Scott Dixon put on a cerebral performance during the final 148 laps of the Firestone 600 on his way to his second career win at Texas Motor Speedway.
Dixon ran a steady first stint after starting in 7th place while Simon Pagneaud put on a clinic up front. The Frenchman led 59 of the race’s first 67 laps. He held the lead after the first pitstop while Tony Kanaan suddenly came to life and took the lead on lap 75 and began to pull away.
The race’s only yellow flag flew nine laps later for debris on lap 84 which brought fall the leaders down pit road and shuffled the leaderboard as Juan Pablo Montoya took the lead while Pagenaud fell back to ninth place after an extended pitstop to make some adjustments to the car.
Montoya only managed to hold the lead for a few laps as teammate Helio Castroneves reared him while Kanaan and Dixon trailed them. It only took a few laps for Kanaan to regain the lead as first Dixon took advantage of Montoya washing up the racetrack and went from 4th to the lead in a matter of a second and then Kanaan slipstreamed past on the backstretch to retake the lead.
Kanaan held a steady lead on his teammate as the next round of pitstops approached but it was Dixon who rose to the top with the combination of a quick pitstop and stopping two laps later than Kanaan.
That set the stage for Dixon to pull away once he got in clean air while Kanaan briefly closed to within a car length on lap 150 but was unable to complete the pass. Dixon’s lead would only increase from there as he lapped all but the top four cars. The drama was brewing as the race was entering its final stage and whether or not anybody was going to roll the dice was going to try to make it to the end on fuel.
Marco Andretti was the last car to pit on the second to last stint with 53 laps to go after stretching his fuel to 53 laps. Dixon could not make it to the end on fuel and made his final stop of the night on lap 228.
Andretti managed to unlap himself and get close to Dixon, but did not cycle around to the lead and was forced to slow down in order to make it to the finish.
All the while, Dixon’s large margin never decreased and he crossed the line with 7.8 seconds to the good over Kanaan.
We made some big changes after the first stint, we had a lot of understeer,” said Dixon. “TK (Tony Kanaan) was fast. I knew we had a good car, we just had to get it dialed in. I can’t thank the crew enough. This Energizer car….I told you…we had a run with this thing where we would constantly win. I am just over the moon with it, over the moon.
– Scott Dixon
“It is never easy. Even toward the second to last stint, we were still trying to make changes to the car. First part of the night, we had so much understeer in the Energizer car. Then as the night went on we put a little bit of front in and it started getting loose. In traffic we were really good. We took enough front end away that it enabled us to run really good speeds. Towards the end, the thing was just a rocket ship.”
Kanaan claimed his second podium of the season with his second place finish while fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves finished in third place.
Juan Pablo Montoya rebounded from an up and down night to finish in fourth place after struggling with the handling for much of the night. Andretti managed to finish the race without stopping and rounded out the top five and was followed by his teammate Carlos Munoz in sixth place.
Charlie Kimball finished in seventh followed by a dazzling performance by Ryan Briscoe. Briscoe came through the field quick and early and ran much of the race in the top 5 and ended the day in 8th place followed by his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate James Jakes in ninth while rookie Gabby Chaves completed the top 10.
Image: Chris Jones via IndyCar