Verizon IndyCar Series Under The Lights in Texas

Attendance has continued to dwindle in Texas for IndyCar. Will it improve for this 26th running or continue its downward spiral?

Who's got that number?

The Firestone 600 will be the 26th Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway dating to the track's opening in 1997. Underscoring the competitiveness of the series, there have been 18 different drivers to win the 25 races. With a wide-open field of competitive drivers and teams, will another new winner find his way to take the checkered flag in the race?

Fifth win would boost title drive

Helio Castroneves is the active leader with four victories (2004, 2006, 2009 and 2013) at Texas Motor Speedway, and enters the Firestone 600 second in the championship standings. A fifth win would boost his aspirations for a series title – something he hasn't achieved in his distinguished career that includes three Indianapolis 500 victories. The driver who has won at Texas has gone on to win the series championship in five seasons.

His teammate Helio Castroneves got to shoot the guns last year, will it be Power's turn this year?

Power looks to win at 'home' track

With a wins at St. Petersburg and Belle Isle, Will Power finds himself atop the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings entering the Texas race for the first time since 2012. Though he is from Toowoomba, Australia, Power, who claimed his first oval win at Texas in 2011, considers Texas a home race because his wife Elizabeth is from nearby Plano. Can Power pad his lead with another win at his "home track?

Ironman Kanaan ready to celebrate again

Texas Motor Speedway holds fond memories for 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan. Victory in the June 2004 race helped secure his lone Verizon IndyCar Series title, which he celebrated at the speedway following the October race when he finished second. The Firestone 600 will mark Kanaan's 223rd consecutive Indy car start, extending his record.

A.J. and Sato proves to be a winning combination

A.J. Foyt likes the speed and aggressiveness he sees in Takuma Sato and the Japanese driver has already brought the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner a pair of pole positions in 2014. Now Sato aims to deliver Foyt his first oval win since 2002. Can honorary Texan Sato take the racing legend's team – run by TCU graduate Larry Foyt – to victory lane in their home state?

Generation Next

James Hinchcliffe, Simon Pagenaud and Charlie Kimball all scored their first win in 2013, finished top 10 in the championship standings and established themselves as the next stars of the sport. Will 2014 be the year a new, young star becomes a champion?

Follow the Frenchman

Simon Pagenaud claimed his first Indy car win on the streets of Belle Isle in 2013. Now he hopes a strong performance in Texas can springboard him to the Verizon IndyCar Series title. Can Pagenaud, who won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10, transfer his top form on road/street circuits to ovals and gain ground in the title race?

Rookies face another first – night racing

The rookie drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series take on another new challenge – their first night race – less than two weeks after racing their first oval at Indianapolis. Leading rookie Carlos Munoz, Jack Hawksworth, Carlos Huertas and Mikhail Aleshin are making their debut under the lights at Texas. How will the first-timers fare?

Close racing a hallmark at Texas

In the 25 previous races at Texas, 16 have finished with a margin of victory of less than one second, and eight races have been decided by less than one-tenth of a second. Will the Firestone 600 live up to the history and produce another classic finish at Texas?

Race Notes:

• The Firestone 600 will be the 26th Verizon IndyCar Series event conducted at Texas Motor Speedway. Helio Castroneves is the defending race winner. Will Power won the pole at the track in 2013.

• Helio Castroneves has won four times at Texas Motor Speedway, the most wins by an Indy car driver at the track. Castroneves won the Fall race in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2013. He along with former winners Will Power (2011 – Race 2), Ryan Briscoe (2010) , Scott Dixon (2008) and Tony Kanaan (Spring 2004) are all entered in this year's race.

• There have been 10 different pole winners in the previous 12 races. Pole winners entered in this year's race are: Will Power (2013), Ryan Briscoe (2010), Scott Dixon (2008), Helio Castroneves (Fall 2004).

• Six drivers have won the race from the pole – Ryan Briscoe (2010), Scott Dixon (2008), Tomas Scheckter (2005), Helio Castroneves (Fall 2004), Gil de Ferran (Fall 2003) and Sam Hornish Jr. (Fall 2001).

• Five drivers entered in the event – Mikhail Aleshin, Jack Hawksworth, Carlos Huertas, Juan Pablo Montoya and Carlos Munoz – will make their first attempt to start a Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas.

