Featured Story Racing News

Dixon wins, Hinch fourth, Claman De Melo and Wickens both crash in Texas IndyCar race

Norris McDonald
Written by Norris McDonald

PHOTO: Tony Kanaan, driving this year for A.J. Foyt Racing, leads a gaggle of Indy cars around Texas Motor Speedway Saturday evening.

I have been saying for years – and I have not been alone in thinking this – that Scott Dixon is the class of the field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Any time he’s on the track, you can bet he’s in the hunt.

Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, Dixon won his third race at that facility – his second of the season and the 43rd of his career – and he did it in style. He worked his way to the front from his seventh-place starting position and once in the lead with 119 laps to go, he just cruised to the finish.NN

Canadian James Hinchcliffe just missed the podium, finishing fourth behind Dixon, Simon Pagenaud and  Alexander Rossi. The two other Canadians in the 23-car field, Robert Wickens of Guelph and Zachary Claman De Melo of Montreal, were both crashed out. Neither was injured; neither was at fault.

GO TO WHEELS.CA TO READ NORRIS McDONALD’S

MONDAY MORNING RACING ROUNDUP

“It’s always tough at Texas,” Dixon said. “We do our practices during the heat of the day. The track changes significantly, once we get to the night-time. Once the track temp goes down, the grip really comes up. I knew it was going to be a pretty good situation for the race.”

Here is more from Dixon and how the other drivers in the race (starting with the Canadians) felt about it:

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I love winning at Texas. This place is awesome. Always a big thank you to Eddie Gossage (Texas Motor Speedway president) and his team. They do a fabulous job. The PNC Bank car is back in victory lane. It’s fantastic. The car was just stuck. Whatever we did, the car was just nailed. It was a bit loose at times, but I can’t thank the team enough. The pit stops were fantastic.” (About being patient early): “I think we bided our time a little bit. We wanted to make sure the Firestone tires were looked after as much as possible. They did a really good job. We went all the way to the end of the fuel stint and we haven’t done that in a long time. We conserved a little bit at the start, then put the hammer down.” (About being third on the all-time wins list): “It means a lot, but more so for the team. We celebrate together and we win and lose together. Forty-two of those wins have come with this team. I can’t thank them enough. Chip (Ganassi), Mike (Hull), (Scott) Harner, Barry (Wanser) and all the No. 9 car crew.” (About leading the championship): “It’s not bad. But it’s going to be hard to hold onto. We’ll see how the next races go. The car has had good speed all season and we’ll try to keep it going.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “We were making progress on that first stint – we were one of the last cars to pit. We made up a good chunk of time, and then we had a problem with the fuel hose that first stop, lost a lot of track position. The No. 5 Arrow Electronics car was really good tonight. We didn’t have the speed we wanted in qualifying, but we’ve always said here that it is probably the least-qualifying sensitive track… We made some great passes on track and managed to make those tires last. That’s what it was about today: making those Firestone tires last. The SPM guys did a great job with that. Happy to rebound from P15. I hope Robbie (Wickens) is all right – sucks to see a team car go out, especially when he was running well like that. Good result for the No. 5 car.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “I think (some cars were) being really desperate, trying to do whatever they can, I guess, to be racing. (Zach Claman) De Melo in front of me was being so dangerous and that’s how (Ed) Carpenter got by me. Ed made a mistake. I went to his inside. I don’t know if his spotter didn’t tell him I was there, but he just turned in and we had contact and went up into the wall. I mean, it sucks. We were so strong the whole night. Things were going so smoothly we were getting the fuel mileage. I don’t know, I’m just frustrated. I mean when you’re driving around slower cars, they’re getting blue flags every time at start-finish – they’re getting blue flags and they ignore every single one of them. We shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place, but it just sucks. We had such a good car.”

