The one-day show at Texas Motor Speedway was full of unknowns. With the new aeroscreen, tire limits, and a crop of rookies that have never raced on the high-banked oval, there was only one certainty on Saturday – Scott Dixon is still Scott Dixon. The legendary driver for Chip Ganassi Racing captured his 47th career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series season-opener. This is the 18th different season that Dixon has won a race, which is now a record that he shares with another legend – AJ Foyt.
As the race played out, it appeared as though the battle for the checkered flag was going to come down to Dixon and his teammate Felix Rosenqvist. Both drivers were on a different level than the rest of the field, and Felix appeared to have enough to get to the lead, but after the final round of pit stops his night came to a crashing halt. As he tried to maneuver around the lapped car of James Hinchcliffe, his No. 10 car lost grip and was sent spinning into the outside wall. It was a punch in the gut to Felix and the team, but also a strong signal that they will be a threat every weekend going forward.
Team Penske placed two drivers on the podium alongside Dixon, with Simon Pagenaud finishing second and reigning series champion Josef Newgarden coming home in third after starting the race in pole position. It was another solid finish at Texas for Simon. His last five finishes at Texas are 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 6th, and 2nd. Newgarden edged out Dixon for the pole earlier in the day during qualifying. Josef was the final car to go out as the qualifying order was set by points from last year. That disappointment may have been what fueled The Kiwi to his fourth victory at Texas.
Genesys 300 Box Score
Zach Veach matched his best career finish with a 4th place result on Saturday. After his sophomore slump last season and his disappointing results at Texas, Veach is off to a strong start in 2020 as the top finishing driver for Andretti Autosport. Rounding out the top five was another driver that needed a solid result. Ed Carpenter started 13th on Saturday but muscled his No. 20 Chevrolet towards the front as soon as the green flag fell. The momentum from last season may have carried over for Ed, who finished 6th at Pocono and 2nd at Gateway in his final two races last year.
Ed is sharing the No. 20 car with Conor Daly this year, but tonight Conor was filling in for Carlin Racing as planned. After finishing 6th in his final race with Carlin a year ago, Conor matched that with a 6th place finish at Texas. The Noblesville native has been an incredible asset for the team as they continue to build each season. Colton Herta and Ryan Hunter-Reay were able to finish 7th and 8th respectively, but neither one of them had a night to remember. Hunter-Reay qualified 4th earlier in the day but was relegated to the back of the starting grid due to unapproved changes to the car. The same was true for his teammate Alexander Rossi, who qualified 8th but finished 15th after the change.
Oliver Askew was the highest-finishing rookie in the field, as he delivered a 9th place finish in his IndyCar debut with the Arrow McLaren SP team. Tony Kanaan made his 318th consecutive start, and made it a memorable one in his final race at Texas. The AJ Foyt Racing driver qualified 10th in his throwback 7-Eleven livery and recorded a much-needed top ten result for the team. His teammate Charlie Kimball finished just behind him in 11th, but it looked as though it was going to be so much better. In his return to full-time racing this season, Kimball was phenomenal during the race, spending most of the night inside the top five. The final sequence didn’t go so well, and he ended up crashing hard into the inside wall on the final lap of the race.
Will Power did not have the same success as his two teammates on Saturday. An error during a pit stop left him with a right-rear wheel that fell off. The team was able to take care of the issue but Power was a non-factor on Saturday. While Veach, Herta, and Hunter-Reay had their own successes, the remaining Andretti Autosport drivers (Marco Andretti, Jack Harvey, James Hinchcliffe) all had issues that relegated them to the rear of the field.
It was an especially rough day for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. It began during qualifying when Takuma Sato crashed after starting his attempt. It was a hard hit for the veteran driver, and a costly one for the team. With the race set to begin in about 90 minutes from then, they did not have enough time to repair the car and get him through tech. After eight months of waiting, Sato did not even get to take the green flag on Saturday. Graham Rahal qualified in 7th but an ECU issue prevented him from starting the race on time as well.
There were five lead changes among three drivers on Saturday, with Dixon leading 157 of the 200 laps. Newgarden led 41 and Veach led two as there were four cautions on the night. Rosenqvist recorded the fastest lap of the race at 215.025 mph while Dixon had the fastest leader lap at 214.107 mph. The average speed of the race was 175.201 mph.
