NTT IndyCar Series Race Preview: Texas Doubleheader

  Two races into the season, and we have seen dominating performances from the likes of Colton Herta and Alex Palou to open up the NTT IndyCar Series season. Now the series heads to the first oval race of the season, as the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for a weekend doubleheader Saturday and Sunday night.

    Race History: The IndyCar series has been coming to the lightning fast 1.5 mile quad-oval since it opened back in 1997. In that inaugural race, Billy Boat crossed the line first, but the win was awarded to Arie Luyendyk after a timing and scoring error the next day. There are five active drivers that have won at Texas in the field this weekend. Scott Dixon won last time the series made its way into the Lone Star State. Winners also include Tony Kanaan, Will Power, Joesf Newgarden, Ed Carpenter, and Graham Rahal. Kenny Brack holds the qualifying record that was set in 2001, with a time of 22.854 seconds. Or an average speed of 233.447 miles per hour.

    Track Facts: Texas Motor Speedway has seen changes since the first race that was held in 1997. Since the reconfiguration and repave of TMS in 2017, the track now bolsters 20 degrees of banking in turns one and two, with a track width of 80 feet from the apron to the wall. With 24 degrees of banking in turns 3 and 4.

    PJ1 Concerns: In pre-season testing, teams and drivers found that the stained race track from the November NASCAR Cup series race at Texas has 15 to 20 percent less grip in the higher lanes through  turns one and two. With this in mind, watch for a driver who steps out there looking to make a bold move on the outside. Hopefully, they can make aggressive moves without tearing up fast race cars.

    Driver Changes: Since we go to our first oval race of the weekend, multiple drivers will be stepping out of the car this weekend. Starting with Jimmie Johnson, who will not be running the four oval events this year, he will be replaced by Tony Kanaan in the Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Romain Grosjean will also be stepping out this weekend for Dale Conye Racing with Rick Ware entry, in his place will be former Hass F1 teammate, Peitro Fittipaldi. Connor Daly will be stepping into the Carlin Racing entry of Max Chilton this weekend, as Ed Carpenter will be driving Daly's cars for the four oval events this year.

    2020 Event: There was only one race at TMS last year, and it was the first race of the season last year after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Josef Newgarden won the P1 award and led 41 laps into what was a strong early showing for the two-time series champion. But it was Scott Dixon who led 147 laps, which started a very stong early season run, as he won the first three races of the 2020 season, including this one.

    Weekend Schedule: 

- Saturday, May 1st: IndyCar Series Practice from 12:30 to 2:00 P.M. EST on Peacock

- Saturday, May 1st: IndyCar Series Qualifying from 4:00 to 5:00 P.M. EST on Peacock/NBCSN

- Saturday, May 1st:  Genesys 300 at 7:00 P.M. EST on NBCSN

- Sunday, May 2nd: Xpel 375 at 5:00 P.M. EST on NBCSN


    Opinion: This is going to be a great opportunity to see where teams are in their speedway package for the 2021 season. As these races kickoff a very busy Month of May as teams shift focus to the Indianapoils Grand Prix and 500 later in the month. Looking at our last time on the ovals, Team Penske has been very strong as of late. That charge will come from Will Power and Joesf Newgarden as they are both currently the fastest in that stable of drivers. Outside of them, you will have to look at Scott Dixon with Andretti Autosport. But don't be surprised if Takuma Sato from A.J. Foyt Enterprises makes things interesting. Dixon dominated the race last year, and expect that to continue as my prediction is that he dominates race one and Will Power takes race two.