Friday, January 18, 2019

Dixon Prevails for Third Texas Triumph


A 248-lap fight under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway culminated in Scott Dixon’s 43rd career Indy car victory, placing him third on the all-time win list and launching him into the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead as the 2018 season enters its second half.

Dixon started seventh after Team Penske dominated qualifying by securing the top three positions on the starting grid. He quietly moved his way to the front as the race progressed, using the superior fuel mileage of his No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to his advantage.

With 82 laps complete, Dixon ran in fifth, seven seconds behind leader Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud was soon passed by Robert Wickens and then by Dixon. By Lap 120, Wickens led Dixon by three seconds.

A round of green-flag pit stops ended with Dixon holding the race lead on Lap 136, 2.4 seconds up the 1.5-mile oval from Wickens.

Two cautions later — one involving Wickens — Dixon led Pagenaud to the checkered flag, finishing the nearly 400-mile race 4.3 seconds ahead of the Penske driver who reached the podium for his first time of the year.

Dixon’s two previous victories at Texas came in the 2008 and 2015 seasons, both of which saw him go on to win the series championship. The feat also tied him for second on the track’s all-time win list with Sam Hornish Jr.

Josef Newgarden led 59 laps before going four laps down and finishing 13th. Dixon was the only driver to end the night with more laps led as he came one lap shy of doubling Newgarden’s amount on his way to winning his second race in the past week after coming out on top in the first Detroit contest.

Alexander Rossi, who nearly won Race 2 in Detroit, fought with Pagenaud for the second position but settled for a third-place finish. The result is his best at Texas and his fifth podium of the season. It also kept him second in the standings at 334 points to Dixon’s 357.

James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the top five. Hunter-Reay’s fifth-place finish ensured he remained in the championship hunt in fourth, trailing Dixon by 49 points.

Hunter-Reay exits Texas Motor Speedway pit lane
With recent finishes of second, first and fifth in Detroit and Texas, Ryan Hunter-Reay has asserted himself and his No. 28 DHL Honda in the championship battle. | Photo: Tom Loomes / Spacesuit Media

Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, Sebastien Bordais and Ed Jones gave Honda sixth through ninth while Charlie Kimball finished 10th, the second-best effort by a Chevrolet-backed driver.

Both AJ Foyt Racing drivers did not see the checkered flag. Matheus Leist’s No. 4 Chevrolet brought out the first caution on Lap 7 when it slowed and caught fire in Turn 3. His teammate Tony Kanaan completed only 31 laps after brushing the wall and retiring with suspension damage.

Wickens’ race ended early as well when he made contact with Ed Carpenter in Turn 3, sending both cars spinning into the SAFER Barrier to bring out the second caution on Lap 173. Carpenter was charged with avoidable contact and will be assessed a post-race penalty for his involvement in the crash that ended a remarkable race for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ rookie driver.

A similar incident on the front straight took out Zachary Claman De Melo and Will Power on Lap 205 to bring out the race’s third and final yellow flag. Like Carpenter, Power will face a post-race penalty for avoidable contact.

After a long stretch of consecutive weekends with on-track activity dating back to the INDYCAR Grand Prix on May 12, the series will take a weekend off before reconvening at Road America for the KOHLER Grand Prix on June 24.

Ben Hinc
Ben Hinc
Ben Hinc, managing The Apex as executive editor, has frequented media centers at racetracks across North America since 2014. Hinc's multi-decade passion for technology has resulted in a broad skillset that keeps The Apex running fast and without error.


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