Moment of honesty? I spent practice, qualification, and the race texting with Abby and Juliana (our driver analyst). We were all nervous going into the race. Texas Motor Speedway is not for the faint of heart, and there was one practice before qualifications and then right into the race. I’m pleased the nagging dread we all felt was not prophetic. The Genesys 300 ended, yes under a last-second yellow, but not like prior Texas races before.
Practice and Qualifications
From the NASCAR race in November, the track had some type of traction compound to help with the NASCAR cars. It does not help with INDYCAR. According to Firestone, that compound reduced the grip by twenty-five percent. For this race it really took off the ability for the cars to pass each, and if drivers got up into higher lines they got to crashing. In practice, poor Ed Carpenter Racing had both cars crash. Rinus VeeKay (#21, Ed Carpenter Racing) crashed within the first twenty-minutes and the team valiantly rallied to get the car ready by the race, but he did fail to qualify. Ed Carpenter also crashed, but the team had the car ready and back out during practice. Also Ryan Hunter-Reay also crashed towards the end of practice.
In qualifications, the crash continued. Takuma Sato got loose in Turn 2 and crashed out, failing to qualify. They would not get his car prepared in time for the race and he DNS. Santino Ferrucci also failed to qualify, his team continued to make changes to the car instead of qualifying. There were not a lot of huge surprises during qualifying. Scott Dixon came out and laid down two monster laps…only to have Josef Newgarden come out right afterward and beat his time.
It’s never good for me when they’re talking about some cars having trouble and the broadcast cuts directly to Alexander Rossi’s car. There were electrical gremlins for three Hondas that evening: Rossi’s, RHR’s and Graham Rahal’s. All three of them got penalized for unapproved changes while the cars were on grid and served penalties at the beginning of the race. Following qualifications, the cars were impounded until the start of the race, which gave no opportunity for teams to make sure things were all up and ready. Then to impose penalties because the cars developed issues (between qualifying and the race) seems improper. My question I’m raising is that Ferrucci was allowed to have his car worked on during qualifications and didn’t serve a penalty except starting from the back.
There were mandated thirty-five lap stints on the tires since, due to COVID-19 Firestone was shut down, tires were not made properly for this track. It led to great pit moments, but also some weird tire issues. Both Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud complained of weird vibrations throughout their races. During pit stops, James Hinchcliffe had issues getting a tire off putting him three laps down. Ferrucci also had issues, on Lap 160’s pit stop his car was dropped and started before it should have been, and that stymied his whole race and ended it prematurely.
The race, in typical Texas fashion, looked like it was going to go down to a last lap shoot-out when on Lap 190 Felix Rosenqvist tried to pass Hinchcliffe and got up into the wall causing a cation. It was an unfortunate end to Rosenqvist’s race, he had made suburb moves and found himself challenging Scott Dixon. At the point of the yellow Dixon was in the lead with some lapped cars and then Simon Pagenaud. INDYCAR made the decision not to move the lapped cars, and the restart instead started with Dixon up front and lapped traffic behind him. The race ended with Dixon still in the lead, and under a yellow for Charlie Kimball, who was having a great race, into the wall.
Dixon was the official winner. However some other winners were Zach Veach who finished fourth, and perhaps is putting that weird sophomore year behind him. Conor Daly who moved up from 19th to 6th position. Rookie Oliver Askew moving up from 20th to 9th position in his first INDYCAR race.
Those who had bad days? Alexander Rossi just never got that lap back. Jack Harvey…well the broadcasters said he was driving within himself, which may be code for safe as hell. He qualified at 205.647 mph and the next slowest qualifier was 210.839.
Did you guys know it’s hot in Texas? Poor Marty Snieder, they had him running around with his temperature gun getting the temperature of everything he could. The Aeroscreen worked, but they’re still figuring out the cooling process. The poor drivers from Sweden (Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist) both had weird drink issues. Rosenqvist lost the straw to his water bottle and had no water the entire race. Ericsson had an issue where his water was just hot. I cannot imagine how drivers and crew felt after the race, since most of their days started at 4 am that morning.
I guarantee you we’ll be talking this during episodes of our podcast. You can subscribe by visiting our subscribe page: www.fastcarsfastgirls.com/subscribe