MOORESVILLE, N.C. – On Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series will roar back to life.
The season that was set to begin with the March 15 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was, of course, halted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown that followed. As more of America is opening up, IndyCar is the next professional racing series that will return to action in Saturday’s GENESYS 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The race will be television on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. It’s the first time NBC will air an IndyCar race in prime time.
Chip Ganassi Racing drivers, including five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, along with second-year drivers from Sweden Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson, spoke about the return Monday morning on a Zoom video conference.
“I think we are geared up,” Dixon said. “We had the off-season, had done all the pre-season testing, all of us had made it to St. Pete. You had all that pent-up tension to get going.
“You wake up a day later and of course everything changed.
“Definitely nothing is normal right now. For us, I think to even have the opportunity to get back racing is amazing. A lot of us have been waiting for this week, race week. We thought it could have been Detroit to start with, maybe a few other circumstances.
“I’m excited to get to Texas. I think it will be a fantastic race. It will definitely be interesting with the changes we have, how we have to deal with it. I’m just super excited to get going.”
Ericsson joined Chip Ganassi Racing after a solid rookie season at what was then Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2019.
“I can’t wait,” Ericsson said. “It’s been a long and strange off-season already, a long off-season in IndyCar. Then, like Scott said, we were ready in St. Pete, it was called off in the last minute. Then it’s about preparing yourself even more.
“I feel happy and confident in myself that I’ve done everything to be prepared as possible to start the season now. I feel really good with the team. I think we’ve done all the preparations possible. We are more than ready to start the season.
“It’s going to be a strange one with the one-day event and everything. I’m sure we’re going to put on a really good show for everyone.”
Rosenqvist showed flashes of brilliance during his rookie season in 2019 and challenged Dixon for the victory last summer in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
This was going to be a season for Rosenqvist to improve his efforts and continue progress. Although it’s 2-1/2 months later, that second season begins Saturday night.
“I think we ended the last year on a really good run,” Rosenqvist said. “Obviously when you’re on a good run, you want to keep going, right? It’s been tough.
“At the same time I think we’ve been lucky with how well IndyCar has handled it. We’re kind of lucky as well that our season didn’t start before this all happened. I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to have the season go, then breaking it for three or four months. That must be really tough for everyone involved when you’re in that competitive mode.
“We actually had a chance to kind of relax, go into off-season mode again, get back to training. It could be nice with a bit of a break as well sometimes. We all get the chance to make sure we’re fully up for starting the season.
“It feels unreal we’re actually going again. It’s a really good feeling.”
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