FORT WORTH, TX – I wrote on Friday how Robert Wickens has been superb in his rookie season in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He has virtually never seen most of these tracks and here he was competing on all of them for wins already. In the season opener in St. Pete, a track that he’s never seen before, he earned the pole and led a race-high 69 of 110 laps before being crashed while battling for the lead with two laps-to-go. The next race in Phoenix, a track that not only he’s never been to, one that was an oval in which he’s never raced on, he finished second.
See, he’s never raced on ovals prior to Phoenix and he headed into Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at the Texas Motor Speedway with a runner-up effort in Phoenix, a ninth place finish and Rookie of the Year Honors in Indy and now a shot to win in Texas.
Wickens, led the way in the opening practice session of the weekend on a high banked track that he’s never raced at. He qualified his No. 6 Honda fourth. He then used that to quickly move up and even led 31 laps. He was by far the quickest car at time on the 1.5-mile track.
Think about that.
He’s never raced on a high banked track before and he had the fastest car.
But, while trying to get by Ed Carpenter on Lap 171, Carpenter came down on him in Turn 3 and sent both of them into the outside SAFER barrier. He’d finish 19th as a result. That puts him now 117 points of the points lead and a disappointment after what started off as such a great weekend.