Dallas Motorsports: Firestone Twin 275s

Leading drivers suffer from blind draw

June, 12, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Texas Motor Speedway thought fans would be drawn into the surprise element of implementing a blind draw, so the track experimented with an idea to determine position for the second of the Firestone Twin 275s races Saturday.

The drivers expressed a different feeling.

Dario Franchitti won the first Firestone Twin 275 race and suffered the consequences for the second with an inverted blind draw order based on your first-race finish. He had no control over his fate and ended up starting in 28th place for the nightcap.

“To have a championship in the IndyCar series, drawing the grid out of a hat is a joke,” Franchitti said. “Through no fault of our own, we started 25 places behind Will [Power]. Will, he took advantage of it tonight and did a great job.”

Franchitti slowly passed drivers on the track one by one but eventually ran out of time. One of the fastest cars on the track would place seventh, and Franchitti seemed to have all but forgotten his win earlier after the conclusion of the second race.

“There’s enough variables out there,” Franchitti said. “We don’t need to be throwing dice to be deciding grid positions. That made me mad. I’m sitting there, OK, I won the first race, but at the same point my emotion right now has been [ticked] off about the hand we were dealt tonight.

Franchitti’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, found himself in a similar position, starting in the middle of the pack in 18th from the blind draw. Dixon posted the fastest lap in the second race on Lap 110, but he could only manage to squeeze out consecutive second-place finishes on the night.

“Second race, you could see it sort of trickling down with the draw that it wasn’t looking too good for ourselves,” Dixon said. “Obviously myself starting from 18th and Dario 28th, it’s a huge deficit when the competitor for the championship starts third and with not too much competition in front of him.”

Power, the IndyCar series points leader, lucked out drawing the third spot -- ultimately becoming the biggest deciding factor for the first oval race win in his career -- while other drivers in the hunt for a championship series found themselves in the back of the pack. Power took the lead on Lap 39 and would dominate with the race-high 68 leading laps.

“I thought coming into the race, you don’t control your own destiny basically,” Power said. “It’s just a draw. It was going to be very unfair for someone. It happened to be Dario.”

The smoke may have settled from Power’s donuts after his victory, but Franchitti might see the lingering effects throughout the season. Power’s points over Franchitti jumped from seven to 21 points after the second race.

“If it comes down to five points at the end of the year, Dario will look back at this race and say, ‘If I started where I should have, I would have had those five points.’”

Rapid Reaction: Will Power wins Race 2

June, 11, 2011

FORT WORTH, Texas – When Will Power drew the third spot on a blind draw for the second Firestone Twin 275 race, he jumped up out of excitement on stage knowing he had a good enough car to win.

The IndyCar series points leader leaped out of his car on Victory Lane with the same amount of joy 114 laps later after winning the second race at Texas Motor Speedway -- the first oval-race win in his career.

*Power pitted on Lap 51 with the lead, switching out his tires and grabbing fuel. Three laps later, he would reclaim the lead until his final pit stop on Lap 105 for fuel only. He regained the edge over Scott Dixon on Lap 110 by 1.3531 seconds and coasted first to the finish line by .9466 of a second.

*It’s Power’s third win this season and his 12th career victory in 76 starts. He also has 35 top-five finishes in his career.

*Unlike Power, Dixon didn’t have such a great draw, starting in 18th place, but he managed to complete both races as the runner-up.

*Last year’s Firestone 550k winner, Ryan Briscoe, picked up 15 spots to finish third. Helio Castroneves finished behind Briscoe, and blind-draw pole winner Tony Kanaan wrapped up the top five.

*Marco Andretti made some adjustments after the first race and started from 27th to finish sixth.

*Franchitti started in 28th with his blind draw after winning the first race. He would end up placing seventh.

*This was the first race at TMS that did not have a caution flag.
FORT WORTH, Texas --The biggest issue with a blind draw for the second race of the Firestone Twin 275s was the possibility of putting inexperienced drivers up front in a position they're not accustomed to.

So far after 100 laps, we have yet to see a caution flag. There has never been a race at Texas Motor Speedway that hasn't had a caution flag.

