CHAMPCAR/CART: Sigma Texas race preview

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - Sigma Autosport is new to the FedEx CART Championship Series, and has not yet tasted the fruits of victory entering the Firestone Firehawk 600, however one key member of the team has experienced not only a win, but at the Texas...

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - Sigma Autosport is new to the FedEx CART Championship Series, and has not yet tasted the fruits of victory entering the Firestone Firehawk 600, however one key member of the team has experienced not only a win, but at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Tom Howatt, crew chief for Sigma, returns to the Texas Motor Speedway, the site where as lead mechanic for Panther Racing of the Indy Racing League (IRL), he helped in getting Canadian Scott Goodyear to victory circle in 1999.

"It was a great feeling," said Howatt. "It's something you don't forget and that was a truly special night for all of us. I'm hoping that I get the same feeling again come Sunday."

For the first time, the FedEx CART Championship will race at the Texas Motor Speedway. The racetrack is the only one in the country to host CART, IRL, Busch Grand National, and NASCAR races. One of the big questions concerning the race is how the CART drivers and racecars will do on the 24-degree banking, the steepest track in the CART series.

"I think everyone will be very cautious," said Howatt. "These guys are pros and they will be extra careful and behave. We'll do the necessary adjustments if we have to, but the main thing is that the guys are safe and have a great race."

Howatt said that IRL cars have more downforce than its CART cousins, with bigger wings, fewer constraints and are a little easier to drive. He also expects the tires to take a beating on the track, but believes Firestone will have a durable tire.

"This may be a race of attrition. Not only will the guys have to be careful on the banking with the high speeds that are expected, they will have to factor in fuel mileage and hope for engine and component reliability, just like an IRL race."

Howatt also likes his driver, Oriol Servia's chances in the race.

"Oriol is really good and can do the job," said Howatt. "I think he can have a great day as long as everything falls into place, good pit stops, a great strategy and a clean run. With team manager Phil Howard directing us, I believe we'll have an excellent race."

Everything is supposed to be big in Texas, and a big crowd is expected at the Texas Motor Speedway. That, and a big race that has some wondering if the cars can stay off the wall and out of each other's way.

"This race is going to be a classic," continued Howatt. "It's going to be competitive and exciting, and whoever wins will have the drive of his life.

"There's going to be a lot of passing and a lot of action for the fans to see."

-Sigma-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Goodyear , Oriol Servia
Teams Panther Racing