FORT WORTH, Texas (June 11, 2018) – Scott Dixon’s victory in Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway was historic as the Chip Ganassi Racing driver broke a tie with Michael Andretti to gain sole possession of third place for career wins in the Indy-car annals.
With 43 victories, only legends A.J. Foyt (67 wins) and Mario Andretti (52) stand in front of 37-year-old native of New Zealand.
“It’s really cool,” Dixon said. “Obviously, I have massive respect for a lot of these drivers, but when you look at those names – A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, the Unsers – to me it still seems very strange that ‘Dixon’ is on that list, too.”
If history repeats itself, Saturday’s win also could serve as an indicator to another significant accomplishment by the close of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Dixon won at Texas in 2008 and again in ’15, and both times he went on to a Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Is it in the cards again?
It very well could be as Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 win moved Dixon into the series championship lead. He now holds a 23-point advantage over second-place Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport and 36 over third-place Will Power of Team Penske with eight races remaining. The series is idle this week before resuming Sunday, June 24, at Road America (11:30 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Network).
Dixon owns four Indy-car championships, along with Andretti, Dario Franchitti and Sebastien Bourdais. A fifth would give him sole possession of second place for most series titles, trailing only the seven of Foyt.
After a slow start to the season with just one top-five finish in the first four races, Dixon has reeled off five consecutive top-four finishes. The run includes a pair of wins and just one finish off the podium.
“We won two races and led a bunch of laps (in the past week). That’s a positive,” said Dixon, whose first win of the season came June 2 in the first of two races at The Raceway at Belle Isle in Detroit. “I think we had great speed at the start of the year. I was disappointed with how it went down at St. Pete, how it went down at Long Beach.
“The speed has been there. Unfortunately, we’ve either made mistakes as a team, I made a mistake, we just didn’t really hit our stride. It’s nice to finally show the speed the car has, the performance that the team has.”
The victory moved him into a tie with Sam Hornish Jr. for second on the career wins list at Texas Motor Speedway. Helio Castroneves is the all-time leader with four.
Dixon, who led a race-high 119 of the 248 laps, also moved from fifth to second in career laps led at Texas Motor Speedway. He now has led 446 laps, trailing only Castroneves at 506.
CARPENTER TAKES THE BLAME
Coming off a second-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 two weeks ago, Ed Carpenter came to Texas Motor Speedway with a ton of confidence. The 2014 winner of “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race,” Carpenter qualified 14th for Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 — and it never got any better from there.
In fact, it got worse.
Running three laps behind the leaders, Carpenter tried to cut to the inside of Turn 3 but ran into Robert Wickens, who was running third at the time. The two got locked up and went spinning into the wall, ending the night for both drivers.
“It was a mistake. I knew Robbie was coming. I thought I could close the door, but it was a big mistake on my part. He was a lead lap car. We were having a bad day; we just didn’t have it this weekend,” Carpenter said. “My apologies to him. I know it doesn’t mean much now. I feel bad for those guys. I feel bad for my guys. The night certainly didn’t need to end like (that).”
For Wickens, it was yet another frustrating finish in a race that the rookie had a chance to win.
“I mean, it sucks. We were so strong the whole night. Things were going so smoothly we were getting the fuel mileage. I don’t know, I’m just frustrated,” said Wickens, who led 31 laps on Saturday night. “I mean when you’re driving around slower cars, they’re getting blue flags every time at start-finish — they’re getting blue flags and they ignore every single one of them. We shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place, but it just sucks. We had such a good car.”
DXC Technology had an Inspire 2 Drone deliver the green flag to Honorary Starter Dan Hushon, senior vice president, chief technology officer for DXC Technology, during Saturday night’s pre-race activities for the DXC Technology 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
With an ability to accelerate from zero to 50 miles per hour in just five seconds, the Inspire 2 drone took off in Turn 3 and flew through Turns 2 and 1 before heading down the frontstretch for the flag delivery on the DXC Technology 600 ballfield logo.
“That was pretty cool to see. I had the chance to fly it at DXC (in Plano) earlier this week and the technology is just amazing,” said Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud, who finished runner-up on Saturday night. “To have DXC as the race sponsor and on the car this weekend, it’s just great. We would have liked to get into victory circle, of course, but this is a great step in the right direction for this team.”
NO BOBBLE ON TRACK
James Hinchcliffe drove his No. 5 Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports from 15th to a fourth-place finish in Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600. In addition to the finish, another weekend highlight was that Hinchcliffe was the featured bobblehead that sponsored by A.O. Smith Water Products Company and given out to the first 20,000 fans.
There may be some bobblehead mojo going on as Graham Rahal, the featured bobblehead for “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race” last year, also drove to a fourth-place finish last June.
