Indy 500 champ Alexander Rossi makes pit stop in DFW
Temperatures are expected to be in the triple-digits next weekend. That may scare a few fans from heading out to Texas Motor Speedway for its annual summer IndyCar race weekend.
But TMS president Eddie Gossage certainly hopes it doesn’t with the races taking place at night. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rattlesnake 400 will start at 8 p.m. Friday, and the Verizon IndyCar Series DXC Technology 600 gets underway at 7:45 p.m. Saturday.
Before and after the IndyCar race on Saturday will feature the Stadium SUPER Trucks Off-Road Rumble. Plus, every fan attending the race Saturday has access to the “Off-road Ruckus” in the south infield between noon and 8 p.m.
Here’s what else fans should look for going into the race weekend –
1. Rising star. Arguably the most recognizable driver in IndyCar for years, Helio Castroneves, is no longer a full-time participant. The series seems to lack star power.
Or does it?
Gossage named one specific driver who is worth the price of admission – Alexander Rossi. The 26-year-old from California won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2016, and is coming off an impressive fourth-place run at this year’s Indy 500.
"He was just the star of this year’s Indy 500 to me," Gossage said. "He’s doing things that nobody else seems to be able to do. You’d watch him make passes on the outside and, man, it was really good stuff."
Rossi has proven that Indy 500 win wasn’t a fluke, too. He won a race last season, and earned his first of 2018 at Long Beach in April. Rossi has finished in the top-five in five of the six races to date.
2. Mr. Namesake. The Andretti name is synonymous with racing greatness. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest to live up to.
Marco Andretti finds himself in a dubious drought. He has the longest winless streak in the series at 113 races. The last time he visited Victory Lane? June 25, 2011 at Iowa Speedway.
Maybe Texas will be where he gets back on track. He has finished sixth or better in six of his last 10 starts at Texas, including sixth last year.
3. Cool cars. There’s something about open-wheel racing that is appealing to the eye, especially under the lights. And IndyCar enhanced its cars this season.
The cars now feature digital screens on the side that shows anything from race position, speed, time of a pit stop, the flag of the driver’s home country or even an emoji or two.
Oh, and the Stadium SUPER Trucks are must-see. The drivers will ride on two wheels at times and aren’t scared to bump into another competitor.
4. Truck watch. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series runs on Friday night, and a name to watch is Joe Nemechek. The 54-year-old is driving once again and has had success at Texas with three top-10 finishes in four truck starts.
Nemechek has more familiarity with the track, too. He was in the field for TMS’ inaugural Cup race, the 1997 Interstate Batteries 500, and won an Xfinity Series race in 2003.
In all, Nemecheck has started 46 races at Texas across NASCAR’s three national series.
5. The Bachelor. Arie Luyendyk Jr. might not have become the most endearing leading man on a TV series when he appeared in the latest season of "The Bachelor."
But he appears to have finally found love and is now returning to his "day job" as a racer in the Stadium Super Trucks Series. He’ll be among the drivers in the event this weekend at TMS.
Maybe he’ll have similar luck as his father, Arie Luyendyk, Sr., who won the track’s inaugural IndyCar race in – you guessed it – controversial fashion.