FORT WORTH, Texas – Scott Dixon didn’t spend much time sharing the spot with Michael Andretti for the third-most wins in Indy-car history.
A week after a matching victory, Dixon led the last 119 laps in the IndyCar Series race at Texas on Saturday night to move ahead of Andretti with career win No. 43.
“It’s really cool. Obviously I have massive respect for a lot of these drivers,” Dixon said. “But when you look at those names, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, the Unsers, to me it still seems very strange that Dixon is on that list too.”
Dixon trails only A.J. Foyt’s 67 wins and Mario Andretti’s 52.
After taking the lead on the 1 1/2-mile Texas oval in the 248-lap race, he never gave it up. It was Dixon’s third victory at Texas, a week after he won the first of the two races at Detroit.
“The car was just stuck,” Dixon said. “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.”
Before separate late incidents involving Will Power and Ed Carpenter, the top two finishers at the Indianapolis 500, Dixon was close to lapping the field.
IndyCar said Power and Carpenter both would be penalized for avoidable contact with rookie drivers.
Power held the points lead coming into the race, but Dixon took over that with his 4.3-second win over Simon Pagenaud. Alexander Rossi finished third, with James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounding out the top five in the first night race of the season.
“It’s so fun to come here, because you never know what you’re going to get except Scott is going to be fast and Team Penske is going to be on pole,” Rossi said. “A few common threads.”
Team Penske swept the top three qualifying spots. Pagenaud started and finished second, while polesitter Josef Newgarden was 13th and Power finished 18th.
The win gave Dixon a 23-point lead over Rossi after nine of 17 races. Power was third, 36 behind Dixon.
“It’s not bad,” Dixon said. “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.”
Power, who won at Texas last year, was running in the top 10 on lap 205 when he made contact with rookie Zachary Claman De Melo.
Claman De Melo was high on the outside coming out of Turn 4 when Power slid up heading toward the frontstretch.
“It was not the guy on the outside’s fault. I didn’t know he was out there at that point,” Power said. “We were lifting so much trying to save fuel and he got outside me. It was just a bad deal.”
On lap 173, Carpenter made contact with rookie Robert Wickens. Heading off the backstretch into Turn 3, the two were side-by-side low on the track when they made contact as Wickens tried to pass on the inside.
Wickens led 31 laps while Carpenter was never a factor up front at the Texas track where he won in 2014. Carpenter, who drives only ovals for the team he owns, was racing for the first time since finishing second at Indianapolis.
“I thought I could close the door, but it was a big mistake on my part,” Carpenter said.
Alexander Rossi was third for his fifth podium finish of the season. He has been in the top five for seven of the 10 races.
A.J. Foyt’s team. The No. 4 car driven by rookie Matheus Leist caught fire seven laps into the race, and something broke in the rear suspension of the No. 14 driven by Tony Kanaan about 20 laps later. Kanaan, the 2004 series champion in his first season on Foyt’s team, ran his 59th race since the last of his 17 victories in the 2014 season finale. A Foyt driver hasn’t won since 2013.
The new sleeker cars with a universal aero package spread things out quite a bit at Texas. Last year, there was a lot of pack racing and only nine of the 22 cars that started were listed as running at the end.
A much-earned weekend off for IndyCar after the month of May at Indianapolis, followed immediately by a doubleheader weekend at Detroit and the race in Texas. The next race is June 24 at Road America in Wisconsin.
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