02 May 2021
Scott Dixon claimed his first win of the IndyCar season at Texas Motor Speedway as rookie Scott McLaughlin shone to take second on his first oval start.
With qualifying rained out the grid was set by the points standings. That meant that Dixon started third, with his team-mate Alex Palou on pole.
Palou started strongly, but it didn’t take long for Dixon to move to the fore, passing the Barber winner on the third lap of 212. From there he immediately set about gapping the field.
There was no change from then on until the first round of pit stops, which began with Graham Rahal coming in on lap 50. Six laps later however a crash for Sebastien Bourdais, who was tagged into a spin by Josef Newgarden, brought out the first caution period.
That proved beneficial for those that hadn’t yet pitted – a group that included the leaders, while those that stopped under the green flag dropped back as a result.
Dixon and Palou maintained their formation at the front of the field when the race resumed on lap 71 and once again they took off, this time from St. Petersburg winner Colton Herta who restarted third.
It was during the round of pit stops in the caution period that Scott McLaughlin found himself suddenly in contention. Having started 15th, he was now firmly in the top-10, running sixth.
Dixon continued to lead, but former team-mate Felix Rosenqvist was now his closest challenger after making his second stop earlier than the leaders. Rosenqvist had closed to within half a second of Dixon, but his charge was soon halted by another caution on lap 163.
In an almost exact mirror image of an incident in last year’s Texas IndyCar race, Rosenqvist was lapping James Hinchcliffe and the turbulent air created by the faster Arrow McLaren driver, sent the Andretti man spinning into the turn two wall.
The leaders darted for the pits as the yellow flags flew once again, but a slow stop for Rosenqvist led to him dropping out of the top-10. McLaughlin meanwhile found himself restarting second on just his fourth IndyCar start.
The three-time Supercars champion, who has tested extensively at Texas kept Dixon honest in the closing stages of the race, but couldn’t find a way past to claim a maiden win, finishing a mere 0.264 seconds adrift as the chequered flag dropped.
Dixon’s victory was the 51st of his career, leaving him one behind Mario Andretti who is second on the all-time US open-wheel wins table behind AJ Foyt. It was also Dixon’s fifth win at Texas and moves him to first in the points as he chases a record-equalling seventh title.
Pato O’Ward finished third to claim his third consecutive oval podium after back-to-back rostrum appearances at Gateway last year, while Palou took fourth – his own best oval result of his short career.
Rahal rounded out the top five, ahead of Newgarden who recovered from restarting at the back of the field after the first caution for his involvement in Bourdais’ race-ending shunt.
Jack Harvey took seventh to equal his career-best oval result, while Alexander Rossi got his dismal season back on track with his first top-10 result of the year in eighth.
Takuma Sato and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top-10, with Tony Kanaan – making his first appearance of the year in place of Jimmie Johnson who is skipping the oval races – 11th.
Kanaan started at the back of the field by virtue of having no points on the board so far this season, but quickly became a factor in the race, despite battling gearbox issues for much of his first stint.
He made up four places from his starting position before the problem reared its head, and later found himself in the thick of the top-10 battle after the first restart.
Rosenqvist eventually finished 13th after his poor final pit stop ahead of Power, who despite his high starting spot was not a factor all day, and Pietro Fittipaldi who was once again deputising for Romain Grosjean.
The Brazilian, who is running all of this year’s oval races in place of the 10-time Formula 1 podium finisher, previously replaced Grosjean for the final two F1 races last year after his fiery accident in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Herta, a factor in the top-five for much of the race, was the only other retirement besides Hinchcliffe and Bourdais. His day ended 22 laps early with brake failure.
1. (3) Scott Dixon, Honda, 212, Running
2. (15) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 212, Running
3. (11) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 212, Running
4. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 212, Running
5. (13) Graham Rahal, Honda, 212, Running
6. (10) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 212, Running
7. (6) Jack Harvey, Honda, 212, Running
8. (16) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 212, Running
9. (12) Takuma Sato, Honda, 212, Running
10. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 212, Running
11. (23) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 212, Running
12. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 212, Running
13. (18) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 212, Running
14. (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 212, Running
15. (14) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 212, Running
16. (21) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 212, Running
17. (17) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 212, Running
18. (22) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 212, Running
19. (9) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 211, Running
20. (8) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 211, Running
21. (24) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 211, Running
22. (4) Colton Herta, Honda, 190, Mechanical
23. (20) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 158, Contact
24. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 55, Contact