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May 01, 2013 - 01:19 PM
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Texas Motor Speedway Speed Reads For Week Of 4/29/13
Posted by: newsla on May 01, 2013 - 01:19 PM
IndyCar News
Texas Motor Speedway Speed Reads For Week Of 4/29/13


IZOD IndyCar Series driver Simona de Silvestro is reaping the benefits of having a teammate for the first time in her career. De Silvestro, who was without a teammate during her first three seasons with the single-entry HVM Racing organization, has partnered with new teammate Tony Kanaan and KV Racing Technology to form a talented combination that has resulted in one of the series' early-season surprises.

 

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De Silvestro is off to a promising start as she is tied for eighth with Team Penske's Will Power in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings behind some strong early-season efforts. Her resurgence is a stark contrast to where she sat just one year ago - 24th in the point standings - while driving for HVM Racing with the underpowered Lotus engine.

Already this season she has established a career-best qualifying effort in addition to her best finish since 2011. Both came in the season opener at St. Petersburg, where she started third and finished sixth. The sixth-place finish was her best outing since earning a career-best fourth in the same event two seasons ago. With new equipment and a long-overdue teammate with veteran experience, she is excited to make the most of her newfound opportunity.

"I'm happy to be here and really great to be out there and just racing," de Silvestro said. "I think when you are competitive, it makes it so much easier to get over the hurdles you sometimes have."

The partnership also has made Kanaan, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion who is in his third season driving the No. 11 for KV Racing Technology, further appreciates de Silvestro's skills he used to witness from afar.

"Even before she was my teammate I expressed how good of a race car driver I thought she was," Kanaan said. "Unfortunately I don't think she was in the proper configuration - car, team, manufacturer. I'm going to have a lot of work. We went testing at Barber (Motorsports Park) and I can tell how fast she is right away in the same equipment. It pushes me and makes me wake up in the morning and know that I have to step up my game every day."

Kanaan and de Silvestro head to Brazil for the Streets of Sao Paulo race this Sunday for the fourth race of the IZOD IndyCar Series season. Kanaan will be making his 200th consecutive start in his homeland and chasing his second top-five finish of the season after taking fourth at St. Pete. De Silvestro will be looking for her third top-10 finish in four starts and perhaps her first top-five effort of the season.

Following Sao Paulo, the series returns to the United States to begin preparations for the first oval race of the season with the crown jewel of open-wheel racing - the Indianapolis 500. The Indianapolis 500 kicks off a stretch of five oval races in a six-race span that includes a stop at Texas Motor Speedway for the Firestone 550 on Saturday, June 8. The race will be broadcast in primetime live on ABC-TV, beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Performances on ovals were a challenge for de Silvestro in 2012. In five oval races last season, she finished 24th or worse on four occasions, including last three of those times. The Lotus engine package was no challenge for competing manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda and it ultimately led to the demise of the manufacturer's involvement in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2013.

"It was really frustrating, especially on the ovals because there was such a big speed difference," de Silvestro said. "Here (Texas Motor Speedway) it was almost over 10 miles per hour. When you are out there and people are coming at you at such a different speed, it was actually pretty sketchy. I didn't enjoy it."

Now with the backing of 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series manufacturers' champion Chevrolet, she is hopeful of showcasing her full potential at ovals like Texas Motor Speedway.

"It was a really long season for us, but on the other side I could really focus on the car," de Silvestro said. "Me and my engineer we worked a lot on that side and improved that. Even on the ovals, I had no real pressure on results because we didn't have the speed. It was kind of learning the things I had to learn and try to do better. Being with the Chevy power now, it is hard to express how different it is to what I had last year."

Texas Truck Stop

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Joey Logano was among eight drivers representing three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams that participated in a two-day test that concluded Tuesday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain and Logano of Brad Keselowski Racingwere joined by Darrell Wallace Jr. and Joey Coulter of Kyle Busch Motorsportsas well as Timothy Peters, John Wes Townley and German Quiroga Jr. of Red Horse Racing for the test in preparation for the WinStar World Casino 400 on Friday, June 7, at Texas Motor Speedway.

Logano will not be racing in the upcoming WinStar World Casino 400 because of a scheduling conflict with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but confirmed that he will be racing the No. 19 Ford F-150 for Brad Keselowski Racing in November during the WinStar World Casino 350. Only racing a select number of NCWTS races this season, Logano understands that opportunities to practice and perform better are scarce.

