Scott Dixon dominated proceedings in IndyCar’s return to action, cruising to an unrivalled victory in this afternoon’s Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Polesitter Josef Newgarden got the jump on the #9 Chip Ganassi Racing machine at the start of the race, with the second Penske of Simon Pagenaud in hot pursuit.
Drama struck early when the Andretti Autosport duo of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi were forced to serve drive-through penalties for technical infringements.
Hunting down erstwhile leader Newgarden, Dixon made his move stick on lap 32 to lead the field while his Penske rival came to pitroad complaining of bad vibrations with his right-rear tyre.
Lap 35 saw the majority of the field complete their first pitstop as new rules stipulated running length. However, a rapid stop by Dixon allowed the five-time champion to re-emerge ahead of Newgarden as the leaders regained control of the race.
The field was condensed shortly after when rookie Rinus VeeKay suffered his second accident in one day as the Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet struck the wall before collecting an innocent Alex Palou as he rebounded back across the circuit.
Dixon checked out at the front, swiftly pulling a sizable three second margin over Newgarden, who had Pagenaud and Felix Rosenqvist in the second Chip Ganassi-Honda breathing down the reigning champion’s neck.
A caution for debris was thrown as the race neared the half-way mark, allowing all key runners to make a free pitstop.
Will Power’s race struck trouble when the Penske crew released the 2014 champion onto the circuit with a loose wheelnut. The Australian would ultimately finish the race down in 16th.
Newgarden got the jump on Dixon in the pitlane but swiftly lost it when the Kiwi scythed his way past on lap 91.
Rosenqvist finally passed Newgarden for second on lap 118 before the Penske team opted to bring Newgarden in for the undercut.
Dixon responded a lap later to maintain the lead but was held up behind a lapped Power – backing him up into his hard-charging teammate.
The penultimate round of pitstops were costly for Newgarden. The polesitter fell behind Zach Veach, Ed Carpenter and Conor Daly while Dixon and Rosenqvist built a healthy lead.
The Swede had closed within a second of his teammate who struggled to make headway through the lapped traffic.
It would take a slow outlap by Rosenqvist coupled by a few laps in clean air for Dixon to pull away from his teammate after the final stops played themselves out. The duo dominanted proceedings and had extended a 13-second lead over Newgarden.
But tragedy struck for Rosenqvist on lap 186. The IndyCar sophomore attempted to lap James Hinchcliffe in a daring move around the outside only to drift high onto the traction grip and slam into the wall.
The subsequent three-lap shootout failed to deter the focus of Dixon. The Kiwi duly cruising to his 47th career win ahead of a fortunate Pagenaud and Newgarden. In doing so, Dixon tied A.J. Foyt’s record of winning a race for 18 successive IndyCar seasons.
Veach matched his best ever finish with fourth, fending off Carpenter, Daly and Herta.
The IndyCar field now turns its attention to the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis which is slated for July 4.