By Jerry Jordan, Editor
FORT WORTH – With qualifying canceled due to moisture on the track, the field for tonight’s Genesys 300 INDYCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway will be set by championship points coming into the weekend – meaning Alex Palou will lead the field to the green but Tony Kanaan was fastest in practice.
Kanaan, racing for Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 48 Bryant Honda, had a practice speed of 220.173 mph, which was just over two one-hundredths of a second faster that Pato O’Ward ran in the Arrrow/McLaren SP Chevrolet. Kanan is sharing the No. 48 with seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson, who left stockcar racing to try his hand in open-wheel competition. He is focusing on road courses and street races and Kanaan is scheduled to make four starts on ovals.
The best speeds getting into Turn 2 and Turn 3 were also held by Kanaan at 224.010 mph and 215.159 mph, respectively. But his Turn 3 speed was tied by Scott Dixon, who has four wins and an average finish of 7.6 at Texas Motor Speedway. Dixon was just over four-tenths of a second slower than Kanaan getting into Turn 2 at 214.703 mph.
Tonight’s Genesys 30, starting at 6 p.m. CST, kicks off a doubleheader weekend of action at TMS with the NTT INDYCAR Series racing, on Sunday, in the XPEL 375, which is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. CST. Coming into the weekend, Palou may be leading the points but Colton Herta is rolling with a big win in the Grand Prix of St. Peterburg last Sunday. Herta led 97 laps before taking the checkered flag last weekend. Palou won the season-opener at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Al.
Making his first NTT INDYCAR start on an oval is rookie racer, Scott McLaughlin, in the No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet. He turned 83 laps in practice but was 20th on the scoring chart with a fastest lap of 215.056 mph.
During a press conference earlier in the week, McLaughlin discussed the differences that he is expecting between his open test at TMS and what it would be like during the doubleheader weekend.
“It’s certainly going to be very different in the race to get a feel for everything and what I need to do, changing my tools, like I said, weight jackers in front, rear anti-roll bars, all that sort of stuff,” he said. “That’s all stuff I’m going to have to learn. Even little things like coming into pit lane, it’s different jumping down to the apron there.
“It’s exciting, nice to do a completely different discipline. I think I’m more excited for the ovals than I am for the road courses because it’s so different to what I’ve done before. It’s so fast. Just nothing that’s quite as exhilarating as going 220 miles an hour with people wheel-to-wheel.”