Random Thoughts On Texas

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The Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway was not the edge-of-your seat excitement that we came to know in the last decade. I’ve never really known what to call the last decade – the 2000’s? The zero’s? The naught’s? Anyway – ten years ago, IndyCar races at Texas Motor Speedway were literally riveting. As the pack swarmed around the track at 220 mph, you couldn’t look away – although sometimes we should have. Personally, I liked that excitement. It’s part of what I think allured me to this form of auto-racing.

Some say watching something knowing that a driver can lose his or her life is morbid. I disagree. It is witnessing drivers practice their craft at a high level, despite the dire consequences if something goes wrong. I don’t want to see drivers lose their life, become seriously injured or even tear up equipment. I enjoy seeing close racing, where everyone comes through cleanly.

While I loved those races at Texas of the past decade, I also enjoyed Saturday night’s race every bit as much. Both styles were completely different, but does that mean that I have to choose?

I was surprised at the complaining I saw on Twitter during and after Saturday night’s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. I saw words like “boring”, “parade”, “procession” and “snoozer” being used to describe the Firestone 600 – which was won (in exciting fashion, I might add) by Ed Carpenter.

This was anything but a parade. Marco Andretti proved immediately that you can pass at Texas in the current downforce configuration. Of course, he also followed family tradition by charging towards the front just before seeing his car go up in flames in the process.

The operative phrase of the night was “tire degradation”. But all the teams knew before the race that that would be an issue. It’s not as if halfway through the race it dawned on everyone that tires were going away quicker than their fuel was. It simply became a part of the strategy that was used.

After the Detroit double-headers and Saturday night’s race, I’ve read fans decrying the use of too much strategy in IndyCar. They are all saying that this is what IndyCar has suddenly become. I’ve got news for you – it’s always been this way. The drivers who can best take care of their equipment are those that are rewarded at the end of most races and at the end of most seasons.

In his day, there was no one easier on their equipment than Al Unser. He managed his tires, his brakes and his fuel better than almost anyone on the track. Consequently, he won four Indianapolis 500’s and three championship seasons. In As a Matter of Fact, I AM Parnelli Jones, Parnelli recounts the days of the “Super Team”. Al Unser’s car never had a loose bolt or any wear and tear after a race. It always looked like it was ready for the next race. Conversely, the car of his teammate, Mario Andretti, always had parts hanging off of it and looked like it was ready for the junk pile. Unser had the well-earned reputation for taking care of his equipment. Mario had the opposite reputation.

Later on, Rick Mears was known for saving his car to the very end. In the 1991 Indianapolis 500, Michael Andretti passed Rick Mears for the lead on the outside of Turn One late in the race. But out of nowhere on the following lap, Mears passed Michael in an almost identical move to re-take the lead he never relinquished. Michael later said he had no idea where Rick came up with that speed, because he had not had it all day. What Michael didn’t realize was that Mears always had the speed, he just had not shown it until that point. In his day, Mears was always known for saving his equipment. Like Unser, he also won the Indianapolis 500 four times and had three CART championships.

Saturday night, those that consistently ran up front were those that managed their tires the best. Sometimes, it comes down to who can manage their fuel mileage. Sometimes, it boils down to which driver can make their car work best through certain turns. There are many moving parts to winning a race, other than sheer speed. If you don’t want strategy and tactics to be part of your racing, I suggest you go watch NHRA, where speed is all that matters – or USAC Sprints where yellow flag laps don’t count. At the top levels, be it NASCAR, Formula One or IndyCar, strategy has always been and will continue to be part of the race.

TV Coverage: Brian Till did a more than adequate job filling in for Leigh Diffey. You know someone is doing a good job announcing, when you really don’t notice them. Generally, when you take note of something an announcer is doing or saying – it is for the wrong reasons.

Even though the race ended within the three-hour time window, I appreciated the fact that NBCSN extended their coverage by an additional fifteen minutes to get in as many post-race interviews as they could.

Like most, I watched NBC’s coverage of the Belmont Stakes and followed their post-race coverage to NBCSN. When the Belmont coverage ended, I was a little disappointed that they steered viewers back to the main channel for the Stanley Cup Finals instead of mentioning the IndyCar race that would be shown on the very channel viewers were watching. I understand that the Stanley Cup Finals garners much higher ratings than an IndyCar race, but I would think the race would warrant a mention throughout the Belmont coverage.

