Outside of Indianapolis, Texas is without a doubt the marquee event of the Indy Racing League. With high speeds and lots of room for passing, no other track is able to showcase the thrill of what makes IndyCars so exciting.
Expect to see lots of passing by Hornish and Scheckter on the high side, lots of grooves on the race track leading to four-wide racing, and lots of focus on that whole Dan/Danica discussion. Remember, this is the track where AJ Foyt smacked Arie Luyendyk upside the head. As Jack Arute might say, tensions here run higher than the racing lines.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, so that mus tinclude the racing, the hype, and unfortunately the start time. That's not a problem out West, but let's hope folks on the East Coast are able to toothpick their eyes their way all the way to the end.
In the meantime, here are your participants in order of likeliness to win.
Castroneves - Last year's winner, his second victory in the last three races. Put a little krazy glue on the wing pillar this week, will ya?
Kanaan - Won here three years ago, and is looking mighty solid right now. Were it not for the pit accident at Kansas and the rain at Indy, Nariz might have won at the last three ovals.
Hornish - He's won here before more than once, and his last three attempts have all been in the Top 4. He'll be there near the end.
Wheldon - Top 6 last three times here, and that last run was despite leading 171 freaking laps! Incredibly, TCGR has not yet won at TMS.
Sharp - Winning the pole is not a total fluke - he's been Top 5 at TMS the last two years with an inferior team. This track suits itself well to his, err, driving style.
Franchitti - At some point he's going to be picked to do well at a track, but it ain't here. Only once has he placed better than 8th, so Mr Judd likely doesn't like this track.
Meira - No worse than 9th here in his last five attempts, and has usually performed well at this track. Could Texas be the place to break the winless streak?
Dixon - Last year's 2nd was the first Top 5 he's had at Texas, but he's been 2nd or 4th in every race this year. He's in a backup car today after a practice incident.
Scheckter - Won here with Panther two years ago, and he was running well before last week. He's got lots of room for his daring passes at this track.
Patrick - Still seeking her first Top 10 at TMS, although if she stays clean she should get that this year.
Matsuura - 7th and 9th at Texas the last two years are about as good as it gets for him in that timeframe. He has finished two races in a row.
Simmons - He made a great save on the first day of qualifying to keep from wrecking the car, and hopefully he won't be lapped twice like last year.
Manning - Two uneventful runs here for Danger Mouse in his ICS career, this should be a third.
Carpenter - Last year was his first here without a wreck, and he managed a Top 10 finish. So he'll either be up there or in the garage.
Andretti - Please don't wreck. Please don't wreck. Please don't wreck.
Rice - Would you believe Rice hasn't finished higher than 15th here in his last four tries? Wow - not his track.
Fisher - Her strategy thusfar seems to be race clean and let the other crash around her. There are plenty of lanes to pass or be passed here.
Foyt - Everything is bigger in Texas - except Quattro. He's only finished above 18th once in five tries. Hells bells, young feller!
Herb - His only Top 10 finish was at TMS - in 2001! His run at Indy this year is his only other ICS start in 5 years, so let's be careful out there.
Duno - Hopefully her mechanics had inspirational dreams, because that car isn't nearly fast enough to not get pulled over.
Money Says: "I cannot envision anyone winning this race except for Dan. I know I'm not exactly going out on a limb here, but when he's pissed off, he dominates. Let us not be fooled by the niceties following the Barnhart talkin-to. He ain't over it and that will become clear when he 'drives enraged' (as p-dog would say) on Saturday Night."
As you can see, P2 agrees with Money's assesment - even though the Well Done one is starting 10th, two rows behind Danica "brake check" Patrick. Enjoy the show!
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