By: Spencer Neff
April 29, 2021
This weekend, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday’s Genesys 300 and Sunday’s XPEL 375.
It will be the third doubleheader on an oval since the beginning of 2020.
For the latest installment of Rewind, IndyCar1909 will look back at the last doubleheader on the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, the 2011 Firestone Twin 275s.
Franchitti and Power’s Championship Battle continues
After a thrilling Indianapolis 500, IndyCar’s next two races, at Texas Motor Speedway, were even more anticipated.
In a stunning turn of events, Panther Racing rookie JR Hildebrand crashed in Turn 4 on the final lap, allowing Dan Wheldon to win in a one-off with Bryan Herta Autosport.
Thirteen days later, Hildebrand returned seeking redemption while Wheldon joined the Versus television broadcast.
Two days before the race, Hildebrand tore his ACL in a promotional event but was able to continue with a knee brace.
Despite engineer Allen McDonald rejoining Andretti Autosport, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Alex Tagliani won the pole for Race 1 on Saturday evening.
The starting grid for Race 2 would be determined by a random draw. The points for each race would be split in half.
Race 1 Recap
For the first time since 1981 (Atlanta Motor Speedway), IndyCar schedule a doubleheader at the same track. After starting second, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti took the lead on the first lap, leading 49 of the first 50 laps.
After the cycle of green flag pit stops, the three-time champion regained the top spot on Lap 54. Despite a crash involving Charlie Kimball and Wade Cunningham on Lap 94, the racing was tame during the opening event.
In the final 11 laps, Franchitti held on and beat out teammate Scott Dixon by .054 a second to win for the second time in 2011 and the 28th time in his career.
Franchitti cut his deficit in the standings to Will Power from 16 to seven. In the first 114-lap race, the Team Penske driver and points leader finished third.
Between the two races, all 30 drivers took turns drawing for a starting spot in Race 2.
On stage at the start-finish line, event sponsor and tire provider Firestone set up 30 tires numbered 1-30. KV Racing’s Tony Kanaan drew the pole position, with Power drawing third, as he looked to extend his points lead.
After a dominant victory in Race 1, Franchitti would start 28th in his attempt to sweep the evening.
Race 2 Recap
Kanaan took full advantage of the pole position and led the first 38 laps of the 114-lap event. By then, Power was able to usurp the lead from him as the Australian would remain in front for 60 of the next 66 laps.
As the race went on caution-free, fuel mileage became the name of the game. During the waning laps, 2008 Texas winner Scott Dixon and 2010 winner Ryan Briscoe also took their turn at the front.
With six laps to go, Power made his way back to the front and stayed there. In the end, he won the second 114-lap race by .981 of a second over Dixon, who started 18th.
The race’s 206.693 mph average speed was the second-fastest in series history and the first caution-free race at Texas.
Power’s teammates Briscoe and Helio Castroneves finished third and fourth. Kanaan stayed toward the front and rounded out the Top Five. After starting 28th in the 30-car field, Franchitti ended the evening in seventh.
It was the 12th win of Power’s career but the first of his on an oval.
Following the doubleheader, Power left Texas with a 21-point advantageover Franchitti. Unfortunately, the late-season collapse that saw Franchitti take the 2010 title repeated itself in 2011.
Franchitti clinched the title with an 18-point advantage following a runner-up finish at Kentucky. The final round of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was called off following a Lap 10 crash that claimed the life of Wheldon.
After some concerns over the “pack” nature of racing on super speedways like Texas in the wake of Wheldon’s passing, IndyCar returned to Texas in 2012.
This time, the race returned to its single race, 228-lap format that had been used from 2007 to 2010.
This weekend’s doubleheader at TMS will be the first on a super speedway (track greater than 1.3-miles in distance) since the 2011 running.