Big wreck collects Hinchcliffe, Vautier, and more in Texas (VIDEO)

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The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 from Texas Motor Speedway has been red flagged 154 laps in due to a huge pileup involving several cars in turns three and four.

James Hinchcliffe, running in the top five at the time, was pinched in between Tony Kanaan and teammate Mikhail Aleshin entering turn three and broke loose. While he tried correcting it, he collected Aleshin and Tristan Vautier, with all three cars impacting the outside wall.

In the aftermath, Carlos Munoz, Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand, and Ryan Hunter-Reay were all caught up trying to avoid the wreck.

GANASSI, HINCHCLIFFE AND ALESHIN WEIGH IN

Kanaan’s team owner Chip Ganassi offered this viewpoint to NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt: “(Hinchcliffe) crashed in the pit lane (early in the race), he stuck his nose in that situation, why didn’t (he) stay right there? Instead he gets pushed into Tony.”

A frustrated Hinchcliffe told NBCSN’s Marty Snider that Kanaan moved up into him entering turn three. “I got a run off turn 2, (Kanaan) comes over, 2.5 car widths, he drives me straight into Mikhail. We were 3-wide. Spotter didn’t tell him, or he didn’t care. He usually doesn’t race like that,” he explained.

Told by Snider that Ganassi blamed Hinchcliffe, the Canadian promptly retorted, “That’s adorable.”

Aleshin, who was on the outside, explained that he felt like an innocent bystander. “I thought we’d all stay together. But then James touched with Kanaan and basically we all crashed. I thought we’d make it in three lines. James was there, Kanaan was there, and I didn’t understand what was going on. I gave space to them,” he told NBCSN’s Robin Miller.

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In total, only 11 cars are left running following the wreck, and a visibly frustrated Dale Coyne, who saw both of his cars (Vautier and Jones) caught up in the accident, was seen having words with Tony Kanaan about the incident during the red flag.

Both Ed Carpenter Racing crews were trying to repair their Nos. 20 and 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. Here were Carpenter’s and JR Hildebrand’s quotes.

Hildebrand: “Hinch got stuck in the middle. A few guys got three-wide. Two of the three ended in the wall. I was right behind Ed Jones. He jammed on the brakes. We were running so close. Even we broke at same time I had mad aero wash. We had a great second stint. The Fuzzy’s Vodka car was working great. I’m totally confident we would have hauled it back to the front.”

Carpenter: “For as big of a crash at it was it wasn’t that bad. We’ll try to pick up a few points and pass a few cars. It was a wild night.”

Both Dale Coyne Racing cars were taken out. Here was Tristan Vautier and Ed Jones’ comments:

Vautier: “There was nothing I could do. They tangled in front of me. It’s just a bummer. We could have fought for the win. I wanted to finish the race for my return. I raced hard. I wanted a solid finish. I’m kind of pissed off. I think we can be proud. We represented Seb well.”

Jones: “I got hit from the rear. I had so much fun out there. But some others didn’t respect the others, and that’s what caused the incident.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz were also involved in the accident for Andretti Autosport and AJ Foyt Racing.

Hunter-Reay: “I don’t know what I have to do. We spent the rest of the night trying to claw back. We missed the equation. This deal happened. Guys made too many moves late into the car. I’ll save my opinion after I look at it but sparks everywhere, I high-sided and came out a passenger from there. You can’t jump on the brakes in these cars 220 into the corner. I like it when races come down to handling. Lot of crazy moves. I was having fun.”

 

Munoz: “We were in the top 10, but needed a bit more speed. What can we say. We started last because we missed tech. I wanted to give a good race for my mechanics. It’s the most competitive car we’ve had this season. We kept running with the front guys. In ovals, when you have a multiple car crash, there’s nothing you can do.”

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New schedule has Josef Newgarden seeing double (points) again in 2020

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Two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske believes the latest revised schedule for 2020 will change his approach to the season.

The new schedule has the defending IndyCar champion looking at ways to double the possibilities for a second consecutive championship.

“When I look at the whole schedule they released now, I look at it as double-points as a whole in all of them,” Newgarden told NBCSports.com Monday. “Iowa is double points on a short oval. There are double points at the Indy GP because there are two races and a road course. Then double points at Laguna, which is a different road course than IMS. And there is double points in the Indianapolis 500.”

IndyCar announced to team owners two weeks ago that the season finale (once scheduled for Laguna Seca and now at St. Petersburg) will no longer be a double-points event. But Monday’s schedule revision essentially adds three double points-style races to the Indy 500’s double-points format, Newgarden said.

“Those are four events where you have to be quite strong,” Newgarden said. “They are all very different from each other. Each one is critical to get right. Iowa has a chance to be the most difficult. From a physical standpoint, it’s already a physical track for one race. To double it up on one weekend will be quite the toll for the drivers.

“It will be a very big test physically to see who will get that weekend right. You can bag a lot of points because of it.”

Just 12 days after the first schedule revision, IndyCar officials announced another revised schedule Monday because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The new schedule features doubleheader weekends at Iowa Speedway in July and Laguna Seca in September. There is an additional race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Oct. 3.

That race will be known as the IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix. It will be the second time in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history that an IndyCar race is held in the fall. The only other time was the Harvest Auto Racing Classic, a series of three races won by Johnny Aitken on Sept. 9, 1916.

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix scheduled for May 30-31 will be dropped from the 2020 schedule. Michigan has a “Stay at Home” order that won’t be lifted in time to start construction of the Belle Isle street course.

Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles said the Detroit event will return in 2021.

The IMS road course essentially will have a doubleheader spaced out by nearly three months. The first race will be the GMR IndyCar Grand Prix on July 4, and the second will be Oct. 3 in the Harvest Grand Prix.

The extra doubleheaders combined with the loss of Detroit gives IndyCar a 15-race schedule for 2020. It started out as a 17-race campaign, but April’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, the Acura Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the AutoNation IndyCar Classic at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) have been canceled. The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is being revived as the season finale on a TBA weekend in October.

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Newgarden also is excited about the chance to run at Indianapolis for three major races in one season. Of course, that all depends on how soon IndyCar can return to action because of the global pandemic.

“I’m continually excited about the thought of getting back to the race track,” Newgarden said. “We would love to be there now, but we can’t. With the current situation, everyone is trying to do the best they can to pitch in and do their part so we can get back to the track as quickly as possible.

“I’m excited to get back to racing at some point in the future. To see that is planned to start at Texas is still great. IndyCar has done a great job staying active and fluid with the ever-changing dynamics and current situation.

“We have three opportunities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There are a lot of chances to get it right at the Mecca of our sport.

“I have a lot of trust and faith in IndyCar and Roger, and they are doing their best to stay on top of the situation.”

The one downer to the revised schedule is the loss of the Detroit doubleheader, a very important weekend to Team Penske because Roger Penske also owns the Detroit race. It’s a chance to showcase the series in front of as “Motor City” crowd, which is also the home to the Penske Corp.

“It’s a shame that we miss any event this year,” Newgarden said. “As a racer, you look forward to each one of them. If any of them drop off, it’s a tough pill. Detroit is more so because it is such an important race for us at Team Penske. It’s in our backyard for Penske Corp. Also, our relationship with Chevrolet, how much they put I that event and try to get it right for everybody involved. It’s tough to not have a go at that this year.

“I think of the volunteers. The Detroit weekend is so well run and executed with such a positive momentum behind it for the last eight years that I’ve gone there. I’ve always enjoyed that weekend off the back of the Indy 500.

“It’s a shame we will miss that this year, but I look forward to getting back there in 2021 and getting it started again.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500