Texas Motor Speedway, drivers ready for IndyCar opener


(Courtesy: IndyCar Series/Chris Owens)

INDIANAPOLIS – The IndyCar Series will fire up its engines Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway’s mile-and-a-half oval for the first time since off-season testing.

It’s race one of an updated 14-event schedule.

“It’s going to be strange, because these drivers haven’t been in these cars for months and months and months,” TMS president and general manager Eddie Gossage told CBS Dallas. “They’re going to get in them and go almost 220 miles an hour around this place, so at least they’re going to have some practice and some qualifying that day, but it’s going to be a wild one.”

There will be no fans in the stands with limited personnel at the speedway. Those allowed in will have to undergo a health screening and wear personal protective equipment.

TMS officials have studied NASCAR’s return-to-racing plan as a guide.

“Maybe tweak that plan a bit to make it a little bit more functional, a little better, a little safer if we can for everybody participating, but we’re ready,” said Gossage. “It’s less than a thousand people, so it’s easy. It’s a small enough number we can easily handle it to put on the competition.”

Part of the safety plan is a condensed schedule: practice, qualifying and the race all in one day.

“The biggest thing is like that short, short schedule at a track that’s really tough to sort the car out on,” Team Penske driver Will Power said. “People who roll off the truck good are certainly going to have an advantage.”

“You want to score big points right away to establish yourself as a big contender, so my goal is to go into Texas with a pretty aggressive approach,” added Simon Pagenaud, Power’s teammate.

Regardless of the challenge, drivers couldn’t be happier to be back.

“I’m just happy to go racing, quite frankly. I miss it. I miss the competition,” Pagenaud said. “It’s crazy to say, but I do miss seeing my competition’s faces. June 6th is going to be a liberation day for sure. It’s going to be awesome to just get it out of our system.”

The field will take the green flag at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday.

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