Texas Motor Speedway has been a loyal partner with INDYCAR since the Verizon IndyCar Series competed on the high-banked oval the first year it opened, in 1997.
It’s that shared sense of collaboration that inspired both parties to find the most suitable way to complete the Firestone 600 that was suspended by rain Sunday after 71 of its scheduled 248 laps. The race will be completed in a one-day show Aug. 27 that will include a practice, driver autograph session and evening racing.
The original schedule called for the race to take place Saturday night, but heavy rain during the day saturated the track and the race was postponed until Sunday. Holmatro Safety Team and track staff worked diligently to dry the track and contain water seeping through the surface, with the race starting at 2:48 p.m. ET Sunday. About an hour later, however, precipitation began falling from the sky once more and the race was red-flagged after 71 laps.
Consideration was given to finishing the race Monday, but with an iffy forecast and the desire for as many fans as possible to see the race, the joint decision was made by INDYCAR and TMS to reschedule it 11 weeks from now. Tickets from the June weekend will be honored in August.
“Our intention is to complete all of our events,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, “which obviously coming back in August, we'll have a much better shot to do that.”
It means that the Firestone 600, which was scheduled to be the ninth of 16 races on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, becomes the 14th race when it is completed and may have a more dramatic bearing on the championship chase.
That’s just fine with track president Eddie Gossage, who joined Frye for a news conference Sunday to announce the race suspension and completion date. Gossage agreed that waiting until August to resume the race was the right call.
“I thought it was a great idea to give the fans their money's worth, trying to think what else were the considerations,” Gossage said. “It was pretty much unanimous from the teams, that they'd like to complete the race.”
James Hinchcliffe of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was leading Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport when the red flag came out. Sixteen of the 22 entered cars were on the lead lap.
“It sure looked like we were having a great race up until the red flag,” Gossage said. “I think they got the cars trimmed out from what I've seen so far, something we talked a lot about. We were hopefully going to have us a real sizzler right down to the finish. That's what we want.”
Come Aug. 27, that’s what they’ll get.