The annual NTT IndyCar Series race under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway never disappoints. Even more so when you have a dual between two of the best young drivers in the series. Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi have their eye on the championship, but they know who their toughest competition is as well. Newgarden had the advantage on Saturday night, edging the Andretti Autosport driver by 0.8164 seconds en route to his third win of the season.
Rossi came away with yet another runner-up finish, his third in the last four races. Following his victory at Long Beach, Rossi has finished 2nd, 2nd, 5th, and 2nd in his last four races. Newgarden led the final 47 laps on Saturday night, and extends his lead over Rossi in the championship to 25 points with eight races remaining. Graham Rahal earned his first podium of the season, as he seems to have been building momentum in the last three races.
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Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Santino Ferrucci earned his career best finish of 4th place tonight, which is his 5th top ten finish this season. It’s been an impressive campaign for the Dale Coyne Racing driver, as he currently leads all rookies in the standings. Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five on Saturday. It was another solid points day for him, but he led the most (90) laps in the race, and had a good chance at earning his first win of the season.
Simon Pagenaud continued his hot streak that began in May, as he recorded another top six finish at Texas. In his last four races here, he has finished 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and now 6th. Marcus Ericsson is also riding a nice wave of momentum, and scored a 7th place finish after his podium last weekend in Detroit. Sebastien Bourdais had a quiet night at Texas, but came away with a decent 8th place finish. The Frenchman has still yet to score a top five finish here. Will Power wasn’t much of a factor in the race either, but still finished 9th. Marco Andretti rounded out the top ten, in what was a much needed result after a few weeks of frustrating issues that plagued the No. 98 car.
Conor Daly stepped in quite well for Carlin Racing, moving up eight positions to finish 11th on Saturday. The popular American driver was in the No. 59 car after Max Chilton decided that he wanted to step away from the ovals for at least the rest of this season. Ed Carpenter Racing didn’t fare so well this time at Texas, as both Ed and Spencer Pigot struggled to get up front. They finished 13th and 14th respectively.
One of the scariest moments of the race came on pit road, as pole sitter Takuma Sato came in way too hot during his first stop, and hit one of his tire changers. Fortunately he was not seriously injured, but Sato’s chances of winning the race went out the window. Scott Dixon and Colton Herta came together on Lap 229, as they battled for 3rd place going into Turn 2. Both cars were out of the race after the accident, for which Dixon took responsibility for. This is the first time Dixon has had two consecutive weekends with DNFs since his 2002 CART season.
James Hinchcliffe also had a great race going until he lost control of his Arrow SPM machine on Lap 219. The Canadian nearly saved it, but ended up crashing hard into the inside wall. Zach Veach nearly had the same thing happen to him earlier in the race, but managed to keep it off of the wall. Unfortunately his car was damaged too badly to continue.
The series will now have a week off for Father’s Day weekend. The next race on the schedule is the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America on June 23. NBC will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 12 PM ET on Sunday.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “It’s these guys (on the crew), man, they keep putting me out front (and) I’m just trying to get it done at the end. How about this Fitzgerald car; it looked good. It was good to have the Fitzgeralds here tonight. I knew we had a rocket ship and it was all about getting in the front. We were better in the front than we were in the back. We knew if we could get some (track) position we would be OK. Team Chevy doing a great job for us. A good day to capitalize on some points. These guys put me in position so it’s all up to them.” (About the final restart): “He (Alexander Rossi) was fast. Honestly, he ran a great race. Both him and (Scott) Dixon ran me really fair at the end. It was hard to get away on the restart; that was my biggest concern was getting a jump getting going again. (Rossi) was good, man, he was just hard to hold off. He was so good in dirty air. I saw him earlier in the race and how good he was behind people. I knew it was going to be tough, really tough, but you saw the speed I had on the frontstretch to hold him off, so thanks to Team Chevy. It was a good day in Texas, man. I’m glad we finally figured this place out. It’s been a while.” (About getting his first win on a superspeedway): “You know, we’ve been close here before, not necessarily at the end of the race. I know we’ve had good cars here before and have not been able to make it happen and one thing happens or another. To just finally figure it out has been great.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “We were coming up on some lapped cars and I tried to use those lapped cars to get a pick on (Alexander) Rossi. We got a good run on the outside, but I just got a little bit high and got into the grey. The car pushed to the outside and then just snapped on me, tagged the right rear into the wall and just went around. My fault. I was trying to make moves at the end of the race and get a good result for the No. 5 Arrow guys, they really deserved it. We’ve had just garbage luck this year. The car was good, strategy was good, Arrow guys were good in the pits, just my mistake.”
