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IndyCar returns to Texas Motor Speedway in June, gauges success off NASCAR's comeback

Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Auto Racing

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage liked what he saw when NASCAR returned to the airwaves on Sunday. He expects a similar showing when IndyCar starts its season at TMS next month.

"I thought it was just fantastic to have not only live sports back, but my favorite sport back on television," Gossage said. "I didn't notice there weren't fans in the stands until Kevin Harvick got out in Victory Lane. I was just focused on the cars, so I thought it was great. I think that's what you'll see when IndyCar starts its season here."

IndyCar is set to open its season with the Genesys 300 on June 6 at TMS. There will be no fans and the 24 teams will utilize both 64-bay garages to ensure social distancing measures are maintained.

NASCAR provided a sneak peak into what fans can expect. Depending on perspective, the made-for-TV event did well. It drew 6.32 million viewers on Fox, the most watched non-Daytona 500 NASCAR race since 2017. However, some felt there would be an even bigger ratings spike.

From a TV viewing perspective, Sunday's NASCAR race looked like any other race in previous years. It had the standard pre-race staples such as an invocation and the national anthem performed by country music singer Darius Rucker ... virtually.

But in the days leading up to the race, there were no practices or qualifying laps run. Instead, drivers were seeded into three groups of 12 based on points and awarded starting positions based on a random draw.

 

IndyCar will handle this differently, squeezing practice, qualifying and the race into a one-day spectacle airing on NBCSN. Practice is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., qualifying starts at 4 p.m. and the race is scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m.

Practice and qualifying may help knock some of the rust off the IndyCar drivers come race time.

"There will still be some rust, the drivers won't be as sharp as you usually see them," Gossage said. "But these guys are so good. They'll have some practice laps and qualifying runs to get comfortable again."

The NASCAR drivers didn't have that luxury and it was evident early on. Ricky Stenhouse, best known as Danica Patrick's ex boyfriend, crashed on Lap 1 of Sunday's race.

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