Texas Race Review: Dixie Does Dallas

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New Zealander Scott Dixon won going away Saturday night in Texas during a nearly entirely green flag race, shattering the track record with a race average of 191.9 mph. His margin of victory was almost eight seconds over Ganassi team mate Tony Kanaan in a race that lacked a dramatic conclusion but included plenty of close racing and passing if not outright speed. It was Dixon’s second win at Texas – the other back in 2008 – and he led ninety seven laps out of two hundred and forty eight.

Scott Dixon (9), of New Zealand, leads Tony Kanaan (10), of Brazil, out of Turn 4 late in the Firestone 600 IndyCar auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday June 6, 2015. Dixon won the race and Kanaan finished in second. (AP Photo/Larry Papke) ORG XMIT: TXTG135

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Chevy’s dominance continued, taking their seventh race out of nine. Oddly there were no crashes and only a single caution for debris all night long north of Dallas, resulting in only four cars on the lead lap at the conclusion. That said, the caution was too long as usual dragging out for over a dozen laps. The one restart saw exciting three wide racing break out on track again, though it was short lived. Dixon and Kanaan showed no team sympathies in their intra-TCGR battle for supremacy at TMS.

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The NBCSN pre-race coverage had some interesting segments. There were several morbid moments during a Robin Miller interview with the ornery octogenarian legend A.J. Foyt. Repeatedly referring to death as well as age and longevity, Miller missed in keeping it either light or informative in his talk with AJ. The four time Indy 500 winner did manage to say “Whoever you go with, you gotta stand up with ’em, good or bad. I’m not happy on their [Honda’s] air package . . ., as far as the body I think they’re out to lunch.”

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

After talking to AJ, Miller then went on to do an abbreviated “grid run” of little worth. On a happier note, recovering driver James Hinchcliffe gave a surprise and appreciative command to start engines via the world’s largest screen,”Big Hoss TV.” Star IndyCar reporter Jon Beekhuis was noticeably absent from the broadcast, again raising our question “Where’s Beekhuis Been?

texasdixiesportsusatodaycom

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

There was an entertaining Helio interview from the back of a pickup truck circling the track with Marty Snider. In it, Helio showed his experience and wisdom calling Texas “a great oval,” and wisely emphasizing the finish of races. He ended up on the podium in third. The pre-race flyover marked the seventy first anniversary of the turning point battle of D-Day during World War II and included a vintage B-17 Flying Fortress with escorts from the era to mark the occasion.

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In keeping with a troubling theme of the season, the start of the race was embarrassingly called off even though the front of the field was perfectly aligned as Power and Montoya led to the green. Three wide racing broke out immediately with Dixon and others testing the conditions and aero packages, though sadly it didn’t last. Epic early battles around the track were reminiscent of Texas races of old particularly between Brazilians Kanaan and Castro Neves, the latter wildly hand gesturing from the car. In what quickly settled into a hum-drum evening, there were no pit crewman hit, no fires nor even crashes in an odd outing in Texas.

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A “motivated” Pags started second and led a number of laps for Penske but faded after killing the car during a slow first pit stop to finish eleventh. It was a disappointing race for Penske and many others. CFH Racing continued to struggle with both Carpenter and Newgarden retiring early due to engine issues.”We’re underachieving big time,” the likable owner/driver said dejectedly. In perhaps the most unusual note of the evening, Sato, Bourdais and Newgarden were all penalized for passing the pace car under the lone caution of the night.

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Overall it was an engaging race, although it definitely could have used a couple of more yellows to liven up the evening. There was only one caution and that was for debris, one of those “Thank you, Lord” yellows although it wasn’t enough. Cars spread out and all but the top five were lapped by the end.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Marco challenged near the front and ended up top Honda in fifth, though a half lap behind the leaders in a strung out race. Subbing in for Hinch at SPM was Aussie Ryan Briscoe, a former Texas winner who stormed forward through the field to finish an impressive eighth after gaining eleven spots in only his second race of the year. His English team mate James Jakes also ran well, finishing just behind Briscoe in ninth. AJ’s team had another tough night in their home state, with Hawksworth the first out of the race with mechanical issues finishing twenty third and Sato little better in sixteenth, five laps down. Hawk had trouble from the outset, the first driver to pit with an evil handling car that required three turns of front wing in the first twenty laps.

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Photo from autoracing1.com

NBCSN’s coverage was decent and we particularly enjoyed the “older and wiser and calmer Paul Tracy,” as Brian Till called him. “I’m never wrong,” Tracy said in typically amusing and bombastic style. Not fans of PT during his driving years, we’ve come to appreciate his forthcoming commentary on NBCSN. Townsend Bell performed passably as well imparting his ample knowledge as a driver of the current cars. Brian “big wiggle” Till also does a competent, colorful job on air.

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

Dixon’s win was the thirty seventh of his storied career and adds to Chip “the Hutt” Ganassi’s gaudy total. His pit stops were like the rest of his race, flawless. Dixie definitely did Dallas, or at least Denton. The four car team claimed first, second, seventh and twelfth and is showing signs of an earlier awakening than last year. Next up for IndyCar is a trip north of the border to the concrete car crusher Toronto on Sunday.

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12 thoughts on “Texas Race Review: Dixie Does Dallas

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