Scott Dixon put on a Tex-tbook performance in the Lone Star State, dominating the 2021 Genesys 300 much like he did last year at Texas Motor Speedway for his fifty-first career NTT IndyCar Series win, putting him within one win of the legendary Mario Andretti‘s career total of fifty-two.
After a rain delay before practice cancelled qualifying, the starting order was determined by championship points. This meant that Dixon’s teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing Alex Palou led the field to green, with Dixon himself starting third. By lap three, Dixon hunted Palou down to take the lead and began to stretch the field. The young Spaniard held his own behind his more experienced teammate, not allowing him to get more than two seconds ahead of him.
Things stayed quiet until lap 53, when Graham Rahal hit pit lane for his first stop of the evening. Just as others began their green flag pit stops, a caution flag waved for A.J. Foyt Enterprises driver Sebastien Bourdais, who slammed the car rear-end first into the outside wall of turn two. Colton Herta, who was at the head of the pack of cars, checked up and caused an accordion effect that saw Josef Newgarden make contact with the back of Bourdais’ car and end his evening. Newgarden received a penalty for avoidable contact at the restart, forced to move to the end of the lead lap cars in line.
Also penalized by this caution were the drivers stuck on pit road, including the likes of Team Penske teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
IndyCar took some caution laps to re-order the grid, concerning some drivers who were almost out of fuel as to when pit lane would open. It would open before any issues arose, and Dixon won the race off of pit road to keep his lead.
He followed that up with an incredible restart on lap seventy-two, and along with Palou they began to gap the field once more. Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan took advantage of the frantic restart to make some moves of their own to move up in the top ten. After things settled in, the second verse was much like the first, with plenty of single file racing. Arrow McLaren SP‘s Felix Rosenqvist pulled off an amazing pass around the outside of Rinus Veekay going into turn one during this stint, cutting across his nose just barely avoiding contact and washing out the air around the young Dutchman’s car as he lost a few positions.
The next pit stops began on lap 111 with Patricio O’Ward, who showed just how much faster new tyres were around the 2.41 km oval as he was able to leap into third place at the end of the cycle. Dixon wouldn’t pit until lap 126, handing the lead back to Palou who stayed out for three more laps. Those laps proved to be costly, as Dixon was able to stretch his lead from about four seconds before the pit stop to nine from Palou, who slid down to fourth behind Dixon, Rosenqvist and rookie Scott McLaughin in his debut on an oval.
From here, fans could feel a strange sense of deja vu as Rosenqvist began to hunt down Dixon for the lead. On lap 160 another familiar name to this equation found himself once more in the picture, James Hinchcliffe. Hinchcliffe had just been passed by Rosenqvist much in the same way as the Swede made quick work of Veekay, and the wash of dirty air sent him into the PJ1 traction compound still on the track and spinning into the outside wall of turn two with heavy damage on the left side of his car. The traction compound left on the track for NASCAR events was not re-applied for the IndyCar Series and is virtually undriveable in an IndyCar. Hinchcliffe finished his day in twenty-third.
The final pit stops of the race came under caution, and once again Dixon won the race off of pit road. McLaughlin jumped up to second place, with O’Ward in third. Dixon’s teammate Marcus Ericsson, who was having another top ten race weekend, left his pit stall with a right rear tyre not bolted on the car. Rosenqvist not only had a slow pit stop, but had to avoid this incident, pushing him out of the top ten to twelfth. He finished thirteenth. After sone struggles, Ericsson’s crew was finally able to put the wheel on and send him out, but he finished the race in a disappointing nineteenth place.
The final restart of the day came with thirty-nine laps to go, and Dixon once again darted away. Newgarden and Rahal both jumped to sixth and seventh respectively, as Rahal had to move down to the apron on the backstretch to pass a blocking Jack Harvey. Harvey’s block was investigated, but no action was taken.
The last fireworks of the race came courtesy of the right-rear brakes of Herta’s Gainbridge Honda, as he was forced to pit with twenty-three laps to go, his brakes ablaze. Last week’s race winner in St. Petersburg once again returned to the lows of Barber Motorsports Park with a twenty-second place finish after running in the top five for a majority of the race.
