Josef Newgarden held off multiple challenges from Alexander Rossi in the final laps of the race and took the victory in the IndyCar Series DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. Newgarden crossed the finish line 0.8164-of-a-second ahead of Rossi and captured his 13th IndyCar Series win and the third this season.
The conclusion of race number nine marks the halfway point of the season and the fast mile-and-a-half oval did not disappoint.
Rahal-Letterman Lanigan Racing driver, Takuma Sato, sat on the pole during Saturday’s afternoon qualification session with a time of 47.074. However, it was Newgarden who started seventh was the victor for the third time this season after holding off a hard charging Alexander Rossi at the end.
“Ah these guys (Pit Crew man, I’m just trying to get it done,” Newgarden said in his post race interview with NBCSN. “How about this Fitzgerald car? It looked good and great to have the Fitzgerald’s here tonight. I knew we had a rocket ship, it was just a matter of getting to the front. We were better in the front, then we were in the back. I knew if we could get in that position, we’d be okay. Team Chevy did a great job for us, just a good day to capitalize on some points. These guys put me in position, so hats off to them.”
After Sato started on the pole, he dominated in the early going stretching the lead out over Scott Dixon and putting a beating on the field. However, everything went on south on the first round of pit stops, as he slid through his pit, hit the pit wall and wound up hitting one of his pit crew members. Sato would receive a stop and go penalty by Indycar officials, which eventually put him two laps down and taking him out of contention for the win. His crew member would have issues with his right wrist, but was later checked in and released from the care center.
With that in mind, Ryan Hunter-Reay secured the lead on lap 72 after the initial round of pit stops.
During the long green flag run, the No. 23 of Charlie Kimball had a right wheel bearing failure on lap 94 that took him out of the race.
In the meantime, on track battles began to heat up between Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi who had a thrilling battle. Hunter-Reay was continuing to stretch his fuel mileage and pitted on lap 113 to began the second round of pit stops.
The race eventually became a fuel mileage race, as Hunter-Reay would have stop two more times and would be needing a few lucky breaks in order to contend for the win at the end. Dixon came out second after the round of stops and was on a three stopper strategy.
By going almost halfway in to the race, the first caution occurred on lap 134 for Honda driver Zach Veach, who had a thrilling spin on the backstretch. Veach was trying all he could to save the car by spinning out, getting back going, but wound up hitting the Turn 3 wall. Due to that incident, Veach suffered a broken toe length that also took him out of the shot at winning.
Under caution, Newgarden, Will Power and Sato all pitted to change the fuel mileage race.
A.J. Foyt Racing driver, Matheus Leist was out of the race early on as he suffered handling problems. Both Foyt Racing drivers, Tony Kanaan would also have a disappointing night by finishing 16th continuing the teams frustration on the 2019 season.
Before the caution, 2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud hit a pit equipment during the round of pit stops. He received a warning and will be addressed a fine later in the week for his actions.
Rookie Felix Rosenqvist also was penalized for pit lane speed violation.
This set up a lap 143 restart, which became under review by Indycar officials. No action was taken afterwards.
After the restart, Hunter-Reay was needing to save more fuel as he could not make it to the end without help of caution flag laps.
Despite no action being taken after the restart, it was determined that Tony Kanaan was penalized for jumping the restart and had to serve a drive thru penalty.
On lap 155, Herta and James Hinchcliffe was also under investigation for an on track incident, but officials took no action.
Things started to become interesting as the race went on, as last weeks winner at Detroit, Scott Dixon passed race leader Hunter-Reay on lap 164. It appeared Hunter-Reay would be saving fuel at the time, as Alexander Rossi went on by him and would take the lead from Dixon on lap 175.
Hunter-Reay had to make a pit stop on lap 179, five laps short of his next scheduled pit stop window. While that happened, Dixon and Rossi traded the lead with each other multiple times before pit stops began.
Dixon was able to pass Rossi for the lead once more, as Rossi began to save fuel on this green flag run. On lap 186, Rossi passed Dixon back and pitted on the same lap. Pagenaud also ended up pitting as well.
The time eventually came for race leader Dixon to pit on lap 190 and ended up giving the lead to Newgarden, which cycled out as the new race leader for the first time of the night.
After the pit stops, there was only three cars on the lead lap but the top three including Newgarden would have to pit again.
Power pitted on lap 197 along with Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais pitted on lap 202. Newgarden would once again be the leader.
Despite having one caution, Hunter-Reay continued to suffer as he still didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end unless another caution came out late.
His wish was granted on lap 219, as Hinchcliffe would end up crashing on the backstretch to bring out the caution. This saw Hunter-Reay pit while race leader Newgarden stayed out.