ZACHART CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “I got a great run on the outside in clean air, I probably would have passed (Will) Power, as well. I don’t know if his spotter didn’t tell him I was there. Watching the replay, I was clearly there. It’s just one of those moments. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose. I feel bad for him and I feel bad for me and the team. It’s a bad day, but I think I showed my potential. It was a great run up until that point. To do what I did today, from second to last to get up to where we were, it was looking like a possible top-five finish, top three even. I can’t thank the whole team enough, Paysafe and everyone. The car the Dale Coyne Racing team gave me was amazing. After a disappointing weekend like this, I can’t wait to get back into the car again.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “You know, pretty much anything bad that could have happen happened tonight for the No. 1 Verizon team.  Everyone worked real hard and the guys gave me a great car.  Everyone did everything they could tonight. It was a great effort from my team.  Pretty much, anything that could have went wrong went wrong tonight.  That is all there is to it. We will move on to Road America.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “We were having a solid start, I think, and then I just lost power in Turn 1. I told the team, “No power. No power,” and then suddenly, I just saw flames coming up from the engine cover. We don’t know what happened. The only thing is that it is a pity for the team. I feel for the team not just for myself. I think we had a great car here and we could have done a great race here. It is what it is. It happens sometimes. Looking forward to the next one now.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The guys in front of me were saving a lot of fuel and completely lifting to try and make it and someone went around on the outside. Unfortunately, the timing stand was talking to me at that exact moment and I couldn’t hear my spotter call, “Outside,” and there was someone outside at that point. It’s just a bad situation, but something that happens at a track like this. It was not the guy on the outside’s fault. I didn’t know he was out there at that point. We were lifting so much trying to save fuel and he went outside me. It was just a bad deal, but we will move on to Road America.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I don’t know what happened. We definitely had a little issue with the rear of the car and it cost us the race. But it was a great weekend up until now, we qualified sixth. You know when you’re 12 laps down, it’s not worth it to put yourself out there. We’re not going to gain anything so we decided to stop. We’ll bounce back.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda): “Overall, I can’t complain too much about finishing sixth. The Fleet Cost & Care team did a good job with strategy, we did a good job in the pits and the car was pretty good. We were able to make some moves, but as everybody could see, it was hard out there today to get a whole lot done. We’ve got to work on the aero package this week and move forward to allow us to follow a little bit easier, but overall, I can’t be too unhappy with that.  We salvaged another really good result out of a really tough start. We’ll keep our heads down and move on.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “Obviously, it was a disappointing result for a pretty solid race. The SealMaster Honda No. 18 was as good as anything else out there. I just didn’t gauge the tire degradation well enough on the first stint. We ended up pitting early and that settled the issue because there wasn’t a yellow until much later in the race. When one did finally come out, it went against us because we had just come in the pits. The guys did a great job, the car was competitive, it was fast, like it was all weekend. In the end, we just took what we could. It’s a real shame. The car and the team deserved better than eighth.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “It was a mistake. I knew Robbie (Robert Wickens) was coming. I thought I could close the door, but it was a big mistake on my part. He was a lead lap car. We were having a bad day, we just didn’t have it this weekend. We just could never get the balance right where it needed to be. I made it worse by making a mistake like that so, my apologies to him. I know it doesn’t mean much now. I feel bad for those guys. I feel bad for my guys. The night certainly didn’t need to end like this. It’s a mistake on me, and I’ll have to come back and get ’em in Iowa.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “It was a tough race. Throughout the stints, the balance was changing quite a lot, so I had to try and stay on top of that. At the end of the day, we were missing a little bit, but we hung in there. The guys did a great job with strategy and in the pits to keep us in the fight and finishing 11th was probably better than we expected at the beginning of the race. Overall, I’m just happy to get through it and I learned a lot tonight.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good night. We started really strong, really loved the car to start in the heat. As the temperature dropped, it got a little bit more difficult for us. We adjusted the car the wrong way as the temperature dropped, it got pretty loose for us midway through. It was a pretty fast-paced race, as well, quite physical. I was just trying to manage the balance. It was quite fun, actually. We had to keep up with the tires, keep up with the balance of the car throughout the stints and also relay to the pit what you needed for the next one. It was fun. I mean, I had a lot of good battles, especially with Alexander (Rossi) at the end. He gave me some gray hair, the last 30 laps, but we managed to hold him off. That was really cool. Just to get a good result like this for us – I think the No. 22 team needed a break. I think we got one tonight. For DXC, it’s pretty awesome. We had about 3000 employees from DXC tonight, so it was good to have a good showing.