Houston history: Past results for IndyCar drivers/owners on streets

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Houston returns to an IndyCar calendar for the third time this weekend, after prior runs downtown from 1998 through 2001, and the revived course configuration at Reliant Park outside the home stadium of the Houston Texans having had two races in 2006 and 2007. You can see the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston twinbill Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, and Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, on NBCSN.

Here’s a rundown of current IndyCar drivers and team owners, and their past results on either course. Oriol Servia is the only driver who will have had race experience on both courses heading into this weekend.

RELIANT PARK STREET COURSE, 2006-2007

Eight of the 24 drivers in the IndyCar races this weekend have past experience at Reliant Park. Sebastien Bourdais won both races, Graham Rahal scored his first open-wheel podium, and James Hinchcliffe and Simona de Silvestro cut their teeth in Atlantics but have yet to race in Houston in the main event.

CHAMP CAR

  • 2007: Sebastien Bourdais (Started 1st, Finished 1st), Graham Rahal (6/2), Oriol Servia (5/4), Simon Pagenaud (7/5), Justin Wilson (3/10), Will Power (2/11)
  • 2006: Bourdais (5/1), Wilson (7/5), Power (10/7), Servia (8/12)

FORMULA ATLANTIC

  • 2007: James Hinchcliffe (2/3), Simona de Silvestro (13/15)
  • 2006: Pagenaud (4/2), Hinchcliffe (5/4), Rahal (3/15)

HOUSTON DOWNTOWN COURSE, 1998-2001

Five current drivers – Servia, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan – raced on Houston’s downtown course over four years. Three owners – Jimmy Vasser, Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta – have driving experience there as well. Franchitti has a win and three podiums here with Vasser also scoring a win and Kanaan securing his second career podium as a rookie in 1998.

CART

  • 01: Dario Franchitti (Started 6/Finished 2), Helio Castroneves (4/5), Jimmy Vasser (24/11), Tony Kanaan (10/12), Bryan Herta (22/13), Scott Dixon (7/18), Michael Andretti (12/21), Oriol Servia (17/26)
  • 00: Vasser (3/1), Castroneves (4/5), Servia (15/9), Kanaan (10/10), Andretti (5/13), Franchitti (2/25)
  • 99: Franchitti (4/2), Andretti (11/3), Herta (2/5), Kanaan (8/9), Vasser (16/20), Castroneves (19/26)
  • 98: Franchitti (2/1), Kanaan (11/3), Vasser (3/4), Herta (6/8), Castroneves (17/24), Andretti (13/28)

A single Indy Lights race was also held at Houston in 2000, won by Casey Mears. NBC Sports Network analyst Townsend Bell finished second in that race to his Dorricott Racing teammate; Dixon finished 15th, a rare off day in his championship-winning season driving for Bruce McCaw’s PacWest Racing.

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “