Scott Dixon is keen to see more oval races on the IndyCar calendar, and says the series’ efforts to improve racing on the Texas Motor Speedway have paid off.
Dixon has raced there 24 times since 2003, and has a record five wins in what now runs as a 248-lap (574.73 kilometres) race. Speaking to media including RaceFans ahead of this weekend’s race the six-times IndyCar champion said he wants it to remain on the calendar even if the grandstands are not as full as they used to be pm race day – a problem several oval races suffer.
“I think people view or watch the races a little bit different these days,” said Dixon. “We all get a pretty quick reminder from when we see older races in the 2000s of that place being pretty packed. I think it’s not just tough for us, but obviously for NASCAR Cup Series that races there as well.
“I’d love to see more ovals on the [calendar], whether it was a Richmond or a Kentucky or some of the circuits that provided fantastic racing for us throughout the years. I would like to think this would be our minimum of oval races, for sure.”
The quality of racing at Texas Motor Speedway has varied dramatically in recent years. Once notorious for its ‘pack racing’, which several drivers described as dangerous, some recent events have been more processional.
The Texas round used to be a night race, but now runs in the day. That is one of several factors which have affected the popularity of the race and the quality of racing at it.
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Following Dixon’s domination of race one of IndyCar’s Texas double-header in 2021, IndyCar decided changes needed to be made to provide a better racing spectacle for the next year.
Teams were allowed to run barge boards in 2022, with the purpose of adding downforce to the cars to make them more stable. That led to race that had 12 leaders, was decided by a last-lap pass and was widely regarded by drivers and fans to be more enjoyable.
Additional changes are planned for this year which Dixon hopes will further improve the quality of racing. “I think this year the IndyCar series has done a good job of bringing some updated aerodynamic pieces, which I think will definitely tighten the pack and allow for some side-by-side racing with the addition of a full field high line practice,” he said.
Being able to use the high line on the banking of the track makes it easier for drivers to race side-by-side. But that has proven difficult in recent years due to PJ1, a synthetic resin applied to the circuit surface to improve traction for the NASCAR races held at the track.
Once drivers in IndyCar drifted off the lower racing line, away from the rubber laid down during practice and qualifying sessions, they encountered a sharp deterioration of grip higher on the banking where they were running on the remnants of the PJ1.
As was the case last year, the weekend schedule will include a practice session dedicated entirely to running on the high line. It will not only provide drivers with more confidence in running there and using it to make passes, but means there will be an understanding before the race of what the grip level of it will be and whether there is any PJ1 left on the track there from past applications.
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Those changes plus an earlier start time for the race should improve the action, said Dixon. “I think the combination of the additional aero, I actually haven’t looked at the weather, but I imagine this time of year it’s going to be pretty cold too, which will help. And it’s an early race. We’re 11am local.”
Combining those factors with the fact no new PJ1 has been put down since last year means Dixon expects “The second lane [will be] a little more usable, which will definitely tighten up the pack. And then ultimately, I think, make it a lot more racey for everybody. For the drivers, you just hope it doesn’t become a pack race, but I don’t think it’s going to be that extreme.”
Having 28 cars on track should help increase grip on the track and provide more racing opportunities further down the field. But it does mean lapped traffic could influence how effective IndyCar’s changes to improve the action at Texas are.
“I think this one this year will definitely provide some fantastic racing and especially with such a big field,” Dixon predicted.
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4 comments on “Dixon wants more oval races on IndyCar calendar”
some racing fan
31st March 2023, 20:04
IndyCar should be at places like Homestead-Miami, Charlotte, Phoenix, Richmond and the Pikes Peak oval, and maybe even a trip to Motegi. They should also replace the Nashville street circuit with the Nashville oval, and maybe even have a race on the Daytona road course?
31st March 2023, 22:41
I think IndyCar needs to return to Homestead-Miami
1st April 2023, 1:43
There is a lot wrong with Indy, and lack of oval racing isn’t anywhere near the top of the list.
It’s not a great brand. In some ways it feels like it’s trying to be Nascar for people that prefer Nascar, and F1 to people who look down on ovals and dirty dusty tracks.
They need to figure it out quickly because F1 is encroaching on their market very quickly.
I find Indy amateurish in appearance. I think there is great talent there, but most of the tracks are an embarrassment in condition. The show looks poor and washed out. Other than Indy, the rest looks like low level Karting racing in Europe. The racing is actually quite good in Indy, but there is no glamour. No superstars. Like all American motorsports they have too many low quality sponsors, too much branding everywhere. They do Indy 500 very well though. If they can sort of replicate that elsewhere, it would have its own identify
1st April 2023, 16:25
Indycar needs to get back to Milwaukee where so many great races have been held… its also a track so many drivers love to run on…. Penske Entertainment ….. lets get a response!
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