On a night when nobody had handling, and tires were falling off faster than aero kit pieces on a street course, there was one driver who was able to make it look easy. Scott Dixon is known as “The Iceman” for a reason, and tonight was just another example of his extraordinary talent. Dixon won the race under the lights at Texas, where he was easily the class of the field.
This is the second victory of the season for Dixon, and his second win at Texas. He won the 2008 race, on his way to capturing the championship that year. It is career win number 37 for Dixon, and the 99th IndyCar victory for team owner Chip Ganassi.
Tony Kanaan led early in the race (57 laps), then followed his teammate in the second half as he delivered a 1-2 finish for Ganassi. Four-time Texas winner Helio Castroneves joined them on the podium. Reigning Indy 500 winner Juan Montoya extended his lead in the championship with a fourth place finish. Marco Andretti rounded out the top five. Andretti was the last car on the lead lap, which means he still is the only driver to have completed every lap of competition this year.
Charlie Kimball had another solid outing, finishing seventh on Saturday. The two SPM cars also had a great showing, with Ryan Briscoe and James Jakes finishing eighth and ninth. Briscoe, who was filling in for the injured James Hinchcliffe, was riding in the top five most of the night, after starting back in 19th position. Rookie Gabby Chaves earned himself another top ten finish as well.
There were quite a few drivers that didn’t have the night they were hoping for. Pole sitter Will Power faded quickly, and finished four laps down in 13th. Teammate Simon Pagenaud looked strong early, but he too faded as the race went on. The Frenchman finished in the 11th spot. Graham Rahal was expecting to have a great night after qualifying sixth, but his car was a mess all night long, and he came home 15th. The CFHR cars of Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden struggled all weekend, and both eventually retired from the race early with mechanical issues.
It was another poor performance from Ryan Hunter-Reay, who struggled after his crash in practice on Friday. He started 21st on Saturday and was never a factor, finishing a disappointing 18th. The 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner sits 13th in the championship standings, with just seven races remaining.
Dixon led the most laps (97) of the race, which only saw one yellow flag, which was for debris. There were 14 lead changes among 9 drivers, and the average speed of the race was 191.940 mph, which is a track record. Despite all of the concerns over handling and grip, there weren’t any accidents on Saturday night. There were four drivers (Vautier, Carpenter, Newgarden, Hawksworth) that did retire early due to mechanical issues.
There were no position changes in the top five of the standings, but Montoya now leads Power by 35 points with seven races to go. Dixon is in third, 43 points behind Montoya. Kanaan did jump three spots up with eighth place with his runner up finish tonight. Rahal and Andretti (5th and 6th) are the only two Honda representatives in the top 11.
The next race on the schedule is the Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Ontario, Canada on June 14. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 3 PM ET on Sunday. This will be the last non-oval event until Mid-Ohio on August 2.
Will Power: “It was tough day for the Verizon Chevy Team. We got a bit blindsided there and chose the wrong downforce level for tonight but I think our problems were deeper than that. We just need to take a good look at what we missed. We’ll go back and look towards better results in Toronto.”
Juan Montoya: “Our Verizon Chevy was really quick. We came out of the pits there leading and we made a mistake with the front wing. I asked to take wing out and they went the wrong way. I started leading when I was full stiff bars and full on the weight jacker, and it was still really pointy and I said, ‘This is going to get really loose,’ so I just backed off and let a few people by and it just started wearing the right rear tire. By the time I stopped (again), I lost half a lap. You saw how good I was at the end, how I caught Helio. If that would’ve been the case (all race), we probably would’ve won the race, but it is what it is.”
Helio Castroneves: “Mentally, physically it was incredible tonight. One of the toughest ones – especially because we have to control the car, plus at the end with the temperature, the front end of my car was getting a lot nervous. The AAA car was actually strong. We chose in the middle of the downforce (level). We knew that the Ganassis had more downforce than us and in the end they ended up getting the best way. A good day for the championship and points, we’re still fourth, but at least we’re closer to Juan Pablo (Montoya) and we’ll keep going. … Some of the close calls were incredible. To be honest, I was like, ‘Ahhh!’ and I closed my eyes. Sometimes it was like, ‘That’s going to be a close one.’ With drivers that you can trust, when you run in the front like that all the time, it’s great to run like that. It’s fun, it’s challenging. But stupid drivers, when they have no idea what they’re doing, it’s dangerous. I felt safer doing that type of stuff tonight than running 12th or 13th at Indianapolis. Because you know that everybody’s going to give an inch, it’s small, but they’re going to give an inch. Very happy that we were able to finish in the top three.”
Ryan Briscoe: “It was a really good effort. I was pleased to be able to move our way through the field and it was a lot of fun. I had a really good car and I’m really proud of the effort by the whole Arrow Electronics team, their pit stops are impressive. We were constantly talking throughout the race to make improvements on the balance and we had to work with it a lot but I was really happy. I’m not sure what happened at the end. I was hoping for a top five finish but I think the strategy kind of played out a little bit differently. We dropped a couple of spots right at the end but it was a great effort.”
James Jakes: “We said we wanted to get top tens until the end of the year but honestly, I’m a little bit disappointed with ninth. I felt we had a better car than that and the No. 7 SPM MediaTech Honda was pretty solid. The crew did a great job all night and we just came up a bit short by going off strategy like that. We can still count it as a good finish and add some points. Now we move on to Toronto.”
Sage Karam: “It was a good race. I’m not thrilled with a 12th-place finish, but I’m also not disappointed. I think the main objective for this race, especially after the last few weekends, was just to complete all the laps and finish the best we could. This is a very difficult track and it was my first time ever racing here, so I didn’t know what to expect. Every stint we were pretty loose and I was holding onto the car quite a bit, but it was a very difficult, challenging race. The Chip Ganassi Racing cars were competitive all night and I’m really happy for my teammates with the one-two finish. I made a little mistake and the car got loose which put me above the apron and I ended up getting a drive-through penalty. That put me out of contention for the top-10, but I’m just going to take it as a learning experience and move forward into this weekend in Toronto.”