From here, McLaughlin would battle his elder countryman to the finish. Despite being closer than ever and coming up on lap traffic, there simply weren’t enough laps to catch the “Iceman” on his way to his fifth victory at Texas. With this win, Dixon passes A.J. Foyt for most seasons with at least one win in the series history, marking his nineteenth such season. Dixon also now holds the lead of the points standings following a poor day for Power and a higher finish than teammate Palou, giving him the pole for tomorrow’s Xpel 375 after the cancellation of qualifying.
McLaughlin finished second, turning heads across the sport with an incredible second place finish after starting fifteenth in his first career oval race. O’Ward would quietly round out the podium, a good result after a poor race at St. Petersburg for the 21-year-old Mexican.
Palou stood tough with the best of the best on ovals, finishing fourth with little experience at these types of tracks. He will have another strong shot tomorrow, starting from the front row again for the second leg of the doubleheader, the Xpel 375.
Rahal, a winner at Texas in 2016, finished strong with a top five finish, passing Newgarden with thirty-three laps to go to take the spot. Newgarden himself put together an incredible recovery drive after his penalty to come home in sixth place.
Harvey took his Meyer Shank Racing Honda to a very strong seventh place finish, and spent a lot of time in the top five during the race. He raced incredibly defensively late in the race, admitting fault to slightly squeezing Rossi into the grass on the front stretch but stood firm on his innocence with the block on Rahal. Harvey said post-race that if Rahal wants to have a word with him, “he knows where I am”.
Despite the small squeeze, Rossi piloted his No. 27 Honda to an eighth place finish after starting sixteenth. Given his luck in recent weeks, Rossi will be pleased to have a clean finish in the top ten. The California native was the only Andretti Autosport car in the top ten.
Takuma Sato was caught in his pit cycle during the Bourdais incident, but recovered strongly to finish in ninth place for his second top ten finish of the season. This also marks the first race of the year where both Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing cars finished in the top ten, and are in a good position to repeat the feat tomorrow.
Despite being caught out by the crash of his fellow Frenchman, Pagenaud was able to recover for a tenth place finish. The 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner spent lots of time in the top five, and barring another unfortunate caution, could find himself further up the grid tomorrow.
Substituting on ovals for rookie Jimmie Johnson, Kanaan had an incredible finish of eleventh after starting twenty-third. The series veteran was not only fastest in practice earlier in the day, but was aided by the Bourdais caution to produce a strong result for the No. 48 team. Pietro Fittipaldi, the substitute for Romain Grosjean at Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing, was also aided by the Bourdais caution, and finished the race in fifteenth.
Ed Carpenter made his season debut for his own team, taking his No. 20 Chevrolet to a seventeenth place finish. Conor Daly, who pilots that car on the road and street circuits, finished as the last car running in twenty-first place racing with Carlin.
The second race of this “Texas Two-Step”, the Xpel 375, will take place Sunday 2 May at 1700 EST / 2200 BST. Qualifying for this race has also been cancelled, and starting order will once again be determined by points standings after the race.
2021 Genesys 300 Final Results
|1||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:45:51|
|2||3||Scott McLaughlin (R)||NZL||Team Penske||+ 0.264 sec|
|3||5||Pato O’Ward||MEX||Arrow McLaren SP||+ 1.780 sec|
|4||10||Alex Palou||ESP||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 2.856 sec|
|5||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+ 6.604 sec|
|6||2||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||+ 7.903 sec|
|7||60||Jack Harvey||ENG||Meyer Shank Racing||+ 8.504 sec|
|8||27||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Autosport||+ 9.589 sec|
|9||30||Takuma Sato||JPN||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+ 10.065 sec|
|10||22||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||+ 10.427 sec|
|11||48||Tony Kanaan||BRA||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 12.018 sec|
|12||18||Ed Jones||UAE||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan||+ 12.578 sec|
|13||7||Felix Rosenqvist||SWE||Arrow McLaren SP||+ 12.974 sec|
|14||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||+ 14.354 sec|
|15||51||Pietro Fittipaldi||BRA||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing||+ 15.050 sec|
|16||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||+ 17.493 sec|
|17||20||Ed Carpenter||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+ 19.893 sec|
|18||4||Dalton Kellett||CAN||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||+ 23.956 sec|
|19||8||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 1 lap|
|20||21||Rinus VeeKay||NED||Ed Carpenter Racing||+1 lap|
|21||59||Conor Daly||USA||Carlin||+1 lap|
|22||26||Colton Herta||USA||Andretti Autosport||Mechanical|
|23||29||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||Crashed|
|24||14||Sebastien Bourdais||FRA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Crashed|