Will Power has taken a commanding lead through the majority of the race, but it'll be interesting to see when he'll make his last pit stop

Tony Kanaan leading through 20 laps

June, 11, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Tony Kanaan has maintained his top spot through 20 laps of the second Firestone Twin 275 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

However, Wade Cunningham has dropped from second to 26th. He was involved in a crash during the first race.

Dario Franchitti, the winner of the first race, has slowly jumped up seven spots to 21st.

It'll be interesting to see if there are any accidents in the second race with the blend of experienced and inexperienced drivers. Also, there have been noticeable sparks flying from some of the turns when the drivers past due to bumps on the track and the high speeds at which they're driving, most notably around Turns 3 and 4.

Will Power first during practice session

June, 10, 2011
IZOD IndyCar series points leader Will Power led a very tight 30-car field after the first practice session at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon.

Power posted a lap time of 24.3654 seconds, separating him from last place by .5612 seconds. Ryan Briscoe placed second, .016 seconds behind Power. Alex Lloyd rounded out the top three, .074 seconds behind the leader.

Danica Patrick's No. 7 car is the in the middle of the pack at 14th place. Patrick drove around the 1.455 mile track 38 times and her best time of 24.5853 seconds came at lap 27 at a speed of 213.054 miles an hour.

History suggests that the outcome may be the same on race day. Out of the 21 IndyCar Series races at TMS, fourteen have had a margin of victory of less than one second -- seven have been decided by less than one-tenths of a second.

Lloyd is positioned first in the qualifications order which is set to take place at 3:45 p.m. Other notables include Marco Andretti in eighth, Briscoe in ninth, Power in 18th and Patrick in 28th.

Will Dan Wheldon race at TMS? Stay tuned

May, 31, 2011

So the big question: Will Dan Wheldon, the new Indy 500 champ, run in the Firestone Twin 275s on Saturday night, June 11th?

The answer: Hopefully. Well, maybe. If I can do anything about it, he will.

I spent the day with Wheldon, one of the great personalities in the sport, not to mention one of the sport’s all-time performers in crunch time. Check out his amazing record at Indy -- two wins, two second-place finishes, one third-place and one fourth-place finish in only nine starts. Only three times has he finished out of the top four.

The team he won with at Indy was a one-off deal. They hadn’t run an IndyCar Series race before Indy this year and aren’t scheduled to run any more. Wheldon is, in fact, a free agent. He’s not under contract with any team. Anybody can sign him.

The team he celebrated with in Victory Lane was Bryan Herta Autosport. The team is owned by the likeable, successful Herta, a former IndyCar star himself. The sponsor is William-Rast jeans, the fashion line owned by entertainer Justin Timberlake. Let’s do some business, guys.

Herta is a racer -- the best compliment you can offer anybody in this sport -- and I know he wants to race (answer the phone, Bryan!). They honestly didn’t think about what would happen if they became the dog that caught the car. Who thought they would win the Indy 500? Now what? Can this six-man team turn the car around for these historic twin races in Texas in less than two weeks. Heck, will their heads stop pounding before the first green flag falls on the first of two Firestone Twin 275s?

And could another team -- are you listening A.J.? -- put the Indy champ in a car here in Texas and elsewhere? Who has cars -- Ganassi? For the good of the sport.

And then there is Wheldon. He wants to race. He effused excitedly about the Twin 275 concept and the random selection of starting positions for the second race. All race horses are chomping at the bit to get in the starting gate. Wheldon, though, needs to rightfully pick his spot. He made his bed with Bryan Herta Autosport and it paid off. Do you switch horses now after this success? And do you possibly consider getting into another team’s car that might not be up to snuff? He is, after all, the Indy 500 champ. He can pick his spot. They handed him a check of $2.6 million at the Indy 500 awards banquet on Monday night.

So, while time is short, time will tell. If it was all about attitude, Wheldon, Herta and William-Rast would be in the starting grid for both races of the Firestone Twin 275s.

So stand by. We’re working on it.

Hopefully. Maybe.

Everybody wants it to happen.