I’m still a little surprised that Paul Tracy continues to mispronounce the first name of Helio Castroneves. A few times he got it right, making me think that he’s been coached on it. But as the night wore on, it evolved first to HAY-le-o and then eventually back to what he usually calls him – HEE-le-o. I can’t help but think he knows better. I think this still stems from the sour grapes of Castroneves being declared the winner of the 2002 Indianapolis 500 over Tracy. On another note – I did like PT’s reference to Mikhail Aleshin as “the crazy Russian”.

Personally and selfishly, I was thankful that Saturday night’s race was on a cable channel. In the Nashville area, we had the threat of severe weather throughout the night. We never got more than rain and some thunder, but all of the network channels had scrolls and radar insets embedded into their screens. I know that some people need to be alerted to the potential to severe weather, but selfishly – I was glad our screen was free of such distractions.

Rahal Rebound: It’s rare that a driver should celebrate finishing twelfth, but given the way his weekend had gone and his race started – Graham Rahal should be very proud of himself for his twelfth-place finish. After a disastrous Month of May and a very disappointing start to his season, Rahal looked like he may be having his worst weekend yet.

Rahal qualified twenty-first in a twenty-two car field. The only driver he out-qualified was Colombian rookie Carlos Huertas. His two-lap average speed was more than five miles-per-hour slower than pole-sitter Will Power and almost a full mile-per-hour slower than the car just ahead of him, driven by rookie Jack Hawksworth. Things were not looking good for the race.

Even when the race started, the first car lapped by Power was that of Rahal, on Lap 40. The line he was taking on the track indicated that he had a very poor handling car underneath him. But give the young American driving the National Guard car some credit. He stayed with it. He and his team made adjustments to make the car better and better. The result was a much more respectable twelfth-place finish – which was certainly better than I would have predicted just after the start of the race. Good job by Rahal and his team.

Ganassi Rebound: After a disappointing Month of May and an equally disappointing weekend in Detroit, Chip Ganassi Racing silenced some critics with a strong performance in Texas. Ganassi cars led both practices and had a decent showing in qualifying. Other than Carpenter and Power, I thought Tony Kanaan had the strongest car in the race Saturday night. A replaced steering wheel and a decision to stay out during the last yellow cost them a few track positions in the end – but Kanaan has to feel better about the direction of his new team, which has really struggled in the first part of the season.

Although he may have had one of the strongest cars in the field, Tony Kanaan was also driving one of the ugliest. The all-charcoal gray was not a good look – especially at night. While most cars were sparkling under the lights in living color, Kanaan’s car gave the impression the telecast had switched to black & white. Whoever came up with that livery needs to stick with their day job.

Power Rebound: Shortly after Ed Carpenter unexpectedly shot past Will Power for the lead, the two of them pitted at the same time. While Carpenter eased into his pit box, Power was struggling to slow down before entering the pits. He failed. As a result, Will Power was issued a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit-lane. Everyone, including myself, figured that Power’s night had effectively ended after such a brilliant and dominating drive.

This was no controversy. Power had been caught fair and square. It was a defenseless mistake by Power. The look on the face of Tim Cindric said it all. I would hate to be on the wrong end of that death-stare of Tim Cindric. He learned it from the best – Roger Penske. You could sense that Cindric was witnessing another Will Power championship slipping away due to another careless Power mistake. Power dropped to sixth – the last car on the lead lap.

But fate smiled on Cindric and Power. When Takuma Sato’s Honda engine caught fire, as several Honda engines did Saturday night – it brought out a caution flag with six laps to go. Clean-up didn’t take long and the race resumed with four laps remaining. In that time-frame, Cindric made a brilliant call. He brought Power in for fresh tires. He would lose no track position and would have much fresher tires than everyone else. This was going to be a wild sprint to the finish.

As it turned out, Power jumped from sixth to third in one lap. He then ran down his teammate, Juan Montoya, for second. Had there been one more lap, I think Power would have caught Carpenter for the win – but we’ll never know. One thing we do know, is that by taking fresh rubber and advancing from sixth to finishing second – Will Power assured himself an additional twelve points towards the championship. He now has a comfortable thirty-nine point lead over Helio Castroneves, who remains in second after a forgettable night where he did well to finish eighth. Those twelve points could prove pivotal down the stretch.

