Whincup dominates opening races In Texas (Update) UPDATE Before the event, no one was quite sure how it would be received. The Supercars are popular in Australia, where they can draw as many as 250,000 fans on the biggest weekends.
Here, however, they have only a niche audience on Speed TV. Before the race, circuit officials said only that attendance would be somewhere between the 26,648 for the two-day Grand-Am event in March and the 131,082 for the three-day MotoGP race last month. There’s quite a big gap between those numbers.
Circuit officials did not provide attendance figures Friday or Saturday but said they would release the three-day attendance totals Sunday, as they have done for some other races.
The crowd Saturday was certainly larger than the one for the Grand-Am sports car series, and fans seemed to enjoy the easy access to the drivers and the pit area, something that requires VIP status for Formula One.
“I think it may be going better than we thought it would,” said circuit chairman Bobby Epstein. “I think the Aussies are having a blast.”
The main drawback to the day was the heat, which was in the mid-90s and affected both drivers and fans.
“It was probably top five as far as cabin temp goes,” Whincup said of the 140-degree heat in the cars. He later joked, “I think they enjoy people passing out.”
The circuit and the Seton Healthcare Family did not release the number of people who were treated for heat-related problems, saying only that it was “multiple” people. The circuit was handing out ice water to those who requested it and will allow fans to bring in sealed, individual bottles of water today.05/18/13
Red Bull Racing Australia's Jamie Whincup obviously likes using his passport. The four-time series champion continued his amazing international record at Circuit of The Americas today by winning the opening two races of this weekend's Austin 400.
Whincup led home teammate Craig Lowndes and Lockwood Racing's Fabian Coulthard in both of today's spectacular 27 lap races to extend his lead in the championship chase.
"I'm sorry that the podium was the same for both races, we would have liked to have spiced it up but that's the way it goes," Whincup said.
"We had a good run in Perth two weeks ago. We found a gain there and were going to see if it carried through until now, which it has. That wasn't the case earlier in the season but now we feel like we can have a crack.
"But like last year and the year before we are not going to slow down; we will keep our heads down and keep improving the cars. It always tightens up.
"They are stock cars. They are pretty much all the same, we pretty much run the same componentry and the same tire.
"We are just able to fine tune the balance ... all the other guys will no doubt make a step up. For sure it will be more competitive, we just hope we are at the next step when they get there.
"All sport all over the world is swings and roundabouts. Every team at the top plummets to the bottom at some point and then makes their way up again."
Whincup's success offshore has been unmatched, the Red Bull Racing Australia driver winning 18 of the last 26 V8 Supercar races held outside Australia from Bahrain 2008 onwards.
He's also taken 10 of the 22 pole positions in that time, with a total of eight drivers sharing the 13 other pole positions on offer between them, including Fabian Coulthard's in Texas in race one.
Austin fans are set for more V8 Supercar action tomorrow with an additional two qualifying sessions and another pair of 27 lap events - races 15 and 16 of the 2013 championship.