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FIRESTONE 600 ADVANCE

Top American Newgarden Knows TMS is The Place To Watch IndyCar

IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden is quickly gaining knowledge of Texas Motor Speedway as the Ed Carpenter Racing driver returns to track for Saturday’s Firestone 600.

Newgarden, and his team, have tested at TMS twice since last year’s race using time in October of last year and then again last month in preparation for the Firestone 600.

“Knowing how your car will run in a pack is really what is most important at Texas,” he said. “You’re not going to get any faster racecars than around Texas. IndyCar is going to be the fastest cars you see in North America and the fastest cars on an oval track like here in Texas. If you want to see speed and close competition, you’re going to see that here at Texas Motor Speedway.”

Newgarden, the 25-year-old American, is a rising star in the series, entering this weekend’s Firestone 600 fourth in points after posting four top-six finishes this season in the first eight races. He won twice last year - at Birmingham and Toronto - but the recent results tend to lead one to believe he is close to another win.

“I am really pleased with our whole group for getting some solid results for all the work that we put in over the years, and now it’s just about replicating that every week,” he said. “It would be awesome if we could get a couple more wins this season.”

He knows the racing at Texas Motor Speedway, and the Firestone 600, will be great action for the fans and something he is looking forward to.

“I think fans enjoy seeing how closely we fight together through the corners, here at Texas, sometimes we’re three wide here on restarts, to me that’s really exciting,” the native of Nashville said. “I don’t think you get that with many other series.” 

Newgarden will be going up against the heavyweights at the Firestone 600 in the likes of Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Juan Montoya and Simon Pagenaud, along with star Scott Dixon of Ganassi Racing. Pagenaud is the points leader. Power and Dixon are series champions the last two years.

“For me, it’s exciting to be a young guy in IndyCar and try to take on the best of the best,” Newgarden said. “If you’re going to be successful within the sport, you want to have success up against guys like that.

To win at Texas a driver needs to give their best effort and to perhaps take a chance or two to get to Victory Lane. Newgarden knows the veterans in the series will be doing that as well come Saturday night.

“I think you see all of the drivers lay it all out on the line at Texas,” he said. “If that’s what you’re into in racing then I’d think you would enjoy the IndyCar race here in Texas.”  

Rookie Daly Knows What Happens In Victory Lane At TMS

While a lot of attention has been placed on rookie, and Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, another American rookie - Conor Daly - is making a name for himself in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Daly, the son of former CART driver and broadcaster Derek Daly, will be making his first Texas Motor Speedway start in this Saturday’s Firestone 600.

“I’ve never raced at Texas Motor Speedway yet, but I’ve been there many times to watch,” the Dale Coyne Racing driver said. “I’ve always wanted to race there. The place just fascinates me, under the lights, such a cool track, such great racing for so many years.”
  
He comes into the race at Texas with a good amount of confidence as he scored the first podium finish of his career last weekend in Detroit in what was just his 12th career start. He followed that with a sixth place finish in the Sunday race at Detroit.

“We also need to rebound from our previous oval experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” he said. “I think we had a great car there but we weren’t able to finish it out and we want to turn that around.”

The results in Detroit gave Daly a sense of what it will be like one day  when he wins for the first time.

“It felt like a win finishing second in the first race at Detroit,” he said. “I can’t believe we were trying to go after (Sebastian) Bourdais and defend against (Juan Pablo) Montoya. I used to watch these guys here. It’s crazy.

“This is why you do it, to get on the podium,” he added. We made it this time and now we need to do it more.”

If Daly and his team can gather a win this week, he knows what comes with the celebration at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I want to get me some guns and shoot them in Victory Lane,” he said. “I can’t wait to get there.” 

Texas Favorite Power Calls For Virtual Safety Car

Will Power has called on IndyCar to introduce a virtual safety car, a system used by Formula One to electronically slow cars to a specific speed under caution. The benefit, Power says, is to allow the pits to safely remain open throughout caution periods, which would keep drivers from being disadvantaged by the timing of the caution. 

“The problem you have is, you have people racing back to the pits, so if there’s an incident people are going past that incident too fast,” Power said. “But now, if you look at Formula One, you have these virtual safety cars ”” we’ve got the data to do that, we can do that. We can slow everyone down to the same speed on the track, whatever that may be ”” 60 mph ”” and go around on a limiter  until everyone pits. It prevents that.

“It’s an easy fix. We should do it. Then we can pack up and have restarts. It makes it safer in the pits, and it makes it more fair on the track. It makes it more sportsmanlike, you could say. It’s not a lottery.”

Power Returns To Texas With Confidence

Team Penske driver WIll Power will be looking to make it four consecutive poles at Texas Motor Speedway before the Firestone 600 this Saturday.

The winner of the second Firestone Twin 275 in 2011, Power has not been able to turn those starts from the pole into a win the last three years. He has finished seventh, second and 13th in those starts. 

A win last week in the second of the Detroit Duals should give Power confidence in his return to Texas.

“I like the Texas track a lot. It’s actually one of my favorite races,” the Australian native said. “We’ll have the same boost settings as Indianapolis, which will be a lot of fun. The Verizon Chevy has qualified very well there and getting that early track position is important. 

“It has been a few years since we got a win there, but we’ll try and build on the momentum from last week,” he added. “The win in Detroit gives the whole team confidence and hopefully we can build on that with another good result. After starting in a bit of a hole, we’re climbing back into the championship race and we need to keep logging solid finishes.” 

