The Firestone 600 marks the halfway point in this year’s IndyCar season. Amazingly, we are already eight races down, with just eight to go. With seven different winners already, the championship remains relatively wide open. However, more than half of the remaining races will take places on ovals, as opposed to just one in the first half. The first of these five ovals is the Texas Motor Speedway, and this is where we could see a shift in the momentum in the series.
Like most ovals, Texas has four turns, but unlike Indianapolis, the turns are banked at a whopping 24 degrees. This allows for some pretty high speeds through the corners.
Like last week at Detroit, Helio Castroneves is the most successful active driver here, with four victories. Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Will Power, Ed Carpenter and Ryan Briscoe can all boast victories too, and will be looking to add a second to their tally. Yup, Briscoe returns to the grid for this race, but more on that shortly.
Despite notching up just two tenth places at Detroit, Juan Pablo Montoya retains his lead at the top of the championship; however it is cut to 21 points now. Six drivers are within a hundred points of Montoya, so it could well change very quickly. Strong results for Marco Andretti at Detroit have put him into the ring, despite not winning a race yet this season.
Finally, there are a few changes to the driver roster. As mentioned, Ryan Briscoe returns to the 5 car, driven by the impressive Conor Daly at Detroit. Pippa Mann also gets another shot at a race distance this season, taking over the 18 car from the woeful Rodolfo Gonzalez. Ed Carpenter is back in the 20 machine as is always the case with ovals.