Two late-race cautions set up a 13-lap dash to the checkered flag where Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden fended off multiple challenges from Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi to take the victory in the IndyCar Series DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 2 Fitzgerald USA Chevrolet crossed the finish line 0.8164-of-a-second ahead of Rossi’s No. 27 Capstone Honda. The win was Newgarden’s 13th IndyCar Series victory and third this year, his fourth oval win but first on a superspeedway. The Henderson, Tenn., native extended his lead in the series point standings to 25 ahead of Rossi after nine of 17 races.
“These guys, man; they keep putting me out front. I’m just trying to get it done in the end,” said Newgarden. “I knew we had a rocket ship; it was just about getting to the front. We were better in the front than we were in the back. It’s just a good day to capitalize on some points. These guys put me in position, so it’s all up to them.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal was third, rookie Santino Ferrucci finished a career-best fourth and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who led the most laps (90), finished fifth. The balance of the top-10 finishers were Simon Pagenaud, Marcus Ericsson, Sebastien Bourdais, Will Power and Marco Andretti.
The race ran caution-free through the first 135 laps when Zach Veach tagged the wall coming off Turn 2 and fought to maintain control of his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda before finally coming to a stop sideways in Turn 3.
James Hinchcliffe brought out the second caution on Lap 220 when, while running in the fifth position, he, too, hit the wall exiting Turn 2. His No. 10 ARROW SPM Honda then hit the inside retaining wall before coming to a halt, leaving Hinchcliffe with a 19th-place finish.
The third and final caution of the 248-lap race occurred on Lap 228 between defending DXC Technology 600 champion and five-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 9 PNC Bank Honda and Colton Herta in the Harding Steinbrenner Racing No. 88 GESS Honda. Dixon led heading down the backstraight but Herta went low entering Turn 3, getting just below the white line. The two made contact and ended up together in the outside retaining wall. Both were uninjured and Dixon later accepted blame for the contact.
Newgarden was one of the last competitors to pit at the 200-lap mark, and the strategy paid off. The Team Penske pit crew perfectly executed a stop on Lap 203, which allowed Newgarden to keep his lead and hold it for the final 45 laps. He did so, however, only after holding off Rossi down the front straight and into Turn 1 lap after lap.
“He (Rossi) was fast,” said Newgarden. “Honestly, he ran a great race. Both him and (Scott) Dixon ran me fair at the end. It was hard to get away on the restart. That was my biggest concern was just getting the jump getting back going again. And, he was good, man. He was just hard to hold off. He was so good in dirty air. I saw him earlier in the race how good he was behind people, so I knew it was going to be tough. It was really going to be tough.”
Newgarden is the 21st different winner in 31 IndyCar Series races held at Texas Motor Speedway since the track opened in 1997.
Hunter-Reay led the most laps but a four-stop pit strategy forced the driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda to pit for fresh tires during the final caution in an effort make a valiant charge from 10th during the 13-lap run to the finish.
Pole winner Takuma Sato led the first 61 laps but overshot his pit box while coming in for service under green-flag conditions. His No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda struck a crew member and came to rest against the wall, making it impossible for his crew to work on the car. Sato was assessed a stop-and-go penalty that, along with all the extra time on pit road, put him four laps down to the leaders and was not a factor again. He finished 15th. Crew member Chris Welch was evaluated at infield care center and released.