NTT IndyCar Series: DXC Technology 600 Preview – Texas Motor Speedway

Scott Dixon celebrates in victory lane after capturing his 43rd career Verion IndyCar Series win. © [Tom Loomes / Spacesuit Media]

Last year, Scott Dixon celebrated in victory lane after capturing the win at Texas Motor Speedway. © [Tom Loomes / Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

The long five-week grind of the IndyCar schedule comes to an end this weekend as the NTT Series moves from the tight Belle Isle-Detroit street circuit, landing in Fort Worth and the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway. A major driver change, 200-mph speeds and a long history of Indy car events await the teams as they unload for Sunday’s DXC Technology 600.

Race Facts: Opened in 1997, TMS played host to the IRL Indy car circuit on Saturday, June 7, just one day before CART’s event at Detroit, as the battle for control of open-wheel racing in North America raged on. This Saturday’s contest will be the 32nd IRL/IndyCar event (there was a 2011 double-header) run on Texas’ 1.5-mile high-banked oval. The “600” number in the race title refers to kilometers, not miles, thus the event actually goes for 248 laps (360.84 miles). Turns 1-2 are banked 20 degrees while Turns 3-4 have 24, giving teams one more challenge as they set up cars for competition. Arie Luyendyk won the inaugural over Billy Boat and Davey Hamilton, but now part-time competitor Helio Castroneves holds the wins record with six. Team Penske has won here nine times. The past 10 events have seen eight different winners including two each for Scott Dixon (Ganassi) and Will Power (Penske). Track Records: Qualifying, one lap, 2017, Charlie Kimball (222.747 mph)…Race, 2015, Dixon (191.940 mph).

2018 Race:  Starting seventh, Dixon waited until lap 130/248 to take the lead for the first time, a spot that he never gave up, leading the final 119 circuits to win by 4.294 seconds over Frenchman Simon Pagenaud. Pole-sitter Josef Newgarden and Penske teammate Pagenaud dominated the early race, leading 85 of the first 95 laps with Dixon taking over for good after his second pit stop. The win was the third for Dixon at TMS, the most for any current, full-time IndyCar driver, as he went on to secure his fifth IndyCar series championship.

2019 So Far:  NTT Series standings after eight races: 1) Josef Newgarden-Team Penske Chevrolet, two wins, 316 points.  2) Alexander Rossi-Andretti Autosport Honda, one win, -15.  3) Pagenaud-Team Penske Chevrolet, two wins, -25.  4) Dixon-Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, one win, -52.  5) Takuma Sato-Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda, one win, -61. Harding Steinbrenner Rookie Colton Herta has the other win.

The Field:  In a major shake-up, Carlin driver Max Chilton will switch to street/road course duties only for the remainder of the 2019 schedule, while Conor Daly will take over the oval track job for Carlin at TMS. No oval driver has been named by Trevor Carlin for the remaining events at Iowa, Pocono and Gateway…Ed Carpenter will be back in the #20 cockpit for his team at the TMS oval replacing his street/road course specialist Ed Jones…Twenty-two cars are entered at Texas.

Notes:  Indianapolis Rookie of the Year Santino Ferrucci, who finished seventh in his first 500, has moved to 13th in NTT Series points (161), after finishing 19th and 10th at Detroit…35 drivers have earned NTT Series points so far this season…Seven penalties were handed-out at Texas during or after last year’s race…Somewhat unheralded drivers Mark Dismore (1990) and Billy Boat Jr. (1998) have won on the high banks back in the Indy Racing League days…Justin Wilson came from his 17th starting spot to win here in 2012…TV: Race-Saturday, June 8, NBCSN, 8:00 p.m. (ET), Green Flag, 8:45 p.m. (approximately)… Qualifying-Friday, June 7, NBCSN, 6:30 p.m. (ET).

Our Take:  Anything can happen on the high-speed banks of TMS. With eight different drivers having won in the previous ten Texas races, the winner’s circle is wide open for anyone who can survive 248 laps of 200-mph, wheel-to-wheel action. Remember, only five drivers were running at the finish in 2013 (then again, 30 were running at the end in 2011) so…Ed Carpenter will finally win here for the second time (he won in 2014) for his own Chevrolet team, or Alexander Rossi will take his first TMS win here in the Andretti Autosport Honda.

Final Words:  Conor Daly (No.59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “I want to thank everyone at Carlin and Gallagher for the opportunity to get back in a race car this weekend at Texas. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Carlin back in 2011 as I started my European racing journey…I became a fan of Texas when I was really young; the side-by-side racing under the lights was always an incredible sight to see…I haven’t been there with this new generation car yet, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Next Race: Sunday, June 23, Elkhart Lake, WI, Road America.

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