Texas Preview

This weekend gives fans of the NTT IndyCar Series an extra treat – we get two oval races in one weekend. The site is Texas Motor Speedway, with two separate races of different distances, on two separate days. The Saturday night race will be the Genesys 300, which will be 212 laps for 300 miles. Late Sunday afternoon, we will have the XPEL 375; consisting of 248 laps for 375 miles.

I have never been a big fan of the double-headers, ever since they were introduced to the current series in 2012. It feels like a cheap way to increase the total race count, by squeezing two races out of a single weekend. It feels that way, because that is exactly what it was designed to be.

As a fan onsite, I like them OK. We were at Road America last summer for the double-header there. I actually liked being able to attend two races in two days. But as a fan at home, I tend to like the ebb and flow of a traditional race weekend – catch practice when I can, watch qualifying on Saturday via DVR or Peacock, and the race on Sunday. My warm-weather weekends tend to be full, and it’s tough to build both days around races – and watching qualifying on a delayed basis is one thing, but I really prefer watching races live. At least both of these races are at night.

From a driver’s standpoint, I don’t think I’d care for a double header. If you are a first-time winner like Alex Palou was a couple of weeks ago at Barber, you don’t get a week to bask in your glory. If Pato O’Ward wins on Saturday night at Texas, he enjoys it until it’s time to race again – less than twenty hours later on Sunday afternoon.

Then of course, there’s the aspect of potential crash damage – especially from Saturday night. There is always potential for the big one at Texas. Although as longtime reader BillytheSkink pointed out earlier this week – it has been a while since we’ve had many accidents at Texas involving more than two cars. Two years ago, we had the crash involving Scott Dixon and Colton Herta. That crash almost took out Alexander Rossi, but Rossi made it through the sliding cars.

Last year, Takuma Sato crashed in qualifying and was unable to have his car repaired in time for the race. Rookies Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay got together on the backstretch, but Palou was an innocent bystander as VeeKay’s nightmarish IndyCar debut ended with two crashes in one day at Texas. The only other crash was when Felix Rosenqvist threw away a fine finish when he got up into the substance put down in Turn Two for the 2019 Fall NASCAR race. It was like glass all night and it finally bit Rosenqvist just ten laps from the finish, when he ventured too high. Other than that, the track with a reputation for violent crashes was rather calm a year ago. How it will be this weekend is anyone’s guess.

Qualifying for both races will be shown live on NBCSN on Saturday at 4:00 pm EDT. It will be the same format used at Iowa and Gateway last year – Lap One of Qualifying will be for Saturday Night’s Genesys 300, while Lap Two will determine starting position for Sunday’s XPEL 375. It is crucial to get Lap One right, because if a driver messes up their first lap, they will likely not recover enough to get a decent lap for the second race. That will result in bad starting positions for both races. Drivers that are already in somewhat of a hole in points (like Alexander Rossi), will want to make sure to get qualifying right.

Coverage for the Genesys 300 will start at 7:00 pm EDT on NBCSN, while Sunday’s coverage on NBCSN for the XPEL 375 begins at 5:00 pm EDT

Depending on how well the aero package works, starting position may or may not be that important. The question is – did IndyCar officials hit that magical sweet spot between these races being boring and processional and the dreaded pack racing that holds everyone’s attention but can have devastating consequences. But if this pair of races is too processional, it could be very boring for fans.

Scott Dixon was in a class of his own last year at Texas. I’m not sure he’ll check out on the field this year. I don’t think this is going to be a Penske-Ganassi weekend this time. While I think Alexander Rossi will rebound and have a good finish, and Will Power will continue to show his strength – I think a driver seeking to redeem himself at Texas will win one of these two races, while his teammate will win the other. Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal will both win this weekend, giving Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing a sweep of the weekend and a leg up on the rest of the paddock heading into the Month of May.

George Phillips

Reminder: In case you needed reminding, the Month of May begins tomorrow. I will have my usual “Random Thoughts” here on Monday May 3, recapping the double-header weekend at Texas. Beginning Tuesday May 4, I will “TRY” to post here Monday through Friday during the Month of May. If I am able to be credentialed with COVID restrictions, I will also post on the weekends of track activity at IMS. So starting next week, there will be some type of Oilpressure.com post here for almost every weekday – but no guarantees. Is it May Yet?

3 Responses to “Texas Preview”

  1. billytheskink Says:

    I apologize that I climb up on my soapbox about Texas and wrecks, but it is the closest track to me and outside of 2017 the numbers just don’t bear out the reputation in this day and age. In the DW12 era, drivers wreck out at Texas less often than they do at Indy, not just in total but also as a percentage of all starters. That said, mistakes at Texas are as costly as anywhere, and multicar incidents are a bit more likely than they are at the 500 (though still, 1.2 per race? That’s not frequent chaos).

    I am optimistic that the cooler temperatures and the track’s cleaning of the traction compound will help the racing action, though I don’t think the traction compound staining in the turns will allow a lot of competitive running there. Passing has largely been accomplished since the repave by drafting by on the outside on the front straight (there is no traction compound there), so hopefully the aero package makes that a tick easier than last year (where we did have an on-track pass for the lead).

    I am thrilled to be going to both races. I was not able to attend any Indycar races last year, so this means a lot to me.

  2. I’m heading down to TMS this afternoon for the doubleheader weekend. Unfortunately, weather is not looking good for Saturday’s race.

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