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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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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