Andretti Woes: The post-Indianapolis 500 hangover continued for Ryan Hunter-Reay and the entire Andretti Autosport team. After a disastrous weekend in Detroit, Hunter-Reay went to Texas with thoughts of starting from scratch. The media blitz had slowed down. The weekend to forget in Detroit was just an aberration, right? Wrong.

Hunter-Reay’s engine blew on Lap 136. His evening was done, just past the half-way point – relegating him to a nineteenth-place finish. This after teammate Marco Andretti went out after just four laps. James Hinchcliffe battled an ill-handling car all night and soldiered it home to finish fourteenth. Carlos Muñoz carried the banner for the entire Andretti team, finishing a very unspectacular thirteenth, after spinning entering the pits under yellow.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Andretti Autosport, but after leading the championship leaving Indianapolis – Ryan Hunter-Reay should consider himself lucky to still be third in points. This entire team needed a wakeup call. Surely it will be answered.

Honda Woes: If I don’t know what’s going on with Andretti Autosport, I sure don’t know what’s going on with Honda. After a decent showing in qualifying on Friday, where they had five of the top-ten qualifiers – things literally blew up in the race. No less than three Honda engines caught fire during the race. Honda finished with only two cars finishing in the top-ten – placing fourth with Simon Pagenaud and seventh with his teammate, Mikhail Aleshin. Like Andretti Autosport – after winning the Indianapolis 500 in May, Honda has certainly taken their lumps.

Rookies Excell: There were four rookies in the field Saturday night. A tip of the hat goes to all of them. None seemed intimidated with the high speeds and high banks. The lowest placing rookie was Carlos Huertas of Dale Coyne Racing, who finished sixteenth after starting dead-last. Jack Hawksworth continued to impress as he finished fifteenth. Although he ran a few races last season, Carlos Muñoz is technically a rookie and had never raced at Texas. He finished thirteenth.

But the most impressive rookie of all, was the one with the least amount of oval experience. Last month, Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin drove on his first oval ever, when he finished twenty-first in the Indianapolis 500. Saturday night, he ran with the leaders all night long in only his second oval appearance. Aleshin was very impressive with a well-earned seventh-place finish.

All in All: This is shaping up to be an interesting points race. Can Will Power stay out of his own way? Will consistency earn Helio Castroneves enough points to win his first championship? Can Ryan Hunter-Reay rebound after his post-Indianapolis funk and get back into the race? Will Scott Dixon catch fire soon and take another championship? Will Juan Montoya creep his way into contention? Right now, there are more questions than answers, which makes this so compelling.

After going practically non-stop since the start of the season, the teams, drivers and series officials are heading into a much-needed two-weekend break, before reuming action with the double-header in Houston on June 28th. Maybe those that need to re-group can do so, while others will try to hold onto their momentum.

I thoroughly enjoyed the race on Saturday night. Am I a Texas Motor Speedway apologist? No, because I thought last year’s race was a complete dud and I said so here the following Monday.

With the emphasis to move away from pack-racing, it’s really unfair to compare recent races at Texas to the mind-numbing thrills we experienced watching races there ten years ago. Saturday night’s race was thrilling, but in a different sort of way. We weren’t as concerned that a driver might end up in the catch-fencing, but nonetheless – I got a thrill watching to see whose strategy would pay off. In the end, Will Power could not quite pull off the win – but I’ll bet he caused great concern for Ed Carpenter heading into that final lap.

Ten years ago, I would breathe a sigh of relief when this race was over and no one was seriously injured. Saturday night, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that Ed Carpenter had prevailed and won a hard-fought victory.

Both types of races were thrilling. Both types of races were fulfilling. Unlike the “Legions of the Miserable” on Twitter the other night, I don’t feel the need to compare the two types. I like both types on their own merit.

George Phillips

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21 Responses to “Random Thoughts On Texas”