Scott Dixon: “A lot of credit goes to the Team Target engineering group for the option that we went with which was on the high downforce level. Another big thanks needs to go to Team Chevy for giving us so many good options to run with and the power they’ve given us as well. Once we got the balance right and we got some front wing in the car with some tire pressure changes, the car was basically on rails. That allowed us to run up there with TK and really push him along. After that pit stop exchange, we were able to take the lead and the car was just fantastic in traffic. I think that was the key to winning this race. We found out last year that not being able to run well in traffic was a huge disadvantage, so we made sure to correct that for this year. It was just one of those nights where you get towards the end and you just hope that there wasn’t going to be any yellows. I knew we had a good car. We just had to get it dialed in. I can’t thank the crew enough. This Energizer car, I told you, we had a run with this thing where we would constantly win. I am just over the moon with it, over the moon.”
Tony Kanaan: “That was definitely a tough race, but it always is here at Texas Motor Speedway. We saw the setups the Penske guys were running and they saw ours and I think both sides were so different that we were just thinking that someone definitely got it right and someone didn’t. We decided to run more downforce and it worked in our favor. It was really close, good racing here tonight and in my opinion at least, I thought it was a lot of fun. You always want to win but I’m so happy for Scott, he ran a really good race. And while a second isn’t a win, I’ll take those championship points.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “The Hydroxycut team definitely made progress since last year. The car was actually pretty good. I tried to drive it a little to free and killed the rear tires a couple of times. Then under a yellow, we decided to pit and it was too early, so we didn’t beat the pace car out and got penalized. I also made a mistake. I thought it was a drive through penalty and it was a stop and go, so I had to come back in and we went down another lap. Toward the last part of the race we showed we had a good car. The last two stints were strong, but to make up two laps… We got very little out of a pretty good race and a solid race car, but it is what it is, now it is on to the next one.”
Graham Rahal: “After running so well last night, and yesterday in general, this was a shock to us. We’re pretty disappointed in the performance; the car was extremely loose. This hurts us in the championship because we lost some ground. We didn’t see this yesterday in those conditions even on old tires so it is a shock for sure to see the handling today like we had. It was a bad day but we will work hard to recover from this and be strong in Toronto.”
Ed Carpenter: “We were just riding around, finishing the race when something let go in the car. We were in no way, shape, or form in contention. It’s disappointing. We’ve been strong here for the past couple of years. We have good road course cars right now. We just haven’t been able to get this package sorted out for the ovals. A big part of that weight falls on my shoulders. I feel I need to do more to help these guys.”
Simon Pagenaud: “An up and down night for sure for the Avaya Chevrolet team. The car was really good out front with the downforce setup we had on the car. Unfortunately we had an electrical issue with our weight jacker, which through the balance of the car off until we got a chance to reset the system under the second caution. But when we did that the engine shut down all the way into the pit stall and we lost several spots. An unfortunate situation for sure, but the guys continued to work on the car to make it better, but with our downforce setup it was just not the best in traffic. Now we go to Toronto – which is a place that I love – to try to get this team to Victory Lane.”
Carlos Munoz: “I think I gave 100 percent, everything I could. We needed to save a little bit more fuel than the other guys. We did one less pit stop. It was hard to save fuel, so we lost some positions there. We finished sixth – a great position, and I think I did quite good with our stops and pushing hard. It was good for experience, another top 10, and now we’re looking forward to Toronto.”
Marco Andretti: “We were sort of just hanging on to it tonight. Seemingly lacking a bit of grip and pace to the front runners, so we had to get the top five the way we did it. It was an awesome job by my Snapple guys. We just need to keep hanging in there, that’s all we can do.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “Unfortunately, I think there’s something wrong with this car – it’s the same one we had at Indy – and we’re going to ‘kitchen sink it’ as they call it, for the next oval race. We’re just going to come back with a different tub, a different everything because it’s not this difficult. There’s no excuse for this… I’m just glad I brought it back in one piece – it was loose the whole night no matter what we did to it. Meanwhile, my teammates (Marco Andretti, Carlos Muñoz) were adding front wing the whole night trying to get the front to grip up…”
Josef Newgarden: “We’re not sure what happened yet, we just lost drive. It was a tough weekend. We struggled all weekend with the car’s handling. We did everything we could to make it better. We did a good job keeping it in the race. We just didn’t have enough for everyone. Capping it off with losing drive was a hard way to end the weekend. We put up a good fight. We did everything we could to be competitive. It was a tough weekend where nothing really went our way. All we can do is go to Toronto and have a solid weekend.”
Charlie Kimball: “Today was a big day for Chip Ganassi Racing with the first and second place finish – a huge congrats to Scott, Tony, Team Target, and the NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Team. We’re a little disappointed to not come home with a top-five finish, especially with those guys at the end saving fuel. We definitely had the pace and the No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch Chevrolet was really solid all night. We just had to make some adjustments during some stops to get in the position to go fight for a higher position out there when we could. I think the one restart took a little more out of the tires than I was expecting, but we fought through it and were able to make up some positions. Overall we had a really good, well-fought race, and we can use this momentum heading into Toronto next weekend.”
Gabby Chaves: “We constantly improved the car throughout the race, made our way through the field pretty well. We had a couple of slower stops, but all my crew and everyone on the team did a fantastic job to improve the car and give me a car I was comfortable racing with. Two top 10s in a row is really good progress, and we’re just looking forward to continuing to improve on this momentum going onto the next few races.”
Race Photos via IndyCar