Thirty years after American open-wheel racing's last dual-race event, the IZOD IndyCar Series will stage its first next season at Texas Motor Speedway.
Earlier tonight in Dallas, Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard revealed that the Firestone 550k has been split into a pair of 275-kilometer events. Now known collectively as the Firestone Texas Two-Step, the twin races will be run on June 11, 2011 -- ensuring that there will be an idle weekend between the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCars' trip to the Lone Star State.
Two race winners will be recognized, and each of the full-field, "twin 275s" will award one-half of the points usually doled out in a regular series event. As for how the grid will be set for both races, as well as the time allotment between them, those matters are still to be determined.
Seventeen doubleheaders were staged from 1967 to 1981 under USAC and CART sanction, with the last one being a CART affair on June 28, 1981 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (both races were won by Rick Mears).
Tickets for the 2011 Firestone Texas Two-Step will go on sale Nov. 30.
The dual-race format is a unique one and it certainly will set IndyCar apart from the two NASCAR Sprint Cup events at Texas. But with each race only awarding half the points, isn't this really just one race with a beer run/bathroom break in the middle?
If IndyCar won't do full points for each race, then they ought to consider inversion of the field for Race 2 to spice things up a bit. Let's cap it at the top 12 finishers of Race 1 and have six balls in a bag marked with the numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. The winner of Race 1 draws from the bag and the ball he/she picks out determines how many drivers will be inverted.
Not only that, what about a big cash bonus for winning both twin races? A doubleheader sweep hasn't been uncommon over the years in Indy-car racing. In fact, 10 of the 17 USAC/CART dual-race events had one driver take the two checkered flags. $250,000 would be an adequate amount. But if TMS president/general manager Eddie Gossage wants to get crazy and make it a cool half-million, I don't think he'd have many complaints either -- from the drivers and teams or from the fans.
It just seems like something is missing, though. The Texas two-step has the potential to be a fantastic idea, but it needs a few tweaks first. You guys have any ideas?