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “Tonight was tough with the tires degrading and the car sliding around more and more as the stint went on. The nice thing about the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet, actually both Carlin cars, is that they were stable all race. I was confident in what the car was going to be able to do. That really comes down to the preparation that the team has put into making sure that every time I roll out of pit lane they’ve given me the absolute best car that they can. It feels like these top-10 finishes are starting to be a habit and we’ll just keep moving forward from here.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): “Things started off really well. We drove from 16th to third on the first stint – which just showed what kind of car we had. It was the best car I’ve had in my career, the best car I’ve had in (the Verizon IndyCar Series), so hats off to my engineer and the entire Relay / Group 1001 team. Then, the rookie side of me came in during the second stint. I just got too high running through Turn 2 trying to get air. I got the right rear into the wall and bent a toe-link and went 10 laps down. From that point on, we were just fighting as hard as we could. I honestly think we had a car for the top five, possibly the top three, we passed everyone up to (Scott) Dixon, basically – even though we were laps down. That just shows the strength we had. My crew gave me something special and I just didn’t get the job done with it. But, you know, that’s learning. I’m excited to go on to Road America and then get back on the ovals at Iowa. For me, tonight it felt like a switch finally flipped. I felt like I can run with these guys and push them into the corners and not be afraid to take the way they drive on track. I put myself forward and stood up for myself, and that’s a big key in INDYCAR. I finally feel confident enough to do that.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “Simon (Pagenaud) did a good job defending. We tried to go up high, and I would have taken it if it was an easy one, but I couldn’t force the issue.  We came home third. The NAPA AUTO PARTS car was awesome from the get-go. We were able to pass some cars and go long on fuel. The tire life was great, so all-in-all a great effort from the No. 27 team.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “The day was solid, but that’s kind of all it was. We just really couldn’t get the car up in the mix at the end – just too much understeer. I couldn’t get close to those guys to join the party. It looked like they were having fun, I just couldn’t get in there. We’ll take the top five for the DHL team. We gained a little in points and that’s what we’re really keeping our eyes on.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda): “It was a tough day. Obviously, the key today was managing the tires. Unfortunately, halfway through my first stint we had a huge problem on the rear, so I had to come in to change the tires and that put us two laps down. After that, I think the team did a great job to work through it and we got two laps back in the end and fought for position. Finishing seventh is a solid finish, but starting where we did, we wanted to be a little higher. But I think it was a solid day. Thank you to ABeam Consulting for being the primary sponsor for this race. It was great to see the guests, and of course, I think the car was one of the best looking. It was a great team effort overall.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “It was a long day in the office. Sometimes, this race feels as challenging as Indy. We knew coming into this race it was going to have its curve balls. I felt like we handled everything thrown our way tonight pretty well. Our tires lasted longer than most people – I think we might’ve done one of the longest stints. I struggled with ultimate lap pace, but from midway onward, we had pretty good speed. It was more to do with just strategy at that point. We were three laps down and we were able to get ourselves to one lap down. We had some good pit stops and we had a couple of good overtakes. We’ll take P12 for sure for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet, especially considering where we started. We’ll have a nice midseason break here next week and we’ll come back stronger in Road America.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “It was a bit of a long night. We felt pretty good about the car during the last session on Friday night, so we came into the race thinking that we’d be in pretty good shape. We did a small tweak, which I think threw the balance over the edge and because of that we really struggled for the first stint. The car was really loose, so it became pretty hard to drive and keep pace on a track like this. We tried to do the best we could and made some good changes that gave us good pace after that, but unfortunately, we were already so many laps down that it’s impossible to get back into the race. Proud of our guys for powering through today. Onto Road America.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda): “We were running a legitimate fourth and the clutch failed during our stop. From them on, we had no clutch the whole race. I had the clutch in, grabbed first and then it just stalled and wouldn’t restart for five laps. We had just gotten by Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and the car was coming into its own. The U.S. Concrete car had the pace to win the race and we just had to cruise the rest of the way.”

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment