1. TheCircuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, will become the sixth venue outsideAustralia to host the V8 Supercars Championship, following Pukekohe andHamilton (New Zealand), Shanghai (China), Bahrain and the Yas Marina Circuit(Abu Dhabi).
The V8 Supercars Championship first raced outside of Australia at Pukekohe in2001 and the Austin 400 will be the 22nd V8 Supercars Championship event to beheld offshore.
The Austin 400is the second international event in the 2013 V8 Supercars Championshipfollowing on from the ITM 400 Auckland at Pukekohe in mid-April.
2. V8 Supercars Championship leader Jamie Whincup is the instant favourite for theAustin 400 – and not just because he’s the points leader or winner of the lasttwo races at Barbagallo.
Whincup’s success offshore has been unmatched, the Red Bull Racing Australiadriver winning 16 of the last 24 V8SC races held outside Australia from Bahrain2008 onwards.
He’s alsotaken nine of the 21 pole positions in that time, with a total of eight driverssharing the 12 other pole positions on offer between them.
On the flip side, Whincup’s teammate Craig Lowndes has claimed just one of hisrecord 91 ATCC/V8SC race wins outside Australia – a single race win in Bahrainin 2007.
A total of 57 races have been held offshore since the first overseas event atPukekohe in 2001. Interestingly, five different drivers have taken the first race win at each internationalvenue. Those drivers are Greg Murphy (Pukekohe 2001), Todd Kelly (Shanghai 2005),Jason Bright (Bahrain 2006), Garth Tander (Hamilton 2008) and Jamie Whincup(2010 Yas Marina Circuit).
3. Of the 28drivers in the V8 Supercars Championship field, just four – Jason Bright, AlexDavison, Alex Premat and James Courtney –have raced cars before in the UnitedStates.
Team BOC’s Bright is the most experienced, having competed in the US FormulaFord 2000 Championship in 1996, Indy Lights in 2000 (including a victory inPortland) and the 2006 Sebring 12 Hour for Aston Martin Racing – where hefinished fourth overall and second in class.
JELD-WEN FPR Ford’s Davison was the first Australian to win a race at thefamous Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he won in Porsche Supercup in 2002. Healso competed in a handful of American Le Mans Series races in a Porsche in2003 and 2008 – including a second place finish in the GT2 class of the 2008Sebring 12 Hour.
Fujitsu Racing GRM’s Premat competed in a round of the American Le Mans Seriesat Laguna Seca in 2011 in an OAK Racing Pescarolo-Judd, while the Holden RacingTeam’s Courtney made a one-off start in the US in 2004 when the Japanese GTChampionship he was racing in at the time competed at California Speedway inFontana.
4. V8 Supercars will use the shorter 3.7km ‘National Circuit’ at the Circuit of The Americas, rather than the full 5.5km ‘Grand Prix’ layout.
The circuit is the first purpose-built Grand Prix racetrack in the UnitedStates and was designed by Herman Tilke as the focal point of the 350 acreprecinct.
It hosted Formula One in November last year and hosted MotoGP as recently asApril 2013.
V8 Supercars will compete in four 100km races at the Circuit of The Americas –the same format as Pukekohe in New Zealand – though with compulsory pit stopsfor tyre changes in each race, which were not part of the Pukekohe format.
Only hard Dunlop tyres will be used at the Austin 400 – no soft tyres will beused.
5. Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford driver Mark Winterbottom is desperate to break a12-month winning-drought as he continues to mount a comeback from a lowlyposition in the Championship pointscore.
Winterbottom last won a V8SC race at Phillip Island on May 19 last year, whichwill be exactly one year ago to the day come Sunday race day at the Circuit ofThe Americas.
He will also have added reason for celebrations should he win in Texas given hewill celebrate his 32nd birthday on the Monday after the event on May 20.
Winterbottom sits ninth in the championship, 292 points behind leader JamieWhincup.
The Ford pilot was the first V8 Supercar driver to visit the Circuit of TheAmericas last year while it was under construction.
6. Holden will become the first manufacturer to rack up 250 pole positions inthe Australian Touring Car Championship/V8 Supercars Championship with its nextpole position in 2013.
It currently sits on 249 after the last event at Barbagallo with rivals Fordachieving 215 pole positions.
Peter Brock took Holden’s first ATCC/V8SC pole position at Symmons Plains inTasmania in 1973, while Holden drivers have dominated Qualifying this year andtaken 11 of the 12 pole positions so far this season.
7. With four events completed in this year’s V8 Supercars Championship (and 12races within them) the spread of points between the top 10 is much tighter thanat the same point last year.
A total of 369 points covers current leader Jamie Whincup to 10th placed ScottMcLaughlin, while last year (after the fourth event, also at Barbagallo), therewas a whopping 524 points between Whincup and 10th placed RickKelly.
The spread between the top five is also less (238 this year to 358 last year),though the top two drivers in the Championship at the moment are exactly thesame as this time last year: Jamie Whincup and Will Davison.
8. Two drivers – Craig Lowndes and Jason Bright – make important moves up theall-time event starts list at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
Lowndes moves to fourth on the all-time event starts list with his 213th ATCC/V8SCappearance and now sits behind only John Bowe, Russell Ingall and Mark Skaife,while Bright moves into the top 10, tying Tony Longhurst for 10th on 192 eventstarts.
9. While things remain tough for the Holden Racing Team, it’s the recentqualifying form of former champion Garth Tander that produces some startlingstatistical analysis.
Tander qualified outside the top 15 for all three races at the last event atBarbagallo in Perth; the first time since the first three qualifying sessionsof his V8 Supercar career way back in 1998 (at Phillip Island, Winton andMallala) that he’s qualified outside the top 15 three times in succession.
Tander has also been out-qualified so far this year by HRT teammate JamesCourtney for the first time since they became teammates in 2011.
Courtney averages a starting position of 9.67 this year, while Tander averages11.9.
Tander has qualified in the top 10 for just five of the 12 races held so farthis year, whereas Courtney has managed it eight times.
There have been 50 V8 Supercar Championship races since HRT’s last win atBathurst in 2011.
10. An often over-looked fight in the V8 Supercars Championship is the Team’sChampionship.
After 12 races, reigningTeam’s Champions Red Bull Racing Australia lead by 182 points over Pepsi MaxCrew FPR Ford – who finished runners-up last year.
Brad Jones Racing’s great start to the season sees them third, just 35 pointsbehind FPR, with the Holden Racing Team fourth from Tekno Autosports.