The series will be on hiatus for another month before the next race, due to the reshuffled schedule from the pandemic. The next race on the schedule is the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on July 4. NBC will provide coverage for the race, which begins at 12:15 PM ET on Saturday. The event is set to be the first NASCAR/IndyCar doubleheader with the Xfinity series racing on the road course following the IndyCar event. The Brickyard 400 is slated for the following day on the famed 2.5-mile oval. The series announced last week that fans will not be permitted to attend the event.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
SCOTT DIXON: “I can’t thank the team enough, everybody at PNC. It’s such strange times right now, and I just can’t thank the team. It was such a team effort. We had a couple mistakes at the start and throughout the race, but we recovered. It was awesome. Honda, they were huge with the power out there. It was just so fast. Any situation we were in, we could just go for it. Huge thanks to everybody involved. Bummed that the fans aren’t here. We wish everybody was here to celebrate.” (About dealing with traffic late in the race): “It was more traffic I think. We could check out. It was just when we got to a few people that were going to be a little more challenging to pass. That definitely cropped up. Will (Power) was pretty tough, and I knew he was going to be. He was trying to stay on the lead lap. A bunch of those guys were. (Alexander) Rossi, I think, was going two laps down, so I don’t know what he was up to. So, all in all, that’s racing. We had to make some big, bold moves around the outside into Turn 1, especially on Felix (Rosenqvist) and on Josef (Newgarden), which was definitely a nice repay and a nice way to get back to the lead.”
SIMON PAGENAUD: “We knew coming in it was going to be a tough situation for the INDYCAR SERIES putting together the race and making sure we could put on the show to entertain people. That’s what we do; that’s what this business is about. I’m very proud to carry the DXC Technology colors here; you know, they are from Texas. It was just an intense night. We had balance changes – some stints we went really loose, one stint we had understeer. It was very difficult to understand, so I had to be really cognizant of that with the adjustments in the race car. At the end, we managed to take some front wing out, and it came back to us and it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “Tonight was just a night for just hanging on for the No. 1 XPEL Chevrolet. We came home with a podium finish, and that is what we needed to do. You have to have nights like this. Tonight was a night to swallow your pride and get the best out of what you got. If I can go out there and win the race, I’m going to try and do it. But tonight wasn’t that night. We weren’t good enough throughout a tire stint to challenge Scott. He was just so, so good all night. But that is what this team is capable of doing. They are the best in the business and give me everything they can to put me up front. Now, we just got to regroup I’m not pleased with third because I want to go win a race. But tonight, third place for us almost feels like a win.”
ZACH VEACH: “Really, really good night here in the Gainbridge Honda. I wanted to start 2020 off good because 2019 was so rough, and we came out here to Texas and got a top-four and started fifth. I’m just very happy. This kind of momentum will be great to go into the Indy GP and hopefully have the season we’ve been needing to have. The guys did an awesome job. My engineer Mark Bryant, the car was amazing and all my pit crew: They were awesome for everything, and that played a big part in a race with not many passes. I’m just happy and a big thank you to Andretti Autosport.”
ED CARPENTER: “I was being pretty aggressive! I had a good shot at getting Josef (Newgarden) out of Turn 2 but got way loose. I’d rather go for a podium. The ECR team did a great job all night. and Chevy did a great job. It was obviously a track position race. If we got to the front, we could have challenged. We were back of the line but kept getting people for position, picking people off. Good to be back racing. Firestone did a good job under tough circumstances.”
CONOR DALY: “It was an awesome night, and I knew we had a great car in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. I messed up a little bit in qualifying and just under-drove it, but we made up for it with such a great race. The team had great pit stops, really incredible pit stops all night. The car was fantastic to drive, and it really gave me the confidence to go forward. We made such a great improvement from last year. To be honest, we probably should’ve been in the top five, but we just got a little loose in those last three laps and just couldn’t hang onto it. I was driving it pretty sideways for final couple laps. I’m just super thankful to Carlin and Gallagher for giving me the opportunity to be here with the team and to be in the series. It’s such a great way to start out the championship.”
COLTON HERTA: “I’m happy with that to start the year for the 88 Capstone Honda. I don’t think we had the car to win today, but we got a lot out of it. Congrats to Zach (Veach). He did a really good job. I’ll take a P7 from starting P14. We have some stuff to work on, but, again, great points to start the year and go off of this for the rest of the season.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “Incredibly unfortunate events got us at the start of the race. The team did a great job and turned the car around for qualifying. I got in it and drove the wheels off it — up to P4 in qualifying. It ended up being a track position race, which would’ve really benefited us. And unfortunately, we had an issue with the electronics starting up and had to make a change. Because of the impound rule for the event, we got penalized twice. I’m not really sure why the cartoon anvil keeps dropping on the 28, but it’s frustrating. Great job by the whole 28 DHL Honda team. We had a good car to represent our partners and our teammates great today, but we were robbed.”
