Race Preview: Texas
June 7, 2007 | 7:25 A.M. EST
History: The Texas Motor Speedway was built in 1997 by Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Track Length: 1.5 miles
Race Distance: 228 Laps/342 Miles
Banking of Turns: 24 degrees
Poster Awards: More than $1 million
Number of IRL Races Hosted: 17
Fastest Lap: 222.864 mph set by Gil de Ferran in 2003
2006 Polesitter: Sam Hornish Jr.
2006 Podium: Helio Castroneves (winner), Scott Dixon (2nd), Dan Wheldon (3rd)
Championship Standings: Click here
What happened in 2006?
It was a case of déjà vu for Dan Wheldon in 2006 at Texas Motor Speedway – he dominated the race, led the most laps but lost in the closing circuits to Marlboro Team Penske. Unlike Indianapolis, where Sam Hornish Jr. took the victory, this time it was Helio Castroneves who climbed the fence after running the third-fastest race in IRL IndyCar Series history.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the IndyCar Series’ stop at Texas Motor Speedway. Fifty kilometers have been added to this year’s race, which means teams will have to account for 28 more laps around the 1.5 mile high-banked tri-oval – which may play into the team’s pit strategy this weekend.
Texas Motor Speedway’s unique 24-degree banked turns have produced some of the tight racing that has been the hallmark of the IndyCar Series over the last 10 seasons. Six of the 25-closest finishes in IndyCar Series history, including two of the five-closest races have occurred at Texas.
This weekend will be a record setting time for driver Scott Sharp. When he takes the green flag on Saturday night, it will be his 128th consecutive starts in the Series. Also, depending on how good of a performance he can put on during the race, he will inch closer to the $10 million mark in career winnings – currently, he is $265,537 shy.
Home Town Connection
Several native Texans are members of teams that will compete at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Vision Racing’s A.J. Foyt IV, of Waller, will race at Texas Motor Speedway for the fifth time, while his grandfather, the legendary A.J. Foyt, enters England’s Darren Manning in his famed No. 14 machine. Foyt’s son, Larry, a graduate of nearby Texas Christian University, serves as team director of Foyt’s Texas-based team. Two crew members hail from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex: Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Danny Hunter (Jackman for No. 10 Dan Wheldon) and Andretti Green Racing’s Dave Rodgers (spotter for No. 7 Danica Patrick) are Dallas natives. 7-Eleven, the primary sponsor of Tony Kanaan’s Andretti-Green Racing entry, is based in Dallas.
What they are Saying
"Texas is one of the most intense races of the year. This is one of the most exciting races for the fans because the cars are so close. It is going to be a tough race because you have to be perfect on every move you make on the track. I am looking to continue the momentum we have with the Canadian Club car and hopefully we'll be able to gain some more points and extend our lead in the championship"
--Championship leader Dario Franchitti, driver of the No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda for Andretti Green Racing
"I like going to Texas. I guess it’s probably too much for people to watch sometimes but it’s the ultimate high speed chess match. Everyone sticks together and it’s extremely tight racing. You really have to be at the right place at the right time at the end of the race. It will be our second race this year underneath the lights but I love going to Texas because I really enjoy it there. I’ve ran good there a lot of times but I just need to get a solid result so hopefully going there this year we can do that."
--Buddy Rice, driver of the No. 15 Roll Coater Dallara-Honda for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
"I love Texas, it's one of my favorite tracks. I've won there twice, I've finished second, it's been a great place for me. It's our Talladega, it's a big drafting thing, running three-wide and I love that kind of racing. We just need to be able to keep pace with the leaders and we'll have a shot to do well"
--Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Patron Tequila for Rahal Letterman Racing
"You’ve gotta love Texas. When I first signed with Panther Racing I was excited to get to this track because of the great history we have here. I remember chasing (Panther driver) Sam Hornish and Helio (Castroneves) here in 2002 when Hornish won the championship for Panther. Now it’s great to be here in that Delphi No. 4 car. We would have finished fourth here last year if we hadn’t run out of fuel but sixth was still a good result. We’re coming off a good weekend in Milwaukee and we want to keep rolling this weekend"
--Vitor Meira, driver of the No. 4 Delphi Dallara-Honda for Panther Racing
"I’m looking forward to racing at Texas because it’s the first track that we’re going to where we can use what we’ve learned earlier in the season and apply it. I think what we found at Kansas will transfer to Texas. If we’re not spot-on right off the truck, we can use our experience to improve the car that much quicker. We’ll be running the same car that we ran at Indy so it should be good."
--Darren Manning, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara-Honda for A.J. Foyt Racing
"Yeah, it's definitely one of my favorite tracks. It's a good, fast track to come race on. It's good to be back in the hometown. It's about four hours away from where I live. Get some family up here. My sister I know is going to bring my nephew up, you know, some other friends coming in from Austin. It should be a fun weekend."
--A.J. Foyt IV, driver of the No. 22 Dallara-Honda for Vision Racing
"I’m very much looking forward to going to Texas. It’s my favorite track on the IndyCar Series Circuit. The track has a lot of sentimental value for me too. I raced my first IndyCar race there in 1999. The fans are great the track staff is amazing and the people are just very friendly. It’s also a great place to watch an IndyCar race. Also it’s a night race and I love night races. Now that I have the proper glasses for night vision, I’ll be a lot better off than at Homestead. Glasses presented a new challenge for me with running at night but I think I got it all sorted out now."
--Sarah Fisher, driver of the No. 5 AAMCO Dallara/Honda for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
"Those of us at Firestone Racing take comfort in the fact that it's because of the unflinching confidence these drivers have in their Firehawk race tires that they're willing to race each other so hard, so close and for so long (at Texas). The Firestone tires they'll be using this weekend have already proven themselves on other taxing 1.5-mile ovals this season. We have every confidence they will be up to the task yet again and lend drivers the bravado to put on another sensational show deep in the heart of Texas.""
--Al Speyer, Executive Director for Firestone Racing
Schedule of Events
Thursday, June 7
- Practice 1: 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. (ET) – Two Groups
- Practice 2: 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. (ET) – Two Groups
Friday, June 8
- Practice 3: 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. (ET) – Two Groups
- Qualifying: 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Saturday, June 9
- Race: 9:30 p.m. (ET)