Before entering Saturday night’s race, Scott Dixon was already victorious at Texas Motor Speedway by having four career track victories, including the most recent race last summer.
However, the New Zealander had to hold off another New Zealander and IndyCar rookie, Scott McLaughlin, for the victory in the remaining few laps Saturday night.
Dixon dominated by leading all but six laps for his first checkered flag of the year.
“I’m pretty sure that was definitely a first,” Dixon said about the 1-2 Kiwi finish. It was fun. As I commented, it was really cool to look at that monitor on my steering wheel and see that it was the 3 car. I haven’t even got to see Scott yet, but definitely a congratulations to him. That was a tremendous run. Definitely very fast. There wasn’t much deg at the end of the race there, especially with the cooler conditions. Exit of two just became a very long straight until you got back to turn one. Definitely didn’t want him to get too close to get that big run through three and four, as I think you could definitely pull the pass off as we’d seen earlier in the race.
“Huge result for a race for a couple of Kiwis, which is great to see. Commenting pre-season, people are like, How do you feel about having another Kiwi on the grid? I’ve been waiting 20 years for it. It’s great to see him over here. He’s a massive talent. He’s going to have a lot of victories, man. I have to try and hold him off while I can.”
As the IndyCar teams rolled into Texas Motor Speedway Saturday morning, weather forecast and conditions looked tricky and there was a question as to whether they could get the race in. First, there was a two-hour delay for practice, which caused qualifying to get canceled to allow for a 90-minute practice session. With qualifying canceled, the field was set up by championship driver points meaning Barber Motorsports Park winner Alex Palou started on the pole.
When the green flag flew, Palou had a solid car and led the first three laps of the race. However, on Lap 4, Dixon returned to the form he is known for, which is dominating races and leading the majority of the laps. He made the pass on his teammate, Palou, and never really looked back. Despite Dixon controlling the race, he didn’t stretch his lead as Palou kept the gap by one second through the first round of green-flag pit stops.
With the green-flag pit stops beginning on Lap 51 with the No. 15 of Graham Rahal making a stop, the first caution flag flew on Lap 55 when the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing entry of Sebastien Bourdais pounded the Turn 2 wall. Bourdais went spinning after the No. 2 of Josef Newgarden made contact with Bourdais by bumping into the back of him. When the yellow slowed the field, the race leaders such as Dixon, Palou, Harvey, Herta, and VeeKay had not made a pit stop. By causing the incident, steward officials reviewed the incident between Bourdais and Newgarden and penalized Newgarden for avoidable contact.
At the restart on Lap 71, Dixon once again stretched his lead over Palou by nearly a second. He would continue to do so at the halfway point on Lap 114 and Dixon was able to clinch the most laps led and earned two additional bonus points. Dixon comfortably sat in the lead throughout the race until the second caution flew on Lap 160 when the No. 29 of James Hinchcliffe snapped loose in Turn 2 and hit the wall, slowing the field down once again.
It was at this point in time when the race began to change a little, at least for second position. Rookie Scott McLaughlin followed right behind Dixon after pit stops were made.
Looking for his first career win, McLaughlin raced his heart out in the closing laps and even began closing the gap a little, slowly but surely. In fact, at Lap 210 with 2 laps to go, McLaughlin was on the back bumper of Dixon, 0.2534 seconds behind Dixon. Despite McLaughlin doing all he could do to race Dixon, Dixon held off the Team Penske driver to score his first victory of the 2021 season and his fifth win at Texas Motor Speedway.
Even though McLaughlin finished second for the first time in his IndyCar career, the New Zealander was pumped and felt like the podium finish was more like a victory.
“I had a tremendous amount of fun, about as much fun as I thought I was going to have,” McLaughlin said. “The PPG Chevy was great. We also had great strategy calls, pit stops. The crew on pit road were unbelievable. Have to thank them a huge amount. It’s a big thing taking on my first oval race. Just tried to get through the first few laps. I was pretty cautious, probably too cautious in my first stint. Just sort of worked up to it. Managed to dodge the Bourdais wreck, which was pretty close for me. Then the Hinchcliffe one which put us right there. Pretty proud. Just wish my mum and dad, wife were here. Anyway, next time.”
Dixon led 206 laps en route to his fifth win at Texas Motor Speedway and the 50th of his NTT IndyCar Series career. He led two times for 206 laps.
Official Results following the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway:
- Scott Dixon, led 206 laps
- Scott McLaughlin
- Pato O’Ward
- Alex Palou, led six laps
- Graham Rahal
- Josef Newgarden
- Jack Harvey
- Alexander Rossi
- Takuma Sato
- Simon Pagenaud
- Tony Kanaan
- Ed Jones
- Felix Rosenqvist
- Will Power
- Pietro Fittipaldi
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Ed Carpenter
- Dalton Kellett
- Marcus Ericsson, 1 lap down
- Rinus VeeKay, 1 lap down
- Conor Daly, 1 lap down
- Colton Herta, OUT, Mechanical
- James Hinchcliffe, OUT, Contact
- Sebastien Bourdais, OUT, Contact
Up Next: The NTT IndyCar Series will be back in action Sunday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway for race No. 2, which is slated to begin at 5 p.m. ET live on NBCSN and IndyCar radio. The starting lineup will be based on championship points standings following tonight’s race since qualifying was canceled.