Saturday, May 1, 2021

Three Things: Saturday at Texas

Just under three hours to go until the NTT IndyCar Series gets it on under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. Here are three things I'm thinking about between now and then.

The Weather. It looks to be a pretty dreary day in the Metroplex, and rain has already affected the day's activities as qualifying was cancelled and the field set by owner points. That will lead to an interesting field heading to the green flag (more on that in a sec), and people who know what they are talking about when it comes to the weather are taking a cautious approach to whether or not we can get a full race in tonight. Will that change some strategies? Whatever happens, I think they are going to try and get the race in tonight because with the Month of May on the horizon, teams will want to be on their way home tomorrow night rather than stick around until Monday. And, those of us who remember the Iowa race in 2019 (and those like me who were there), the precedent has been set to run the race as late as possible.

Setting the Field. Thanks to Nathan Brown from the Indy Star for this list, but here's how they will be lining up tonight, and I think tomorrow as well.

1. Palou 2. Power 3. Dixon 4. Herta 5. Simon 6. Harvey 7. Bourdais 8. Veekay 9. Marcus 10. Josef 11. O'Ward 12. Sato 13. Rahal 14. Fittipaldi 15. McLaughlin 16. Rossi 17. Carpenter 18. Rosenqvist 19. Jones 20. Hinchcliffe 21. Hunter-Reay 22. Kellett 23. Kanaan 24. Daly

There is a lot of aggressive drivers in the middle to the back of the field, so that's where a lot of the action will be early. Kanaan led the way in practice, with Sato and O'Ward second and third, so keep an eye out for them. Daly always runs well at Texas, and Carlin has been giving him fast cars the last two years, so I expect a Top 10 from him tonight.

(Edit: Another wrinkle is that tomorrow's race will be set by entrant points after tonight's race. So a good finish tonight leads to a better start Sunday.)

Predictions. Between the weather and the starting field, tonight's race could be a crapshoot. But I'm going to pick Simon Pagenaud for the win. He has five Top 5 finishes at TMS and finished second here a year ago. I'm going with Dixon as the runner-up, because that's pretty much all he does, with O'Ward battling his way to the last step on the podium.

Have a great race!

Photo credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media

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