VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600
SMALL BALL: Much has been made in recent years about competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series. On one hand, you have the large teams of Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport and on the other is everyone else. In the first five races of this season, there have been five different winners with three coming from the larger teams and two from the smaller ones.
While “parity” may have set in on the VICS paddock, a look at recent winners at Texas Motor Speedway in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 shows even a wider diversity in the winners of the race.
After a streak of seven races won by either Penske or Ganassi drivers at TMS from 2006-11, three of the last five race winners have been from the “smaller” teams. Those winners have consisted of Graham Rahal (above) of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing last year, Ed Carpenter of Ed Carpenter Racing in 2014 and Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing in ’12.
Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves won in 2013 and Ganassi’s Scott Dixon was the winner of the 2015 race.
REPEAT AFTER ME: The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 will be the 29th Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Graham Rahal is the defending champion of the race and if he were to win this year it would mark the first time a driver has won consecutive INDYCAR races at the venue. Scott Sharp won the first of two INDYCAR races at TMS in 2000 and 2001, but did not win the second race of 2000.
POWER UP: Team Penske’s Will Power did not get off to the best of starts in 2017. In the first three races, he had issues in the pits at St. Petersburg (Fla.), a first-lap crash at Long Beach (Calif.), and a punctured tire at Barber Motorsports Park (Birmingham, Ala.) left him with a top finish of 13th through the first three events. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, however, righted the ship at Phoenix as he finished second and then followed with a win this past weekend at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He is now fifth in the points race.
Has 2017 turned into a repeat of his season four years ago when he also had a slow start only to work his way back up the standings and finish fourth? It might be. Texas Motor Speedway is a place where Power might continue his climb in the standings. Although he has won only once at Texas (the second of the Twin races held in 2011), he owns the top starting average of any series driver at 3.55 over nine races. He also won the pole three consecutive seasons from 2013-15. His three poles tie for the most in track history for a VICS driver with Tomas Scheckter.
SCHEDULE CHANGE: Instead of the usual practices teams have before race day, they will have one session Friday before qualifying later that afternoon. INDYCAR had a day of on-track testing at Texas Motor Speedway in April to run on the new surface and re-profiling of the layout, so teams should be somewhat familiar with new pavement and reduced banking in Turns 1 and 2. This schedule change will put pressure on every team to have their setups where they want them by the time practice ends because there will be little time for tinkering before qualifying.
“With one practice, we have to make sure we’re on our game when we show up,” said Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal, who is the defending champion of the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.
HEAD GAMES WITH RAHAL: The Texas Motor Speedway driver bobblehead series returns for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600. Defending race champion Graham Rahal is the featured driver for this giveaway, compliments of State Water Heaters, to the first 20,000 fans to come through the gates on Saturday, June 10.
The series began at last November’s NASCAR race week with a Tony Stewart bobblehead and continued this past April with Danica Patrick. The 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick will be featured for this November’s AAA Texas 500 race weekend.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES RATTLESNAKE 400
JOHNNY ON THE SPOT: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Johnny Sauter could be the “old man” in what is becoming a young man’s sport. The 39-year old defending series champion isn’t letting up as he is back atop the point standings this season. He also has been successful at Texas Motor Speedway as he prepares for the Rattlesnake 400 on Friday, June 9, with three career wins, including one this past November. His other wins came by sweeping both races in 2012. He also is tied for second with Matt Crafton for the most poles in series races at TMS with three, including in last year’s Rattlesnake 400. One more and he would move into sole possession of second place on the all-time list at TMS and find himself just one behind the leader, Mike Skinner, who had five from 2004-07.
YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has long served as the breeding ground for some of the sport’s biggest superstars. There are usually a good amount of teenagers at the top of the driver standings, but that’s not the case this season. Thirty-nine-year-old Johnny Sauter sits atop the driver standings after three races and there is only one teenager in the top 10 of the standings with Kaz Grala, who won the opening race at Daytona, in sixth. The average age of the other nine drivers in the top 10 is 28 years old. Five of the current top 10 are at least 32 years old.
VETERAN LEADERSHIP: A look back to past winners of the Rattlesnake 400 shows a long list of veterans who have won in the last 10 years. From 2006-11, the average age of the winner was 46.5 years old. Three of the last five winners have been in their 30s. Last year, this streak came to a crashing halt as William Byron, then 18 years old, won the race. He became the youngest truck series winner at TMS and the second-youngest overall, a record held by Chase Elliott in the NASCAR XFINITY Series when he won at Texas in 2014.
CRAFTY CAREER: Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton (left) is scheduled to make his 33rd career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the Rattlesnake 400, the most by any driver in any series in Texas Motor Speedway history. By comparison, Jeff Gordon holds the record for most starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 30, Mike Bliss has 21 in the XFINITY Series and Helio Castroneves leads the Verizon IndyCar Series with 19.
AROUND THE TRACK
RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600 MEDIA CREDENTIAL DEADLINE: The credential deadline for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 INDYCAR/NASCAR weekend is FRIDAY, MAY 26. Credentials can be requested through 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. Requests following the deadline will not be accepted.
SAVE THE DATE(S): Texas Motor Speedway will have a number of media opportunities with drivers over the next few weeks.
The annual Texas Motor Speedway Speeding to Read championship assembly will take place at the track Tuesday, May 23, Verizon IndyCar Series driver Tony Kaanan, a former Indy 500 winner and series champion, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek will help celebrate the accomplishments of more than 5,000 students from 10 elementary schools located throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
Following the assembly that will be held in the frontstretch grandstands, the drivers will be available in the TMS Media Center at approximately 11:45 a.m. CT.
Texas Motor Speedway’s annual event with the Indianapolis 500 winner is scheduled to take place Wednesday, May 31. More details to follow as the event draws closer.
SEALING GOOD: Rainguard Water Sealers signed a three-year agreement with Texas Motor Speedway to become the entitlement sponsor of the annual Verizon IndyCar Series race held at the facility. The agreement is the first entitlement sponsorship of any kind for the company that is based in Newport Beach, Calif.
Rainguard was founded in 1969 as a manufacturer of architectural grade coatings used in the construction industry. In 2010, the company developed a full line of specialty sealer products for the home improvement marketplace. The company specializes in premium sealers, interior and exterior sealers, water protection and exterior stains.
The entitlement of the race was appealing to Rainguard due to the top-five metropolitan market size of DFW and the growth of INDYCAR in recent years. Verizon IndyCar Series race telecasts have increased 55 percent in viewership since 2013; social media conversation of the sport has increased 126 percent in that same timeframe; and more than 57 million Americans identify themselves as INDYCAR fans, according to the sanctioning body. Also, more than a dozen new sponsors came aboard to INDYCAR in 2016 alone.
“I’ve always believed that Indy racing is a great way to move a company’s brand to the next level. That coupled with the incredible venue at Texas Motor Speedway, made the decision easy,” Rainguard International President Claude Florent said. “We are committed to solidifying Rainguard as a respected national brand of home-improvement sealers, and creating effective and safe solutions for every homeowner throughout the nation. There is no better way than partnering with Indy and Texas Motor Speedway.”
POPULAR BLOG RETURNS FOR JUNE WEEKEND: Veteran motorsports writer John Sturbin once again will be providing comprehensive coverage of the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 weekend with stories and a live blog on texasmotorspeedway.com. His content will now also be available on the TMS App under the tab of “What’s Trending.” Sturbin’s coverage of race weekend will begin on Friday, June 9. The free TMS app is available for iPhone and Android phones via the Apple Store and Google Play Store. The app provides exclusive content and promotions, tools to navigate the speedway on race weekend and more.