Getty Images

INDYCAR: Fast Facts for Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas

Leave a comment

Here’s what you need to know about Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway (courtesy INDYCAR Media Relations):

DXC Technology 600 Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, June 8 – Saturday, June 9

Track: Texas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval

Race distance: 248 laps / 357.12 miles

Entry List:  DXC Technology 600 (PDF)

Firestone tire allotment: Thirteen sets for use through the weekend

Twitter: @TXMotorSpeedway @IndyCar, #DXC600, #IndyCar

Event website: www.TexasMotorSpeedway.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2017 race winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)

2017 Verizon P1 Award winner: Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Tresiba Honda), 46.5861 seconds, 222.556 mph (two laps)

Qualifying records (based on track distance of 1.44 miles)

One lap: Charlie Kimball, 23.2730, 222.747 mph, June 9, 2017

Two laps: Charlie Kimball, 46.5861 seconds, 222.556 mph, June 9, 2017

NBCSN television telecasts: Qualifying, 4 p.m. ET Friday, June 8 (live); Race, 8 p.m. ET Saturday, June 9 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN telecasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller.

Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query is the turn announcer with Nick Yeoman, Dillon Welch and Michael Young reporting from pit road. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions are available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Video streaming: All practice sessions for the DXC Technology 600 will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar).

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, June 8

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

3 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (single car/cumulative time of two laps), NBCSN (3 p.m.)

6:15 – 7:15 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

Saturday, June 10

7:01 p.m. – Driver introductions

7:40 p.m. – Command to start engines

7:45 p.m. – DXC Technology 600 (248 laps/357.12 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Race notes:

* There have been six different winners in eight Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2018: Sebastien Bourdais (Streets of St. Petersburg), Josef Newgarden (ISM Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park), Alexander Rossi (Streets of Long Beach), Will Power (INDYCAR Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500), Scott Dixon (Raceway at Belle Isle-1) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Raceway at Belle Isle-2). Dixon’s win on June 2 was his 42nd win, tying him with Michael Andretti for third on the all-time list.

* The DXC Technology 600 will be the 30th Indy car event conducted at Texas Motor Speedway since the track opened in 1997. TMS hosted two races a year from 1998-2004 and featured a doubleheader event in 2011.

* The DXC Technology 600 is the third of six oval races on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Team Penske has won both oval races thus far with Josef Newgarden at ISM Raceway on April 7 and Will Power winning the Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

* Helio Castroneves has won four times at Texas Motor Speedway (2004 Race 2, 2006, 2009 and 2013), the most wins by an Indy car driver at the track. Five past TMS winners are entered in this year’s race: Tony Kanaan (2004 Race 1), Scott Dixon (2008 and 2015), Will Power (2011 Race 2 and 2017), Ed Carpenter (2014) and Graham Rahal (2016).

* Will Power has won the pole for three of the past five Texas Motor Speedway races (2013, 2014 and 2015). Other past pole winners entered this year are Scott Dixon (2008) and Charlie Kimball (2017). Tony Kanaan won a draw to start first for the second of the 2011 doubleheader races but has never won the pole at Texas.

* Six drivers have won the Texas race from the pole: Sam Hornish Jr. (2001 Race 2), Gil de Ferran (2003 Race 2), Helio Castroneves (2004 Race 2), Tomas Scheckter (2005), Scott Dixon (2008) and Ryan Briscoe (2010).

* Drivers who have won at Texas have gone on to win the Verizon IndyCar Series championship six times: Sam Hornish Jr. (2001 Race 2 and 2002 Race 2), Tony Kanaan (2004 Race 1), Scott Dixon (2008 and 2015) and Dario Franchitti (2011 Race 1).

* Seventeen drivers entered this weekend have competed in past Verizon IndyCar Series events at Texas Motor Speedway. Twelve of those drivers have led laps at the track: Will Power 432, Tony Kanaan 372, Scott Dixon 365, James Hinchcliffe 196, Ed Carpenter 92, Marco Andretti 84, Simon Pagenaud 59, Ryan Hunter-Reay 46, Graham Rahal 28, Charlie Kimball 27, Max Chilton 8 and Josef Newgarden 8.

* Veteran Spencer Pigot and rookies Zachary Claman De Melo, Matheus Leist, Zach Veach and Robert Wickens will race a Verizon IndyCar Series car at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time this weekend.

* Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 292nd consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Scott Dixon has made 232 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti has made 208 consecutive starts, which is the fourth-longest streak in Indy car racing.

F1 Preview – 2018 French Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s hard to believe that the French Grand Prix, the oldest grand prix event on the planet, as it dates back to June of 1906, was ever removed from the Formula 1 calendar.

Alas, not since 2008 at Magny-Cours has Formula 1 held a race on French soil. Yet, that all changes this weekend, as Formula 1 visits the Circuit Paul Ricard for its first French race in a decade.

Formula 1 teams are not strangers to Paul Ricard. It has been a popular testing facility for years, as evidenced by the below photo from 2016, featuring Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in a wet tire test.

