Quick Thoughts- Expel 375

After a processional beginning the race came alive on lap 148 after the last caution period. Staring on lap 150 the lead changed hands four times in 15 laps.

A last turn pass for the win always makes a race better. Josef Newgarden said in the post race press conference that he had conceded the win, but saw an opportunity when he got to turn 3 of the final lap.

The start

There was more passing than I expected. Newgarden said the headwind down the front stretch helped and that the special session yesterday did clean up the high line a bit.

Team Penske has come out of the gate strong this season after a lackluster 2021. In the two races this young season, they have two wins and four of the six podium positions.

Scott McLaughlin is setting himself up for a strong championship run. Two front row starts, a win and a second place finish leaves with a 28 point lead over Will Power.

Great Drives

Jimmie Johnson will get the bulk of the praise for his sixth place finish after starting 18th. He steadily and quietly moved up the field.

But my driver of the day is Santino Ferrucci. Ferrucci replaced Jack Harvey this morning when Harvey was not cleared to drive after his crash in practice yesterday afternoon. Indycar allowed him 15 minutes to shake down the car, which was moved to the back of the grid. For Ferrucci to finish ninth under the circumstances is amazing.

Marcus Ericsson finished third from 14th and being in contention near the end. All four Ganassi cars finished in the top 10.

The season is shaping up to be a shootout between Penske and Ganassi drivers.

Andretti Woes Continue

Andretti Autosport had another forgettable day with three cars finishing in the bottom four positions. Alexander Rossi completed just 11 laps before retiring with mechanical issues. Romain Grosjean went out next with a water pressure problem on lap 103.

Devlin DeFrancesco was involved in a three car crash also involving Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves. It appeared that he had a hand in all three yellows. I’m anxious to see the replay.

Colton Herta came home 12th one lap down.

AMSP Title Hopes Fading Fast

Felix Rosenqvist did not lead a lap despite starting on pole. Her eventually retired and finished 21st after a bad pit stop. Pato O’Ward hit a crewman on a stop and finished 15th. O’ward is 13th in points and he needs a really good result at Long Beach to get in contention. He is also going to need some help.

More Oval Training for Indy Lights?

Two accidents today involved Indy Lights rookies. Kyle Kirkwood spun and hit the wall in turn 4. Devlin DeFrancesco was involved in a three car accident in between turns three and four.

Texas was the first high speed oval for the rookies. The question is, should Indy Lights run more ovals, especially high speed tracks? The absence of the Freedom 100 at IMS took away the one fast oval for the junior series.

I understand that budget concerns about equipment damage is a factor in the schedule structure, but are they really helping the drivers who come to Indycar without any experience on a track like Texas?

Race Day at Texas

Today’s Schedule: All times Eastern

10:00 AM Gates Open

12:00 PM Driver Introductions

12:45 PM Green Flag for the Expel 375 NBC coverage begins at 12:30 PM

Post race show on Peacock after NBC coverage ends

Race time temperature should be around 69 degrees and sunny, rising to the mid 70s by the end of the race.

The race should be very competitive. I think any one of the first seven starters could win. Pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist is confident of his chances. Josef Newgarden was very quick in the practice sessions. Many Texas races have come down to a late yellow and cars diving into the pits for new tires. The leader is a sitting duck in this situation.

From yesterday-


Nathan Brown of the Indianapolis Star posted a story last night in which he reported that the efforts to reduce the effect of the JP 1 compound have not changed much. We are likely to see a single file race again. That would be a shame. Some of Indycar’s best races have been at Texas Motor Speedway.

Will Power led the effort for a high downforce session to attempt to scrub off the JP1 compound

This is possibly the last Indycar race at TMS for a while. there has been no talk about renewing the relationship this weekend. Attendance yesterday extremely low. I am not anticipating a large turnout today.

Let’s hope for a safe, competitive race.

Newgarden Leads Final Practice; Harvey Crashes

Josef Newgarden led a final practice interrupted by a heavy crash involving Jack Harvey. Following the cleanup Indycar extended the session time to make up for the lost time.

Before the final practice, seven cars ran high downforce setups in an attempt to make the second lane drivable for tomorrow’s race. Firestone measurements indicate that there is more grip in that lane. How that translates to the racing line remains to be seen.

About 20 minutes into the practice Jack Harvey brushed the outside wall at the exit of turn 2. The HyVee machine darted to the inside of the track and made heavy contact with the inside wall, destroying the front of the car and the left rear side. Harvey was able to walk away from the car.

None of the on track sessions today were during the time that the race will take place tomorrow. I do think Newgarden has a very fast car. His seventh starting spot is not an obstacle to his winning the race. Any of the first seven starters has a good chance to win.

Practice results:

Thanks for following along today. Look for my pre race story in the morning and a post about my ride around the track this evening.


Rosenqvist Takes Pole at Texas

The pole the Expel 375 came down to two drivers going for their second career pole. Scott Mclaughlin, who won the pole at St. Pete last month, had a target set by Felix Rosenqvist, who is fighting to keep his seat in the AMSP Chevy. Rosenqvist prevailed by 14 thousandths of a second.

Rosenqvist was the eleventh qualifier. He set the mark of 221.110 mph. Several drivers came close. Takuma Sato’s first lap was faster, but he slowed enough on his second circuit to end up second. He stayed there until McLaughlin’s run.

“It couldn’t be a better time to win the pole,” said Rosenqvist, who is rumored to be on the hot seat in the number 7 McLaren entry.

