Drama under the lights of Texas

The ninth round of NTT IndyCar Series was run as an evening race at Texas Motor Speedway under the name DXC Technology 600.

Takuma Sato had taken Pole Position in front of the 2018 winner Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud and Spencer Pigot.

Championship leader Josef Newgarden started from P8 as the second best Penske driver.

The race was started before the sun totally set, but the lights were already on around the track. The low sun also meant that the drivers got blinded by sunlight in Turn 3 in the first part of the race.

Sato took the lead after the start and quickly built up a one second gap.

DXC Technology 600 2019
Photo: Indycar.com / Chris Owens

Alexander Rossi was having a progress and tried to overtake Josef Newgarden from both the inside and outside. Ten laps into the race he suceeded, and at the sime time Colton Herta also went past.

The two A. J. Foyt Enterprises teammates Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist closed off the field on P21 and 22, while the oval specialist Ed Carpenter was right behind Felix Rosenqvist on 19th and 20th positions.

Dixon closed the gap to Sato at the end of the first stint, as they were driving past the slower cars. With a laptime of about 24 seconds it wasn’t hard to fall back a lap, if they had even the smallest problem.

Ed Carpenter
Photo: Indycar.com / Chris Owens

It went totally wrong for Takuma Sato, when he pitted for the first time. He came way too fast towards his crew and didn’t manage to brake at all, so he ran down the mechanic on the left front tire before stopping one pitbox too far. Luckily, his mechanic was okay. The Japanese got a Stop & Go for the offence and went three laps behind.

Andretti Autosport was quick to send Ryan Hunter-Reay back to the track after the pitstop, so he now overtook the lead ahead of Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe.

Matheus Leist and Charlie Kimball were the first two drivers to retire with various mechanical problems on their cars.

Rossi attempted to drive past Hinchcliffe, but instead ended up losing a position to Herta, who also went past Hinch one lap later.

Alexander Rossi
Photo: Indycar.com / Chris Owens

Hunter-Reay was the first driver to pit, which also meant he would likely need to do one more pitstop than the others, unless there were long yellow flag periods later in the race. The first 120 laps were run under no form of interruptions.

The first problem of the day came after 135 laps, when Zach Veach clipped the wall on the outside of Turn 2, which broke his rear suspension. It sent him sideways towards the left wall, which he avoided by the skin of his teeth, before he did a 360 degree spin. After that he stopped in Turn 3, after yet another 360 degree spin.

Nine laps later the race got restarted, with Hunter-Reay ahead of Dixon and Rossi.

Dixon tried to get past Hunter-Reay but the American kept denying him time and time again.

Colton Herta
Photo: Indycar.com / Chris Owens

85 laps before the finish, Dixon came up in front again, while the two Andretti Autosport teammates Hunter-Reay and Rossi were second and third. The two swapped positions a few laps later, with Hinchcliffe lurking nearby.

After 175 laps, Alexander Rossi took the lead for the first time. It only lasted for two laps before Dixon was back in front.

Rossi reclaimed the lead, a half lap before he pitted for the last time. Dixon continued on the track for some more laps, before he finally pitted.

Newgarden had different strategy from everyone else, pitting much later than all of them, since he had extra fuel under the earlier yellow flag period caused by Veach. Hence he could drive longer before having to pit for the last time, and didn’t need as much fuel. That was why he could come out in front of the field, ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon. Hunter-Reay on the other hand, still needed to pit in order to drive until the chequered flag.

Ryan Hunter-Reay
Photo: Indycar.com / Chris Owens

James Hinchcliffe caused the second Full Course Yellow of the day, when he lost control of the car in Turn 2 and hit the wall on the inside. Fortunately, he could get out of the car by himself and was completely fine. But what a shame as he had been in the top five for the majority of the race.

Ryan Hunter-Reay pitted for the last time for a bit of fuel and four fresh tires.

Dixon tried to overtake Newgarden from the outside at the restart, but the two were so close to each other that he had to release the speeder and fall back.

Herta on fourth place was very aggressive. He did an overtake on Rossi from the outside, and after that dived on Dixon from the inside in Turn 3. Herta and Dixon had a contact and both spun around, hitting the wall – and thus out of the race. It was something that had a big influence on the championship, with all the points that Dixon missed, while Newgarden could still win the race.

The race was restarted with Newgarden in front of Rossi, while Graham Rahal, Santino Ferrucci and Ryan Hunter-Reay battled for third place. Simon Pagenaud, Marcus Ericsson and Sebastien Bourdais were the last drivers on the leading lap.

Josef Newgarden
Photo: Indycar.com / Chris Owens

Rossi was up on the side of Newgarden a few times, but Newgarden held onto the lead and Rossi had to move back again.

Josef Newgarden won the race ahead of Alexander Rossi and Graham Rahal.

The result means that Newgarden extends the lead in the championship to Rossi, while Pagenaud is third, followed by Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay. After that there is a gap of 41 points to Graham Rahal, who as for now is considered out of the championship battle, even though there are still plenty of points to get.

The next race will be run on 23 June, when Road America hosts the tenth round of NTT IndyCar Series.

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