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IndyCar speeds into Circuit of The Americas for first-ever Austin race

IndyCar is speeding into Austin in 2019. Courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway

Originally appeared on CultureMap/Austin.

Racing fans, start your engines — IndyCar is rolling into Austin next spring. On September 4, Circuit of The Americas announced that North America’s open-wheel racing series will hit the track March 22-24, 2019, for a weekend of races, events, and more. 

Among the drivers expected to compete are Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Alexander Rossi, Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, Will Power, and Takuma Sato. Native Texans Ryan Hunter-Reay and A.J. Foyt are also expected to make an appearance in their home state during the three-day extravaganza.

When it came to picking Austin as a stop on the 2019 schedule, owner of IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Mark Miles said the city was a "natural fit."

“COTA is one of the finest motorsports facilities in the world and Austin is a happening city,” said Miles in a release announcing the news. “Indy car racing has a large and passionate fan base in Texas with a hunger to attend more races. This added date will allow us to deliver both oval and road course events to the state in a single season.”

COTA is no stranger to high-speed motorsports. World Rallycross, Pirelli World Challenge, and, of course, Formula 1 are just a few of the world-famous racing events that zoom into town each year.

For those of us (read: the author of this article) who need a refresher on the difference between F1 and IndyCar, the main differences are the car and the track used. 

While F1 cars use high-octane gas, IndyCars pump ethanol and are much more difficult to stop than their F1 counterparts. IndyCars race on oval tracks, with the occasional street track thrown in for good measure, whereas F1 never uses an oval track; instead it uses a designed raceway.

The Austin race — IndyCar's first time in the Capital City — will be the second in the 2019 series. The schedule begins in St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 10 and culminates in the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26. 

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Houston drops the opener

Angels use big sixth inning to take opener from Astros

Houston's offense started hot, then went cold Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With a 2-1 series win under their belt to start this ten-game homestand, the Astros turned the page to a three-game set with the Angels on Monday night. Things started strong for Houston, building an early lead, but it would erode in the middle innings as the Angels would respond with a big sixth inning to take the opener.

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 18-17, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Suarez (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (1-2)

Houston Builds an early lead

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Luis Garcia, Houston would start the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back walks set things off, setting up an RBI ground-rule double by Alex Bregman, giving them the 1-0 lead. Kyle Tucker lead the bottom of the second off with a double, then came around to score on an RBI single by Myles Straw, then Michael Brantley made it 3-0 with an RBI double later in the inning.

Los Angeles roars back to take the lead

Los Angeles trimmed the lead to two runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double, but Houston was able to get that run back on another RBI by Straw in the bottom of the fifth. Things fell apart for Garcia in the top of the sixth, with back-to-back one-out solo homers trimming the lead to one run and ending his night there: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 92 P.

The Angels didn't stop there, getting two more runs to take the lead off of Brandon Bielak, who managed just one out while blowing the lead. Brooks Raley would enter to get the final out of the inning, then tried to keep the deficit at one run when he returned in the top of the seventh. It looked like things might unravel for him, allowing the first two batters to reach base on a walk and single, but he would battle back to strike out the next three straight to strand both.

Angels take the opener

Joe Smith took over in the top of the eighth, still 5-4, but would get two outs while allowing a double in his three batters before Houston moved on to Kent Emanuel, who finished the inning off. After another scoreless inning for Houston's offense, Emanuel remained in the game in the top of the ninth to keep a walk-off chance alive, and he would do so by erasing a walk to send the one-run game to the bottom half. The Astros wouldn't pull off a comeback, though, dropping the opener to Los Angeles.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Tuesday night. It shapes up to be an exciting pitching matchup, with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.58 ERA) for Houston going up against the two-way star Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.41 ERA) for Los Angeles.

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