One Night, Two Races in Texas

IndyCar at Texas

IndyCar returns to Texas Motor Speedway with a pair of races Saturday night. (Photo: Getty Images)


It’s one date on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule but it’ll be two races on the track at Texas Motor Speedway, with Saturday’s Firestone Twin 275s reviving an open-wheel format that’s been dormant for nearly 30 years.

The turbocharged twin bill is IndyCar’s first since Rick Mears won two races in a single day in June 1981 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Saturday’s schedule will consist of two 114-lap races on the 1.5-mile TMS oval.  Traditional qualifying will be held Friday afternoon to set the field for the first race, with the starting positions for race No. 2 determined in a blind draw immediately following the conclusion of Race 1.  That draw will be conducted in reverse order of the Race 1 finish.

Teams will have one hour of preparation to get ready for the second half of the doubleheader.

“You have to love the open-mindedness of the IndyCar officials for randomly selecting the starting lineup for the second race,” said TMS President Eddie Gossage.  “It guarantees a real jumble, an incredible shootout.  Different strategies are going to be employed for each race.”

Half the normal amount of championship points will be awarded in each race.  The driver leading the most laps will earn two bonus points in each event, but the driver who starts on the pole in Race 2 will not receive the customary bonus point normally awarded to the top qualifier.

Teams will receive one additional engine for use as needed in the second race.

“If a car suffers damage and fails to finish the first race, there will be an opportunity for the driver to rejoin in the second race with the extra engines available,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for IndyCar.  “We want to make sure we’re ensuring a strong field for Race 2 to keep the excitement and momentum going throughout the entire event.”

There were 17 open-wheel doubleheaders under USAC and CART sanction from 1967 to 1981.  Bobby Unser swept two of them – in 1967 in Mosport, Canada, and again in 1979 at Trenton, N.J.  In fact, today (June 10) is the 32nd anniversary of his Trenton sweep.

“It’s two completely different races, which is exciting for the drivers and fans,” Unser said of the unique format.  “It was like a trophy dash: just run like heck for however many miles it was and then come in and redo the car.”

Alex Tagliani, this year’s Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter, is one of 30 drivers on the entry list for the Firestone Twins and says the format calls for a sense of caution during that first race.

“You should be sensible to make sure you are there at the end because right after the race, you’re going to have to do the second one,” Tagliani said.  “If you don’t have a spare car, it’s really important that you take those two events and consider them to be one big race; and you’ll have to be there at the end of the second one.”

The first of Saturday’s Firestone Twin 275s is scheduled to begin at 8:45 p.m. (ET).  Will Power goes into the weekend as the IZOD IndyCar Series championship leader – holding a 16-point edge over Dario Franchitti.  Ryan Briscoe is the defending race winner at Texas.

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