Dixon wins once more at Texas in IndyAutomobile’s delayed season opener

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — IndyAutomobile packed each little bit of its delayed season-opening occasion into one lengthy, scorching day in Texas with none followers within the stands. Scott Dixon was the quickest for many of it at a spot he is aware of nicely.

Dixon, a five-time IndyAutomobile champion, took the checkered flag at nightfall Saturday for his fourth win on the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked oval, the place drivers additionally practiced and certified earlier within the day. The 39-year-old New Zealander raced to his 47th profession victory and matched A.J. Foyt’s document of 18 seasons with a win.

“It was such a team effort,” stated Dixon, third on the profession wins record behind Foyt’s 67 and Mario Andretti’s 52. “It’s just so fast. Any situation we were in, we could just go for it.”

After a restart with three laps left following a warning when younger teammate Felix Rosenqvist crashed whereas working second, Dixon sped away within the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Honda for a 4.4-second victory over Simon Pagenaud.

Defending IndyAutomobile champion and polesitter Josef Newgarden was third behind Pagenaud, his teammate at Team Penske.

Nearly three months after the beginning of the season was placed on maintain due to the coronavirus pandemic, IndyAutomobile lastly acquired on the monitor for what would normally be the midpoint race of its season.

The huge grandstands that may seat nicely greater than 100,000 folks have been empty, and never due to excessive warmth — temperatures within the mid-90s with a warmth index round 100 levels Fahrenheit all through follow, qualifying and even a lot of the race. No spectators have been allowed, as will even be the case for the following race on the highway course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4.

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“It’s rotten that the fans aren’t here. I wish everybody was here to celebrate,” stated Dixon, who prolonged his personal document to 16 seasons in a row with a victory.

Gov. Greg Abbott rode within the tempo automotive for the primary skilled sporting occasion in Texas since sports activities shut down nationwide due to the coronavirus. The solely at-track spectators have been folks watching from condos within the constructing overlooking Turn 2.

Dixon had the highest velocity in the course of the two-hour follow session, and certified second. He went on to win the IndyAutomobile title every of the three earlier instances he received the Texas race.

Rosenqvist had been second behind Dixon for a number of laps when he crashed making an attempt to maneuver by way of site visitors. He acquired excessive going onto the backstretch with 9 laps remaining, bringing out the ultimate warning, and completed 20th out of 23 automobiles that began the race.

“It was really my breakthrough on ovals, I think. I really had a good shot there and threw it away,” stated Rosenqvist, who slammed the steering wheel with each arms after the automotive got here to a cease. “Just one silly thing screwed everything up.”

Dixon led 157 of the 200 laps, and had an earlier six-second lead over Newgarden worn out by a warning for particles. Newgarden led twice for 41 laps and fourth-place finisher Zach Veach led the remaining two laps. Ed Carpenter, the sequence’ solely driver-owner, rounded out the highest 5.

“I feel like we won the race with how bad we were,” Newgarden stated. “My team fought. If there’s anything, we have an incredible fighting spirit. … We were just struggling. I was really struggling with vibrations on the tires.”

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Because of the prolonged opening day, the race shortened to 200 laps from its common 248 at Texas. It took just one hour and 38 minutes.

When Newgarden received the pole after being the final to take a qualifying run, there was a fast warning over the radio to the Team Penske crew to keep away from celebratory high-fives.

All of the groups have been already in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the scheduled season opener March 15. But they by no means ran on the streets of St. Pete, making the quick monitor at Texas the debut for the protecting windscreens now over the open cockpits of the automobiles.

Texas turned the season opener whereas holding its initially scheduled date, which was purported to be the ninth of 17 races. That would have been two weeks after the Indianapolis 500, which has been rescheduled for Aug. 23.

Drivers and crew members went by way of well being screenings after they acquired to the monitor. Many of them had already gone by way of comparable screenings to get on chartered planes they boarded at daybreak Saturday in Indianapolis — they have been returning house after the race.

Crew members have been required to put on face masks, and there was loads of room for social distancing within the two 64-bay garages. There have been additionally bigger-than-usual stalls on pit highway.

Rinus VeeKay, the 19-year-old rookie driver for Ed Carpenter Racing who received six Indy Lights races final 12 months, crashed throughout follow after which had his debut IndyAutomobile race finish with one other crash after finishing solely 36 laps. His No. 21 automotive acquired excessive going onto the backstretch, then ricocheted off the wall to gather Alex Palou, one other rookie.

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Takuma Sato, the 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner and the Texas polesitter final 12 months, missed the race after the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing crew was unable to get the No. 30 automotive repaired in time after a crash in qualifying about 2 half of hours earlier than the inexperienced flag.

Source: AP News

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