For the first time since September of last year, it is race week for the NTT IndyCar Series. This isn’t another iRacing event. It is not an open test or a classic rewind that will air on your television. Drivers are hungry, owners are restless, and teams have been collectively chomping at the bit for nearly eight months to get back on track. It happens this Saturday with the Genesys 300, a one-day show that will feature plenty of action on the high banks at Texas Motor Speedway.
The day will begin with a 30-minute practice session for IndyCar rookies, as they get acclimated to the high-speed oval. The 80-minute practice session for all drivers will begin as soon as the rookie session ends and will be shown on NBC Sports Gold. Provided that the schedule remains intact, qualifying will start at 5 PM ET on NBC Sports Network. The race broadcast will begin at 8 PM on NBC, as NBC Sports Network will have 30-minute pre-race and post-race shows.
Despite new regulations in the state of Texas, there will still be no fans permitted in the grandstands. The single-day show will be fast and furious – just like the racing on track. Several drivers will be making their IndyCar debut, and many are racing with a new team for the first time. The race is five days away and there are still questions to be answered as far as the entry list goes. Both Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay were able to fly into the country in time for the event.
Carlin Racing announced that it will only be running one car for this race – the No. 59 Chevrolet. Conor Daly will drive the car on Saturday, as he fills in for the team on the ovals. The full entry list for the Genesys 300 at Texas is below.
Colton Herta is now officially part of the Andretti Autosport team, as is the Meyer Shank Racing alliance with driver Jack Harvey. Andretti’s stable of drivers aims to start the season off with a win as both Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay both have championship aspirations. Marco Andretti and Zach Veach look to rebound from a disappointing 2019 season. James Hinchcliffe makes his return to the team as he will participate in this race that bears his sponsor’s name. Hinchcliffe will be back in the car for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 later this year.
Team Penske returns with their stout three-driver lineup as they look to collect another Borg-Warner trophy for the third consecutive year. All three drivers (Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power) will be fighting for the championship once again. Chip Ganassi Racing is now a three-car operation after adding Marcus Ericsson to the fold in the No. 8 Honda. He has two talented teammates to get him up to speed in Scott Dixon and fellow Swede Felix Rosenqvist.
Ed Carpenter Racing will have two new drivers alongside the boss this year. Daly will be sharing the No. 20 car with Ed while VeeKay intends to make his presence known as a contender as a rookie. The rebranded Arrow McLaren SP team will have a dynamic rookie duo in Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew. Santino Ferrucci takes over as the lead driver for Dale Coyne Racing, with intriguing young driver Alex Palou in the fold as his teammate.
AJ Foyt Racing will have a revamped lineup with Charlie Kimball in the No. 4 car full-time, while Tony Kanaan shares the famed No. 14 Chevrolet with fellow veteran Sebastien Bourdais and rookie Dalton Kellett. The one-two punch for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing returns in Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato. While Max Chilton and Felipe Nasr have been the drivers rumored to be in the two seats for Carlin Racing, the team has yet to officially announce their 2020 driver lineup.
The great unknown heading into Saturday is the aeroscreen. While a few rookies did test at Texas earlier this year, there is a combination of things that engineers simply can not calculate and prepare for. The extra weight, load balance, and role it will play on tire degradation are just a few of the scenarios that they must evaluate on the fly. This will be the first race with the aeroscreen, and it comes on an incredibly fast oval, under the lights.
Another interesting aspect to monitor on Saturday will be tire wear. Firestone had plans to produce new tires for Texas, both those were derailed due to the coronavirus situation. Drivers and teams were asked to limit their tire usage to 35 laps on each set during the race. Last year they were able to run more than 60 laps on each set of tires. Teams will have nine sets of tires to utilize throughout all of the activities on Saturday. The 200-lap event will likely mean that they will need to use six of those sets during the race.
This will be the 24th consecutive year of IndyCar racing at Texas. There have been 31 races overall at Texas, and the pole sitter has only won six of them. While Josef Newgarden is the defending race winner and defending series champion, it is his Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud that has been performing exceptionally well in Fort Worth. The reigning Indianapolis 500 winner has finished 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 6th in his last four starts at Texas.
Scott Dixon needs just four more podium finishes to tie AJ Foyt for second on the All-Time list, trailing only Mario Andretti. Dixon has eight podium finishes at Texas in his 20 starts, including three total wins. Will Power is the only driver besides Dixon with multiple wins at Texas, and the only driver with multiple (three) poles on the 1.5-mile oval. Tony Kanaan has the most top-five and top-ten finishes of any driver in the field and will be making his 318th consecutive start on Saturday.