IRL: Texas: Vision Racing preview

VISION RACING DETERMINED TO FINISH IN TOP TEN AT TEXAS TEAM FINISHED NINTH AND TENTH AT TEXAS LAST YEAR; AIMING FOR BETTER THIS YEAR INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 6, 2007) -- For Vision Racing, the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway...

VISION RACING DETERMINED TO FINISH IN TOP TEN AT TEXAS

TEAM FINISHED NINTH AND TENTH AT TEXAS LAST YEAR; AIMING FOR BETTER THIS YEAR

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 6, 2007) -- For Vision Racing, the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway represents a breakthrough opportunity for the entire team. Last year, Vision Racing drivers Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter finished ninth and tenth at Texas. This season, anything less for them and their Texas native teammate, A.J. Foyt IV, would be considered a disappointment.

And why not? Looking back as far as the 2006 season, Vision Racing earned nine top-10 finishes via Scheckter and another six by Carpenter. Not to mention, those 15 top-10 runs included a team-high third place drive by Scheckter.

This season, the team has picked up right where they left off. Through last weekend's IndyCar Series event at the Milwaukee Mile, the team boasted nine top-10 finishes between its three full-time drivers as well as one scored by Davey Hamilton at Indianapolis. In fact, Scheckter started the season with five straight top-10 finishes including a fifth place run at Kansas.

Couple all of that with a visibly strong 1.5-mile oval package, Scheckter's 2005 win and three previous poles at Texas and what's left is a recipe for a minimum of three strong finishes and perhaps the team's first victory.

Driving the No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone for the second year in a row, Scheckter agrees. The current seventh place point sitter said, "I've had some great success at Texas so I'm always excited to go back. Plus, the team did well there last year and I think we have a better package this year for sure, so it should be good. Texas is one of those places where if you can run a clean race and develop a good racecar you can battle for a win and I plan on doing that Saturday night."

Scheckter is coming of a disappointing 17th place finish last Sunday at Milwaukee which snapped a five-race streak of top-10 finishes. A broken driveshaft suffered while pulling out of the pits on lap 160 of 225 ended his race early. Needless to say, the South African is determined to get back to his early season form at Texas.

Perhaps there's no better place for Scheckter to do just that. Scheckter won at Texas Motor Speedway in 2005 where he started on the pole with Panther Racing. He also started on the pole in 2002 with Cheever Racing and in 2003 with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. He finished 10th last season with Vision Racing and started from the fifth spot.

Last season's race at Texas proved to be a great success for Scheckter's teammate, Carpenter, as he started 11th and drove to his first finish on the 1.5-mile oval, coming in ninth. Carpenter's best start at Texas Motor Speedway came in 2004, his rookie season at Cheever Racing, when he started seventh. In 2003 he finished 21st due to a mechanical problem and in 2004 and 2005 he finished 21st and 20th, respectively, due to accidents.

Fortunately for Carpenter, not only did last year's Texas affair go well, but he's heading south in good spirits after starting eighth and driving to a seventh place finish at Milwaukee this past Sunday.

Like Scheckter, Carpenter likes his chances behind the wheel of the No. 20 Hitachi Power Tools special at Texas this year. He said, "I finally had a good race at Texas last year and I'm coming off a top-10 finish at Milwaukee last week so I'm ready to get back there. The team really has developed a strong 1.5-mile package so I expect good things for all three cars at Texas. Anything less than a top-10 for us is a disappointment so we'll really be working on developing some good racecars for when the green flag drops on Saturday."

In spite of Scheckter and Carpenter's desire to return to the Lone Star State, their new teammate, Foyt, has an even greater yearning to make a return trip as the driver of the No. 22 machine calls Texas "home." The 23-year-old happens to reside in Indianapolis, was born in Kentucky, but claims Waller, Texas as his hometown.

"I'm excited to go back to my home state and see some family and friends," Foyt noted. "I'm living in Indianapolis now to be close to the team, so I kind of miss being back in Texas. As for the race, I'm looking forward to that too. Texas Motor Speedway is a great track and Vision looked pretty good their last year so I hope I can take advantage of that and get a new top finish there."

Foyt has five starts over four seasons at Texas Motor Speedway where his best finish came in the second Texas race of 2004 when he started 11th and finished 10th. In 2005 he was running at the finish as well when he started 22nd and finished 18th. He finished 21st and 22nd in both of the 2003 Texas events due to an accident and engine trouble, respectively. His first Texas affair in 2004 also ended in an accident after starting 17th and finishing 22nd.

However, Foyt has never entered a race at Texas with such momentum on his side. In the last five races, he has been running at the finish, including a season-high ninth place run at Kansas. Foyt was only unable to finish the season-opener at Homestead due to being caught up in an accident he could not avoid.

The consistency has Foyt and team poised for a career-best finish at Texas. He and his teammates are determined to make that be the case.

Practice for the 228-lap, 342-mile event held at Texas Motor Speedway begins Thursday, June 7th. Additional practice and qualifying will be held Friday, June 8th while Saturday's race gets started at 10:00 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2, IMS Radio Network, XM Satellite Radio channel 145 and on the web at www.IndyCar.com.

-credit: vr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Davey Hamilton , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing