The NTT IndyCar Series ran the first race of a double-header weekend from the 1.5-mile oval of Texas Motor Speedway, and it was Scott Dixon who dominated all night and took his fifth victory at the high-speed oval.
Dixon started in 3rd position, but quickly moved his way to the front with a car that was locked in. By lap three, he was at the head of the field and barely looked back all night.
He was assisted by a track that did not allow drivers to move up off the bottom groove, making passing a very difficult affair. But nobody was able to get close to the famous orange and blue car all night.
The win marks Dixon’s fifth at TMS, giving him the all-time IndyCar record for victories in the 33rd running of the event.
Arguably a more impressive performance was put in by the runner-up performer Scott McLaughlin, who put his Team Penske Chevy in second place in his first ever oval race.
The Kiwi is certainly living up to the hype in his rookie year and is already knocking on the door of his first win early in his open wheel career.
The last step of the podium was taken by Pato O’Ward, who had a quiet night but was able to stay near the front most of the night thanks to a successful undercut that put his AMSP Chevy on the sharp end of the field.
The action was not halted by any of the rain that threated throughout the day, but the cars were slowed for a couple caution periods that broke up the single-file action.
The first caution of the night was due to Josef Newgarden getting into the back of Sebastien Bourdais in the middle of turn 2.
There was a group of four cars that both drivers were a part of, and Newgarden wasn’t expecting to have to slow up as quickly as was necessary to avoid spinning the Frenchman in front of him.
Bourdais hit the wall hard with his rear crash structure digging straight into the SAFER barriers, but was able to walk away unharmed and was cleared by the infield care center.
There was a second stoppage for James Hinchcliffe who drifted too high and got up on the PJ-1 traction compound that does not agree with the Firestone tires that all teams use.
He spun in almost the same place as Bourdais, and the resulting yellow brought the whole field down pit road with just 40 laps to go.
The late pit stop shuffled the field a bit and gave Marcus Ericsson a disappointing finish on account of a wheel nut that would not go back on easily.
Tony Kanaan put in an impressive performance in his Chip Ganassi return, working his way up to 11th after starting on the last row.
Last week’s winner Colton Herta had brake problems on his Andretti Autosport Honda, forcing him to retire with only 25 laps remaining and forcing him out of a solid top 10 run.
Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay each had disappointing outings, uncharacteristically finishing as the last cars that were still running at the end of the day.
The field of drivers will have less than 24 hours to recover, as the second race of the double-header weekend is tomorrow afternoon at 17:30 Eastern Time.