Scott Dixon dominates: Kiwi claims 'untouchable' win in Texas
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Scott Dixon has won the opening round of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season Texas Motor Speedway in a clear-cut, dominant performance that saw him lead over three quarters of the race.
It's Dixon's fourth win at Texas, claimed after he led a bonkers 157 laps out of a possible 200. He now sits just five victories away from equallying Mario Andretti's second place in the sport's overall race-winner record books.
The race ended in drama with Dixon's main rival for the win, teammate Felix Rosenqvist, crashing out with just 10 laps to go as he tried to chase down Dixon. What looked like a potential grandstand finish ended with relief for the five-time series champion.
"I can't thank the team enough. Such strange times right now, it was such a team effort," said Dixon.
"We had a couple of mistakes at the start, but we recovered. It was awesome. I don't know what it's with with this PNC Bank car, it was just so fast. Any situation we were in, we could just go for it. Huge thanks to everyone involved.
"Bummed that the fans aren't here, wish everyone was here to celebrate."
Dixon held second for most of the opening stanza, taking the lead on lap 32 from polesitter Newgarden when he slowed with a minor vibration. Newgarden made his stop as a result, with Dixon and the majority of the leaders following suit on the following lap.
A lap 38 crash on the back straight between rookies Alex Palau and Rinus VeeKay prompted the first safety car. When the race restarted on lap 46, Dixon held first over Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Rosenqvist, Zach Veach, and Australia's Will Power.
Dixon proceeded to gap the field, gaining a 4.5-second margin over Newgarden by lap 65. Pagenaud meanwhile had developed a similar vibration to Newgarden, losing third position on lap 76 ... just prior to the race's second safety car on lap 77 for debris on the circuit. This prompted the second wave of stops; a slow stop seeing Dixon drop from first to third as Newgarden and Rosenqvist took over first and second.
Dixon got by Rosenqvist on the lap-87 restart, and by lap 91 he had hit the lead. The pass was a nail-biter; Dixon running around the outside of Newgarden through turn one with the pairing almost making contact. He wasted no time building a lead; a 2.5-second gap having been created by the race's halfway mark. By lap 119 Rosenqvist had finally got back to second, but the gap to Dixon had grown to almost 10 seconds.
Newgarden peeled off to make his third pit stop on lap 121, with Dixon and Rosenqvist stopping one lap later. The top two positions stayed the same, with Pagenaud taking third off Newgarden. A quick Charlie Kimball rounding out the top five, although he (and an opportunitstic Veach) soon got by Newgarden.
Dixon's eight-second gap over Rosenqvist quickly neutralised with the Kiwi stuck behind the lapped car of Power. The Ganassi racers made their pennultimate stops together with 44 laps to go, with a 3.9-second margin between them. That gap continued to shrink, with Dixon losing time due to Rossi's lapped Napa Andretti Honda. By the time Dixon eventually got by Rossi with 30 laps to go, Rosenqvist less than a second behind.
Felix Rosenqvist's night ended 10 laps shy of the finish.— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) June 7, 2020
Running second and trying to chase down eventual race winner Scott Dixon... you can see the frustration inside the cockpit. @IndyCar // #BackOnTrack pic.twitter.com/uDeyrTY4As
With the pair's final pit stops unfolding with just 12 laps to go, it set up a fascinating inter-team battle. Dixon returned to the frey in the middle of a clump of aggressive traffic. But, Rosenqvist was in the traffic too. And while Dixon was able to tip-toe around his lapped combatants, Rosenqvist was less fortunate. Staring down the barrel of a potential first win, he ran wide at turn two while trying to get by James Hinchcliffe.
On the less stable high line, Rosenqvist spun and hit the outside barrier [video above]. It ended an excellent run for the NTT Data driver, and caused one last safety car period for clean-up.
The race restarted with three laps to go, with Dixon's lead protected from second-placed Pagenaud by a selection of lapped cars. After just one lap under green his lead was almost two seconds, and by the end Dixon had won by almost four seconds.
"We had to make some big bold moves."@ScottDixon9 caught up with the @NBCSports crew after winning the @IndyCar season opener at @TXMotorSpeedway for @CGRTeams. #BackOnTrack // #Genesys300 pic.twitter.com/7ULJZVK729— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) June 7, 2020
Pagenaud claimed second over Newgarden, Veach, Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly, Colton Herta, Hunter-Reay, Oliver Askew, and Tony Kanaan. Kimball had run a strong race, but crashed out on the final lap.
The IndyCar Series now prepares to visit Indianapolis and its road course for the next round on July 4. It will kick off a big month of racing, with two double-header events at Road America and Iowa scheduled for the following weekends.
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