Huertas Finishes Unscathed, Wilson Not So Fortunate
June 7, 2014
Fort Worth, Texas - Summer was in full swing for the Dale Coyne Racing crew in the sweltering heat of northern Texas for the second oval race of the year. Texas Motor Speedway played host to the Firestone 600 in the first primetime race of 2014 for the Verizon IndyCar Series. The 1.5 mile track has high 24 degree banking in the turns and proves to be a challenging race even for the most experienced and successful drivers of the series. Justin Wilson won the race at TMS in 2012 and still finds the track difficult to manage no matter how well the car is set up. Carlos Huertas took part in the second oval race of his career and would get to experience high banked turns for the first time in any car.
Wilson turned some fairly quick laps in the opening practice and kept that strong form in qualifying. He started the race in eighth place with a two lap average speed of 217.007 MPH. Wilson’s evening started rather uneventfully as he fell in line and tried to bide his time until the latter part of the race. After an early caution, he would pit twice under green flag conditions and maintain his middle of the pack position.
Wilson would not see the checkered flag due to a lap 121 incident that put him out of the race. As he went for a pass on a slower car, that car pushed him to the inside and Wilson spun after he was forced onto the apron. “It is a disappointing end to the day because we had a half decent car,” said Wilson. “[The car was] definitely good enough to be up there fighting inside the top 10 and get a decent result. We were just getting stronger as the night went on and the team did a great job so it is disappointing,” he added.
Huertas ran seventh quickest in the opening practice session on Friday but could not translate that speed to his qualifying effort and started at the back of the field in 22nd position. He continued to turn consistent and mistake free laps as he has done in every race this season. Knowing the race would not be won early on, Huertas chose to look after his tires and maintain his position. “I think my driving style might have helped me save the tires a bit for the end of the stints. I have always been pretty good at looking after my tires and it helped me here,” commented Huertas. Being able to run more laps on a set of tires than his competitors, he ran as high as second position as pit stops cycled through. Huertas finished his second oval race in 16th position.
After five straight weekends of action, the Verizon IndyCar Series will take two weekends away from competitive events to regroup for the second half of the season. Many teams will take part in testing sessions during the break to dial in setups for the late summer races. The next event weekend will be June 28 and 29 in Houston, Texas. The series returns for another doubleheader street course weekend that will require drivers to test their fitness levels in extreme summer temperatures. Saturday and Sunday’s races can be seen live on NBC Sports Network at 3:00 PM ET. Wilson will look to replicate his podium finish last season and Huertas will try to improve on his IndyCar rookie season’s best finish of eighth place.
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Trevor J. Moore