The NTT IndyCar Series kicks off the Month of May at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, and already Mother Nature has played a role in things. Tricky weather conditions around the speedway made it difficult for things to get started on time, particularly due to the medical helicopter not being able to land. After a delay of nearly an hour, practice got rolling around the 1.5-mile oval.
The series announced that qualifying would be canceled, and the field will be set by entrant points. That means that Alex Palou will start on pole with Will Power joining him on the front row. The lone qualifying session was going to set the field for both races, but now that will not happen. Though nothing has been announced, it is expected that Sunday’s race will also be set according to entrant points.
Starting Lineup for the Genesys 300 and XPEL 375
Because of qualifying being nixed, Tony Kanaan will start from the 23rd position. Kanaan is making his season debut with Chip Ganassi Racing, which has been quite the pairing at Texas. In his last three starts at Texas with Ganassi, Kanaan has finished on the podium. It is always fun to watch him knife his way through the field, but especially considering how fast he is. Kanaan led the 90-minute practice session today with a best lap of 23.545 seconds, and also had the fastest non-tow lap.
Pato O’Ward was second-fastest on Saturday, leading the charge once again for the Arrow McLaren SP team. Indianapolis 500 winners Takuma Sato, Scott Dixon, and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five of the session. Once teams were notified that qualifying would not be taking place, they began working on race setups in preparation for both races.
Another driver who will be starting from the rear is Conor Daly, who will be in the No. 59 Carlin Racing Chevrolet as he fills in for Max Chilton once again on the ovals. Despite finishing 12th in the practice session, Daly will join Kanaan on the last row. Odds are that neither driver will be there for very long.
Both Dale Coyne Racing drivers and the AJ Foyt Racing duo struggled to find race pace during practice. None of those four drivers were able to crack the top-20 during the session. Andretti Autosport also was searching for answers as James Hinchcliffe (9th) was the only driver to find the top ten. Alexander Rossi (13th), Ryan Hunter-Reay (14th), and Colton Herta (17th) will have some ground to make up when the green flag waves. The only one of those drivers who will be starting inside the top 15 is Herta.
In addition to Kanaan, two other drivers will be making their season debut tonight at Texas. Ed Carpenter will be back in his No. 20 Chevrolet and Pietro Fittipaldi will be in the No. 51 Honda with Coyne and Rick Ware Racing as he does the oval races for Romain Grosjean. Carpenter was 19th in practice and starts 17th while Fittipaldi was 24th in practice but starts from the 14th position.
The race distance for tonight’s race is 212 laps, which is 300 miles around the 1.5-mile oval. Sunday’s race distance is 248 laps, which is 375 total miles. Josef Newgarden won the pole for last year’s race, and Dixon is the defending race winner.
Coverage for tonight’s Genesys 300 begins at 7 PM ET on NBC Sports Network. Coverage for the XPEL 375 begins at 5 PM ET tomorrow, also on NBC Sports Network.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar