24 cars for season opener

The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will finally get underway this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

The season was scheduled to start in March, and all the teams had made it to St. Petersburg, Florida, but that was right on the week where the COVID-19 situation exploded, so everybody ended up packing their trucks and went home.

24 cars are entered for the race at the Texas oval. There could have been 25, but Carlin decided to pull their car #31. The car didn’t have any full season driver for the 2020 season, and they didn’t manage to find a driver with budget and knowledge of driving ovals. There are three rookies this year, and they have already tested at Texas earlier in the year, and it would simply be too risky to put an inexperienced driver onto the oval this weekend.

Texas Motor Speedway is a 1,5 Miles oval, with very high speed combined with the banking. The CART series had to cancel their race at the venue 19 years, with the drivers getting dizzy and confuse due to the centrifugal forces. The speeds was however quite a bit higher back then, with a lap average of 233 mph. The problem isn’t present in the current cars, with last year’s qualifying being run at “just” 220 mph by Josef Newgarden.

Texas Motor Speedway 2019
Photo: Indycar.com / Chris Owens

The time table is quite a bit different this weekend. Everything will be run in just a single day, with 2 hours practice Saturday afternoon, followed by Qualifying from 16.00-17.00 local time. The race start is just two hours later, with an expected running time of approximately two hours.

The race distance is a bit shorter this year, with 248 laps last year, and “just” 200 laps this year, resulting in 300 Miles race, with the official title of the even being Genesys 300.

Firestone has chosen to put a 35 lap maximum on each set of tires. This is with the forces on the tires in mind, combined with it being the opening round, so neither drivers or teams might be 100% on top of the car setup. There is a very significant change compared to 2019 – the Aeroscreen. That is the wind shield that is mandatory on all cars now. That results in a complete change of the setups of the cars, resulting in different tire wear. The teams don’t have any opportunity to run under the night conditions prior the race either, whereas the 2019 event had a Friday evening practice session for teams to dial in the cars. So there is very limited knowledge of how the tires behave under night conditions. Firestone wants to avoid any kind of tire explosions, since that is one of the worst things to happen on an oval at those speeds.

To get more information about the Aeroscreen, please read our season preview, which can be found here.

The race will be run on the night between Saturday and Sunday European time, with the green flag being waved at 02.05 CET.

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