It had been about 30 years since a double-header IndyCar race was run (the last being the Kraco Twin 125’s at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1981, won by Johnny Rutherford and Rick Mears).
Saturday Night’s Twin 275’s figured to be a shootout given Texas’ reputation for close racing and with the shortened race distances preventing fuel mileage from being an issue.
One more wrench was thrown in when INDYCAR announced the grid for the second race would be set by a blind draw, not an inversion as is often seen in double-header races. Inevitably, some were going to benefit greatly from it while others would be left confused and frustrated about the lottery system, especially given it was a championship race rather than an exhibition. That’s exactly what happened.
After winning the first race, Dario Franchitti drew the 28th starting spot for race two (teammate Scott Dixon drew the 18th grid spot). Without the aid of a caution, Franchitti was only able to climb up to seventh at race’s end and was none too pleased about the format. “I don't mind if they invert the whole field because that's fair, but this was a crap shoot that didn't involve any talent and we're running for a championship,'' Franchitti, who now sits 21 points behind Power in the championship, said at the night’s conclusion. “It was the worst-case scenario for me because Will drew a good number and I got stuck with 28th. This isn't an all-star race and I hope it doesn't have any serious ramifications down the road.''
Dixon enjoyed more success, coming from 18th to finish second, matching his result from the first race. Still, he shared his teammate’s sentiments. “Considering I drew such a bad number, I guess second is pretty good but if we do this again next year we need to invert the field or start how we finished in the first one.''
At the same time, the Penske team, which finished 1,3,4 in the second race, seemed happy with how the night went. “It was an exciting night, the new two-race format ended up working well for us,” said Briscoe, who finished sixth and third in the two races. “The Guidepoint Systems car ran strong in both races. We were able to improve from our starting position in each of the two races. We made some changes between the races and the car ran even better still. We just missed out on a Team Penske 1-2-3, but I think that we can feel very pleased with our result."
Helio Castroneves was also pleased with the layout of the night. "I thought it was great. I thought it was really good. Certainly whoever has the fastest car goes to the front no matter what. And I do believe the fans enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it, but when the car's good you enjoy anything!"
None were happier than Power, though, who scored his first career oval win on Saturday night’s second race. "This means so much to me and the (Verizon Team Penske) boys,” said Power, who drew the third staring spot for race two. “We've been chasing this for so long. It was a fun race and great day. It was a good battle with (Tony) Kanaan at the start and then (Scott) Dixon came on strong. This is what we need for the championship."
But, Power did sympathize with Franchitti. “I think the fans liked it but it wasn't fair to Dario and I understand his frustration.”
In all, having two races in one night went off well and appeared well-received by drivers and fans alike. However, a random lottery for starting spots did not sit well, with a field inversion believed to be the better and more popular option.