A late race restart was seen with 22 to go and the intensity began to pick up. Just three laps later, Colton Herta and Scott Dixon was involved in a crash in Turns 3 and 4. Herta and Dixon would wind not up finishing the race.
Indycar officials did a great job getting the track cleaned up in time and set up a 12 lap dash to the finish.
It was all Newgarden and Rossi who would battle it for the race win at Texas. Rossi was only able to get the side of Newgarden in Turns 1 and 2, but had to back out of the throttle and settle behind him, before making another run at Newgarden. In the end, the Hendersonville, Tennessee native held off Rossi in a thrilling finish to earn his third win of the 2019 NTT Indycar season.
“Yeah, he (Alexander Rossi) was fast,” Newgarden added in his post race interview with NBCSN. “I mean, honestly, you know he ran a great race. Both him and (Scott) Dixon ran a great race there at the end. It was hard to get away at the restart, that was my biggest concern was just getting the jump back going again. He (Alexander Rossi) was good man, he was hard to hold off. He was so good in dirty air. I saw how he good he was earlier in the race behind people. I knew it was going to be tough. You saw the speed I had on the fronstretch to hold him off. Thanks to Team Chevy, so yeah, it was a good day in Texas! I’m glad to finally figure this place out, it’s been a while!
After having a strong car for most of the night, Alexander Rossi came home in second place when the thrilling battle with Newgarden was over with.
“The second lane never came in,” Rossi said in his post race interview with NBCSN. “It’s disappointing, because he was really nowhere and then they called a great race, and he had a fast car. So ultimately, once he had track position, there wasn’t much I could do. I could get halfway around, get to the outside of one, then the front would take off and couldn’t complete the pass. He drove as he should, covered the inside, it was not much I could do. Nonetheless, I think it was a really good day, it was close there with (Scott) Dixon and Colton (Herta). It was good to be able to get through that.”
Graham Rahal had a quiet race, qualified in the ninth position and wounded out the podium finishers.
“Yeah, it was good!,” Rahal excitedly said in his post race interview with NBCSN. “The car was good enough that you could pass. I made a couple of moves in the outside of (Turn) 1. Second lane was starting to come in there in (Turns) 1 and 2. I think overtime, this track is going to get better. When they first repaved it, did the line wash, it definitely hurt the grip. I just think with more races, Cup guys, us, that second lane is going to come in. Our Fleet Cost & Care guys did a great job tonight. The first stop was awesome! We’ve come along ways. We did an amazing job on the fuel mileage and we could go forever. In the end, I am happy. We get a weekend off, guys worked hard and get rewarded just a little bit, it feels pretty good.”
Even though his fuel mileage strategy didn’t quite workout, Ryan Hunter-Reay finished in the fifth position wounding out the top five finishers.
“I thought tonight was the night that we were going to pull in this No. 28 DHL car in to victory lane,” Hunter-Reay said in his post race interview with NBCSN. “Get the cowboy hat and shoot off some guns, but it wasn’t meant to be unfortunately. Just leading that much maybe could have put us in a position to pit a lap or two early and it became a fuel mileage race with the way the yellows fell. So, nothing really went our way again tonight, but we definitely showed we were here and that we were capable of winning. It was unfortunate we couldn’t turn this in to a W because I think it was a night to take advantage of. The car was awesome, but then it got to a point, where I was looking at the fuel map, letting guys go and it was a disaster after that. Big thanks to the guys and we’ll move on to Road America, and hopefully get a win there.”
There were three caution flags for 22 laps and 13 leaders among eight lead changes.
The average speed was 186.084 mph.
With the win, it was Newgarden’s third of the season, his first on a big oval. He led twice for 54 laps to secure the win.
1. Josef Newgarden
2. Alexander Rossi
3. Graham Rahal
4. Santino Ferucci (R)
5. Simon Pagenaud
6. Ryan Hunter-Reay
7. Marcus Ericsson (R)
8. Sebastien Bourdias
9. Will Power, One lap down
10. Marco Andretti, One lap down
11. Conor Daly, One lap down
12. Felix Rosenqvist, Two laps down
13. Ed Carpenter, Two laps down
14. Spencer Pigot, Two laps down
15. Takuma Sato, Three laps down
16. Tony Kanaan, Three laps down
17. Scott Dixon, 20 laps down, OUT- Contact
18. Colton Herta, 20 laps down, OUT-Contact
19. James Hinchcliffe, 30 laps down, OUT- Contact
20. Zach Veach, 76 laps down, OUT- Handling
21. Charlie Kimball, 162 laps down, OUT- Mechanical
22. Matheus Lesit, 175 laps down, OUT- Handling
Up Next: The NTT Indycar Series takes a brief hiatus and will return to on-track action for the tenth race of the season at Road America Sunday June 23 on NBC.