• The driver who has gone on to win the championship has won at Texas five times. Dario Franchitti won Texas 1 in 2011; Scott Dixon won in 2008, Tony Kanaan won Texas 1 in 2004, Sam Hornish Jr. won Texas 2 in 2002, clinching the title at Texas, and Hornish Jr. also won Texas 2 in 2001, celebrating the championship he had clinched at the previous race.

• Since 1994, 11 drivers have won the eighth race of the season and also won the championship. They are: Dario Franchitti (2011, Milwaukee; 2007, Iowa), Sebastien Bourdais (2007, Edmonton; 2005, San Jose ), Sam Hornish Jr. (2006, Kansas; 2002, Richmond), Tony Kanaan (2004, Nashville), Cristiano da Matta (2002, Toronto), Buddy Lazier (2000, Kentucky), Gil de Ferran (2000, Portland), Greg Ray (1999, Pikes Peak), Alex Zanardi (1998, Detroit), Kenny Brack (1998, Pikes Peak), Al Unser Jr. (1994, Cleveland).

• Seventeen (17) drivers entered in the Firestone 600 have competed in Verizon IndyCar Series events at Texas Motor Speedway. Eleven (11) of those drivers led laps at the track (Marco Andretti 82, Ryan Briscoe 282, Ed Carpenter 1, Helio Castroneves 492, Scott Dixon 256, James Hinchcliffe 8, Ryan Hunter-Reay 35, Tony Kanaan 313, Will Power 100, Graham Rahal 27, Justin Wilson 11).

• The Firestone 600 will be the second race on an oval in 2014. Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Indianapolis 500 last month.

Season to Date:

• Will Power won the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. It was the 22nd win of his Indy car career, tying Tony Bettenhausen and Emerson Fittipaldi for 19th all time.

• Mike Conway won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the second time in his career. It was his third Indy car win.

• Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama for the second consecutive season.

• Simon Pagenaud won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, becoming the fourth different winner in as many races.

• Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 98th Indianapolis 500, becoming the first driver to win multiple races in 2014.

• Will Power and Helio Castroneves split the doubleheader races at the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans – helping Team Penske sweep the wins in Detroit for the first time.

• Mikhail Aleshin, Jack Hawksworth and Carlos Huertas started their first career Verizon IndyCar Series race at St. Petersburg.

Milestones & Records:

• Should Scott Dixon win the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship, he will join A.J. Foyt, Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Bourdais and Mario Andretti as the only drivers to win four Indy car titles in his career. Foyt won seven championships in his career, while Andretti, Bourdais and Franchitti each won four titles.

• With his next victory, Scott Dixon will tie Al Unser Jr., for sixth on the all-time wins list. Dixon, the active leader for wins, won his 33rd race at Houston's Reliant Park in October 2013.

• With a victory in 2014, Scott Dixon will extend his streak of consecutive seasons with a win to 10.

• Helio Castroneves tied Rick Mears for 11th place on the all-time wins list with his 29th race win at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park on June 1.

• Will Power tied Tommy Milton for 18th place on the all-time wins list with his 23rd race win at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park on May 31.

• Will Power's win at St. Petersburg extended his streak of consecutive seasons with a win to eight.

• With his next victory, Sebastien Bourdais will move into sole possession of eighth place on the all-time wins list. Bourdais is tied with Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy with 31 wins.

• Helio Castroneves needs one earned pole to reach 40 career poles in his Indy car career. Castroneves is the active leader with 39 pole positions.

• With one pole in 2014, Scott Dixon will extend his Verizon IndyCar Series streak to eight consecutive seasons.

• Tony Kanaan will attempt to make his 223rd consecutive start, which would extend his all-time record. Scott Dixon with 164 straight starts (tied for fourth all time), Marco Andretti with 140 straight starts (11th all time) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (16th all time) with 115 straight starts are the only active drivers with a streak of more than 100 consecutive starts.

• Helio Castroneves is the active leader in starts with 284, which is eighth on the all-time list.

• Tony Kanaan has 283 starts, which is ninth on the all-time list.

• Helio Castroneves is the active leader in top-five finishes with 116, which is eighth on the all-time list.

• Tony Kanaan passed Bobby Unser for ninth on the all-time list with 113 top-five finishes.

At-Track Schedule (all times local):

Friday, June 6

10 – 11:15 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1

2 – 3:30 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying for Verizon P1 Award, (Single car/Cumulative time of two laps)

6:45- 7:15 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2

Saturday, June 7

4 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series systems check (one lap/out and in)

7:45 p.m. – Firestone 600 (248 laps/372 miles), NBCSN (Live)

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