  1. If you enjoyed the race, I am sincerely happy for you. I won’t criticize your enjoyment. But, for me, IndyCar on 1.5-mile ovals has become NASCAR on non-plate tracks minus the contact. Case in point .. this week’s NASCAR race at Pocono. Tire, pit and fuel strategies were of utmost importance, one car dominated and then was felled by an unusual event (penalty in IndyCar, debris on the grill in Pocono) and a popular driver won (Dale Jr., Ed). Given all these similarities, I don’t think IndyCar’s future is on the high-banked, long ovals. There’s just no going back to the old-school IndyCar racing on these big ovals. The death of Dan Wheldon sealed that deal, for good or ill. Now IndyCar is not different enough from NASCAR to draw attendance or TV attention required to sustain it at those venues. Plus there seems most of the full-season fans of IndyCar (aside from the Indy 500 fans) are road/street enthusiasts. Nothing wrong with that at all, but it means no demand for the big ovals. If I was the King of IndyCar, I’d look elsewhere for a Texas race, primarily at Circuit of the Americans, and focus on more flat-ish one-mile ovals. It’s easy to dismiss pining for the old days as unreasonable, but what if your beloved Indianapolis 500 underwent a dramatic change similar to that of TMS, George? You’d just put up with it cheerfully? Or would you also be in the “Legion of the Miserable?” I doubt you would grin and bear it. Even a change in tenderloin at IMS causes an angry rant. Legion of the Miserable Tenderloin? I’d think you’d have more understanding for those of us who lament the changes at TMS.

  2. Tony Dinelli Says:

    It was a great race to watch in person. There was side-by-side racing(not on the scale of years past), different strategies throughout and long periods of green flag racing. Not sure if they caught it on the TV broadcast but we were listening to Carpenter as the final yellow came out: Ed, “Oh boy”, Pit, “copy that”. We were on the edge of our seats those last few laps.
    In person, the speed Will Power displayed working his way to the front after his penalty was breathtaking. He drove like a man possessed, but hats off to Ed, he had a great race. And we had a great time watching it.

  3. Ron Ford Says:

    Lamenting the changes at TMS or any other track is futile. Next year will be different, the year after that will be different, and so on. I have seen plenty of races at IMS that were similar to the race Saturday at TMS. I prefer to be a glass half full guy (that would be hard for Marco), so I enjoyed the race, unlike Whine Pablo Montoya.

    For any readers near the Milwaukee Mile, IndyCar teams will be practicing there wednesday and thursday this week. Last year some sections of the grandstands were open. I suspect that will be true this week also, but I have not been able to verify that yet.

    Marco briefly looked like he was shot from a cannon.

  4. I loved the race. The strategy, the coming and goings, amazed that Rahal pulled a good finish out of what looked like a steaming pile, a great drive by Aleshin who looks like he has always driven on oval, Power dash to the front on new tires in the last laps shoot out. Great stuff.

    My feelings on the past pack racing is this, it was nothing more than NASCAR’s high speed demolition derby at Daytona and Talladega. IndyCar just did it on the cookie cutter 1.5 milers. These races are simply dumb luck, stay lucky, don’t get into the “big one” races. They are races, but they aren’t driving. Mash your foot to the floor and let the areo and mechanical is not driving. What we saw this weekend was driving that is watching skill and professionalizm. Pack racing is just to see who has the least amount of self preservation in them.

  5. Sorry but that race was boring and not at all what I got into Indycar to see. I’ve made this point a lot, probably too much, but I got into Indycar for close racing and high speeds, both of which have been taken out at Texas. Yeah, strategy is part of racing, but It has, in my opinion, been too much a part of the 2014 Indycar season. Overall, most of the passing has been in the pits this year outside of Indy, which does make Power’s speeding on pit lane a little more understandable.

    And Bill is right, it was a NASCAR race, and not a good one. This wasn’t NASCAR at Kansas or Bristol or Fontana, this was the Coke 600, or the “race” at Pocono and Dover. Not edge of your seat NASCAR, and not edge of your seat Indycar. I actually like NASCAR, but I didn’t like the last three races, and I can tell you I don’t think most NASCAR fans did either.

    I’m sorry but only 6 cars on the lead lap, and the leader having a 10+ second lead much of the night does not make for an entertaining race. You know things are spread out when someone gets a pit road speeding penalty under green, and still comes out 6th. Or like in 2012 how Rahal hit the wall with a few laps to go, but still held on to 2nd. You’ve got to be awfully spread out to do that.

    I don’t think we should give up on 1.5 mile ovals though, as in my opinion Indycar’s need banking in general (Indy excepted) to put on a great show.

  6. Carburetor Says:

    I too, thought this was a very interesting race and greatly enjoyed the strategy employed. We are all left wondering what would have happened if there had been one more lap, but hey, that’s racing.

    Great comparisons with Al Unser, George. In the early stages of their careers, the big difference between Al and Bobby was that Al always took care of his equipment, while Bobby was always the hard charger (more like Mario Andretti) and thus often broke his equipment. Once Bobby became more like his brother, the wins really began to come his way.

    Was very excited for Ed–a class act.

