Dixon conquers Race 1 of Texas Doubleheader

Photo Credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar

Scott Dixon dominated and held off a late charge from countryman and IndyCar rookie Scott McLaughlin to take his fifth win at the Texas Motor Speedway in the Genesys 300.

The six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion crushed the competition by leading 206 of the race’s 212 scheduled distance.

His race began in third place behind his pole-sitting teammate Alex Palou. Palou and Dixon jetted away from outside polesitter Will Power but soon before long Dixon dispatched his teammate on Lap 3.

The Ganassi pair settled into a rhythm and gapped Power by nearly a second while Colton Herta and Jack Harvey followed behind in fourth and fifth.

Tire degradation came into play early as the pace slowed from 215 mph averages to around 208 mph by the 40 lap mark as Dixon distanced Palou by around a second while the leaderboard saw little change behind them.

A yellow flag flew on Lap 56 as Sebastien Bourdais spun and hit the Turn 1 wall following a tap from Josef Newgarden. That trapped a handful of drivers a lap down as they already pitted.

The pitstops saw the Ganassi brigade keep hold of the top spots while Herta moved into third ahead of Harvey and Alexander Rossi. Tony Kanaan benefitted from the yellow as he moved up to seventh after starting in 23rd.

The second stint saw Dixon build a comfortable gap over Palou and the lead see-sawed a bit as the pair navigated lapped traffic. A few mid-markers took a gamble on short pitting as the race’s pace remained clean. Pato O’Ward and Graham Rahal drew first blood on lap 110 and O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren teammate Felix Rosenqvist followed suit on Lap 118.

Dixon stretched his fuel to Lap 126 before surrendering the lead to Palou before he pitted on Lap 125.

The short-pit strategy paid off for Rosenqvist as he vaulted from ninth up to second around five seconds behind his former teammate and ahead of Scott McLaughlin.

The lead shrank rapidly as the leaders navigated lapped traffic but Rosenqvist was unable to mount a charge on Dixon.

The action was slowed on Lap 150 as James Hinchcliffe drifted into the stain of PJ1 in Turns 1 and 2 and hit the wall.

That allowed the pack to make their final stop under caution and set up a final dash to the finish. Dixon arose out of the pits in front as Rosenqvist had a slow spot and was slowed by Marcus Ericcson losing a wheel and spinning on pit lane.

That promoted McLaughlin to the runner-up spot ahead of O’Ward, Palou and Herta.

Dixon turned a clean restart but couldn’t rest easy as McLaughlin didn’t let him get too much of an advantage. The lead flexed between .2 and .7 of a second throughout the final 10 laps and Dixon took his 51st career victory.

The Kiwi’s win moves him just one victory behind Mario Andretti for second on the all-time win list. A.J. Foyt holds the top spot with 67 wins.

“It feels amazing to be in this position,” Dixon said. “You just never want it to end. We want to go back-to-back and try to tie Mario tomorrow. I’m sure that’s not exactly what he wants to see. We’ll keep our heads down. It’s extremely tough. This season has been one of the toughest starts, I think, for a lot of us just with how tight the competition is.”

The win moves Dixon into the points lead and on the pole for tomorrow’s Xpel 375.

McLaughlin netted his maiden IndyCar podium with the second-place finish while O’ Ward likewise scored his first podium of the year.

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