked about his place on the list mentioned how cool it is that “AJ, Mario and Michael are all still at these races.” Presciently, he also mentioned “going for race wins.”‘

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Never to be out-trended, even IndyCar now has a cooking segment, for heaven’s sake. Don’t worry, we at IRR will never cook to camera. For some reason, it’s now Kelly Stavast doing pit coverage, and just when we getting used to the adorable Katie Hargitt. A Will Power feature had Robin Miller saying “ten years ago, Will Power hated oval racing.” He still does, Robin – you’ve been fooled. Daffy Leigh Diffey’s Aussie bias shone vividly through as a drone delivered the green flag and the engines were fired.

A clean start saw Newgarden leading with Ryan Hunter-Reay slicing high attempting to pass in a major theme of the evening. Cars were three wide early, as Alexander Rossi got around both TK and Dixon. Wickens moved around Power on the outside and into second by the lap 6. The first caution flew as AJ Foyt Racing’s Matheus Leist’s car became engulfed by fire in a scary moment. Leist threw steering wheel away and quickly jumped out as the flames encroached upon the cockpit.

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Following a quick cleanup, the restart came on lap 15 with Newgarden, Power, Pags, Wickens and Rossi the top five.  Continue reading

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Texas Predictions and Prognostications: Deep In The Heart

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Fans come from far and wide to see IndyCars, side by side, doing 220 mph under the lights at TMS. The term thrilling doesn’t begin to capture the feeling, particularly when you’re there in person. If you’re a true race fan, then deep in your heart you adore Texas Motor Speedway.

Our special prediction for the DXC Technology 600 is reams of real, riveting racing. It’s what IndyCar at Texas is known for – a refreshing change from the road course heavy early season schedule. What a difference a weekend makes! Speeds will be 50 mph greater than on Detroit’s Belle Isle and nearly constant, not merely a few seconds per lap. The edge of your seat action – with passes galore – will be in a class of its own. That’s the open wheel oval racing class, where TMS is highly regarded, and the one nearest to our hearts.

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Pole sitter’ll be Will “sour grapes” Power, unfortunately. He started P1 three consecutive times from 2013-15 and as you may have heard has been on a roll lately. But here’s the good news – Continue reading

Texas Preview: Thank God For Eddie Gossage

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In wake of the Detroit debacle, where a pace car crash by a VP typified GM’s weekend, IndyCar heads to a real racetrack, one where the stage is grand, speeds are eye popping and the racing’s never dull. Eddie Gossage’s Texas Motor Speedway hosts one of the yearly joys of existence, and does so magnificently.

For twenty one consecutive seasons and still more races, Texas Motor Speedway has exhibited some of the most exciting side by side racing IndyCar has to offer. Its gargantuan size, dizzying speeds and close quarters racing all make for a uniquely Texas IndyCar experience – and one of the very best. The race also enjoys the best promoter in the business, one TMS President Gossage.

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Recent changes to the racing surface, including decreasing banking slightly in the first two turns and widening it by twenty feet, didn’t Continue reading

Texas IndyCar Race Review: Attrition Edition

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The racing was breathtaking Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway – as usual – when they weren’t screwing it up. Cautions breed cautions the saying goes, but apparently the same isn’t true for red flags. Instead, the thrilling race petered out under yellow with Will Power anticlimactically taking his second win at Texas.

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There were accidents galore, with a dozen cars retiring due to contact. By contrast, the race saw only one mechanical when pole sitter Charlie Kimball’s Honda expired. Nine cautions flew for 66 laps including the red flag stoppage. There were no fewer than seven crashes including James Hinchcliffe’s pit lane fiasco as well as six on track incidents. The race had it all. Ed Carpenter even did a 360 on a lap 102 restart, spinning on the front straight before amazingly saving his car and avoiding everyone else.

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Alexander Rossi was first out, the victim of a Ganassi sandwich as he got bounced like a basketball between the blue cars and into the wall. It wouldn’t be the last time Tony Kanaan was involved in an on track fracas. Continue reading

Texas IndyCar Preview: World Edition

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Texas Motor Speedway’s 20th anniversary promises to be memorable when IndyCar arrives at the fast, recently reconfigured mile and a half oval this weekend. Expect the racing to be worlds apart from what we saw in Detroit.

The series has held twenty eight races and counting since TMS opened, with almost all of them being extremely entertaining wheel to wheel wonderment. The repave and reconfiguration of the banking in turns 1 and 2 lessened it from 24 to 20 degrees and widened the track from 60 to 80 feet. Four time Texas winner Helio called it “completely new” and Pags called it “a different layout” after testing there in April. Honda teams were limited in their testing, with several not participating due to mileage concerns. We certainly hope all these changes didn’t screw up the track or the racing. That’d be earth shattering.

