IndyCar Firestone 600 Preview: James Hinchcliffe Leading After Two Months

Fri, Aug 26, 2016 1,697

Firestone 600

WHAT: Verizon IndyCar Series Race
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 27, 9 p.m. ET
WHERE: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas
TRACK: 1 1/2-mile oval
TV: NBC Sports Network
LIVE STREAM: NBC Sports Live Extra

Last week’s ABC Supply 500 started a day late due to rain, but Saturday’s Firestone 600 will finish two months after it was started, for the same reason.

Of the four current drivers have won the race at Texas Motor Speedway in the past — Scott Dixon, Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan — only one is within striking distance of the championship leader. If Power can win at TMS on Saturday night, it would seriously help him in the title fight with his teammate, Simon Pagenaud.

Track storyline
Firestone 78
It’s been 78 days since James Hinchcliffe took the lead of the Firestone 600, and that’s where he will start from on Saturday. IndyCar red-flagged the race after 71 laps had been completed, and as a result, drivers will start in the order they were in when the race was stopped. Additionally, Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden, who had an accident on Lap 42 will not be allowed to participate in the continuation of the race.

Newgarden is currently third in the standings, but in all likelihood his absence will shake up the top of the standings.

Driver with the most to gain
Will Power, Team Penske No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet
Power won last week at Pocono, but more importantly Pagenaud recorded a DNF. As a result, Power is now just 20 points behind his teammate in the driver standings. Since he is starting 11 places ahead of Pagenaud on Saturday, this is the perfect opportunity to pour the pressure on the Frenchman.

Driver with the most to lose
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske No. 22 Chevrolet
Pagenaud was fighting his car for most of the ABC Supply 500, causing him to hit the wall and retire from the race. The driver of the No. 22 has seen his points lead to his teammate slowly shrink, and if he doesn’t respond in Texas the momentum swing could prove disastrous for him. With just three races remaining this season, Pagenaud needs to get back to his winning ways before it’s too late.

Winner?
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport No. 28 DHL Honda
Hunter-Reay drove phenomenally well in Pocono, but a reliability issue with 20 laps remaining saw him relegated to third. He made it clear after the race that it was a tough result to accept, so expect him to come out in Texas with something to prove. The American driver will start from P2 on Saturday, meaning he has the perfect opportunity to stand on the top step of the podium.

Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images