    TV crew was okay–but I will never get accustomed to P Tracy. I vote to bring J Beekhuis back to the booth.

  7. Why do we care about Paul Tracy…? He is not a tv person, it was cringing to watch him, he seemed uncomfortable and out of place…I am sick of the Paul Tracy fluffers especially robin miller…he is not relevant and will not help IndyCar, on tv or even driving…not even sponsors in Canada have stepped up to back him in a car, because the return on there investment would be crap…I have been done with him for years…IndyCar please focuse on today’s talent and not Paul Tracy…

  8. Also the race was fun to watch…cars looked great under the lights…the strategy that plays out adds to the excitement of the race…powers charge the last three laps was great…glad to see ed win…!

  9. Thought it was a bit boring, especially when compared to days past of fast, crazy pack racing. But, due to the Weldon tragedy, those days are gone forever. So–due to safety concerns–can the cars attain higher speeds and still be (more or less) “safe?” Venturing into territory out of my league, could that be achieved with a “less downforce, more horsepower” formula?

    Wonder if Barfield would have tossed out a red flag if the track wasn’t cleared so fast? (I’m all for it.) Also thought the ending could have rivaled the 500 if they had gone one more lap.

    Grandstands looked very empty on tv. I wonder if waning interest and the possibility of a road race at COTA might signal the end of Indycar at the Texas oval? Also wonder if Indycar would really care if they start losing ovals…

    The Vintage Car Show/Race at IMS should have been scheduled for this week or next–off weeks for Indycar–or after Labor Day–rather than the weekend of a race.

  10. billytheskink Says:

    The racing at Texas these days seems difficult to translate via television. Attending in person, you see the difference in speeds for cars with new tires vs. worn and well-managed tires vs. poorly-managed for all cars running. Positions are changing frequently during the race, just not always at the front. I’m not going to argue that what we saw on Saturday night was a great race (though I certainly enjoyed it), but I will argue that the regular upward and downward movement of cars in the order that occurred is interesting racing.

    A couple other thoughts on the race itself:
    Will Power’s charmed racing life carries over from Detroit. Second straight race where a perfectly-timed caution essentially eliminates the effects of a penalty.
    The Rahal team’s struggles to set up a car in qualifying continue, and Graham’s weakness in improving a poor car exacerbates them, but this race was a real positive for the team beyond the finish. For one thing, the team continues to pick the right pit strategies. For another, though it came too late, they finally did improve the car. Graham’s charge on the final restart was rivaled only by Power’s, pity none of the spots were for position.

    As far as the future of the race, I am not nearly as worried about it as many seem to be. Given its apparent year-to-year contract status, its place on the schedule is certainly not guaranteed, but I think its return in 2015 is more likely than not and there are several reasons for that:
    – It has title sponsorship. Yes, this could go away, but TMS has proven adept over the hears at finding title sponsors for nearly all of its races.
    – I won’t speculate on the number of people in Saturday night’s crowd, and I definitely concede that it is not close to what it once was, but it would likely pack the stands at any other race on the schedule outside of Indy and Long Beach. If TMS leaves the schedule because the crowd is too small, a lot of races are in trouble.
    – TMS has run three major racing event weekends since 1998, and I expect they wish to continue to do so. Not only does the Indycar race carry title sponsorship, the NASCAR truck race does as well. Ganassi sponsor NTT Data was the qualifying session sponsor, Penske’s AAA is a major track sponsor.
    Suites, season-tickets, track sponsorships, and track signage are all more valuable to TMS with 3 major racing event weekends than 2. Lest you think that NASCAR trucks could headline the summer event weekend, the Indycar race outdrew the trucks at TMS by probably 3-1 this year.

  11. Apologies for a double-comment here (I just left basically the same comment at Pressdog’s), but a short lunch hour provides only so much time for reading/commenting. A couple of questions:

    1) Might the fact that only two guys led laps (not including Montoya, who basically just led during pit stop rotations) be related to the fact that only those two guys appeared to completely nail the setup, and so nobody else was really capable of leading?

    2) Might Will Power (and later, Ed Carpenter) have been able to pull a 12-14 second lap lead due to the fact that there were two 100+ lap stretches of green flag racing, thereby allowing the “good” cars to stretch their legs and pull a gap (after all, a 14 second lead developed over 100 laps equates to an average of just a 0.14 second per lap advantage)? Might the gaps between cars have been a bit smaller with more cautions (not that I’d prefer such a thing, since I’m basically OK either way)?

