After a three-month delay, the IndyCar Series begins Saturday with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. The schedule was supposed to start March 13 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Florida), a road course. Instead they will be on a short oval, one of trickiest layouts the drivers experience all year.
Driver Josef Newgarden is the favorite at both BetOnline and Bovada to win on Saturday night and is the defending champion. He did tell reporters in a conference call this week that the Genesys 300 is one of the hardest races all year.
Genesys 300 Odds
|Ryan Hunter Reay||+1800||+1700|
“Texas is a very difficult racetrack to race in general, whether you’ve been there 20 years or first time,” Newgarden said. “It’s a daunting track to get right. Typically we have five races or so to sort out our stuff, kind of get ourselves in the right frame of mind, have a general base before we go to a track like that.”
Rookies Should Struggle at Genesys 300
While the Genesys 300 will be a challenge to veterans, Newgarden said rookies should really toil on the track.
“From the rookie side, it’s going to be extremely difficult,” Newgarden said. “This whole year is going to be tough on rookies with limited track time. I think Texas will be one of the toughest places to go to right out of the gates, face a big challenge.”
Oddsmakers agree with Newgarden. Of the three rookies – Oliver Askew, Alex Palou, and Rinus Veekay – Askew has the best odds to win at 75/1. Both Palou and Veekay are at 100/1.
For Veekay, just getting to Texas was an ordeal. The 19-year-old from the Netherlands could not fly directly from his country to the United States. Instead he had to fly to Mexico, spend two weeks in quarantine until he was cleared, then go to Fort Worth, Texas.
“It was very complicated,” Veekay said. “Well, first of all, with the borders being closed, only flights going for necessary people, it was tough to make sure, yeah, the borders would open for me. I’ve had many weeks of no sleep. But at the end, yeah, everyone really worked extremely hard to make it happen for me.”
Safety Protocols in Place
Now that Veekay is in Texas, he and the other drivers will have additional steps they must take to make sure to protect themselves and others from possible COVID-19 exposure. Drivers will have to have a health screening, practice social distancing, and use PPE equipment, including masks while at the Genesys 300.
IndyCar president Jay Frye told reporters that the organization wants to be as safe as possible during the global pandemic.
“We’re excited and ready to kick off the NTT IndyCar Series season at Texas Motor Speedway,” Frye said. “We’ve worked closely with Eddie Gossage, the entire Texas Motor Speedway team and public health officials on a plan of action that will ensure the safety of our event participants alongside an exciting return to competition for our drivers, teams and viewers tuning in from around the world.”