NTT INDYCAR SERIES competitors get a second chance to challenge Texas Motor Speedway today with the XPEL 375 – the second race of the weekend doubleheader – beginning at 5 p.m. (ET).
But what they really get is another chance to wrestle Scott Dixon out of the top position. It certainly won’t be easy, particularly with Dixon now the winningest INDYCAR driver in track history and a 51-race winner in his career (only one behind Mario Andretti for second place all-time).
And Dixon will start from the pole due to Saturday’s NTT P1 Award qualifying session being canceled due to weather delays earlier in the day. By INDYCAR rule, starting grids are set in such cases by entrant points, and Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing is the series points leader after three races.
Here’s the best news: The rain that dogged the Dallas/Fort Worth area late last week and threatened to put a damper on Saturday night’s Genesys 300 doesn’t appear to be a factor. Fingers crossed, anyway.
The live action returns to the NBC Sports Network and the INDYCAR Radio Network. You can catch radio broadcasts live on network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205, INDYCAR.com, indcarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile App powered by NTT DATA.
Here are more things to know about today’s race:
Better Catch Him Now
Those with hopes of taking Dixon’s season crown better get with it soon because this could be the deciding month of the season.
Dixon, who led 206 of Saturday’s 212 laps, will be the prohibitive favorite again today, and keep in mind that he finished first and second in last year’s two Indianapolis Motor Speedway races that complete this Month of May. With the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge being a double-points race, Dixon could sprint out to a big early lead as he did last year in winning the first three races (Texas, the GMR Grand Prix at IMS and Road America), and that might be enough to secure a record-tying seventh series championship.
While Dixon’s series lead is only 18 points, the driver in second place is teammate Alex Palou (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), someone no one predicted would be a serious title contender in just his second INDYCAR season. Team Penske’s Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) certainly is championship material – he won the 2014 title – but he already is 37 points behind Dixon after finishing 14th Saturday night in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet.
Of course, Dixon’s success is no fluke. He has now won at least one race in a record 19 seasons, one more than A.J. Foyt, and has at least one race win in 16 consecutive seasons, another INDYCAR record. He also is the first INDYCAR driver to win back-to-back races at Texas Motor Speedway.
How About Those Kiwis?!
It wasn’t just Dixon leading the New Zealand charge Saturday night – or the only Scott finishing high on the TMS scoreboard. Fellow countryman Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske (No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet) made his oval-track debut one to remember by finishing second, his best result in three starts in his rookie season.
McLaughlin, like Dixon, had his family in another part of the world – McLaughlin’s parents were in New Zealand, Dixon’s wife and children were in England – but McLaughlin said his parents were able to listen to his in-car radio, and they surely could hear the rejoicing in his voice.
“Mom and dad,” he said after taking the checkered flag .2646 of a second behind Dixon, “I love you guys.”
McLaughlin called racing on the 1.5-mile oval “bloody cool,” and he will start today’s race from the inside of Row 3 by virtue of being seventh in the point standings.
One difference between the races: Today’s will be 36 laps longer for a total of 248.
Warmer Temperatures, On and Off the Track
The forecast along with the earlier start time should make things warmer for everyone – as if the blood pressures of a few drivers aren’t high enough as it is.
Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda) found himself in the middle of controversy last night, first pushing Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda too far to the grass on the frontstretch dogleg. Harvey conceded he “probably squeezed” his pseudo teammate too much – the teams have a technical alliance, with the drivers regularly together in briefings – but Rossi didn’t sound too willing to let it go after the race.
Regardless of how their conversation goes, it surely will go smoother than the one Harvey figures to have with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal (No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda).
Rahal felt Harvey dangerously blocked him going down the backstretch, and Rahal said he and race control should have a word with the Englishman “in the next 12 hours.” Harvey was in no mood to back down, saying he was “well within my rights to defend … I moved first.”
Harvey, who was not penalized by race control, threw some bravado Rahal’s way, telling NBCSN that Rahal “knows where I am.”
Stay tuned on this one.
Dixon’s competitors not only have less than 20 hours to figure out how to beat him, but some teams have major repairs to make.
AJ Foyt Racing’s No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet driven by Sebastien Bourdais took a huge rear-first impact in Turn 2 following rear contact from Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet) in traffic. Repairs will be significant, and it won’t be a surprise if the backup car is pressed into duty. Bourdais was running sixth at the time of the incident, but he finished last. He is scheduled to start 14th.
A significant amount of work is necessary for James Hinchcliffe’s Andretti Autosport car No. 29 Genesys Honda, which incurred a similar big hit at the same end of the track. Hinchcliffe drifted high and spun after Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist (No. 7 Vuse Chevrolet) passed him. Ironically, it was Rosenqvist’s car which suffered the same consequence in last year’s race trying to pass Hinchcliffe.
Like Bourdais’ car, Hinchcliffe’s will require significant repairs to be on the grid today. He is scheduled to start 20th.
Andretti Autosport also has work to do on Colton Herta’s No. 26 Gainbridge Honda after a fire in the right rear wheel knocked him out of Saturday’s race. He was running fourth at the time; he will grid 10th.
It’s a lot to keep eyes on when the broadcast begins at 5 p.m. (ET).