The IndyCar Texas 550 Queries Wisdom Of NASCAR’s Oval Popularity
The Texas 550 leaves one with a most disturbing revelation or question concerning the popularity of oval racing. Why do fans prefer the slow, methodical … almost certain predictability of NASCAR oval draft-pack racing over the lowered down-force exhibition put on by the IZOD IndyCar Series (IICS) on the 24-degree banking found at the Texas 550?
By any measure, the sophomore year Dallara DW12’s combined with the experienced driving talent found in the IICS had the most educated and ardent fan guessing at the beginning of last Saturday night’s race as to what factors would carry the day and deliver a most entertaining result.
Would there be yet another, different winner (first time, or not) to win a race in this 2013 season? There has been one repeat winner with James Hinchcliffe and in seven previous races run, five first-time race winners had been crowned … counting the INDY 500 as a stand alone event – Hinchcliffe, Sato, Kanaan (INDY 500), Conway, and Pagenaud. The only other race winner was last year’s IICS champion Ryan Hunter-Reay at Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
The track located near Ft. Worth, Texas has held 24 IndyCar open wheel races before and in the last seven years there had been no driver to repeat a winning result. Last year, in fact, a known road/street course specialist in the form of British race car driver, Justin Wilson, driving for Dale Coyne Racing received his second overall win in the series. Also, one can win from any qualifications position … Wilson won last year from the 17th starting position. Further, this 1.5 mile track, is noted for the most close finishes registered (measured in .1000’s) by any on the schedule.
The 24-degree banking is a major factor in delivering the close quarters racing with a varied result because the 4-G down-force the speed and banking create has the cars set up with lower down-force which has the focus clearly placed on tire wear (for grip) and driver acumen in achieving the fine balance of speed versus longevity of GREEN Flag racing run. Longer runs and the maintenance of grip through the tire wear curve are rewarded here at Texas Motor Speedway.
Lastly, this has been an amazingly competitive season amongst the teams that where not perceived as power house teams. Outside of the very capable Andretti Autosport team, the other two perennial championship caliber teams, Penske Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR), had yet to achieve a win and had only three podium finishes through seven races (that’s 3 out of a possible 21 podium finishes). Would these two teams continue to be locked out in winning? Qualifications had Penske Racing’s Will Power capture the pole with Helio Castroneves slotting in at P6 with TCGR’s Dario Franchitti ahead at P4. Andretti Autosport had its three of its four drivers – Andretti P2, Hunter-Reay P3, Viso P5, and Hinchcliffe P13 – in the top five positions.
The race itself starts out in the late afternoon/dusk and ends under the lights at night after a total of 278 very fast over 200 mph, 1.5 mile laps (under 20 seconds). Weather was clear, spring-like and not a factor.
The final 75 laps as reported from 140 or less characters as posted on Twitter – Tweet-By-Tweet –
Formula Ràpida @FormulaRapidaV
#indycar 75togo 1. Castroneves +10 sg 2.Power 3. Reay 4. Carpenter 5. Franchitti 6. Kanaan
heriberto briceño @toni5632
#indycar #Firestone550 #TEXAS 166 de 228 #lider: castroneves 2 power 3hunter-reay 4carpenter 5franchitti @EJVISO P9 entra sato
Ricardo Cardoso @ricardo_engsoft
Castroneves pit-in. Lap 175/228. #IndyCar #Firestone550
Kenny Shook @KennyShook
The difference that new tires are making in this Indy race is rediculous. #firestone550 #texasheat
Dakota Hunter @ElKotaLoca1499
41 laps to go: 9 cars on the lead lap as pretty much the whole field has made their final pit stop. #IndyCar #Firestone550
Helio, TK, Marco, RHR, Carpenter, Power, Jakes, Newgarden
Scott Tackett @ScottTackett24
Everyone wants a caution except for Helio Castroneves. He has a 15 second lead over 2nd place with 36 to go! #Firestone550 #IndyCar
Ash (アシュー) @racingAsh
When these tires fall off, they REALLY fall off. @h3lio @penskeracing doing a great job conserving his tires. #IndyCar #Firestone550 on @ABC
203 – Helio Marco, RHR, Carpenter, Jakes Dario, only on lead lap
Eric Smith @Ericsportsguru
New Order 23 to go: Helio, RHR, Carpenter, Jakes, Dario, Power Only cars on Lead Lap #Firestone550
RHR almost a second quicker that time by. #IndyCar #Firestone550
16 laps to go – RHR now 5.6 seconds
198 mph vs 202 mph with Helio vs RHR
heriberto briceño @toni5632
#indycar #Firestone550 #TEXAS 12 para ir #lider: castroneves 2hunter-reay 3carpenter 4kannan 5franchitti @EJVISO P9
TK, who just pitted for new tires, is out on a terror at 208 mph and a full straight difference
Podium if ends now with 7 laps – Helio, RHR, Carpenter, … TK just passes to grab P3
5 laps to go – 201 vs 198 – Helio vs RHR
Helio has opened up the throttle and leads by 5.4 sec with 2 laps to go
FINAL LAP WOOOOO #INDYCAR
Penske and Helio wins the G-Force challenge at Ft. Worth – 22 point lead in IICS Championship
Mark Panichelli @markpanichelli
Congrats @h3lio , wow ! class of the field tonight ! First 4-time winner of #Texas #IndyCar race
So it’s Helio, RHR, TK, Carpenter, Marco, Dario, Power, Newgarden, Hinch, and Viso are the top 10
Eric Smith @Ericsportsguru
#Firestone550 finishing order: 3,1,11,20,25,10,12,67,27,5,14,16,77,6,19,78,83,55,4,7,15,98,9,18
“@nascarcasm: Typically, climbing a fence in the state of Texas isn’t something that’s met with fanfare. #IndyCar”
Randy Bernard @RBINDYCAR
Cont. @eddiegossage #indycar prime time race on #ABC prior to me leaving. Please tell the truth when you do interviews
Tony Olufson @Tolufson
Agreed! “@tonydizinno: After all the angst over pack races in the past, enjoyed the differentiation tonight and the safe race #IndyCar”
Last year we got to see a 6’3″ Brit (Justin Wilson) pop off a couple of rounds, this year Brazilian Helio Castroneves put a little boot-scootn’ into climbing the fence and shooting the six-irons. He looks almost too good in a cowboy hat.
At the end of the race, again this question pops up, why do fans prefer the slow, methodical … almost certain predictability of NASCAR oval draft-pack racing over the lowered down force exhibition put on by the IZOD IndyCar Series (IICS) on the 24-degree banking found at the Texas 550?
Answers … anyone?
… notes from The EDJE