Dixon wins at Texas, rookie McLaughlin stars in second - The Race
IndyCar

Dixon wins at Texas, rookie McLaughlin stars in second

May 2 2021
By Jack Benyon

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon scored his fifth Texas victory in the first race of IndyCar’s third race weekend of the year, holding off star oval debutant Scott McLaughlin in the closing stages.

The race carried a sinister weather undertone as rain had delayed practice and forced the cancellation of qualifying meaning the starting grid was set by the championship points order.

Because of the threat of further rain the teams and drivers had one eye on lap 106, after which if the race was halted for rain it could be declared complete.

While most of the cars in the field struggled with tyre vibrations, Dixon reported no such issues as he took the lead from his team-mate and polesitter Alex Palou after two laps.

Dixon led through tricky strategy cycles as many contenders around him fell away.

As many cars began to pit for the first time starting on lap 53/212, three tours later seventh-placed Sebastien Bourdais had to lift off in Turn 2 for Colton Herta slowing ahead, and Josef Newgarden behind had nowhere to go in a concertina effect.

Newgarden – who had already lifted before the incident – clipped Bourdais into a spin and he rear-ended the wall for a heavy impact. The car was destroyed but Bourdais was cleared from the medical centre, and Newgarden was penalised and dropped to the back of the lead lap cars in 19th place but without any damage.

Because the leaders hadn’t pitted yet and due to the short nature of the lap putting drivers stopping under green flag conditions a lap down, it was a nightmare situation for the drivers who had pitted before the caution as anyone who hadn’t pitted got a free pitstop.

Team Penske’s Will Power (from third to 14th) and his team-mate, sixth-placed Simon Pagenaud (18th after his stop) pitted before the caution. Takuma Sato (ninth to 19th) and Marcus Ericsson one spot behind (dropped to 16th) were also caught out.

From there that set up a two-stop strategy to the end of the race, but such was the degradation of the new Firestone tyre, the undercut was incredibly powerful.

Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist – chasing eventual winner Dixon last year before crashing lapping James Hinchcliffe – erased a five second deficit on track following a seven-lap undercut on Dixon moved him up from ninth in the order to second.

However, as the last stops began Dixon edged away again, while Rosenqvist came under pressure from rookie Scott McLaughlin who had benefitted from that first caution and an undercut in the second to run third.

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Before McLaughlin could make a move, Hinchcliffe crashed with 51 laps to go after being lapped by Rosenqvist in a reversal of the 2020 race incident.

That froze the field strategy wise as everyone was able to pit and fill with fuel.

Rosenqvist had to swerve and go on the grass in the pits to avoid Marcus Ericsson, which meant he dropped to 12th promoting McLaughlin to run behind Dixon.

Dixon’s countryman McLaughlin had tested twice before coming to the race weekend but showed no sign of inexperience as he gave Dixon plenty to think about.

However, he couldn’t get close enough to pass on the one-lane track, and Dixon became the first driver to defend a Texas victory in the IndyCar Series.

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Rosenqvist’s team-mate Patricio O’Ward went two laps down gambling on an undercut in the second round of stops mid-race, but that and a rapid job on his final pitstop elevated him into third, ahead of Ganassi’s Palou.

Palou had stayed out longer in that key second pitstop phase which dropped him back to fourth having stayed out longer than all his rivals.

Graham Rahal rounded out the top five after passing three cars after the last caution, including Andretti’s top driver Herta. The dominant St Petersburg winner had a brake fire inside the final 20 laps which cost him a top five and a chunk of vital championship points.

Behind Rahal, Newgarden delivered an epic recovery to sixth following that early penalty for that Bourdais incident, mostly achieved by a now familiar mid-race undercut.

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Jack Harvey delivered a second top 10 in a row for Meyer Shank Racing in seventh, ahead of Alexander Rossi who had a slow second pitstop which cost him dearly.

Sato bounced back from being caught on the wrong strategy early to take ninth, ahead of fellow-sufferer Pagenaud.

Just outside the top 10, practice pacesetter Tony Kanaan bounced back from downshift and gear ratio issues to take 11th on his season debut, driving Jimmie Johnson’s #48 car on the oval events.

Kansan’s team-mate Ericsson was the only Ganassi driver out of the top 11 as his bad luck at Texas continued.

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Last year a broken fuel hose meant he ran out of fuel fighting for a top 10 at the end of the race. In Saturday’s race, Ganassi driver Ericsson left the box without a right-rear wheel while running sixth and finished 19th.

Herta, Hinchcliffe and Bourdais failed to finish.

The grid for Sunday’s race two will be set from the championship points following this race, which are listed underneath the race result below.

Race Results

Pos Name Team Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 212 206 1h45m51.341s 23.734s 3 53
2 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 212 0 +0.265s 24.001s 3 40
3 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 212 0 +1.781s 23.909s 3 35
4 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 212 6 +2.856s 23.916s 3 33
5 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 212 0 +6.604s 23.846s 4 30
6 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 212 0 +7.903s 24.015s 3 28
7 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 212 0 +8.505s 23.732s 3 26
8 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 212 0 +9.59s 23.882s 3 24
9 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 212 0 +10.066s 23.904s 4 22
10 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 212 0 +10.427s 24.007s 3 20
11 Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 212 0 +12.019s 23.906s 3 19
12 Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Dallara DW12-Honda 212 0 +12.579s 24.088s 3 18
13 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 212 0 +12.948s 23.849s 3 17
14 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 212 0 +14.355s 24.047s 3 16
15 Pietro Fittipaldi Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Dallara DW12-Honda 212 0 +15.051s 24.132s 3 15
16 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 212 0 +17.494s 23.779s 3 14
17 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 212 0 +19.894s 23.999s 3 13
18 Dalton Kellett A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 212 0 +23.957s 24.275s 3 12
19 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 211 0 +1 lap 23.66s 3 11
20 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 211 0 +1 lap 24.124s 3 10
21 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 211 0 +1 lap 24.179s 3 9
Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 190 0 DNF 23.93s 4 8
James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 158 0 DNF 24.232s 2 7
Sébastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 55 0 DNF 24.171s 0 6

Driver Standings

Pos Driver Team Points R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 R11 R12 R13 R14 R15 R16 R17
1 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 153 35 30 53 35 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP 131 34 11 35 51 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing 127 53 14 33 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Josef Newgarden Team Penske 116 7 40 28 41 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 107 26 15 30 36 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
6 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske 102 18 36 20 28 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport 100 8 54 8 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 Will Power Team Penske 99 41 24 16 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
9 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske 99 16 19 40 24 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
10 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing 90 19 32 26 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
11 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 84 17 28 22 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
12 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing 84 29 22 10 23 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
13 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing 79 24 26 11 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
14 Sébastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Enterprises 68 31 20 6 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
15 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport 65 22 9 24 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP 58 9 18 17 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
17 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 56 6 16 14 20 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
18 Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan 51 15 10 18 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
19 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport 44 13 12 7 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
20 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing 43 14 14 9 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
21 Dalton Kellett A.J. Foyt Enterprises 38 12 7 12 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
22 Romain Grosjean Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 37 20 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
23 Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing 34 0 0 19 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
24 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing 33 0 0 13 20 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
25 Pietro Fittipaldi Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 24 0 0 15 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
26 Jimmie Johnson Chip Ganassi Racing 19 11 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
27 Max Chilton Carlin 16 10 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

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