What to watch for: IndyCar’s Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway


FORT WORTH – Here’s a look at what to look out for in the ninth round of IndyCar’s 2015 campaign, the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway (8:50 p.m. ET, check local listings), the second oval race for the series following the Indianapolis 500 last month.

Texas-style falloff

They all have different terms for it. Ryan Briscoe: “skating around on eggs.” Stefano Coletti: “a roller coaster.” For Tony Kanaan, it’s simply “slippery.”

They’re the ways you can describe racing at 215 mph around the 1.5-mile TMS after your tires begin falling off after just two laps.

“I think it’a going to be pretty difficult,” Graham Rahal said. “I can feel it at the end of my second qualifying sim lap (in practice). I could feel my tires going of already.”

Rahal doesn’t believe anyone will be able to make it a full tire-stint under those conditions.

“We asked for this,” Rahal said. “We wanted this on the road courses and the ovals. It’s more in the driver’s hands and the teams’ to get it right, as compared to being in a pack and getting lucky.”

Rahal said this will lead to “a ton” of passing at track once known for pack racing (the kind of racing track president Eddie Gossage wants to get closer to after a dud in 2014). But don’t to expect the “life or death” moments of years past.

“I think some of the Chevy drivers said they felt like there would be pack racing here again,” Rahal said. “There’s just no chance. It is going to be tough (Saturday).”

Introduction to “No Limits” 101

Stefano Coletti had one thought when he turned his No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet into TMS’ 24-degree Turn 3 for the first time.

“Wow, this is banked.”

That’s the reaction of someone who has raced on only one other oval in his career, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Coletti will be making his first start at TMS Saturday night, starting dead last in the 23-car field.

“Indianapolis and Texas are completely different,” Coletti said after his qualifying attempt Friday. “Here it is pretty hard … it squishes you down like you are going up and down on a ride.”

Sage Karam, who has more extensive oval experience, is also being baptized by the 1.5-mile track, but much further forward in the field in 10th.

“When you go into Turn 3, you start turning in and it’s flat,” Karam said. “Then all of sudden you hit max bank and the thing just wants to rotate on it’s own and it gives you that weird sensation. It kind of caught me by surprise.

“I came in actually, two or three laps into the stint. I’m like, ‘Guys, is that normal to feel like that?’ They’re like, ‘yeah, absolutely.’ You just got to commit to this place.”

A Texas-sized microcosm

Through eight races in 2015, the Verizon IndyCar Series has seen six different teams win with seven drivers. TMS has had its own version of this parity over the last seven years.

In the last nine races in Fort Worth, eight different winners have visited Victory Lane. The only driver to have an encore performance has been Helio Castroneves (2009, ’13).

The top 10 on the starting grid includes six drivers who have yet to fire the six-shooters and wear the cowboy hat that say you won at Texas Motor Speedway.

Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross in 2024, Benny Bloss named first factory rider

Beta Motorcycles 2024 Bloss
Beta Motorcycles

Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.

Benny Bloss finished among the top 10 twice in Pro Motocross, in 2016 and 2018. – Beta Motorcycles

“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.

“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”

Bloss debuted in the 450 class in 2015 with a 15th-place finish overall at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”

Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.

Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.

The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.

Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.

Beta will join Triumph Motorcycles as a second historic brand to join the sport in 2024. First established in 1902, Triumph has won in nearly every division they have competed in, dating back to their first victory in the 1908 Isle of Man TT. Triumph will debut in the 250 class in 2024 and plans to expand into 450s in 2025.