DALLAS -- The folks at Texas Motor Speedway know how to put on a show -- heck, just announcing the 2011 schedule had a red carpet feel to it at House of Blues in Dallas last night. But that ability will be tested a bit in June when the IRL's IndyCar Series competes in two 114-lap races at TMS.
This kind of thing hasn't been done since 1981 and track officials, the IRL and teams have to figure out exactly how it's all going to work. But I like this idea. It's smart to try something different. The fact that 17 twin races were held between 1967 and 1981 also means the league and TMS can claim they are turning back the clock a bit too.
By shortening the races, strategy changes dramatically. It's now not about riding around the 1.5-mile oval and making sure you're in position to do something near the end. If you ride around and don't move into position quickly in a race that will probably take about 45 minutes, you won't have a shot to win. Also, teams must decide how hard they push things in that first race. Do you risk damaging the car for the second race even with a backup car? What about the fuel window? How will that work with the guys in the pits?
Helio Castroneves, who was in attendance last night, was thinking about all the factors that come into play and how it will require some interesting sessions with his team to get it figured out.
That's part of the fun of it. The hour-long break between races also allows Eddie Gossage and his staff to provide some halftime entertainment, something fans don't get, obviously, at other races. And how will they set the field for the second race? My vote is allowing fans to draw car numbers at random. But there are plenty of interesting options for that part of it too.
It makes for a unique day at TMS in June, just two weeks after the Indianapolis 500.