"I ran the race in Kansas and felt like there were some areas we could make some big improvements and I felt like to make those improvements, I had to be here," Logano said. "I want to win a truck race so I felt like I had to come here to help guide the team in the right direction and what I feel like it's going to take to win one of these things."

For Peters, who is coming off the best season of his career finishing runner-up to Plano's James Buescher for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, the test session offered an opportunity to enhance his title hopes this season.

Peters has just two top-10 finishes in 10 career NCWTS starts at Texas, although he did break through with one (10th) this past November in the WinStar World Casino 350. He is looking for a boost after a slow start to the season, where he finds himself in 13th place and 52 points behind series leader Matt Crafton.

"We're here trying to get a little better on our 1.5-mile program," Peters said. "It seems like this track has eluded us of some good finishes so we want to conquer that when we come back in a month."

On the other hand, Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Ryan Blaney is coming off a third-place finish in Kansas, marking his third top-10 finish over his first four races this season. He is fourth in the series championship, 21 points behind Crafton.

"Our season has gone pretty solid, so far," Blaney said. "We struggled a little bit the first few races just trying to get adjusted to these Ford bodies and what they need to go fast. It took us a few races to get used to that, but I was really happy with our run at Kansas and finishing third up there."

Although a rookie in the Camping World Truck Series, Blaney has competed twice in NASCAR competition at Texas Motor Speedway. He partook in double duty during November's NASCAR tripleheader weekend, competing in the Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 350 and Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. He came away with mixed results as he finished 30th in NCWTS race due to a blown tire, but rebounded the next day with a strong runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick in the NNS race.

"Texas is one of the tracks I feel like, and a place the team feels like, we need to get better," Blaney said. "It's just such a cool race track. You can run from top to bottom and be fast anywhere. It's always a lot of fun as a driver when you can do that and pick and choose your line."

Tickets for the WinStar World Casino 400 are available by calling the ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
Riding For A Cause

Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage is in the midst of a the seven-day, 2,100 mile cross-country motorcycle trek as part of the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America presented by Manheim. Gossage and more than 175 riders will journey across five states that include Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Arizona.

The tour began last Saturday in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and will conclude Friday in Tempe, Ariz. The 19th annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America raises funds and awareness for the Victory Junction Camp, a year-round facility in Randleman, N.C., that was created to help enrich the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

Gossage has been a staunch supporter of the ride for his close friend Kyle Petty, missing just one ride in its 19-year existence. Others taking part this year include former Dallas Cowboys running back and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker and former NASCAR great Harry Gant.

More than 7,180 riders have logged 10.4 million cumulative motorcycle miles and donated nearly $15 million to Victory Junction and other children's charities since its inception.
Bringing In The Reinforcements

Texas Motor Speedway will begin work later this week on reinforcing the four crossover gates on the 1.5-mile oval. The speedway will add nine 5/8-inch steel cables with 7/8-inch steel turnbuckles across each crossover gate to further reinforce the current square tubing that is in place. The crossover gates, which are located on the frontstretch, will be operational for the June 6-8 Firestone 550 doubleheader featuring the IZOD IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Send Mom To The Races For Mother's Day

Tired of sending flowers on Mother's Day? How about sending her on a pace-car parade lap with some of the biggest names in the IZOD IndyCar Series? Beginning Monday, Texas Motor Speedway will kick off a Mother's Day promotion, where fans that purchase tickets for the Firestone 550 IZOD IndyCar Series race on Saturday, June 8, are eligible to send mom on a pre-race parade lap with either Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti or Graham Rahal.

The promotion will run through Mother's Day on Sunday, May 12, and season ticketholders as well as anyone who purchased tickets prior to the promotion also are eligible. Texas Motor Speedway will select six winners from the qualified entries and notify them on Mother's Day.

The media credential deadline for the Firestone 550/WinStar World Casino 400 weekend is Friday, May 24. To apply for credentials, visit www.smicredentials.com. Those not yet registered for the website will first need to apply for access through the site. Once a registration confirmation e-mail is received, the credential request can then be submitted. No credentials will be issued following the deadline. ... Fans can take advantage of the special frontstretch ticket special for the Firestone 550 IZOD IndyCar Series race on Saturday, June 8. The package includes four frontstretch tickets, four hot dogs, four Cokes and exclusive Firestone coupons for just $99.

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