This weekend in the IndyCar season brings a return to Texas Motor Speedway and a return to the 1.5-mile oval layout that as in general has caused so much controversy, confusion, chaos and tragedy in the last 8 months.
|Date:||08-09 June 2012|
|Venue:||Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas|
|Lap Length:||1.5 miles / 2.4km|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 12:30-13:45|
|Qualifying Session||Fri 15:30-17:00|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 18:45-19:15|
|Race (228 laps, 342 miles)||Sat 19:45-22:00|
Much has been made in the aftermath of the death of Dan Wheldon as to the suitability of Indycar racing on 1.5-mile, high-banked ovals. Everyone close to the series and many who weren’t all had an opinion…some controversial urging the drivers to race, others more empathetic begging for change before another event be held.
True, the high-banked high-speed facilities are designed more for NASCAR purely for a tendency to produce pack racing, which can be done a lot more safely with enclosed wheels and a roof than in open-wheel, as we found out in the worst way possible on that sunny day in Las Vegas I remember so well. There has been talk of a Texas boycott for this reason. All the drivers will want nothing more will be to get through this weekend unscathed.
Although since then, a new car has been developed and successfully introduced, but has not yet been tested in race conditions on the 1.5-mile ovals except for a test session which does not and cannot replicate the intensity and excitement of a true race atmosphere no matter how hard you try. Double-file restarts do not help and you may find this will be the first thing to disappear for this weekend only. High downforce and low horsepower also does not help matters and goes a long way towards manufacturing the dreaded pack racing every driver hates but which, it must be said, makes for amazing television for the fans.
I believe the only reason this race is going ahead is because it is one of the best attended events on the calendar. Granted, Kansas, Nashville, Kentucky and Homestead were not that well attended, which went a long way towards justifying their axing, with Wheldon’s fatal crash confirming it. Texas would have been gone too if not for a hard-nosed owner in Bruton Smith, equally hard-nosed manager in Eddie Gossage and reassurances upon reassurances by all and sundry that the facility was safe.
Texans love their motor racing, and indeed it does put on an amazing show when done safely. As a fan first, I love my IndyCar oval racing, but as a first-hand personal witness to the events of Vegas, I will be on the edge of my seat this weekend for two reasons, but not mostly because of the high- quality racing. I also want the drivers to get through it unscathed.
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