Rain halts Thursday IndyCar practice at Texas after 41 minutes

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Teams in the NTT IndyCar Series, along with Firestone and INDYCAR, were hoping to use Thursday’s 2-hour practice session at Texas Motor Speedway to see if blistering would become an issue with the Firestone tires.

But a torrential rainstorm halted the session after just 41 minutes – probably not enough time to determine if the optional tire compound should be used over the primary compound Firestone has prepared for Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.

Several cars had tire rubber chunk off the tires in last year’s race. That is known as “blistering” and can be potentially hazardous in high-speed racing. That is why Firestone has brought two different tire compounds for this race.

The only way the optional tires would be used was if the primary compound showed signs of widespread blistering across the field of race cars.

“I think there were some blistered sets out there, I’m not sure how they’re going to address that,” former Texas winner Scott Dixon said after he was the fastest driver in Thursday’s practice. “I know there was an option tire, but I haven’t heard. I think from what I heard; they are kind of happy with what they saw. Again, it’s early days, right? They’ll probably go through everybody’s tires tonight and figure out a plan for tomorrow.

“Conditions were kind of ideal. I think today as far as Texas goes; it actually wasn’t even really that hot. Running this late in the day, the track temp was down almost a hundred degrees, which is very low.”

Dixon was asked what he would like to see done with the tires and he quipped, “We’d like a tire that works really well with the 9 car” referring to his PNC Bank Honda.

“We had zero issues with blistering last year, yet there seemed to be a few teams that had some major issues and were falling off pretty hard,” Dixon said. “I feel like in that scenario, you should be able to adapt to it. You shouldn’t have to change it for the situation of maybe a few cars or few drivers.

“But Firestone are always trying to make the tire better. I think for us this year, the problem is, once you have a new surface and a new track, the falloff comes pretty quickly in the first two, three, four years. That’s what we’ve seen.

“The grip is a lot lower than what we saw last year. IndyCar reacted with adding downforce on that. I think that’s the right direction.

“The end of the race last year I thought was quite good. I think for the drivers, we want to have a car that’s difficult to drive, something that you can make a difference. The last thing I want to see is pack racing. It’s easy for everybody, jut creates issues. Maybe the person that takes the biggest risk, if they pull it off, is going to be rewarded.

“I think a balance of what we had last year and maybe a bit closer would be good.”

Dixon was the fastest in the session with a lap at 219.308 miles per hour in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

“We had the test here, the tire test in March, and I think that just helps a lot of us kind of roll off,” Dixon said afterwards. “We had a few issues I think with balance. I think a lot of people have just with the added temperature, especially from when we tested here. That was interesting for us.

“Unfortunately we got the weather. We didn’t really get to run as much as we would have liked. Hopefully they can add some additional time tomorrow. All in all, the Penske car feels good out of the gate.”

INDYCAR PhotoINDYCAR announced an additional 15 minutes of practice time to Friday’s schedule so that teams can “scuff” in sets of tires for the race.

Takuma Sato of Japan was second at 219.262 mph in the No. 30 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

“I think it’s a bit early to say for the tires and downforce and stuff,” Sato said. “I don’t know if Scott told, but we had only few laps, to be honest. Even one set of tires, did not even get through, I don’t know, half of the stint I wouldn’t think.

“I think Firestone did a great job to bring the tire that’s really good feeling, solid feeling, more downforce than last year. But not only for that, I think Firestone doing a great job.

“I was obviously looking forward to a little bit more traffic runs, go through the stint, how the balance shift will be. But obviously the rain, we cannot do anything at the moment.”

Sato’s teammate, Graham Rahal, was third at 218.311 mph in a Honda followed by Charlie Kimball of Carlin at 217.503 mph in a Chevrolet. Will Power rounded out the top five at 217.196 mph in the Team Verizon Chevrolet for Team Penske.


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.