Pit strategy, raw speed and defensive driving propelled Josef Newgarden to his first superspeedway win in tonight’s DXC Technology 600 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Newgarden benefitted from pitting on a yellow midway through the race to outrun his rivals and keep the lead on a late pitstop.

The race began with Takuma Sato picking up from where he left off from his pole-winning performance on Friday evening. The 2017 Indy 500 winner stretched out a 1.43 second lead over Scott Dixon the first 15 laps of the race. The front row starters were the class of the field as Dixon gapped third place Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais.

The back half of the top ten shifted positions as Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta moved up to seventh and eighth while Josef Newgarden dropped to tenth.

Sato’s lead over Dixon see-sawed as the leaders navigated lapped traffic with Dixon closing to as close as three tenths and falling back to as much as one second while Ryan Hunter-Reay closed in bringing Sebastien Bourdais with him as well.

Hunter-Reay kicked off the pit sequence on Lap 57 for a routing stop for Firestone tyres and E85 fuel. Sato’s surefire performance coming apart when he slid through his pit box on Lap 61 and struck his left front tyre changer Chris Welch. That cost him two laps of track time and netted him a stop-and-go penalty for hitting team personnel.

Hunter-Reay emerged as the leader when the pit sequence was complete with Dixon riding in second ahead of James Hinchcliffe, Alexander Rossi, Colton Herta and Simon Pagenaud.

Hunter-Reay paced Dixon over the next stint while Hinchcliffe and Rossi remained steady in third and fourth.

Herta was the lone shaker in the top five as he worked past Pagenaud for fifth and eventually caught Rossi and Hinchcliffe with relative ease on Lap 113 to move into third place.

Hunter-Reay’s blistering pace ultimately cost him precious gas mileage and became the first of the leaders to pit on Lap 115. Herta and Rossi extended their run to Lap 122 while Dixon stretched it out to Lap 123.

Hunter-Reay cycled back to the lead when stops were complete on Lap 125 in front of Dixon and James Hinchcliffe.

The race saw its first yellow fly on Lap 35 when seventh-place runner Zach Veach spun down the backstretch on Lap 135.

The yellow saw the leaders stay out while Josef Newgarden, Marcus Ericsson, Bourdais and Marco Andretti pitted for fuel.

Dixon trailed Hunter-Reay for 23 Laps before taking the lead on the outside in Turn 1 on Lap 165. Hunter-Reay then led teammate Rossi by to save fuel which allowed Rossi to set his sights on Dixon.

Rossi snagged the lead for two laps before relinquishing it back to Dixon just before the next round of stops began.

Hunter-Reay’s low fuel mileage forced him to pit on Lap 179 which guaranteed him a yellow to make it the rest of the way on fuel while Dixon surrendered the lead to Rossi on 186 just before Rossi made his next stop.

Dixon stretched it out to 190 which promoted Newgarden and the rest of the drivers who stopped under the yellow to the front.

Newgarden’s alternative strategy allowed him to click off laps quicker than the leaders and gave him enough of a cushion to keep the lead after pitting on Lap 197. Hunter-Reay slotted in second ahead of Dixon and Rossi.

The race’s second yellow flew on Lap 220 when James Hinchcliffe spun and hit the backstretch inside wall.

The yellow brought a fuel-destitute Hunter-Reay down pit road to top off and take four fresh tyres in hopes to tear through the field on the restart.

Newgarden stayed committed to the white line on the restart and stayed ahead of Dixon. Herta quickly dispatched Rossi with his sights set on Dixon.

Herta attempted to pass Dixon on the backstretch on Lap 229, but Dixon blocked Herta to the white line and on the apron heading into Turn 3. Herta lost control of his Harding Steinbrenner Racing entry and collided with Dixon.

That set up a 12-lap dash to the checkered flag and moved all of the backmarkers to the rear of the field with Rossi in second followed by Pagenaud, Rahal and Santino Ferrucci.

Newgarden defended Rossi’s multiple outside passing attempts as Rahal moved into third with Ferrucci behind him. Rossi eventually ran out of steam while Newgarden took the checkered flag with .8164 in the bag.

Rossi ended up second for the third time in four races while Rahal cracked the podium for the first time this season.

Ferrucci ended up fourth which stands as his best career finish in his rookie IndyCar campaign while Hunter-Reay settled for fifth.

Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud ended up sixth ahead of Arrow SPM rookie Marcus Ericsson and four-time champ Sebastien Bourdais was the last driver on the lead lap in eighth.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...