IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard and Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage announced last August that almost 30 years after Rick Mears won both races at Atlanta Motor Speedway that the IZOD IndyCar Series would revisit the twin-race format. The Firestone Twin 275s on Saturday, June 11 – consisting of two full-field races on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval – has been sparking extra interest in a race weekend that always ranks among the highest attended of the IndyCar season.
"IndyCar Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have never disappointed, and with a record 30 cars on the track the excitement of the Firestone Twin 275s will reach a whole new level," Gossage said. "Texas Motor Speedway hosting the first twin races in IndyCar Series history makes it big and this only enhances the significance."
Four of the 21 IZOD IndyCar Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have featured 28-car fields. Fourteen of those 21 races have had a margin of victory of less than one second, and seven have been decided by less than one-tenth of a second.
“I always find new rules interesting and ways to keep the sport in evolution,” said Newman/Haas Racing's Oriol Servia. “I think having double-file restarts already brings the excitement of the start of the race, but having two finishes may bring the heat of the final laps twice. We could have the fans not using their seats much and being on their feet for most of the evening!”
There were 17 doubleheaders (nine on ovals) under USAC and CART sanction from 1967-' 81, with a driver sweeping both races 10 times. The grid for the second race was determined by finishing order in the first contest in all 17 events.
Here are answers to common questions about the format:
Q. How will the starting grids be set?
Traditional oval qualifying (combined time of two green flag laps) will be employed for the first race, and the starting positions for the second race will be determined by a blind draw conducted approximately 15 minutes after the checkered flag for Race 1.
Each driver will draw his or her starting position for Race 2 on the front stretch stage (punching through the paper center of one of 30 Firestone Firehawk tires to select their number). The draw will be conducted in reverse order of finish.
Q. How are championship and bonus points/prizes awarded?
Each race winner will receive 25 points through 5 points for the 25th-place and subsequent finishers (all half points). The driver leading the most laps in each race will earn the two bonus points, but the driver starting on the pole in Race 2 won't receive the one point that the first race pole winner receives through PEAK Performance Pole qualifying.
Half bonus money – $17,500 for first place through $5,000 for fifth – also will be allocated for each race.
Q. Will teams have to switch pit locations between races?
Entrants will utilize the same pit locations, based upon qualifications results for the Indianapolis 500, for both races. The No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car, driven by Alex Tagliani for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, will occupy the first pit stall (closest to pit out).
Q. Can crews work on their cars between races?
At the conclusion of Race 1, all cars other than the race winner's proceed to their pit boxes and are held until the winner's car returns to its pit box from Victory Circle. Teams will be given a signal that they can work on their cars until the "all drivers to your cars" command is given about 5 minutes to roll out.
Q. What about technical inspection?
All cars will go through technical inspection for Race 1 in starting grid order. After a car has successfully completed inspection, it will be escorted to the fuel depot for filling and then will be placed in impound until "push out" (about 35 minutes to green flag). Only changes permitted on the grid are front wing adjustment, changing of tires, tire pressure adjustments, and plugging in the probe after final warm-up.
All cars will go through technical inspection following Race 2.
Q. Will teams have access to extra engines?
Honda Performance Development will make available one spare engine per team, which can be installed in a backup car and fired up for leak checks for potential use in Race 2.
If an engine is installed in a backup car, it will go through technical inspection on race day. After a backup car has successfully completed technical inspection, it will be placed in impound.
Backup cars are not included on the entry for the Texas event, so an entry change form is required to be submitted to IndyCar for Race 2. The sanctioning body in its discretion may permit an entry to remain in its starting grid position through the blind draw for Race 2 (not assign it to the rear of the field) though it will use a backup car because of crash or other circumstance in Race 1.
If a driver change for Race 2 is necessary for any reason, that car will start at the rear of the field.
Q. How much track time do drivers get?
Track activity gets underway with a 75-minute session at 12:30 p.m. (local time) that leads into PEAK Performance Pole qualifying at 3:45 p.m. A 30-minute practice begins at 6:45 p.m. There is not a race day warm-up session.
Q. What's the fuel limit and the overtake assist numbers?
Each entry will have 125 gallons of ethanol for both 171-mile (114-lap) races. Drivers will have 20 uses of the Honda overtake assist at their disposal – each of 12-second duration and a 10-second recharge period. One overtake assist will be available for the final practice session (6:45-7:15 p.m., June 10).