OLIVER ASKEW: “It ended up being a great day for Arrow McLaren SP and the No. 7 team. The whole crew and Chevrolet put a great car under me, and we were able to execute our game plan perfectly. To finish in the top 10 in my first-ever INDYCAR race is more than I could have asked for. We are carrying a ton of momentum into the Indy GP, and I think we will only get stronger as a team. This is a great way to begin the partnership between Arrow, McLaren and Schmidt Peterson, and I’m happy we could have a good result after months of preparation. Thank you to everyone at Texas Motor Speedway, INDYCAR, Roger Penske and the state of Texas for making this race happen.”
TONY KANAAN: “A difficult race. I had a little mistake in pit lane. First time in 23 years I got a speeding violation, and that cost us track position. From then on, I was just trying to minimize the damage because track position was extremely important. But I had a great qualifying, and at the end of the race, we actually got lucky and got the yellow at the right time, and we gained seven positions and finished in the top 10, so I’ll take it.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL: “A disappointing result for a really strong night for the Tresiba Chevrolet team. The car was so good. We unloaded pretty well, and I think we made it a little bit better, qualified solidly and then the green flag came out and the car felt so good I was able to make moves and move forward. A small miscalculation in pit lane meant that we had to make an unscheduled pit stop, which was unfortunate which put us back, and we got caught up and ended up with a little bit of damage at the end of the race. Still two AJ Foyt Racing cars finishing 10th and 11th , I think it’s a solid start to 2020. I can’t wait to get back in the car for the next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race.”
PATO O’WARD: “I think it was a good first race for everyone at Arrow McLaren SP. Our first objective was to finish and the second objective was to get into the top 10. We were just two positions shy of getting into the top 10, but my teammate Oliver did a fantastic job and ended up in ninth. I ended up 12th because of a personal mistake during one of the pit stops. I think for not practicing much and coming into this track not knowing anything about it, coming out with a 12th -place finish after starting from the back is a huge positive. It’s something that will give us momentum going to the Indy road course in a month. I think it was a great start for the whole Arrow McLaren SP team, our fans and our partners. It definitely left us wanting more.”
WILL POWER: “The Verizon Chevy was really good. It was just so hard to pass. Obviously, we had a mishap on a pit stop and that put us at the back, and, man, there were four cars that went 36 laps on the first stint. I feel like they should be penalized. It’s unbelievable. That could be four more positions for me. It was a frustrating night. We had a mistake that put us in a bad place, and it’s just unfortunate.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “Glad to get the season started for the 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb team. The car overall felt good today. We were able to make the adjustments we needed to in practice to be in the top five and had decent qualifying, but the race didn’t go our way. This was a track position race, and we moved back with a couple of pit stops when we needed to move forward. With those and fighting through traffic, we didn’t end where we had wanted.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: “I think we came into this weekend with a lot of unknowns. We tried to get through a lot of things at practice. We probably gave away a couple spots in qualifying, but ultimately I think we did a good job considering we had a pretty difficult practice. We were pretty optimistic for the race, starting toward the front and being there for the night, but unfortunately couldn’t get the car started on the grid because of an ECU issue. I was among a couple of other cars that that happened to. We had to start from the back and had a drive-through penalty. Then during the drive-through, there was an issue with the pit lane speed limiter, which followed up one drive-through penalty with another. From that point our night was pretty much over, but we tried our best to salvage what we could. The fact we ended up 15th was better than nothing, and I think the one takeaway is that the NAPA / AutoNation team did really well in pit lane. That was one of our big focuses in the offseason. This is a good step in the right direction, and we will be back in four weeks at Indy.”
JACK HARVEY: “It’s been a super busy and eventful day. We made some good gains in the race, and we had some genuinely good moments. As a whole, Texas is a hard place to come to. I’ve never been here before. I’ve never done an oval in an Indy car outside of Indy before, so it was a big ask coming here and cramming it all into one day. We also had a tough pit box, which made it hard to get in. It was a fine day, not exactly what we wanted, but we brought the car home in one piece.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “This one got away from us, for sure. Our car was fast and I think the guys did a great job, but we just had a lot of unforced errors and a couple of stop-and-go penalties. The car wouldn’t start on the grid and needed to be reprogrammed. I said to the guys that the car was built perfectly; the car was fast today. I’m disappointed to come out of here with no points for either car considering we had fast race cars. Off we go to the GMR Grand Prix and turn this around.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “We’re all thrilled to be back racing. Hopefully it was a good show for the fans watching at home. For us, it was a disappointing day. We raced our way in and around the top 10 in those first two stints. We had some kind of wheel gun failure, not sure what the cause was, and it put us back a couple laps. From there we kept working on the car. It wasn’t stellar over a long run. We were decent on short stints, but the guys were working on it and near the end we got pretty good. That last stint we were pushing it all the way to the end, and it got loose on me. We got involved with that deal with Felix (Rosenqvist). I was just super loose, and I was trying to save the car, and he went on the outside. I tried to stay out of it. I feel bad for him. It’s a tough break when you’re running that well. We’ll regroup and attack at the Indy GP.”
