One year ago, Justin Wilson scored the victory at Texas after starting 17th in his Dale Coyne Racing car. It marked the lowest starting position for an IndyCar race winner at this 1.5-mile racetrack.
Graham Rahal was on his way to winning last year's race here, but Rahal made contact with the wall while leading with just two laps to go. That allowed second-place runner Wilson to move into the lead and take the checkered flag. It was Wilson's seventh career IndyCar win but his first on an oval.
"It meant a lot, not only with the recognition but in the confidence," Wilson said. "That's the biggest thing, is having the confidence on an oval. I felt like I knew what I was doing, but I still wasn't classed as an oval driver. I was kind of disregarded. From that point on, I felt I had the confidence to go out there. I knew what I was doing, knew what I was trying to achieve with the car in the race."
Wilson has not won a race since then.
Right now, Wilson is seventh in the point standings. He finished fifth in the first oval race this season -- the May 26 Indianapolis 500. This past weekend, Wilson placed third in race 1 of the Detroit dual. He finished 22nd in the second event after being involved in a 10-car crash on lap 28.
The race at Texas will feature a change to the aerodynamic setup of the cars. It will produce slightly less downforce, which likely will increase lap speeds by a few miles per hour. The Firestone tires will have a new compound and left-side construction designed to give the cars slightly more grip.
"It's going to be interesting," Wilson said. "(IndyCar) took the downforce away, made it harder to drive. But that was good, because we weren't flat out. I've been told they've taken even more downforce away, so I think we've lost another 300 pounds. I think that's going to make it challenging again.
"I know Firestone has changed the tire slightly. All the teams have to readjust for that. We're going to be working on our setup, trying to get a good balance. It's having that balance that saves the tires, and you can run longer in the stints. That's what we're looking to do. We did that quite well last year and won. We weren't the quickest car outright, so people would pull away at the start of the stints, but we tried to manage it and be quicker over the full stint."
After winning the Indy 500, Tony Kanaan is wondering if he can make it two- for-two on the ovals this season.
"Why not?," Kanaan said. "I mean, my record (at Texas) is quite good. Last year, we were fighting for the win until I got blocked by Will (Power), and we broke the front wing."
Kanaan won at Texas in June 2004, the same year he won his IndyCar championship.
Helio Castroneves will attempt to win at Texas for a record fourth time. Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr., who is now a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, have the most IndyCar wins at this track with three each. Castroneves' victories here came in 2004 (October race), '06 and '09.
Twenty-four teams are on the entry list for the Firestone 550.
Series: IZOD IndyCar. Date: Saturday, June 8. Race: Firestone 550. Site: Texas Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 228 laps. Miles: 324 (550 kilometers). 2012 Winner: Justin Wilson. Television: ABC. Radio: IMS Radio Network/SIRIUS XM Satellite.