By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer
This coming weekend the Verizon IndyCar Series will return to the Texas Motor Speedway for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600, continuing the 2017 season. The race will be held on Saturday evening under the lights. The event is slated for June 9-10, 2017.
About the Race
The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 is round nine of seventeen for the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017. The event is held on a paved oval track, one of six such races on the calendar.
The defending race winner is Graham Rahal who narrowly beat James Hinchcliffe to the line in a race that was delayed more than two months for rain. Rahal is also the most recent winner in the series having swept both races at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix last weekend.
The race will consist of 248 laps for a total race distance of 360.8 miles, which translates to roughly 600 kilometers, and thus the designation as a 600. Standard oval track qualifying procedures will apply.
Support races include the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks.
About the Track
Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.455 mile paved oval track. Turns one and two are banked at 20 degrees, while three and four are banked at 24 degrees. The oval features a dogleg on the front straight.
The layout will be new for the IndyCar Series as the track was repaved this season and the first two turns were re-profiled. A state of the art drainage system was also installed, similar to the one that the Kentucky Speedway put in last year.
The track opened in February of 1996 and is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. Racing promoter, Eddie Gossage, is the President and General Manager of Texas Motor Speedway, a position he has held since the track opened.
Located just North of Fort Worth, Texas, the facility boasts a seating capacity of over 180,000. In addition the the Verizon IndyCar Series date, the track also hosts the three top divisions in NASCAR, the ARCA Series and Global Rallycross.
The IndyCar series debuted at the Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 and has been a mainstay on the track’s schedule ever since. The 1997 event was the first ever night race held on a Superspeedway for Indianapolis style cars. The inaugural race provided some controversy when a scoring error gave the win to A.J. Foyt’s driver, Billy Boat. When the rightful winner, Arie Luyendyk, stormed into victory lane, he found himself on the wrong end of the angry Texan’s fist.
Between 1998 and 2004 Texas Motor Speedway hosted the IndyCar series twice each year, with the Fall race serving as the season finale from 1999 -2004. After the track received a second NASCAR Cup date, the second IndyCar race was dropped, although the race was ran as a double-header heat style race in 2011. Some controversy over the blind draw that was utilized to set the starting grid for the second race caused the original one-race format to return in 2012.
In 2001, Texas sought to be the only track to host NASCAR, the Indy Racing League, and the CART Series in the same season. Safety concerns caused the CART event to be cancelled at the last minute. Read all about that here. Even though the race never actually ran, Kenny Brack’s pole-winning lap at a blistering 233.447 mph still stands as the official track record.
Over the years TMS has produced some very exciting races, including Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves crossing the start/finish side-by-side in 2002 for the fifth closest finish in IndyCar history. In 2003 TMS was the site of the last win for two time Indy 500 winner, Al Unser Jr. Later that same season, Gil de Ferran took the final IndyCar win of his career at the fall Texas race.
TMS also was the site of the first oval-track win for both Will Power and the late Justin Wilson, two drivers long considered road course specialists.
About the Field
The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Field represents one of the strongest, talent-packed, top-to-bottom lineups in all of racing.
22 drivers will take the green in Texas. Former Texas winners on the grid include Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, and Tony Kanaan. Castroneves leads all drivers with four wins on the Texas oval.
Joining the series regulars will be Gabby Chaves in an entry from Harding Racing. The new team made its debut at Indianapolis in May. Ed Carpenter will be behind the wheel of the #20 ECR Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet as their road course driver, Spencer Pigot, will sit this one out. Tristan Vautier will return to the series subbing for Sebastien Bourdais in the Dale Coyne Honda car. Bourdais is recovering from injuries suffered in a qualifying crash at Indianapolis.
The reigning Series Champion is Simon Pagenaud, who drives for Team Penske. Pagenaud, who hails from Poitiers, France, is in his third season with Team Penske, and 2016 marked his first series title. The current points leader is Scott Dixon, who is looking to add a fifth season championship to his resume.
Fifteen of the entered drivers are IndyCar race winners, five have won championships in IndyCar or CART/Champcar, and five are Indy 500 winners including Takuma Sato, who won the 101st running two weeks ago. There will be one true rookie in the field, with Ed Jones behind the wheel of the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda.
Drivers in the series represent twelve different countries around the globe, making it a truly international field.
About the Series
The current Verizon IndyCar Series was born out of the Indy Racing League, which absorbed the rival ChampCar World Series in 2008. In the years since the reunification, the series has seen steady growth in attendance and television ratings.
The positive growth in recent years bodes well for the Series that is owned by Hulman and Company. The centerpiece of the series is the Indianapolis 500, which ran for the 101st time in May. Mark Miles is the Chief Executive of Hulman and Company, and Jay Frye is the President of Competition and Operations for the Verizon Indycar Series.
Teams in the series use a common chassis, the Dallara DW-12, named in honor of the late Dan Wheldon, who did much of the development testing of the car. The chassis has aerodynamic components that differ according to the engine manufacturer. The 2017 rules called for a freeze on aero-kit development, in anticipation of a common aero package for 2018.
Chevrolet and Honda are the engine partners for the Series with each supplying a 2.2 Liter V-6 turbocharged engine to the teams that are capable of producing over 700 hp at 12200 rpm. All cars in the series run Firestone Firehawk tires.
Where and When to Watch
Tickets for the Rainguard Sealers 600 can be purchased here. Pricing ranges from $30.00 for a one-day lower grandstand ticket up to $110.00 for a weekend ticket.
Television coverage will be provided by NBC-SN. Qualifying will be televised Friday at 3:30 pm EST with race coverage set to begin at 8:00 pm EST on Saturday. Coverage of practice can also be found streaming on the Verizon IndyCar Series You Tube Channel, Facebook Page or at http://racecontrol.indycar.com/
Other coverage options include Sirius XM radio (Sirius:209, XM:212). Fans can also keep up with all of the action on the IndyCar Mobile app provided by Verizon Communications.
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