MARCUS ERICSSON: “It was a tough race, especially starting from further back than we would’ve liked. Going first in qualifying is always going to be difficult. But I think we were playing the patient game and trying to pick off guys throughout the race. It was working out really well, and we were running really good. The car felt really good out there. The No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing car was flying out there. Every time we had some free air, it was looking really good. The track today was a bit difficult to overtake. Offline had really low grip, so a couple times throughout the race I was stuck behind slower cars. But still, with 10 laps to go, we were looking strong for a top-eight finish, which would have been a really good start. But unfortunately we picked up a problem. I don’t know exactly what the problem was, but we couldn’t put in fuel in the last pit stop. So, with eight laps to go, we ran out of fuel. I lost a lot of laps and pretty much the race. A shame after a really strong night. A lot of positives, though. We had a really strong car and good driving with no mistakes. But it’s disappointing to not get that top-eight finish that I think we deserve.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “I can’t blame others for whatever situation I have. Obviously, we came out on new tires, and I don’t know if James (Hinchcliffe) was on really old tires there. It’s my judgment. I went for the outside, and I probably shouldn’t have done it. It’s one of those things where you sit there and you’re going like 40 mph slower than you want to go behind another car. It’s kind of tempting to just move up one lane, but it was just so slippery. I just feel really sorry for my guys. Our NTT DATA car was just unbelievable tonight. It was really my breakthrough on ovals, I think, and I had a really good shot there and I threw it away. Really disappointed. We pitted earlier and had clear track. I think we did one (lap) 215 mph and one (lap) 214 mph in a row there. We had a really good two out laps there. Not sure where that put us. Scott (Dixon) was really, super quick, as well. It was going to be close. But even a second place tonight, I would have taken it. I didn’t feel like I was going crazy for the win. I just kind of wanted to roll in on a good finish with good points, and just one silly thing screwed everything up. Tough.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “We were having a great race. My SealMaster Honda was on rails. We started last and didn’t get a chance to qualify. These guys worked up a sweat going into the race here, and we had a great car. We got a little antsy on that last stop. I pulled the shift a little too soon in the air, and when they dropped the car down to release me, something might have happened on the right rear. Man, you know, that’s racing. We haven’t been out here in a long time. Hats off to my crew, my team and everybody at INDYCAR for putting on this show. I’m excited to get back to it.”
RINUS VEEKAY: “I got a little too high around Santino (Ferrucci), lost the rear in the marbles and made contact with Alex (Palou). It’s very, very unfortunate. I expected my debut to be a lot different. I’m so sorry to the team. We’ll get better from here. I had very limited time, a lot of learning, but unfortunately I crashed twice. I will have to sleep and think about it for a month. But our Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy was good.”
ALEX PALOU: “I don’t think there was much I could have done. In hindsight, I should have gone high instead of going low, but that’s easy to say now. I have to watch the replay. Maybe I could have done something different, but not with the oval experience I have right now. It’s a shame because the Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh car was really good. I was getting comfortable and getting up to speed. Every lap I was getting better and better and keeping up with the cars in front. I was trying to get the car balanced right for the last stints. Unfortunately, we were not able to do that.”
TAKUMA SATO: “I’m sorry to all the fans that I couldn’t race. The boys did all they could to repair the car after the crash in qualifying. It’s really hard to believe and understand what happened. It was before the actual timed lap; it was only the warm-up, and usually you build up speed and feel the car. When I approached Turn 1, I immediately lost the rear end. Perhaps I was maybe a little outside to make a better feeling of it, but unfortunately the track today was extremely slippery, which I really didn’t know. Unfortunately I crashed into the wall. In normal circumstances, I think the boys would be able to quickly repair the car, but since it was a compressed one-day event and not enough time before the race, they did absolutely everything they could up until the last minute, so I want to thank them. I have been waiting for eight months to race and have to wait another three weeks now and am extremely disappointed. I also feel bad for my teammate Graham (Rahal). He had an absolutely fantastic qualifying and he drove the race so hard, but it was unfortunate neither car scored points today. I’ve been pretty disappointed today, but I have to stay focused and come back stronger in three weeks’ time.”