Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hinchcliffe Leads Texas Restart

Rain shouldn't affect the conclusion to the Firestone 600
After over two and a half months, the Firestone 600 from Texas Motor Speedway will restart. With 71 laps already completed, the teams will look to complete the final 177 laps on Saturday night at 9:20 p.m. ET.

James Hinchcliffe led when the rain returned on that Sunday afternoon and the Canadian will restart from first place. The Canadian's best finish at Texas was fourth in 2012 and that was the only time Hinchcliffe has finished on the lead lap at Texas. The eight laps Hinchcliffe led in the 2012 race were his only laps led in his career at Texas prior to him taking the lead back in June. Hinchcliffe enters with four consecutive top ten finishes and three consecutive top ten finishes on ovals. Ryan Hunter-Reay is coming off a spectacular run at Pocono where he started 22nd, took the lead before 50 laps completed and then had to charge from 12th to third in the final 22 laps after over coming an electrical glitch that dropped him from the lead and put him a lap down. Hunter-Reay has three podiums this season, tied for the most podiums without a victory this season with Hélio Castroneves.

Mikhail Aleshin will restart third with the Russian coming off his first career podium on an oval and his first career pole position. Aleshin finished seventh in his only Texas start in 2014. Aleshin has led 120 laps this season, the most for a Honda driver. Will Power was victorious last week at Pocono and cut the gap in the championship to 20 points behind Pagenaud. Power has five top ten finishes in his career at Texas. Ed Carpenter will restart in the fifth position. Carpenter had a mechanical issue end his race at Pocono after starting in the top ten at the 2.5-mile track. Carpenter's average finish this season is 22.75. Gabby Chaves will restart in the sixth position. The Colombian driver has not competed since Iowa. His best finish this season was 12th in the first Belle Isle race. This likely will be Chaves' final appearance in the 2016 season.

Hélio Castroneves restarts the Texas race in seventh position, just ahead of Charlie Kimball, two of the three drivers who came together on the pit lane at Pocono on Monday. Castroneves has six consecutive top ten finishes at Texas. Kimball has two consecutive top ten finishes at Texas after his best finish in his first four starts at the 1.5-mile track was 17th. Carlos Muñoz was ninth at the time of the red flag. Muñoz was the pole-sitter when the race started back in June. It was the first pole position of his career. He finished sixth at Texas last year. Juan Pablo Montoya rounds out the top ten. Montoya has finished third and fourth in his two IndyCar starts at Texas.

Sébastien Bourdais picked up his first top five on an oval since his victory at Milwaukee last year last week at Pocono and the Frenchman will restart 11th. Bourdais had started the race in 18th position. His best Texas finish is 14th. Graham Rahal follows his former Newman-Haas teammate in the running order and Rahal has finished outside the top ten in the last three Texas starts. Alexander Rossi will restart 13th despite charging through the field early in the race only to have the tires fall off and drop him through the running order. Rossi currently holds fastest lap in the race at 211.666 MPH. Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud and Tony Kanaan round out the cars on the lead lap. Dixon had started second. When the race restarts, Pagenaud's point lead will dwindle to three points. In 16 Texas starts, Kanaan has 13 top ten finishes.

Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti and Max Chilton are all one lap down while Jack Hawksworth will restart two laps down. Sato had started the race from fourth position. Andretti hasn't finished in the top ten in an even year at Texas since finishing third at 2010. Chilton's 13th-place finish at Pocono was his first top fifteen finish since finishing 15th at the Indianapolis 500. Hawksworth's 14th-place finish on Monday was his best finish on an oval since finishing 13th at Iowa last year. Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden will not restart the race after their accident on lap 42. Daly's best finish on an oval this season was 16th at Phoenix and Pocono. Newgarden had three top five finishes and four top ten finishes in his other four oval starts this season.

NBCSN's coverage of the restart of the Firestone 600 from Texas Motor Speedway will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET on Saturday August 27th with the restart happening at 9:20 p.m. ET. The field will have a warm-up session at 5:35 p.m. ET for the first half of the field and a session at 5:50 p.m. ET for the second half of the field. Kevin Lee will be in booth with Leigh Diffey on Formula One duty and Brian Till on sports car duty. Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy join Lee in the both and Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller will work the pit lane.