MARCUS ERICSSON: “Starting from 14th today was not the best starting position. I was trying to be patient out there and just sort of focusing on each car in front of us, one after the other, and moving our way up through the field. I think we did a good job there. The Arrow car was very consistent throughout the whole race and that made me feel confident. The Arrow guys had great pit stops and we had a good strategy. We had some bad luck with the yellow flags at the end, but fortunately, we had some fuel there to push to the end. I’m still super happy and proud of P7 at my first Texas Motor Speedway race. My first goal coming into the weekend was to finish the race. My second goal was to get a top 10, so to be seventh is a great result.”
SCOTT DIXON: “I just heard them saying the other car (Colton Herta) was looking inside and I started to track down to try and close it off. It was towards the end of the race. As I was doing that and looking down, I could still see his shadow there on the apron and I knew it wasn’t going to work out there. Sorry if that was my fault. I was just really pushing and trying to get the most out of it toward the end of the race in the PNC Bank car.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “The goal today was to run all the laps, complete all the laps and gain experience. We tested here before, but this was my first race at Texas Motor Speedway. We had a game plan, and we accomplished what we set out to do tonight in the NTT DATA Honda. This is something we can build off of and improve upon for future ovals.”
WILL POWER: “It was kind of a frustrating night. It was totally a track position race and I pushed up high in the beginning of the first stint and that was it. I got stuck in traffic and just never got our lap back. Ninth was actually a reasonable finish after such a bad run there. We’ll take the Verizon Chevy back to the shop and be ready for Road America in a couple weeks.”
TONY KANAAN: “We did what we could. We made 27 changes I think overnight, so it was a completely new setup going to the race. So, I just tried to manage what we got. I think we got to a point that we have something to work with. I’m glad we finished. We could have finished probably in the top 12 if it wasn’t for that penalty, but when you try, you’re trying too hard. All in all, we finished, we’re learning. We have to take what we learned here and take it to the next oval.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “It was a great run by the Fleet Cost & Care guys. We raced smart tonight and made moves when we had to. The guys did a hell of a job in the pits and made our lives easier. That first stop was phenomenal, we jumped a lot of guys. I’m proud of this organization. We’ve kept our heads down, and finally, I think we’ve been rewarded a little bit. Honda was great tonight and the fuel mileage was great. On that first stint, even with the parade and pace, I think we went 63 laps or something, which was awesome, so hats off to Honda for giving us that. Our guys have worked awfully hard and I’m extremely proud of them.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “We finished eighth and got some good championship points, but obviously, we were hoping for a lot better. The No. 18 SealMaster Honda was good. I think we had a top-five car. The guys did a good job with the pit stops. We had a strategy that could have worked, but the yellows worked against us. Honestly, I am not really sure what happened. We’ll just have to sit down and take a look at the race and get it figured out.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “I can’t thank my crew enough. We had a stellar crew in the pits, they did fantastic stops and we just made our way to the front while avoiding a couple of incidents in front of us. I can’t thank my spotter Pancho (Carter) enough to get me to push my limits in the car, coaching me throughout the race. To bring home a top five with our Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda, my first one in the NTT IndyCar Series, feels pretty good. For someone who had no experience on ovals, I’m starting to say I love them. I’m happy with a fourth place. After Indy, knowing what kind of car we had, how hard our crew has been working and how much power we have from Honda as well, I knew we could do something special here, regardless of what happened in qualifying, and we did.”
ED CARPENTER: “That was a very difficult race, right from the start. I struggled in traffic, but we weren’t great on our own either. I couldn’t defend any positions as I couldn’t drive the car hard at all, then we were just trying not to impede anyone else’s race. I am disappointed, as I really enjoy racing at Texas Motor Speedway, but we just didn’t have it tonight. I wish the next oval was not so far off, but I am looking forward to getting back in the car in Iowa and coming back much stronger there.”