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Ragin’ Graham Rahal won a riveting race – weather disruptions aside – in the closest IndyCar finish at the track last year. That’s saying something.  Continue reading

A Note To Texas Detractors

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The complaints began with Saturday’s rain out and grew more vociferous and objectionable from there. No one can control the rainy conditions and as Charles Dudley Warner said, “everybody talks about the weather but nobody seems to do anything about it.”

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Like much of the spring in Texas, it rained buckets all weekend. It even continued to rain after the series packed up and left. As anti-climactic as the postponement until the end of August was, it saved the few returning die-hard fans grief and made sense in light of another weeks’ long gap in this year’s screwy schedule.

Then – seemingly out of nowhere – calls began to dump Texas Motor Speedway altogether. All this because of some weepers?! Continue reading

Texas Firestone 600 Predictions And Prognostications: Huge Edition

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Expect high speeds, plenty of passing action and lots of sparks flying on track in Texas Saturday night. As Napoleon said, “that which is large is beautiful,” and Texas Motor Speedway certainly qualifies. Also, there’ll be no preordained Penske parades like we saw Sunday in Detroit. In our eyes, that’s just huge.

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This week’s special prediction for the race is some good old fashioned, hugely entertaining oval track racing. Last year’s race was one of those rare Texas IndyCar contests that failed to fulfill fans. Caution free, Scott Dixon ran away with it cruising to an almost eight second margin of victory. Truly, Dixie did Dallas last year – in a huge way.

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The broadcast will also be noticeably superior to those of the last several races. NBCSN is not only covering the race and qualifications on its air, but also a bonus practice session Friday morning. Continue reading

Texas Race Review: Dixie Does Dallas

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New Zealander Scott Dixon won going away Saturday night in Texas during a nearly entirely green flag race, shattering the track record with a race average of 191.9 mph. His margin of victory was almost eight seconds over Ganassi team mate Tony Kanaan in a race that lacked a dramatic conclusion but included plenty of close racing and passing if not outright speed. It was Dixon’s second win at Texas – the other back in 2008 – and he led ninety seven laps out of two hundred and forty eight.

Scott Dixon (9), of New Zealand, leads Tony Kanaan (10), of Brazil, out of Turn 4 late in the Firestone 600 IndyCar auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday June 6, 2015. Dixon won the race and Kanaan finished in second. (AP Photo/Larry Papke) ORG XMIT: TXTG135

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Chevy’s dominance continued, taking their seventh race out of nine. Oddly there were no crashes and only a single caution for debris all night long north of Dallas, resulting in only four cars on the lead lap at the conclusion. That said, the caution was too long as usual dragging out for over a dozen laps. The one restart saw exciting three wide racing break out on track again, though it was short lived. Dixon and Kanaan showed no team sympathies in their intra-TCGR battle for supremacy at TMS.

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The NBCSN pre-race coverage had some interesting segments. There were several morbid moments during a Robin Miller interview with the ornery octogenarian legend A.J. Foyt. Repeatedly referring to death as well as age and longevity, Miller missed in keeping it either light or informative in his talk with AJ. The four time Indy 500 winner did manage to say “Whoever you go with, you gotta stand up with ’em, good or bad. I’m not happy on their [Honda’s] air package . . ., as far as the body I think they’re out to lunch.”

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After talking to AJ, Miller then went on to do an abbreviated “grid run” of little worth. Continue reading

IndyCar Texas Preview: Bigger Is Better

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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. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Over Officious Edition

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Silly Season Standstill: As has never been said by anyone anywhere before, no silly season news is could silly season news. Swiss Miss Simona de Silvestro could end up at Andretti Autosport though nothing’s been announced officially yet. Same with KV and Coyne’s cars – they tested some new drivers as we noted last week but no official announcements have been made. We’ll have more thoughts on Simona in the future, but for now there’s been no movement on the possible final four seats for 2015 or any definite word they’ll all in fact materialize. This will soon change with crucial aero kit testing only a week away.

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Aero Kits Delivered & Desultorily Drubbed: As promised and amidst great secrecy, both Chevy and the ultra secret Honda aero kits were officially delivered last weekend to IndyCar’s nine teams who frantically began assembling the pieces on the cars. They’ve little time to complete their work before testing at NOLA, Texas Motor Speedway or Sebring officially begins March 13. The public Barber test will occur March 16-17 according to indycar.com, when all the teams will gather for the first time to test the new kits.

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The TMS testing option is news Continue reading