The loss of Iowa Speedway on the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series schedule left a glaring hole where an oval used to be, but Texas Motor Speedway — a longtime bastion of Indy car racing in the Lone Star State — stepped up with a doubleheader weekend. The change kept four oval races on the calendar and, more critically for teams, drivers and the state of this year’s fledging championship fight, created a three-week span with four full-length points-paying races.
A doubleheader event isn’t necessarily a new thing for IndyCar in Texas; the last two-race weekend was the oft-maligned Firestone Twin 275s held in 2011 on the same day and won by Dario Franchitti and Will Power. Unlike that event which set the starting lineup for the second race by random draw, this year standard two-lap qualifying will set the lineup for both races with Saturday’s Genesys 300 determined by the first lap and Sunday’s XPEL 375 determined by the second lap.
In addition to differences due to its nature as a twin bill, the Texas races will have a different entry list as well with oval specialists swapping into several cars. For Ed Carpenter Racing, team owner Ed Carpenter will take over the No. 20 Chevrolet while Conor Daly, its occupant for road and street courses, will shift to the No. 59 Carlin Chevrolet replacing Max Chilton. At Dale Coyne Racing, the No. 51 Honda driven by Romain Grosjean at this season’s opening two rounds will feature Pietro Fittipaldi in a return to the team. Finally, Tony Kanaan will rejoin Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 48 Honda typically occupied by Jimmie Johnson.
Six entered drivers have won previously at Texas: Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Will Power, Carpenter, Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden. Notably, Dixon shares the record for most wins at the 1.5-mile oval — four — with Helio Castroneves. While Castroneves is not competing this weekend, he will return to IndyCar later this season with Meyer Shank Racing.
After a combined 460 laps over two days at Texas, almost one-fourth of the season will be complete potentially creating a much clearer championship picture before the series heads back home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the GMR Grand Prix on May 15 and the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30.
Use the tabs or menu above to view session results, schedule, entrant facts, weather forecast, track facts and history.
Unaffected by weather, the XPEL 375 started on time with Scott Dixon leading the field to the green based on the No. 9 Honda having the most entrant point following the Genesys 300.
Prior to the entire field taking the green flag, a multi-car incident prompted the race's first full-course caution. Pietro Fittipaldi got into the back of Sebastien Bouardais, causing a chain reaction that also involved Dalton Kellett, Alexander Rossi, Conor Daly, Ed Jones and Tony Kanaan. All but Kanaan retired from the race. Notably, Daly's No. 59 Chevrolet flipped and slid down the frontstretch before righting itself.
Dixon led the field again on the Lap 18 restart and ended up leading the most laps.
In the last stint of the race following final pit stops, Josef Newgarden emerged as the leader with Patricio O'Ward, Graham Rahal and Dixon chasing. O'Ward passed Newgarden for the lead on Lap 225 and continued out front front remainder of the 248-lap race.
O'Ward's victory is his first of 2021 and the first of his NTT IndyCar Series career. His previous best finish was second on three occasions, most recently at St. Petersburg in October 2020.
The win marked the eighth for Arrow McLaren SP in Indy car competition. The team last won at Iowa Speedway in 2018 with James Hinchcliffe.
The last Mexican driver to win in Indy car competition was Adrian Fernandez at Auto Club Speedway in 2004.
In addition to the caution at the start of the race, there were two further yellow flags:
Lap 117: Smoke trailed from the No. 60 Honda of Jack Harvey, sending him to the pits and out of the race.
Lap 190: Felix Rosenqvist stopped on course after losing a tire following a pit stop.
On the strength of a victory and a fourth-place finish, Dixon leaves Texas as the points leader with 22-point advantage over O'Ward. The next race is the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 15, 2021.
The 212-lap race began 35 minutes earlier than originally scheduled due to weather concerns. At 107 laps complete, the race would have been official but rain stayed away from Texas Motor Speedway and all 212 laps were run.
Scott Dixon led a field-high 206 laps, clinching two bonus points for leading the most laps.
Dixon's victory was his first win of 2021 and the 51st of his Indy car career. He is one win behind Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. The win also marked the 19th consecutive season in which Dixon has at least one victory, breaking a tie with A.J. Foyt who had 18 seasons with at least one victory.
Dixon's win was the fifth time he won at the 1.5-mile track, and the second time in two years. In the past three years, the winner at Texas has gone on to win the championship: Josef Newgarden in 2019 and Dixon in 2018 and 2020.
The race was slowed by two yellow flags:
On Lap 56, Sebastien Bourdais spun after rear contact by Josef Newgarden. The No. 14 Chevrolet of Bourdais made hard contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier. Bourdais climbed from his car without assistance from the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team and was later checked and released from the infield care center and cleared to drive.
On Lap 160, James HInchcliffe spun in the No. 29 Honda and made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2. Like Bourdais, Hinchcliffe was checked and released from the infield care center and cleared to drive.
With qualifying canceled, the starting lineup for the XPEL 375 will be based on entrant points following the Genesys 300. Dixon will start from pole alongside teammate Alex Palou on the front row.
Due to inclement weather at Texas Motor Speedway, the start of practice was delayed two hours, from 11:30 a.m. CDT to 1:30 p.m. The schedule change prompted INDYCAR to cancel qualifying and extend practice to 90 minutes.
The loss of qualifying will set the starting grid by entrant points, with points leader Alex Palou starting form pole.
In order to avoid potential rain, the green flag for the Genesys 300 was moved up to 6:10 p.m. from 6:45 p.m. The television start time of 7 p.m. EDT on NBCSN remains the same.
The session, which included 10 minutes dedicated to pit speed limiter practice, ran free of incidents.
Tony Kanaan, returning this year to Chip Ganassi Racing for the four oval races, topped the session with a best speed of 220.173 mph.
— 2020: Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing
— 2019: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske
— 2018: Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing
— 2017: Will Power, Team Penske
— 2016: Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Last Five Poles
— 2020: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske (215.740 mph)
— 2019: Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (220.250 mph)
— 2018: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske (220.613 mph)
— 2017: Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing (222.556 mph)
— 2016: Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport (217.137 mph)
Qualifying Record (One Lap, 1.44 miles)
222.747 mph (Charlie Kimball of Chip Ganassi Racing on June 9, 2017)
Qualifying Record (Two Laps, 2.88 miles)
222.556 mph (Charlie Kimball of Chip Ganassi Racing on June 9, 2017)