Texas Recap- Tires, New Surface Make for a Difficult Night

It was the type of race that draws fans. It was the type of race that turns purists away. It was the type of race one should expect in this most strange,  unpredictable Indycar season. It was, in essence, a typical race at Texas Motor Speedway. Texas seems to bring out the best and the worst in all involved in the series.

Overall, this was the type of racing that Texas is known for.Despite a couple great finishes, the cars had been more strung out the last few years.  It was not pack racing in the sense of an entire field grouped together. There were small groups fighting for position; I saw three rows of two by two at times. In general this was the best race at Texas in a while, despite the messy situations.

The concerns going into the race were fulfilled. We had  tire issues, blistering and lack of fall off during a stint. Drivers  attempted to go three wide when it was not possible.  Passing was difficult because of the lack of a groove and the tires. All told, this led to the mayhem we saw on track.

The best thing Indycar can do for this race is reduce the downforce. Let cars get away from each other. There is a really good race hiding at this track. Let it come out.

Some notes and comments:

The teams of Rahal Letterman Lanigan and  Harding Racing are the only ones to escape the race with no damage. Some teams are planning a midweek test at Road America. Interesting to see who actually comes.

Dale Coyne Racing has had damage to five cars since Phoenix. Ed Jones sustained his first DNF of the year Saturday.

Will Power is the first driver this season to win at two different tracks. He is only the second driver with multiple victories this year. Scott Dixon extended his points lead despite a) not winning a race yet, and b) not finishing the race.

Kudos for Tony Kanaan for admitting his responsibility in the eight car crash which resulted in a red flag.  He ended up finishing second.

With only eight cars running at the checkered flag, several drivers had their best finishes of the year. Conor Daly, Gabby Chaves, and Marco Andretti all scored season bests.

Graham Rahal dodged spinning cars all night to finish fourth.

Great job by Gabby Chaves and Harding Racing to persevere and get their second top ten in as many races. The team will likely reappear at Pocono and is aiming to be a full time entry next year.

Tristan Vautier impressed early challenging for the lead in a very fast Coyne entry. If Esteban Gutierrez is in the car for the rest of the street/road course races, Vautier needs to drive the 18 on the remaining ovals.

Helio Castroneves appeared dazed after his crash. I’m wondering if he will go through concussion protocol.

I agree with the red flag decision here. It was in the middle of the race, and there was no way to avoid the debris. The cleanup would have burned a lot of laps. I just hope Indycar hasn’t started a trend of waving the red flag each time a multicar incident occurs. This was the third red flag in as many weeks. The one at the 500 and the flag Saturday were justified.

This is the first time I’ve ever been disappointed with Firestone’s on track product. Perhaps Indycar should have allowed another test day or two at Texas to ensure the tires were correct for the track. I hope everyone works together so this isn’t an issue at Gateway.

There has to be an alternative strategy for safety involving a tire issue. I do not agree with the competition yellow decision as a way to resolve the tire safety issue. Yes, tire blistering was a concern, and tires most likely did need to be changed more often. But, really, tire blisters were only a concern on a couple of cars. Could their setups be the cause? The entire field was penalized by the problems of a few. Pit stops could have been required by Indycar using a mandatory pit window similar to what Champ Car had for their races. If someone doesn’t stop, use the black flag. Going the way they did, and using a term employed by  that other North American based series, left a sour taste.

Indycar teams now get a welcome two week break before going to Road America. This may signal a return to normalcy, or it may not. The only predictable thing about this year is the unpredictability.

The season title is still up for grabs, and will probably again go down to the finale at Sonoma. Dixon leads Pagenaud by 13 points and Sato by 14. The top 7 are separated by just 59 points.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Texas Recap- Tires, New Surface Make for a Difficult Night

  1. I’ve historically loved the racing at Texas, which is now my “home” track. I didn’t like the pack racing and attrition in the race. It reminded me of Daytona, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

    I agree about Chaves/Harding. I really want to see them and Juncos full-time next season. Solid finishes without damaging cars helps the series move that way.

    Like

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