Race 2 of the 2022 Indycar season this weekend has a lot of questions to answer. Will this be the final race at Texas motor Speedway for the series? Can Indycar create a second lane on the high side of the track?How will the six first timers fare on this high speed oval?
The 35th Indycar race at Texas could be the last. 2022 is the final year of the contract, and no extension has been announced. Track president rob Ramage said the other day the he is “optimistic” that Indycar will return. Texas Motor Speedway was a staunch ally of the fledging Indy Racing League and has supported the series since 1997. I would hate to see this track drop off the schedule. However, attendance and the racing needs to improve.
Get a Grip
Indycars have no tire grip on the JP1 compound in the high lane. We saw a lot of single file racing last year in the two races. Several ideas have been discussed this week to improve the situation. It sounds as if Indycar is close to a decision on one idea.
Under the proposal each team would have one car run in the second lane for 30 minutes. The teams would get an extra set of tires for this session only. I heard just a bit ago that cones would be set up so that the cars would only run the top lane. The session would precede the final practice.
This might work, but the price could be high if it doesn’t. What if a car gets up in that lane during final practice and crashes?
Pato O’Ward talked about the second groove in his media availability Monday. He does not see a way to fix it the issue.
“As much as we’d love a second lane, I just don’t think the PJ1 is a
surface that’s ever going to give us that second lane. If it
does, it’s going to be way slower, so it’s not going to be a
second lane where you can fight and pass people, rather
than shovel your way back in a way.
I don’t know, man. I think last year, even with that PJ1
there, there is enough space where you can pull off a
move. It’s not easy at all. I remember I got a little wiggly
on it last year on restarts and stuff.
I mean, it is what it is. Can’t just go on there and peel it,
right, go back to how it was a few years ago.”
O’Ward thinks itis a track situation drivers just need to work through.
“I think we have to work with what we have. We had a
great race there last year. We proved to be able to be
making moves. Maybe not two or three at a time, but one
at a time. It certainly wasn’t easy.
I just think it’s going to be the same this year.”
Saturday will be an interesting day at Texas.
Nearly one fourth of the grid will race at Texas for the first time.
Sunday’s race will be the first Indycar oval race for Jimmie Johnson, who won at Texas seven times in NASCAR. Johnson is happy to treturn to an oval, especially one where he had much success, but e admits it won’t be easy.
“Excited as I am to be on an oval, I still haven’t been in traffic in an INDYCAR. I still have plenty to learn coming to a track I know and love.
Really excited to get there and work.”
Romain Grosjean got a taste of oval racing at gateway last summer. He did quite well. This will Grosjean’s first time on a high speed ovl.
Christian Lundgaard and Callum Ilott will experience oval racing for the first time in their careers. Indy Lights graduates Kyle Kirkwood, Devlin DeFrancesco, and David Malukas drove a few ovals on the Road to Indy, but never at Texas.
The Usual Suspects Up Front
Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, and Felix Rosenqvist need good results this weekend. The trio finished 16th, 20th, and 17th at St. Pete.
I look for Newgarden and Rossi to have strong weekends, with Newgarden one of the favorites for the victory He He lost Race 2 in 2021 when Pato O’Ward passed him with eight laps to go. O’Ward also must be a favorite.
Rosenqvist is still fighting to keep his ride. He needs a top 10 finish Sunday.
Scott Dixon, who has won three times at Texas, Will Power, and Colton Herta could also win. Dixon’s next victory will tie him with Mario Andretti with 52 career wins.
Power seems rejuvenated after a lackluster 2021. A podium finish Sunday puts Power solidly in thick of the championship. Don’t dismiss his chances this year.
A Peacock Bonus
Peacock will have an untimed post race show after the NBC broadcast window ends at 3 pm Eastern time. The show is a result of feedback from the Global Fan Survey. If you are not a Peacock subscriber, the $4.99 a month is worth it. You can subscribe just for racing season.
The race coverage begins at 12:30 PM Eastern. The green flag drops at 12:45.