    3) Might the fact that we see a whole lot less time spent with cars going wheel to wheel be related to the fact that in days gone by (about 8-10 years ago), most of the the front running cars were going roughly the same speed and the tires were not falling off (Firestone has talked at length about how they’ve tweaked the tires so that they change over a stint), so completing a pass could require several laps of going side-by-side with somebody, inching forward a bit with every lap, whereas this weekend’s race featured passes (and there were many, many passes, just only a couple for the lead) that were basically set up and executed in less than a half a lap? I’d suggest that there’s a good chance that there’s nearly as much passing going on now, just that they take a fraction as long as they used to.

    To offer up just a bit more opinion here, I enjoyed the race. It’s a totally different animal to what we used to get at Texas, and I probably do prefer this over what we had 10 years ago, but the two can be enjoyed on their own merits. And, no, I’m not attacking anybody who preferred the previous version of action at Texas. To each their own, live and let live. Let’s all just chill out a tad, shall we?

    • Your mights may all be correct, but that doesn’t really change whether or not the race was interesting or fun to watch. Few lead changes, spread out field, 6 cars on the lead lap does not really add up to a good race most of the time no matter how you try and add it up. While not every race is going to be great, I think we can ask for a little more than what we got at Texas.

      This is compounded by what Texas (and banked 1.5 mile ovals in general) used to be, which gives everyone the hope of seeing something closer and more action packed. On top of that these tracks are even more highly anticipated by people like me because they so often produce close racing, which we don’t really see at say, Belle Isle or Long Beach. On a personal level I’ve been slightly disappointed in the racing this season; outside of Indy we’ve had no really great finishes or battles for the lead. It can happen on a street course, as the Pirelli World Challenge proved at St. Pete this year. So personally I was really hoping to see something great out of Texas, especially as it’s one of the very few ovals left.

      Final point, with the close racing at Fontana and Indy we’ve seen the DW-12 can produce close, non pack racing at high speed ovals so it is extra frustrating, to me at least, that this isn’t the case at Texas.

      • The thing is, though, what you seem to be asking for (both here and on Twitter) is for the cars to run side by side for laps on end. That doesn’t mean that there was MORE passing a few years ago, because back in the days when that was common, unless one car had a problem and the other car ran by at warp speed, the cars were running nearly equal speeds, and passes took multiple laps to complete. Yes, you could technically have the lead “changing hands” multiple times over 5-6 laps, but that was because the two cars running side by side couldn’t truly complete a pass. The result was more often than not a winning margin of a fraction of a second (which, yes, spectacular), and you’d often get more cars finishing on the lead lap (not always, though, as my check of the record book shows…Saturday’s tally of 6 cars on the lead lap is not an uncommon number of cars on the lead lap on the mile-and-a-halfs over the years), but I’d suggest that the number of actual, completed passes over the duration of the race over the entire field was probably pretty similar to what Saturday’s race had. It’s just that now, passes are set up and completed in 1-2 corners instead of 5-6+ laps.

        Whatever the case, there was plenty to enjoy (minus lead changes, basically, though Ed pulled off a pretty ballsy one) about Saturday’s race, if you were receptive to such a thing. If all you’re looking for from a mile-and-a-half race is tons and tons of side-by-side, though, well, sorry.

  12. I sure miss double file restarts.

  13. With what I saw of the crowd I don’t think that Eddie should complain if the series goes to The Circuit of the Amercas in Austin. Getting COTA on the schedule should be imperative.

    • Ron Ford Says:

      Why would COTA be any better? It might be a temporary fix like Baltimore and then go the way of Road America, Watkins Glen, Edmonton, etc.

      • Well, TMS sure did look empty considering that the Metroplex has a population of almost 7 million people. COTA appears to be a track that attracts travelers and not just the locals. Look at F1 at COTA and think what percent of the gate are locals. With that point made, maybe we will see if IndyCar has folks wanting to go to a race there and enjoy Austin. An IndyCar race there doesn’t require the same high ticket prices found at an F1 race.

        • But if its the only F1 race in the US it is going to pull people from out of state. A little bit different.

          • No doubt, however the tickets prices for IndyCar, the city of Austin and the track has got to be able to draw at least 50K ticket buying fans, sponsorships as well as sponsor parties, ect.. That track lies in fairly easy access to over 9 to 12 million people. 50K or 60K should be an easy doable goal.

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