“I’m confident we have a good package for the race,” he added.

Rosenqvist thinks winning the pole is just the beginning of a great weekend for the Arrow McLaren SP crew.

“:I think we’re gonna be even stronger in the race. I mean, I can’t promise that but we have every reason to think that we have a good package overall. And I think this strength in our car air is very, you know, confidence inspiring. It never really feels edgy, and it’s just really good setup. So yeah, we’re happy going into the race.

“I remember the first time I came here, then then it was definitely not fun. I was really scared. First time I was here, and it was actually the first superspeedway I ever did. But yeah, I think from 2020 onwards, it’s been a track where I feel really calm and confident that I kind of know how to attack the race. And how to work with a driving line and how the car needs to be set up and I think it suits me pretty well. Naturally, and yeah, I definitely feel like it’s an unfinished business that motivates us.”

Rosenqvist won his first pole in 2019 on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

McLaughlin will start on the front row for the second consecutive race.

Quick Thoughts

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s three cars will start 24th, 25th, and 27th tomorrow. Graham Rahal finished mid pack in the morning practice but had the slowest qualifying time. Jack Harvey was slow in practice as well. Christian Lundgaard was 17th this morning.

If you want to pick a dark horse to win Sunday, go with Takuma Sato. Sato is off to a good start this season with a 10th at St. Pete. He rolls off third tomorrow.

Will Power had another strong qualifying today. He could win from fourth.

Biggest Disappointments

Simon Pagenaud led the morning practice but only qualified 15th. Teammate helio Castroneves will start 6th.

Andretti Autosport- Colton Herta is the only Andretti driver ibn the top ten. Alexander Rossi was 12th, Romain Grosjean was 13th, and Devlin DeFrancesco will be 17th on the grid for the race.

VeeKay Rebound

Rinus VeeKay once again carried the day for Ed Carpenter Racing, qualifying eighth. VeeKay has qualified in the top ten for both of the 2022 races. After his bicycle accident mid -season last year, VeeKay had a significant drop off in results. The first two race weekends of 2022 have seen him regain his form from early 2021.


Next up at 4 PM Central time is the rubber in session, followed at 4:30 by a one hour final practice where the cars will be set up in race trim. We will see what the drivers learn from that session.

Pagenaud Leads Texas Practice 1

The only practice session before qualifying for tomorrow’s Expel 375 began under sunny skies and cool temperatures. The air temperature was 57 degrees when the session started.

Simon Pagenaud led the se3ssion with a best lap of 223.087 miles per hour. Felix Rosenqvist was 0.0218 mph behind. Colton Herta finished third, 0,0314 mph back.

The surprise of the session was Callum Ilott. The rookie driver for Juncos Hollinger Racing had the fourth fastest time with a speed of 222,257 mph. Texas is Ilott’s first career oval race.

Cars mostly avoided the higher groove where the PJ-1 compound had been applied. TMS has run graters over the surface in an attempt to grind the compound off and this afternoon seven cars will run their cars with a lot of down force to try to put more Firestone rubber down in those areas. We may not know if the efforts truly worked until the race tomorrow.

Some track action during practice:

Practice got off to a disjointed start with two yellow flags for seven minutes and 11 seconds within the first fifteen minutes. The remainder of the round was green.

The winners of the two races in 2021, Scott Dixon and Pato O’Ward, finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

The top 14:

Qualifying begins at 2 pm Eastern time on Peacock.

The Search for Lane 2 the Big Story for Saturday at Texas

Good morning from Texas Motor Speedway

Today’s Schedule All Times Central:

9:45 AM-9:50 AM- Two Stage Pit Limiter Practice

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM               NTT INDYCAR SERIES PRACTICE 1-Peacock
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM               NTT INDYCAR SERIES QUALIFYING-Peacock
2:45 PM – 3:15 PM               DRIVER AUTOGRAPH SESSION (INDYCAR Display on Fan Zone)
4:00 PM – 4:30 PM

4:45 PM-5:45 PM
               NTT INDYCAR SERIES PRACTICE to Rubber in high groove (7 cars)-Rahal, Power, Sato, O’Ward, Rosenqvist, Castroneves, Carpenter


Temperature is predicted to be 55 degrees for the first practice, 69 degrees for qualifying and 75 degrees for the final practice.

The added practice is a last ditch effort to make the track racier and possibly kept Texas on the schedule. The slippery upper groove in the turns has limited passing opportunities the last two years. Will any one even try the top side in the final practice, or will no one want to risk possibly missing Sunday’s race?

Qualifying well could be important to success in the race if the passing lane isn’t there. Watch where cars go in Practice 1 and see if their lines change in the afternoon practice.

TMS- A Huge Place

Yesterday wqas my first time at Texas motor Speedway. This track has a massive footprint. The track is pretty much enclosed. there are two ten story buildings in each oif the first two turns. The grandstands which run the length of the front stretch look to be at least seven stories tall. Advertising billboards and a very large video board surround the rest of the outer walls.

This photo of the backstretch video board was taken from the pits.

The scoring pylon is unusual for a track this size with positions 1-20.

This photo of the backstretch video board was taken from the pits.

Several cars were out in the paddock area as I walked through.

Alexander Rossi
Colton Herta
Felix Rosenqvist

I hope to explore the track more today. It will be an interesting day.

I’ll be back with reports after each session, including the added session.

Expel 375 Preview- The Last Texas Roundup?

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.