Here’s a look at how each driver has fared during the corresponding race in which they were the featured bobblehead:
June 2017 — James Hinchcliffe, 4th, VICS
April 2018 — Jimmie Johnson, 35th, MENCS
November 2017 — Kevin Harvick, 1st, MENCS
June 2017 — Graham Rahal, 4th, VICS
April 2017 — Danica Patrick, 24th, MENCS
November 2016 — Tony Stewart, 31st, MENCS
Kurt Busch will be the featured bobblehead for the AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, Nov. 4.
NOTHING NEW FOR JOSEF
Josef Newgarden’s struggles at Texas Motor Speedway continued in Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600. The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion qualified on the pole for the first time in seven starts, Newgarden eventually faded and finished 13th.
“You know, pretty much anything bad that could have happen happened tonight for the No. 1 Verizon team,” said Newgarden, who has just one top-10 in seven starts at TMS. “Everyone did everything they could tonight. It was a great effort from my team. Pretty much, anything that could have went wrong went wrong tonight. That is all there is to it.”
Newgarden led the first 59 laps, but was never a factor again thanks to some issues on pit road and a struggle to get the car where it needed to be as the track began to cool during the night.
It wasn’t a completely lost weekend for Newgarden, however. The native of Henderson, Tenn., spent Friday morning with nearly 300 young racers – ranging in age from five to 16 – taking part in the third round of the USAC Quarter Midget championship, which ran Thursday through Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway.
“When you see these kids and see how passionate they are about racing, it brings me back to when I was driving go-karts and how much fun that was,” Newgarden said. “This (age) was the most pure time of racing to me, so it’s awesome to see these kids racing and be a part of it.”
Will Power’s attempt at repeating at Texas Motor Speedway ended on Lap 205 of Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 when his No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet clipped Zachary Claman de Melo, who was trying to pass a row of cars on the outside.
Like other lead-lap cars around him, Power was trying to save fuel but Claman de Melo was given the green light to push as hard as he wanted. To compound the issue, at the moment of Claman de Melo’s attempted pass, Power was getting information through his radio from the timing stand, which kept his spotter from communicating that Claman de Melo was making a charge.
“The guys in front of me were saving a lot of fuel and completely lifting to try and make it and someone went around on the outside. … I couldn’t hear my spotter call, ‘Outside,’ and there was someone outside at that point,” said Power, who finished 18th. “It was not (Claman de Melo’s) fault. I didn’t know he was out there at that point. We were lifting so much trying to save fuel and he went outside me. It was just a bad deal.”
The 18th-place finish was a career worst for Power at Texas Motor Speedway. The reigning Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time TMS race winner also lost his lead in the championship standings, dropping to third behind Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi, respectively.
Johnny Sauter collected the win at Texas Motor Speedway in Friday night’s PPG 400 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. The 2016 Truck Series champion has been simply dominant this year, winning half of the eight races run so far in the 23-race season.
The trip to Sunoco Victory Lane was the fifth of Sauter’s career at the 1.5-mile oval, moving him into sole possession of second place on the truck series’ all-time wins list at TMS. He now sits one win shy of tying Todd Bodine for the top spot.
“This has been a dream start and proud to get this win,” Sauter said. “I’m speechless. Don’t know what to say anymore. Five wins at Texas, it’s awesome.”
While Sauter will look to tie the record for wins at Texas in November’s JAG Metals 350 playoff race, Todd Gilliland will be looking to repeat his Lone Star State debut.
Gilliland made his first career TMS start on Friday and just his second ever on a 1.5-mile superspeedway. After qualifying second and leading a race-high 63 laps, Gilliland eventually faded to a sixth-place finish. But it was a more than respectable showing for the 18-year-old, who received his high school diploma from TMS President Eddie Gossage prior to driver introductions.
Gilliland balanced high school and a rigorous racing schedule by completing all of his necessary high school requirements online.
“It’s a very special event to be out in front of all these people and honestly, just doing what I love – racing,” Gilliland said moments before the green flag fell on the PPG 400. “I was wearing the cap and gown up on the stage, so a very special moment for me and my family because we missed out on a lot of other high school experiences.”
ROLLING TO A WIN
Matt Brabham came to Texas with the points lead in the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Truck standings. He left Texas with the lead, too. Of course, what seems like a simple fact on paper was hardly the case on the track.
An ugly crash in the opening qualifying race saw the Aussie hit a ramp on two wheels. After rolling down the frontstretch, it looked as though Brabham’s chances to win at Texas Motor Speedway had officially gone out the window.
“Race one was really good, we were able to come through the field and battle for the lead, but the hood came up and I couldn’t really see,” said Brabham of his wreck in the first race. “I tried to follow the truck in front of me and I thought if I go over a jump the hood might go down. But unfortunately I misjudged the jump and ended up rolling. The truck had a little bit of damage, so it was a great job by the guys to get us out for race two.”
The SST Off-Road Rumble 18-lap finale saw Brabham quickly jump from fifth to first, which he’d never relinquish en route to the victory. It was the second win of the season for Brabham.