Saturday night Indycar concludes its marathon stretch with the Rainguard Water Sealers 600. The sponsor is ironic, since the track could have some type of rain guard last year. This was one of the best races last year with Graham Rahal nipping James Hinchcliffe on the last lap. Will this year’s race be similar?
In past races at Texas we have seen pack racing, processional races, and close finishes. Lately, the worst place to be is in the lead with a late restart coming. Cars behind the leader pit for fresh tires, while the leader can’t afford to give up track position. Track modifications may help the race, but there is a chance they could hurt the race as well.
The track has been repaved and the banking in turns 1 and 2 has been changed; tires did not fall off very quickly when Indycar tested there. The second lane seems to have disappeared as well. This could lead to a return of pack racing.
Teams have an 11 am practice , qualifying at 3:15, and a night practice at 6:45 today to figure out what will work best. Perhaps a change in downforce will be necessary. Firestone has been working on developing a tire that won’t hurt the racing.
Pack racing like we saw at Chicagoland and Kentucky, while exciting, is very nerve wracking to watch. Indycar has been extremely lucky that Las Vegas was the only pack race that ended in tragedy. Given the severe crashes we’ve seen this year so far, I hope for the best.
Will Scott Dixon finally win his first race of the season tomorrow? Can Hinchcliffe claim the win he should have had last year? Might Ryan Hunter-Reay finally end his bad luck streak? Will we have our second straight repeat winner? Will Rahal be strong again?
Honda cars should have the advantage,yet that advantage could provide some of the drama with the reliability issues they have had this year. Penske seems to be the only Chevy team that has found some speed. Will Newgarden continue to be the best car from them?
I’m going to predict a Ganassi car wins their first race of the year tomorrow night. Look for Tony Kanaan to break his slump with a close victory. I hope the race is safe.
Race Notes and News:
Gabby Chaves returns to the track in the #88 Harding Racing car. The team finished 9th at Indianapolis. If this race goes well, they will likely be at Pocono. They are aiming for a full time presence next season.
Tristan Vautier will be in the #18 this week subbing for Sebastien Bourdais. Esteban Gutierrez, who drove in Detroit, has no experience on ovals, and Indycar decided Texas is not the first oval he should attempt. Gutierrez may drive the rest of the road and street courses with other drivers running the ovals.
In the not a surprise category, Dallara will build the new aero pieces for the 2018 season. Test dates announced for the new kit- July 25-26 oval configuration at IMS; August 1 road course kit at Mid-Ohio; August 28 Iowa; and September 26 Sebring.