Power enters the weekend seventh in the driver standings and is only three points out of moving into the top five.

They Said It

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, 2015 Firestone 600 winner): “Texas is another iconic event on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. This is the only track anywhere that I know of where you get to shoot guns in Victory Lane after a win. We were fortunate enough to do that last year as part of a one-two finish with (Tony) Kanaan and myself, which was very special.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “We’ve only been to Texas a couple of times in the Verizon Chevrolet, but we’ve gotten good finishes. That’s what we need to do. We need to start building positive momentum and get off this up-and-down thing we’ve been doing.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet): “Texas has been good to us over the years, so we hope to keep that going. I’m sure the AAA Insurance Chevy is going to be fast. We had a great test there last month, so maybe this will be the one.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “Now that we are past Indy, we are headed to all the tracks I missed last year. That said, I’m incredibly excited for the rest of the calendar. Texas Motor Speedway is no exception. Since the DW12 came out, the racing there has been super intense from inside the car. It’s one of the biggest setup challenges of the year, so we are hoping that the Arrow Electronics car can be solid rolling off the truck and can fight up front.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “It is always great to race at Texas Motor Speedway and it’s a track that we have had success at. I am ready to rebound from a tough Indianapolis 500 and the team is ready to keep the momentum going that we have built over the past month.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team Penske Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader): “I’m really excited for the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. It will be great to back on an oval after some great street racing in Detroit. We led some laps last year at Texas and want to take the next step this year and get a strong result. I think this race will be very exciting after the test there last month.”

Firestone 600 Notebook

”¢    There have been six different winners in eight Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2016: Juan Pablo Montoya (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Phoenix International Raceway), Simon Pagenaud (Streets of Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park and Grand Prix of Indianapolis), Alexander Rossi (Indianapolis 500), Sebastien Bourdais (Raceway at Belle Isle-1) and Will Power (Raceway at Belle Isle-2). Dixon’s win at Phoenix on April 2 tied him for fourth on the all-time Indy car victory list with Al Unser Sr. at 39. He is the active leader in wins. Bourdais’ win at Belle Isle on June 4 tied him with Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time list with 35 wins.

”¢    The Firestone 600 will be the 28th Indy car event conducted at Texas Motor Speedway since the track opened in 1997. TMS hosted two races a year from 1998-2004 and featured a doubleheader event in 2011. 

”¢    This is the third of five oval races on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Dixon won the first oval of the season at Phoenix in April. Rossi won the Indianapolis 500 on May 29. 

”¢    Helio Castroneves has won four times at Texas Motor Speedway (2004 Race 2, 2006, 2009 and 2013), the most wins by an Indy car driver at the track. He is one of five past TMS winners entered in this year’s race, along with Tony Kanaan (2004 Race 1), Dixon (2008 and 2015), Power (2011 Race 2) and Ed Carpenter (2014). 

”¢    Power has won the pole for the past three Texas Motor Speedway races. Other past pole winners entered this year are Castroneves (2004 Race 2) and Dixon (2008). Kanaan won a draw to start first for the second of the 2011 doubleheader races. 

”¢    Six drivers have won the Texas race from the pole: Sam Hornish Jr. (2001 Race 2), Gil de Ferran (2003 Race 2), Castroneves (2004 Race 2), Tomas Scheckter (2005), Dixon (2008) and Ryan Briscoe (2010). 

”¢    Drivers who have won at Texas have gone on to win the Verizon IndyCar Series championship six times: Hornish (2001 Race 2 and 2002 Race 2), Kanaan (2004 Race 1), Dixon (2008 and 2015) and Dario Franchitti (2011 Race 1). 

”¢    Nineteen drivers entered this weekend have competed in past Verizon IndyCar Series events at Texas Motor Speedway. Twelve of those drivers have led laps at the track (Castroneves 499, Kanaan 370, Dixon 353, Power 252, Carpenter 91, Marco Andretti 84, Pagenaud 59, Ryan Hunter-Reay 35, Montoya 29, Graham Rahal 27, James Hinchcliffe 8 and Charlie Kimball 1). 

”¢    At least three drivers entered this weekend - Max Chilton, Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi - will make their first attempt to start a Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. 

”¢    Kanaan seeks to start his 258th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Scott Dixon has made 199 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.

”¢    Castroneves will attempt to make his 320th career Indy car start, which would tie him with Al Unser Sr. for fourth on the all-time list.

”¢    The No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team Penske crew of Simon Pagenaud won the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award during Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit with a total pit lane time of 52.4366 seconds. During Race 2 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske crew of Will Power claimed the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award with a total pit lane time of 52.0598 seconds. Both Team Penske crews will receive their respective $5,000 awards during pre-race festivities at the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.

”¢    The 2016 season is the second in which aerodynamic bodywork component kits are used. The aero kits, produced by engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda for their respective supplied teams, are the latest technical innovation to enhance on-track performance through competitive aerodynamic development. Each manufacturer produces two kits for teams - one for short ovals/road courses/street courses and another for superspeedway ovals - but within each kit, teams have multiple component options available.

”¢    The second season of aero kit competition complements the fifth year of engine manufacturer competition between Chevrolet and Honda with their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. It will be another season testing speed and durability to determine the manufacturer champion.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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