LIVE BLOG: 2014 Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on June 8, 2014 11:00 am
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Welcome to More Front Wing’s live blog from the 2014 Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway! MFW Contributor John Lingle is at the track tapping out updates all weekend long. Updates are posted with the most recent at the top, so if this is your first visit to the live blog please go to the last page and work your way forward. For Verizon IndyCar Series time sheets and race info, visit the Firestone 600 Event Summary.

SATURDAY

12:38 PM CT Sunday (John) – Back here one last time for a much more thorough wrap-up of the Firestone 600 weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. First, here are some links to More Front Wing’s other coverage closing out the weekend:

Carpenter claims victory in Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway (IndyCar’s press release with quotes from much of the field)

MFW’s First Impressions of the 2014 Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway

Event Summary: 2014 Firestone 600 (race results, post-race reports, and current point standings)

This weekend the Verizon IndyCar Series rolled into my home state for the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, and we unfortunately rolled out some trademark Texas heat to greet the drivers and teams. Temperaures in the low 90s and high humidity were unfortunately the norm for the weekend.

Friday saw the Target Chip Ganassi Racing teams showing good speed in both practices, but ultimately they were trumped by Will Power’s Verizon Team Penske machine in qualifying.

The day’s three sessions (two practices and qualifying) saw the drivers emerge cautiously optimistic about the new downforce and tire rules that added up to 300 pounds of downforce to their Dallara chassis. While much happier with the setup than last year’s rule set, the drivers all seemed somewhat hesitant to proclaim it a “good” formula for the event.

The race start was an exciting one, with Marco Andretti picking up eight spots in the first three laps before a blown engine ended his event. It was a foreshadowing of a rough event for Andretti Autosport as James Hinchcliffe suffered from handling problems all night while Ryan Hunter-Reay saw his own race end early with another Honda engine failure.

Will Power got a pit road speeding penalty with 33 laps to go after being the dominant car the entire evening, handing the race victory to Ed Carpenter. A late-race caution made it very interesting, though, as Power used tire strategy to jump from 6th to 2nd in two laps to make Ed sweat. For what’s it worth, all of the podium finishers said after the race that IndyCar had nailed the downforce perfectly, with Scott Dixon also concurring among those I heard from.

After the race, those in the media center were treated to the strangest press conference that I have ever seen or witnessed. Will Power entered first and look ticked off when he first sat down. He was mad at himself, mostly, it seemed, for the pit road speeding penalty that saw him garner his fourth drive-through penalty in five races. Juan Pablo Montoya then entered, traded an awkward hello with Will, and then started complaining about the final restart. What happened over the next three to four minutes really took the cake as the two drivers went from loggerheads to a hug at the podium, with Will even joking that he and JPM might start a morning TV show.

That left race winner Ed Carpenter with an impossible act to follow, but he came really close when asked about Juan’s complaints about Ed’s restarts.

“He finished third, didn’t he? Yep, didn’t matter,” was Ed’s response, drawing laughter from the assembly. He added that Juan would probably want to talk to him about it later and that he (Ed) would be more than happy to oblige.

Great racing (in my opinion) aside, I was struck by the difference in scheduling from Friday to Saturday. Friday saw a packed list of events featuring IndyCar and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practices and qualifying as well as the Truck Series race that night, and fans at the event on Friday were treated to almost constant action from 10 AM until well after sunset and the end of the Truck race.

Saturday, however, saw the exact opposite. I rolled into the media center at around 1 PM, but there was zero activity at the track! IndyCar teams had a systems check at 4 PM, but other than that there was nothing for fans to do other than cruise the garage area or the midway. I hope that for events like this in the future the Verizon IndyCar Series and the promoter will try to provide fans with more content for their race ticket prices. If I was looking for something to do in the media center, I can only imagine how the fans braving the heat felt.

On a personal note, I finally got to meet Mario Andretti in person, having interviewed him for my Lloyd Ruby biography, Hard Luck Lloyd. I am always struck by how at ease Mario is with his place in racing royalty. Always approachable, always smiling, Mario is a true treasure, and IndyCar is lucky to have him as an ambassador.

I will be in Houston from June 27 to 29 covering the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston for More Front Wing, and I have a very heartwarming piece coming up that will run in the days leading up to the event. I have to keep that subject under wraps for now, but we will advertise it through More Front Wing’s channels and on my Twitter account (@jdlingle) when it comes out.

Thanks very much for following along this weekend. See you in Houston!

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10:50 PM CT (John) – Well, another Verizon IndyCar series event has come and gone. I thought that the racing was really good, and I’ll be curious to see what everyone else thought. Of course, I liked last year’s event as well because I really like seeing drivers struggle for car control.

It’s late on the East coast, so look for our First Impressions, updated Event Summary, and my personal thoughts on the weekend to post tomorrow morning.

Thanks for tuning in. See you guys in Houston when I return to this space. There should be a lot more on track activity there so I expect to have a lot more entries.

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6:15 PM CT (John) – The garage is alive and humming now. Hard to get a gauge on the fan turnout just yet, but the garage was hard to navigate if that means anything. Cars are being ran for those last minute checks and the drivers are in the haulers preparing for the event.

The green flag should drop here in about an hour and fifteen minutes, so strap in for some good IndyCar oval action here from TMS.

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NEXT PAGE: More live coverage from the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway

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