After Daytona trouble, Truex wants better headlines from Phoenix

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Prior to Sunday’s Daytona 500, Furniture Row Racing newcomer Martin Truex Jr. had thought that he was to have his best opportunity to win The Great American Race.

And then, on Lap 30, everything went south for him when his motor did. Considering that he’d qualified on the front row for Daytona, you figure that was particularly galling for him.

But what’s done can’t be undone. And so, Truex is looking ahead to this weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, where he hopes to make headlines for the right reasons.

“My thoughts are toward the future,” he said in a team release. “I don’t like to think about what happened on Sunday in Daytona, but a post-race Phoenix headline that reads ‘From Last to First’ would be just fine with me.”

Truex has never won at PIR but comes off a Top-10 finish there last fall in one of his final performances with Michael Waltrip Racing. Like everybody else, he’ll have to find his way around NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying format.

Depending on the track length, the format consists of either two or three rounds. In Phoenix’s case, it’ll be two, with the fastest 12 drivers from the 30-minute opening round moving on to compete for the pole position in Round 2.

Truex figures once people get used to it, the format will “evolve rather quickly” as the assorted minds of the garage come up with ways to make it work for their drivers and teams.

“Regarding the new qualifying system, I am excited about it because [crew chief] Todd [Berrier] is really innovative and he comes up with what seems to be crazy ideas,” he said.

“I think the biggest challenge with this new format is making all the qualifying runs on one set of tires. You are going to need to run hard enough to advance and not too hard to wear out the tires so you can be fast at the end.”

IndyCar race weekend doubleheader schedule at IMS road course

IndyCar weekend schedule Indianapolis
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The NTT IndyCar Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third time this season but with a weekend schedule that will put the action in front of fans for the first time in 2020.

The track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course will play host to IndyCar and sports cars series over four days. The action will begin Thursday with practice and concluding with an eight-hour race Sunday featuring the Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge America.

The NTT IndyCar Series will hold a Friday-Saturday race doubleheader called the Harvest GP presented by GMR.

ENTRY LISTS: Who’s racing IndyCar at IMS this weekend

The name is a nod to the Harvest Classic, which was held Sept. 9, 1916 to help the track stay solvent during World War I. The event had three races of 20, 50 and 100 miles (all won by Johnny Aitken) that was the only racing held outside May at IMS from 1911-93.

A limited crowd of 10,000 will be allowed each day this weekend, and those fans will be the first to experience new video boards, concession stands, restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity.

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Harvest GP:

(All times are Eastern)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Thursday, Oct. 1

Noon — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America test session
2:25 p.m. — IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)
6:20 p.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 1 (NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Friday, Oct. 2

10:20 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
1:40 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
3:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 (USA Network, NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Saturday, Oct. 3

10:20 a.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC Sports Gold)
12:10 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America qualifying
2:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC, NBC Sports Gold)
5:30 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America pole shootout

IndyCar weekend schedule: Sunday, Oct. 4

10 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America race