IndyCar Preview and Predictions: Firestone Twin 275s at Texas
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and it appears that rings true with the IndyCar Series as well. Saturday night's race at Texas Motor Speedway will be much different than last year's race, which provided a lot of drama and excitement, as Ryan Briscoe narrowly beat Danica Patrick to the finish line.
Known formerly as the Firestone 550k, the Twin 275 races will consist of two full-field 275 kilometer races, with two race-winners being recognized by the sanctioning body. Half points will be awarded in both races, which are 114 laps in length. Last year's race under the lights featured 10 lead changes, amongst seven drivers, as Briscoe won from pole position.
This year, I don't really know what people are expecting, but it will surely be an interesting Saturday night in Texas. Paul Tracy and Davey Hamilton will return to the famous speedway, and rookie phenom Wade Cunningham will make his official debut with Creatherm Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the No. 99 car.
Qualifications are Friday afternoon, with the race festivities getting underway around 7pm on Saturday.
Pole Award: Dario Franchitti
Where isn't Dario fast? Obviously he has the know how and the equipment to get the job done. His frustration was at a boiling point in Indianapolis, as he ran out of fuel on his qualifying run, and had another fuel miscalculation towards the end of the race.
He dominated practice sessions and parts of the race as well. He will look to rebound and take a big step forward this weekend, picking up as many points as he can along the way.
First to Crash: EJ Viso
Viso is an easy target, mainly because he has more DNFs than finishes in his career. With close racing all night long, there is no way he will keep his car clean and bring it home safely. He hasn't quite gotten into the Milka Duno territory, but he is getting dangerously close.
Biggest Disappointment: Graham Rahal
Rahal could be the sexy pick this weekend, after his impressive display of speed all month long in Indianapolis. Whether than translates to Texas is another story. He now has the equipment to keep him near the front, but I wonder if he is going to be able to keep all four wheels clean during two full-field races. I would love to see him keep finishing up front like he has been, but I don't have a good feeling about this one.
Dark Horse: Vitor Meira
Vitor Meira has raced here 10 times and has finished in the top 10 all but once, when he came home in 12th place. His best finish was third, which was his very first race here in 2002. After a mediocre run in the Indy 500, Vitor will look to bounce back and prove, once again, why he is one of the most underrated drivers in the series. I wouldn't be surprised to see a podium finish Saturday night.
Race 1 Podium
Third Place: Scott Dixon
We all know he is fast, and we all know he can win at any venue in this series. He will be a contender all night long.
Second Place: Tony Kanaan
Just like Vitor, TK has nine top-10 finishes in 10 races here at Texas. More impressively though, he has one win and three runner-up finishes here in that time.
Race Winner: Ryan Briscoe
Yes, he is the defending race winner, and his stretch of bad luck has got to end some time. He had a car capable of winning the 500, before it bounced off the wall. And all of this talk about Simona getting his ride next year has to light a fire inside of him. Briscoe will prove he will be a Penske driver for a long time.
Race 2 Podium
Third Place: Will Power
Power hasn't yet proven he can dominate the ovals, but he needs to have a solid finish to keep pace with Dario in the standings.
Second Place: Marco Andretti
Marco is very good here, and like Briscoe, his string of tough breaks and bad luck has to end some time. No better place than Texas.
Race Winner: Scott Dixon
Like I said before, he is just so good and can win anywhere. Two podiums in one night for Mr. Dixon.