By Phillip Schmitz, Staff Writer
FORT WORTH, Tex. — As the laps progressed during the PPG 375 NTT IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, David Malukas’ slow progress saw him battling at the front and in contention for victory. In the end, a valiant showing ended just off the podium with a finish of fourth.
Malukas, driver of the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda, showed the potential of a strong race during both practices sessions on Saturday. Following that up with qualifying ninth for Sunday’s race. Malukas stayed inside the top 10 once the green flag fell, slowly moving up the order as the race progressed.
When the caution came out on Lap 179 of 250 for No.6 Arrow McLaren driver Felix Rosenqvist, it would be the big break Malukas and his team would need to shake things up. He restarted in second place on Lap 193 by not pitting for tires and fuel. It seemed to be a mistake for Malukas to not pit for fuel and tires like everyone. If the race carried out the rest of the way without a caution, Malukas was likely going to lose more than a handful of positions.
Luck would change, though, on Lap 210 when his teammate, Sting Ray Robb, made brought out the caution. The caution allowed Malukas and others to pit for fuel and new tires and stay on the lead lap. From that point on, Malukas was racing inside the top five for the remainder of the race, just barely missing out on his second career podium. Currently, his only podium to date is a runner-up result last year at World Wide Technology Raceway (previously known as Gateway Motorsports Park) for Malukas.
“This one feels very special as well since it’s another hard working race, but I wouldn’t say it’s better than Gateway,” said Malukas, after the race. “I mean, Gateway was very cool. Plus, you’re at night, under the lights, cameras on you. So, nothings going to beat Gateway, but this was pretty close.”
One big difference between today’s race at Texas Motor Speedway compared to then was the timing of the race. Today’s race was held at Noon ET, while Gateway finished under the lights last year due to a weather delay. Should Texas be considered a night race for next year?
“I think it would be very cool,” Malukas said. “Imagine pack racing at night I think with the new safety of the IndyCar’s and the areoscreen. You know if it increase the chance of more crashes. I think the car is very safe.” With INDYCAR holding the option for Texas Motor Speedway returning to the schedule next season. It will be interesting if INDYCAR does consider changing when the race starts itself.”
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