By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas — Familiar faces failed to finish Saturday’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, a race that was slowed down three times with some exits resulting in huge championship implications.
Matheus Leist struggled finding pace and didn’t took long into the race when leader Takuma Sato lapped him. His race would turned its rear ugly head as for the third time this season, Leist failed to see the checkered flag. Unlike his previous retirements, handling issues took his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet out of the running and was the first retiree. The Brazilian completed 73 laps and marked his fourth career last-place result.
Several laps later, the woes Carlin has endured strikes again. This time, it was Charlie Kimball’s bid of a possible top-10 night which were dashed after right rear wheel bearing forced him to bring his No. 23 Fisasp Chevrolet into the pits, completing 86 laps. Kimball’s last retirement was last year at Barber Motorsports Park.
Kimball said there was no damage on the car, but the feedback wasn’t to its liking which resulted into the wheel bearing issue.
Unfortunately, we had a mechanical issue out there, but no damage to the car. It just stepped out right at the exit of Turn 4,” said Kimball. “The car loaded up and gave me a little bit of strange feedback as I turned into Turn 3 and then I honestly thought we had a right rear puncture, but it looks like it was more of a bad wheel bearing and not quite as easy of a fix as we were hoping for.
“It’s a shame that our day ended early because the No. 23 Fiasp Carlin Chevrolet was really good all weekend when we were in clean air. I feel bad for these Carlin guys. They put in so much effort and to have something like that pop up out of nowhere totally unexpected just really hurts.”
Then on Lap 135, Zach Veach took a wild ride on the backstretch after making wall contact. The evil handling No. 26 Gainbridge Honda nearly hit the inside wall, but was able to keep it from further damaging the car. It appeared he was able to save until the car once more spun into Turn 3, going into a complete stop. Veach wasn’t able to re-fire the engine and had no other choice than get out of his car.
Veach would eventually return to the track later in the race until he pitted once more with 45 laps to go and officially called it a night via handling issues after running 172 laps. It’s Veach’s second retirement of the season.
“The Gainbridge car was great today, I just got caught up in lapped cars that weren’t giving way,” said Veach. “I was running seventh and was trying to get around Spencer (Pigot) and another lapped car – they just made it too hard. I came off the bottom of Turn 2 with Spencer and he cut down even further and basically took all the air off my wing.
“We hit the wall and went for a ride. The crew did a great job to get me back out, but in the end, we just didn’t have anything else to gain. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is, and we’ll look ahead to the next one.”
On Lap 220, James Hinchcliffe had a run on Alexander Rossi to gain another valuable position. Then entering Turn 2, Hinchcliffe had to deal with the lapped car of Spencer Pigot and ran out of real estate. It caused his No. 5 ARROW Honda to snap around and the right side of his car slammed the inside wall.
Hinchcliffe radioed to his team that he apologized for the incident and that the team deserves better luck than they’ve had. He got out of his car unharmed, but it’s the second straight race Hinchcliffe failed to finish.
“We were coming up on some lapped cars and I tried to use those lapped cars to get a pick on Rossi. We got a good run on the outside, but I just got a little bit high and got into the grey,” Hinchclife on the accident. “The car pushed to the outside and then just snapped on me, tagged the right rear into the wall and just went around. My fault. I was trying to make moves at the end of the race and get a good result for the No. 5 Arrow guys, they really deserved it. We’ve had just garbage luck this year. The car was good, strategy was good, Arrow guys were good in the pits, just my mistake.”
The third and final caution came out on Lap 229 when a dive to the bottom went wrong for Colton Herta, who collided with Scott Dixon in Turn 3, wiping both themselves out of the race. Neither driver were hurt with both agreeing the culprit was Dixon.
“(Scott Dixon) apologized and that’s what it seemed like from my point of view,” Herta on the accident. “I (haven’t) seen a replay yet or anything, but he just turned down on me from my point of view. I was there and he put me on the apron. I was more than enough ahead. He didn’t need to do it. That outside lane was there and he could have run the outside. He must not have known (I was there).”
It’s Dixon’s second retirement in the last three races, taking a huge hit on his bid for a sixth NTT IndyCar Series championship. Meanwhile, Herta’s festering luck continues as its now his fifth retirement out of the last seven races.
When the relatively clean and physical race was settled, six out of the 22 drivers failed to finish the race. The madness won’t be a concern for the drivers as they’ll have an off-week before hitting Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin June 23 to start the second half of the season.