Preview: 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Texas Motor Speedway

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Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

On Saturday night, the Verizon IndyCar Series will take to the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway for the ninth round of this year’s championship, the 2018 DXC Technology 600. The high-speed oval is set to provide yet another fantastic race. Here is everything you need to know ahead of the action in the lone-star state.

What happened in 2017 at Texas Motor Speedway?

In qualifying for last year’s race, Charlie Kimball would put in a fantastic run to take his first pole position in IndyCar. The American, who was racing for Chip Ganassi Racing last year, was hoping to convert the strong grid spot into what would have been his second career victory, but his race would end very early after his car developed an oil leak.

Of the 248-laps that made up the total race distance, Team Penske‘s Will Power would lead 180 of them en-route to a fantastic victory. The race would end under caution, with Tony Kanaan and Simon Pagenaud completing the podium.

The race was a chaotic one. Only nine of the twenty-two entrants were running by the end of the race, with numerous multi-car collisions taking place as a result of the close confines of pack racing. A late incident saw Scott Dixon taken out of a potential battle with Power for the win, but it was the crash on lap 152 that really made headlines.

The incident began when Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin ran three-wide on the entry to turn three. The three all came together, with Kanaan escaping undamaged as Hinchcliffe and Aleshin collected numerous cars in the ensuing mess. In total, seven cars suffered varying degrees of damage in the incident that would later be dubbed as “the big one.”

Tempers flared after the race, but whilst numerous parties disagreed over who was at fault in the crash, the general consensus was that “pack racing” was, once again, not an enjoyable experience for those involved.

You can read the reports from last year’s qualifying and race at Texas by following the links below

What should I look out for this weekend?

The current championship leader, Team Penske’s Will Power, will certainly be one to watch this weekend. The Australian took an incredible victory almost two weeks ago at the Indianapolis 500 as he continues to get better and better at oval racing.

What’s more, as we just mentioned, Power is the most recent race winner at Texas. He will be hoping to use his experience from last year to take back-to-back victories at the speedway, where he also won back in 2011. If he does manage to get to victory circle, he will further extend his championship lead and continue his fantastic run during the mid-season.

Back at Indianapolis a fortnight ago, Alexander Rossi put on a fantastic show. The Andretti Autosport driver pulled off some unbelievable overtakes to go from the back of the field to fourth place. He will certainly hope that he can be as strong as he was then as the series returns to an oval, especially as he lost valuable points in the championship after a disappointing end to last weekend’s event in Detroit.

Another driver to watch will be rookie Robert Wickens. Whilst this weekend will be the Canadian’s first visit to Texas Motor Speedway, that may not hamper him whatsoever. In his first oval race back in April at ISM Raceway, Wickens put in a stunning drive to take second place. His second oval race at Indianapolis saw him in the top ten yet again, finishing as the highest placed rookie in ninth place. Everybody believes that Robert will get his first win at some point this year. If the cards fall right for him, it could even be this weekend.

Finally, after a disappointing last four races, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden will be hoping to get back toward the sharp end of the order in Saturday night’s race. The Penske driver, who led the championship earlier in the season after notching up two victories in the first four races, has slipped to fifth in the standings during the last month. Whilst Texas has never been a great hunting ground for Josef, with only one top ten finish in his six previous starts at the speedway, do not count him out of contention if he has the right car underneath him.

What is the schedule for the weekend?

Friday 8 June

12:30 ET / 17:30 GMT – Practice one
16:00 ET / 21:00 GMT – Qualifying
19:15 ET / 00:15 GMT (Saturday) – Practice two

Saturday 9 June

20:00 ET / 01:00 GMT (Sunday) – Race

Where can I watch the DXC Technology 600?

Tickets are still available for this weekend’s race. Head to Texas Motor Speedway’s website for more information.

In the United Kingdom, television coverage is limited to just the races only. Race day coverage will start in the early hours of Sunday morning at 01:00 AM on BT Sport ESPN.

In the United States, television coverage for the Texas race will be provided by NBCSN.

Further coverage of practice and qualifying will be provided for all via IndyCar’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

How can I keep up to date with all the race action?

If you cannot make it to Texas Motor Speedway for this weekend’s race, you can keep up to date with all the action across the weekend right here at The Checkered Flag. We will have coverage of not just this weekend’s practice, qualifying and race sessions, but for all on-track action throughout the season.

Be sure to also follow IndyCar on Twitter – @IndyCar – for live updates throughout the event.

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Reporter from the East of England. Covering the NTT IndyCar Series for The Checkered Flag. Also an eSports racing driver on iRacing.
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