SPENCER PIGOT: “Obviously, it was a frustrating race; a very difficult race. We just seemed to struggle over the course of a stint, keeping the tires underneath us. The balance just went away too quick, unfortunately. It was very tough to keep position and pass cars. We’ll look at everything to see where we can get better for the next oval; until then, I’m looking forward to Road America in a couple of weeks.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL: “Unfortunately, we had a mechanical issue out there, but no damage to the car. It just stepped out right at the exit of Turn 4. The car loaded up and gave me a little bit of strange feedback as I turned into Turn 3 and then I honestly thought we had a right rear puncture, but it looks like it was more of a bad wheel bearing and not quite as easy of a fix as we were hoping for. It’s a shame that our day ended early because the No. 23 Fiasp Carlin Chevrolet was really good all weekend when we were in clean air. The No. 7 (Marcus Ericsson) car and I were just going forward out there. It felt like we were driving away from the leader who had caught up to the back. I feel bad for these Carlin guys. They put in so much effort and to have something like that pop up out of nowhere totally unexpected just really hurts.”
ZACH VEACH: “The Gainbridge car was great today, I just got caught up in lapped cars that weren’t giving way. I was running seventh and was trying to get around Spencer (Pigot) and another lapped car – they just made it too hard. I came off the bottom of Turn 2 with Spencer and he cut down even further and basically took all the air off my wing. We hit the wall and went for a ride. The crew did a great job to get me back out, but in the end, we just didn’t have anything else to gain. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is, and we’ll look ahead to the next one.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: “I think we had a good car, could obviously get a good run on him (Josef Newgarden) off of Turns 3 and 4. Lane 2 was really never there for me. We could get halfway around the outside, then would have to bail out. Could have maybe taken a bit more of risk. It was pretty low percentage. I didn’t think a lot of guys were making it happen. Ultimately, then it became about trying to beat him for the line, but we took out a lot of the tire life going in Lane 2 there, so we just didn’t have the rear tires there at the end to stay close to him. That sucks. I mean, I didn’t see him up front all day. All of a sudden, he appears in P1. Obviously, they’re doing a good job. He had a fast car once he got in front. Ultimately I think Scott (Dixon), myself and Colton (Herta) in terms of fuel mileage and where we were going, were looking pretty good there till the end.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “I thought for sure tonight was the night we were going to pull the DHL car into victory lane and get some cowboy hats. It wasn’t meant to be, unfortunately. I think leading that much maybe put us in a position where we were pitting a lap or two early and then that kind of snowballed on itself. It became a fuel mileage race with the way the yellows fell and nothing went our way then. We definitely showed we were here and showed we are fast and capable of winning – it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t turn this into a ‘W’ because I think this was a night to take advantage of, no doubt. These DHL guys did a great job, the car was awesome. But then it got to a point where I was in the most extreme fuel map, just letting guys go. It was a disaster after that. Big thanks to the guys, we’ll move on to Road America, and hopefully, get a win there.”
TAKUMA SATO: “I’m deeply sorry. The guys built a great car today and then I blew it. I overshot the pit, and fortunately, no one was seriously injured.”
CONOR DALY: “I think we can be super happy with that result for the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. We had a bit of a slow start. I just really struggled at the beginning of the first stint, but once we changed to the second set of tires, we just kept going faster and faster and were able to get into the lead group even though we were a lap down. We were keeping up with those guys really well and we just had solid pace all night. Every restart we seemed to pass people, which is a lot of fun, and we just kept working on it little by little. I’m pretty happy with moving from 19th to 11th and I think it’s something we can all be proud of coming out of this weekend.”
COLTON HERTA: “(Scott Dixon) apologized and that’s what it seemed like from my point of view. I (haven’t) seen a replay yet or anything, but he just turned down on me from my point of view. I was there and he put me on the apron. I was more than enough ahead. He didn’t need to do it. That outside lane was there and he could have run the outside. He must not have known (I was there). I’m really happy with how the car was. The GESS Capstone car (and) all the boys did an amazing job. Big congrats to INDYCAR for bringing the updates to the front wing and the new tires because it made the racing a hell of a lot better. We’ll keep trucking. This is a DNF (did not finish) that I’ll take because I was really happy with my performance.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “We couldn’t pass on track tonight, but the No. 98 team did everything else right. Our strategy was there, the car balance was good – I just wish we had started further forward. This is a track position race; the car was good enough to compete, but we just couldn’t get the position.”