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE – JANUARY 26: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Scuderia Ferrari drives during wet weather tire testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 26, 2016 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

However, in terms of racing, Paul Ricard has also been absent from the calendar for quite a long time – the last time Formula 1 race at Paul Ricard was in 1990. Alain Prost won for Ferrari that day.

1990: Alain Prost of France punches the air in celebration after passing the chequered flag in his Scuderia Ferrari to win the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Beausset, France. Mandatory Credit: Pascal Rondeau/Allsport

As such, despite being a known quantity as a testing facility, how a race weekend will shake out is anybody’s guess.

And what’s more, it marks the beginning of three consecutive race weekends – The French Grand Prix, The Austrian Grand Prix, and The British Grand Prix – which F1 teams and drivers are calling “the triple header.”

Talking points ahead of the French Grand Prix are below.

A Journey Into the Unknown?

Like all new venues, or resurrected and refurbished ones in this case, the Circuit Paul Ricard represents somewhat of an unknown, as there’s no available race data to make predictions off of.

And the 3.61-mile, 15-turn track itself represents a range of challenges. It has fast corners, like Turns 1 and 2 (S de la Verrerie), a technical section between Turns 3 and 7 (Virage de l’Hotel through the Mistral Straight Start), and a 1.1-mile straightaway in the Mistral Straight, though it is separated by a chicane (Turns 8 and 9).

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff discussed the challenge of the circuit, highlighting the lack of data to build off of as well the tough three-race stretch ahead as especially challenging, in a preview on Formula 1’s website.

“France should be an interesting race. We don’t often get to race on a track where we have little to no historical data. It makes preparing for the weekend a bit trickier than usual, but that element of the unknown also adds to the challenge. The French Grand Prix marks the first race of the triple header, which will test all F1 teams to their limits, but also offers the chance to score a lot of points over the course of three weeks – which is precisely what we’re setting out to do,” said Wolff.

That element of the unknown makes Paul Ricard one of the biggest wildcards on the 2018 F1 calendar, and a championship shake up could be in the cards as a result.

Ferrari, Mercedes Continue Their Back and Forth

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari and Mercedes have traded jabs throughout the 2018 season, with neither able to pull away from the other so far through seven races.

Sebastian Vettel enters the French Grand Prix with a one-point lead over Lewis Hamilton, and holds a slight edge in victories – three to Hamilton’s two – and comes off a thorough domination of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel led every lap at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on his way to victory, while Valtteri Bottas had to carry the Mercedes flag in finishing second. Hamilton languished in fifth, a surprising and disappointing result given his previous success there.

The aforementioned Toto Wolff described it as a “wake up call,” though Mercedes will roll out a power unit upgrade this weekend – Ferrari and Renault, which also powers Red Bull Racing, rolled out upgrades of their own in Canada.

With four long straightaways present at Paul Ricard, power will certainly be at a premium, so such upgrades will be vital in giving Mercedes a chance to make amends after Canada’s disappointment.

Trio of French Drivers Look to Impress on Home Soil

It comes hardly as a surprise that the three French drivers – Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon – are keen to make an impression at their home race.

And all three could certainly use a boost. Gasly has only one finish inside the points (seventh in the Monaco Grand Prix) since his stellar fourth place effort in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ocon is coming off back-to-back points finishes (sixth in Monaco, ninth in Canada), but he has only one other finish inside the points this year (tenth, in Bahrain). And Grosjean, despite showing the speed to finish in the points, is yet to score any in 2018.

As such, all three are hoping for big things in their home race this weekend.

“I want to get a good weekend, have some luck, get my first points of the season, and get a lot of support from the fans,” said Grosjean. “I think we should be in a nice place at Paul Ricard. I’m always looking forward to jumping back in the car. I just love driving an F1 car.”

Ocon, who has raced and won at Paul Ricard in the past, expects his prior experience could be a big help.

“I did race at Paul Ricard early in my career – it was actually where I had my first victory in single seaters in 2013 so I have some fantastic memories of the place,” Ocon described. “I hope we can add some more success this weekend. Having been there in the junior categories makes getting used to a new track in a Formula One car much easier. I think I will find my rhythm quite quickly.”

Gasly’s excitement level obviously matches that of his French compatriots, with the added bonus that the return coincides with his rookie F1 effort.

“For me it will be absolutely incredible that my first full season of Formula 1 coincides with the return of a French Grand Prix to the calendar for the first time in 10 years,” said Gasly. “That has to be a reason for me to be very happy and I’m really excited to be racing in my home country. I can tell it will be a special feeling going out on track and actually, I have spoken to Jean Alesi and Alain Prost about it and they both told me that it will feel really special and something that you really have to experience as a Frenchman racing in France.”

Qualifying for The French Grand Prix begins at 9:55 a.m. ET on Saturday, with Sunday’s race at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Follow@KyleMLavigne