Texas Motor Speedway Firestone 600 Preview

Helio Castroneves is looking to capture his fifth win at the Texas Motor Speedway.  [Russ Lake Photo]

The 24-degree banking of the Texas Motor Speedway will echo to the sounds of Chevrolet and Honda power plants Saturday night as the Verizon IndyCar Series presents the Firestone 600; the second of six ovals on the 2014 series’ schedule.

The 372-mile (the race is 600 kilometers), 248-lap race, is the 26th IRL/IndyCar event at the unpredictable 1.455-mile Ft. Worth track.

Coming into this weekend, Penske Racing teammates Will Power (326 points) and Helio Castroneves (-19) lead the Verizon championship points chase after their dominant wins for Chevrolet in the Dual races at Belle Isle last week.

“I’m already thinking about Texas,” the three-time Indy 500 champion, who has never won a series’ crown, said shortly after his recent win. “We’re not playing around. I’m very confident with my team; our ovals have improved a lot. I’m able to pay attention to details that I haven’t seen before.”

Should the Brazilian win Saturday, it would be his fifth at TMS, the most of any driver since open wheel racing came to the facility in 1997.

Power, who has two wins this season, is aware that his Penske stable-mate Castroneves, who has three consecutive top-5 finishes, is on a serious tear: “A guy like him, who hasn’t won a championship; he’s been so close. He’ll be a contender this year. To me he’s better than when I turned up on the scene.”

And Power’s take on Castroneves’ 2013 Texas win? “My teammate absolutely destroyed the field (here) last year. That is just (his) confidence on ovals. We just have to turn up there, see what we’ve got, and try to have a good weekend.”

Team Penske has eight wins at Texas; the most of any of the series’ teams.

Other previous winners at TMS in the Firestone 600 field of 22-entries include Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Justin Wilson and Power.

On a high-speed track, known for some spectacular side-by-side racing, and with it some equally spectacular incidents over the years, Graham Rahal noted a somewhat cautionary warning about Saturday night’s event.

“Nowadays one of the great challenges (at TMS) is tire management; keeping the car underneath you. There is by no means the amount of grip at Texas that there used to be. Tires have changed,” the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda pilot stated, “and the downforce levels of the cars have been greatly reduced. It has become one of the most challenging ovals we will run all year.”

Texan A.J. Foyt returns to his home state with one of the series’ bravest drivers piloting his ABC Supply Honda. Takuma Sato, who likes nothing better than a challenging race, has captured two pole-position this season, but  should he win Saturday, it would give Foyt’s team its first oval track victory since 2002 when Airton Dare’ found victory lane at Kansas some 12 years ago.

Look for a Chevrolet-powered car, likely a Team Penske entry, to win. Helio and Power are on hot streaks, but Juan Pablo Montoya never saw a high-speed track that he didn’t like. We’ll see.

Dark horse? It’s an oval, so Ed Carpenter is in his Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy replacing road-race partner Mike Conway. He could put aside his Indy disappointment to score an upset win. Again, we’ll see.


  • Texas native Jim McElreath will give the command to start engines. The 86-year old veteran was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.
  • Friday qualifying will see drivers make two-lap, cumulative-time runs.
  • After seven races Chevrolet leads Honda 4-3 in series’ wins.
  • Sixteen of twenty-five previous Indy car events at TMS have been won by a margin of less than one-second. Eight by less than one-tenth of a second.
  • If 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan makes Saturday’s race it will be his 223rd consecutive start-a series’ record. He won here back in 2004 on his way to his only series’ title.
  • Earlier this week Angie’s List was announced as the title sponsor for the 2015 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
  • Detroit race organizers announced that they would undertake a $4 million roadway project that will involve repaving most of the Belle Isle surface with concrete and straightening the kink between turns 6-7. The project will get underway in July.
  • Texas hosted two Indy car events each year between 1998 and 2004.
  • This will be the first night race for Verizon IndyCar rookies Carlos Munoz, Jack Hawksworth, Carlos Huertas, and Mikhail Aleshin.
  • Texas has produced 18 different winners in its past 25 Indy car races.
  • Gil de Ferran holds the track’s one-lap speed record at 222.864 mph set in 2003.


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