Chevrolet Program Manager Rob Buckner says that the low temperatures expected at the Texas Motor Speedway for the XPEL 375 will be the biggest challenge as the race takes place earlier in the season in 2022 than in previous seasons.
The Detroit-based company has had a great start to the new NTT IndyCar Series season with Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin and Will Power were on the podium with McLaughlin taking victory while Will Power was third. Speaking ahead of the race this weekend, Buckner said:
“That will be the biggest challenge. “The racing surface at Texas is always hard to predict with the different treatments to the tarmac and its impact on degradation of the tires. Throw in the unknown of temperature ranges and this could be a completely different TMS than what we’ve experienced in the past. It definitely puts a premium on qualifying and track position.
“Having said all that, we’re confident of our chances to win again at Texas,” Bucker added. Pato’s victory there last year was a big one for Chevrolet. Not only do we want to continue on the momentum for our strong showing at St. Petersburg, we want to use Texas as prep for the Indy 500. It’s our only opportunity to race with the mandated engine boost ahead of Indianapolis, so the learning process will be doubly important to help all our Chevrolet teams this weekend and looking ahead to Indy.”
Yeah, I’m fully prepped, like I said. If I’m not on the pole I’m going to start 20th, and I don’t want that to happen, so I’m going to work hard. It’s business as usual. St. Pete was great, but it was the first race; I’m not getting ahead of myself. It’s just head down, bum up, and make it happen.”
DALTON KELLETT, NO. 4 K-LINE CHEVROLET, AJ FOYT RACING: “I’m excited to be back racing in Texas, it’s the hometown race for the Foyt team! Being the first oval of the year, I’m excited to be back to that type of racing. IndyCar has made a slight downforce increase for this year, so we will have to see how that affects the racing and if it opens up the second lane at all. I think it will still be somewhat difficult to pass, so we are definitely focused on qualifying. Starting with good track position always makes it easier! From there, we’ll need a stable and predictable car in race trim to able to make some moves and race for a good finish for the #4 K-Line Chevy.”
PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW McLAREN CHEVROLET, ARROW McLAREN RACING SP: “I love Texas. Texas is very close to my heart because it’s been home to me for many years, and it holds a special place in my heart because I got my first NTT INDYCAR SERIES win there! On top of that we get to kick the weekend off with Pato’s Home Fiesta presented by Mission Foods on Thursday to celebrate last year’s win. I’m looking forward to having some good fun and hoping to take home some nice hardware while we are at it.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST, NO. 7 ARROW McLAREN VUSE CHEVROLET, ARROW McLAREN RACING SP: “We are headed to Texas this weekend; it’s becoming one of our favorites on the calendar, especially with a win last year from Pato. I also had two very good races that we could have won last year so we’re all ready to get back. The first oval of the year is always exciting, as we can get the Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolets up to high speeds again.”
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 11 ROKIT CHEVROLET, AJ FOYT RACING: “With the schedule the way it is, only getting one hour-long practice at Texas before qualifying, it’s going to be important to get up to speed right away. It was great to get in the car even if just for a few laps when Kyle did his rookie test a couple weeks ago, so at least I got a bit of a sight picture for the place the way it is now and we have some recent data and video to work from.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON 5G CHEVROLET, TEAM PENSKE: In the years I’ve been in this series it’s the toughest it’s ever been, the quality of the teams and the drivers are higher than it’s ever been, and yeah, just so many good young drivers. You can tell that the field quality is really high because there’s not many yellows, even in practice. Even at Sebring we hardly had any yellows when we had the one test. Just the level of talent and quality of teams is at — it’s such a good product. We’ve just got to get it out to the world. It’s the best open-wheel racing product in the world.
KYLE KIRKWOOD, NO. 14 ROKIT CHEVROLET, AJ FOYT RACING: “I believe the XPEL 375 will be a great event for us as a team, we have the very experienced addition of J.R. Hildebrand for the ovals and a lot of new people with new ideas on how to get our cars as quick as possible. We’ve been fortunate enough to have one full day on track at Texas Motor Speedway in the past few weeks with the new aero changes and feel we have the car in the right window for the race. Conditions are looking to be the same as the test. So, if everything is still the same, we will have three very competitive cars on the grid.”
CONOR DALY, NO. 20 BITNILE CHEVROLET, ED CARPENTER RACING: “I don’t think I’ve ever felt as confident heading into the Texas weekend as I do now! It was great to test there last week and I was very, very happy with the BitNile Chevy. We’ll have a lot to go through once we get there for the race weekend, but it feels like we have a good amount of information from the test from Rinus and I. We’ll have Ed in the car this weekend as well, so that will help even more. The more information we can gather, the better! I am very excited to get down there and get things going. I love racing at Texas! It will also be my first time there with ECR so I am excited to see how we can all do.”
RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 SONAX CHEVROLET, ED CARPENTER RACING: “I am really excited to head back to Texas! We had a great test there last week and I feel like we are in a very good place with the car. Also, I am excited for barbecue and cowboy hats!”
ED CARPENTER, NO. 33 ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET: “I am excited to get back to Texas! It’s always fun going to a track you’ve won at before and a place you’ve been successful, hopefully we can repeat that this year. My teammates tested there last week and it went fairly well. I feel really good about the work the team got accomplished, though it would have been nice to have participated in the test myself. But, as a part-timer, I have to pick and choose what I do! I am ready to get going and excited to have a race in the No. 33 – a new number for me! – and get back in the groove before we get to Indianapolis.”
CALLUM ILOTT, NO. 77 DYNAMIC EDGE CHEVROLET, JUNCOS HOLLINGER RACING: Looking forward to racing around my first oval with Chevy power behind me. Will be a steep learning curve, but for sure an exciting one.”