When the caution came out on lap 213 of Saturday’s Bombardier Learjet 550 at Texas Motor Speedway, race leader Marco Andretti breathed a sigh of relief. His team had told him he would run out of fuel before the finish of the 228-lap event. The seven laps of caution put him in range to finish the race.
What he didn’t want to see was the caution that came out just 10 laps later.
As the race went back green, Andretti held off pole sitter Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, and Ryan Hunter-Reay for two laps, but with six laps to go, Dixon passed Andretti at the line by a mere .0159 seconds. Dixon cleared Andretti as the cars exited turn two, and Andretti found himself battling with Hunter-Reay.
Photo by Lindsey Perkins
The field of the Bombardier Leajet 550 round turn four of Texas Motor Speedway.
As the two entered turn three, Hunter-Reay’s left side tires got on the apron, the lower portion of the racetrack, an area that’s not banked liked the turns of TMS. His right front tire made contact with Andretti’s left rear, and the two went sailing up the track and into the turn four wall.
Photo Courtesy IndyCar Series
The race ended under caution, and it was Dixon that would go on to win, continuing his dominance in the IndyCar Series that has seen four poles and three wins, including this year’s Indianapolis 500.
The early stages of the race were messy. The first 60 laps were mired by five cautions that ate up 36 laps, but cleared out many cars in the back of the track record-tying field of 28.
“I think some of it was definitely more cars on the track,” Dixon said. “Once you have a yellow, they breed yellows, and it was real hard to get into a rhythm.”
Third place finisher Ryan Briscoe fought his way from the back of the pack twice during the race. On an early caution, he mistakenly stopped in the pit of teammate Castroneves, and served a penalty that put him a lap down.
Later, Briscoe sustained damage when he ran into the back of Hunter-Reay, and his crew had to change the front nosecone. But he battled back in a day his team can at least put in the moral victory column.
“It was a great recovery and third almost feels like a victory tonight,” he said.
Castroneves led the most laps of the race, but had to fight back a pit road speeding penalty that put him a lap down.
He earned three valuable bonus points for leading the most laps, keeping him within striking distance, 35 points, behind series leader Dixon.
“Second place is a great place, it’s great points, a lot of points in the championship, and that’s what we need to focus on,” he said. “We never gave up, and it paid off.”
With seven of 17 races in the books, the IndyCar Series will take a week off before heading to Iowa Speedway on June 22.