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Texas repave complete; Carpenter thinks ‘five-wide’ possible for IndyCar

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Texas Motor Speedway’s repave process is complete and was formally unveiled on Monday at the Dallas/Fort Worth 1.5-mile oval.

The repave process started in January and ran right on schedule, as completions to the banking change in Turns 1 and 2 occurred with a full repave of the racing surface and pit lane.

TMS President Eddie Gossage hosted both NASCAR and IndyCar stakeholders. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell and past NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Chris Buescher were there from a stock car perspective while INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye and Ed Carpenter Racing owner/driver Ed Carpenter were the from the open-wheel side of affairs.

A ceremonial lap was completed with Chevrolet SS pace cars (which, having had a ride in one before Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IndyCar opener, are quite nice).

Carpenter, who won at Texas in 2014 for his most recent victory, said the change to Turns 1 and 2 could drastically alter the racing on display there.

“I’m excited to get out there in an Indy car,” said the driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. “Obviously, the Chevy SS is nice and can get some speed, but it is a lot different car from an Indy car. But from what I could tell, it’s greatly improved, a lot smoother and I think the reconfiguration as drivers and teams we like challenges and it’s something different.

“Having diversity between 1, 2, 3 and 4 is something good for racing obviously and with it wider Indy cars may be able to go five wide through there.”

INDYCAR will have an open test at the track on April 12, just a couple days after the next round of the season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 9, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 runs on Saturday, June 10, also on NBCSN – which resumes NBCSN’s portion of the season through to the end of year in Sonoma on September 17.

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.