Scott Dixon went around Michael Andretti, took the Verizon IndyCar series points lead and gave notice Saturday night that the championship is going to go through him.
Starting seventh, Dixon protected his tires, saved fuel and dominated the second half of the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. The 37-year-old veteran took the lead on Lap 130 and never gave it up, going on to register the 43rd win of his career, and passing Andretti on the all-time list.
Dixon finished 4.0s ahead of Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi to take a 23-point lead heading to Road America in two weeks.
“The car was great, our strategy was perfect and we didn’t have any tire issues,” said the four-time IndyCar champion, referring to the fact Team Penske suffered some major blistering problems during the race after qualifying 1-2-3. “It’s not very often you get a runaway win in this series.”
The guy who hadn’t led a lap in 2018 until his victory in the opener at Detroit the previous weekend bided his time early, went extra-long on his first fuel stop and then just picked his rivals off.
“I played it cool at the start and I was kind of surprised we were able to go so long on that first stint,”said Dixon, a master at saving fuel. “The track has changed through the years and so has the racing, but I love coming here.”
It was a good night for Pagenaud, who rebounded from some recent struggles to move to eighth in points.
“We need it, and I had a good car all night – just not quite as good as Scott,” said the 2016 IndyCar champion.
Rossi started eighth in his Andretti Autosport Honda and was again the most exciting driver of the day as he passed high and low but just couldn’t quite get Pagenaud.
“I had a big moment in Turn 1 and I tried to get by him (Pagenaud), but I figured after last week it was a good idea to bring it home,” said Rossi, referring to his faux pas at Detroit when he locked up the brakes while leading.
James Hinchcliffe also had a nice recovery after missing Indy and having a tough weekend at Detroit. He ran fourth in his Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda, holding off Ryan Hunter-Reay. Elsewhere, Graham Rahal continued his back-to-front act and charged from 20th to sixth.
There were accidents; Ed Carpenter taking the blame for crashing rookie Robert Wickens on Lap 173. Wickens, as impressive as any rookie since Juan Pablo Montoya, led 31 laps but finished 19th. Indy 500 winner Will Power started third but never led a lap before tangling with rookie Claman De Melo Zachary on Lap 205. Power dropped to third in points, 13 behind Rossi.