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Double-header races "cool" - but need changes

13 June 2011

The innovative double-header format trialled at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night - the first time the series has tried it in thirty years - has been broadly welcomed as a success by everyone concerned, except for the method of setting the race 2 starting order by blind draw.

"It was a fun race and great day," said Will Power, who was third in race 1 and claimed the win in the second race. "It was a good battle with Kanaan at the start and then Dixon came on strong. This is what we need for the championship."

"It was an exciting night, the new two-race format ended up working well for us," agreed Ryan Briscoe, who finished sixth in race 1 and third in race 2. "We just missed out on a Team Penske 1-2-3, but I think that we can feel very pleased with our result."

Charlie Kimball benefited from the way that cars who retired in race 1 were able to be fixed during the intermission and restart in race 2. "[The team] worked so fast to get the car turned over and not only that but it was a rocket ship, it was fast. It was unfortunate what happened in the first race [when he got loose and collected Wade Cunningham into the wall] but I learned from it and it showed in the second race. It was a long, hot night and we'll be in better shape when we come back."

"The two-race format is cool," agreed Indy 500 runner-up JR Hildebrand, who recorded a disappointing 23rd and 18th for the two races. "It gives you the chance to re-group, change more than just front wing and tire pressures and give it a shot again. I'd be all about doing it again. People complain a lot these days about race length, so I think doing something like this makes it that much more exciting."

Vitor Meira (eighth and 11th) agreed that the twin format was "surprisingly pretty cool," while Helio Castroneves said that "It was great!"

"I thought it was really good," added Helio, who finished 10th and 4th. "Certainly whoever has the fastest car goes to the front no matter what. And I do believe the fans enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it, but when the car's good you enjoy anything!"

"The two race format made things interesting today and hopefully good for the fans," said Marco Andretti (13th and sixth place respectively). "For me the difference between the first and second race was being able to use the third lane in the second race."

"Kind of cool!" said Scott Dixon about the evening's format, which saw him come second in both of the two races. "I think everybody put on a fantastic show. There was a lot of passing. Everybody kept it the right way out.

"Brings you back to the days when you would race go-karts and you'd have possibly five races in the one day or four. It's kind of fun to know you had a good first race. Even if you had a bad one, at least you had a chance to go back out and put on the show for the fans, just go out there and try to prove a point.

"I think it's a good concept. I think it could be tweaked a little. It's a little gimmicky for a championship points race, which I think that's what concerns a lot of people. It would be disappointing if the second race tonight determines maybe the difference in the championship points at the end, which would be frustrating."

Unsurprisingly, despite winning the first race of the evening, Dario Franchitti was unhappy with the way his second race had been completely compromised by the blind draw for grid positions held at the intermission, which meant he was handed his worst-ever starting grid position in his US open wheel racing career - 28th.

"The first thing is we should never have been in that position to start with. To have a championship in the IndyCar Series, drawing the grid out of a hat is a joke. Through no fault of our own, we started 25 places behind Will," he said. "Great pit stops. I drove as hard as I could all night. We made up 21 places [to finish seventh] and then, through no fault of our own, lost a load of championship points.

"There's enough variables out there. We don't need to be throwing dice to be deciding grid positions. That made me mad. I'm sitting there, okay, I won the first race, but at the same point my emotion right now has been pissed off about the hand we were dealt tonight."

Franchitti said it would be better if IndyCar simply reversed the finishing order of race 1 to form the starting grid for race 2. "I would have been fine with that, because we all would have been in the same boat. Actually, the fans would have gotten a better show. Will, myself, Dixie, all those guys trying to get out to the front takes out the complete element of chance, which we don't need."

Despite benefiting from drawing third place for race 2 and going on to claim the race win, Will Power was in complete accord with his main rival for the title.

"I agree totally. I thought coming into this race, you know, you don't control your own destiny basically. It's just a draw. It was going to be very unfair for someone. It happened to be Dario. In a tightly fought championship, you just can't have that. If it comes down to five points at the end of the year, Dario will look back at this race and say, If I started where I should have, I would have had those five points."

The lack of any yellows in the second race - after just one in the first - also didn't help Franchitti's attempt to fight his way back through the field, but he said that relying on a caution hadn't part of Ganassi's strategy anyway.

"I was going as quickly as I could. I just had to pick 'em off when I could. When the guys are two wide in front of you going five miles an hour slower than I could go, Will was marching off in the distance, there was nothing I could about it," said Dario. "A yellow would have been good. But I wasn't counting on anything. I was just trying to make up any place I could whenever I could."

Dixon suggested that maybe there should be points for each position gained during the race: "That would have been good for you," Will pointed out to Dario, who liked the sound of it

"Not bad for a Kiwi, huh?" he quipped in Dixon's direction.

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