FORT WORTH, Texas – At 39, Scott Dixon isn’t slowing down in his outstanding NTT IndyCar Series career. If anything, he might be as good as ever.
Dixon proved that with a dominating victory in Saturday night’s season opener, the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion led 157 laps in the 200-lap contest, but it was a pass for the lead when he blew past Josef Newgarden for the point in turn one on lap 91 on a restart that served notice to IndyCar that there is a reason for his legendary status.
It came after the next-to-last caution of the race that began on lap 77. When the green flag resumed high-speed racing, Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Honda blasted past Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Felix Rosenqvist’s No. 10 NTT DATA Honda for second place.
Dixon then took the high line on lap 91 and passed Newgarden for the lead in turn one.
He never looked back, racing his way to the 47th victory of his career, leaving him just five wins behind Mario Andretti’s 52 for second on the all-time victory list.
He also tied A.J. Foyt’s record of having at least one victory in 18 different seasons, and it’s the 16th consecutive season that Dixon has won at least one Indy car race.
“The car just had some really good speed,” Dixon said. “It was just nice to drive in traffic. I never really had to push too hard. I was just trying to make sure we could stay ahead of the rest of them.
“It’s not often you get a car like that. Just very thankful to have that. The team gave me an amazing car. It was a fun night for us on the No. 9. It’s great to be back in the car after such a long break, to do it like that.”
Dixon’s decisive pass in turn one was the key moment in the race. Once in front of the field, Dixon’s Honda was superior and drove away from the competition. It was never really challenged, except by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Felix Rosenqvist before he crashed late in the race to bring out of the final caution.
“Scott was way better than me tonight,” Newgarden said after finishing third. “It’s as simple as that. He had a good run, was able to stay pretty tight fresh on tires, like he talked about. Honestly, tonight for me was a night of hanging on. I was doing everything I could just to try to stay up front.
“When he came up alongside me on the front straightaway there, it was not really much I could fight. He was coming with a head of steam. It would have been foolish for me to try to bury the car into turn one and fight him. I think he was far enough ahead; he was going to pass me either way.
“It’s one of those nights you just have to kind of swallow your pride. We knew we just weren’t good enough tonight. Look, I just tried to finish as high as possible. That was what we did. The team really put me in a position to do that. We had amazing stops. We kept fighting and trying to create a strategy to keep me up front even though I wasn’t very good throughout a tire stint.
“Third place for us feels almost like a win tonight.”
Dixon finished 4.4109 seconds ahead of Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud’s Chevrolet. Newgarden’s Chevy was third, followed by Zach Veach’s Honda. Ed Carpenter rounded out the top five in a Chevrolet.
Charlie Kimball, who had A.J. Foyt’s car as high as fourth in the latter stages of the race, crashed on the backstretch on the final lap.
Meanwhile, Rosenqvist went from contending for his first win to a 20th-place finish. Another Chip Ganassi Racing driver, Marcus Ericsson, finished 19th.
Saturday’s one-day show of practice, qualifications and a race began when many drivers, crew members and IndyCar officials left Indianapolis on a charter flight at 6 a.m.
“I had a blast tonight, obviously with winning the race,” Dixon said. “Even if we didn’t win the race, just to be back in the car, back on track, I think is a huge achievement.
“It was really the unknowns. Trying to cram that all in. Traveling here this morning, qualifying, practice, race, then we fly home tonight. First time we’ve ever done anything like that. A lot of new things.
“Maybe that’s how we’ll do a lot of our events from now on. I’m not sure. I actually kind of enjoyed it. Kind of cool to do doubleheaders like this, which I think we’re going to do in the future this season, which is going to be a lot of fun. I think the unknowns are the most difficult part.”
Finally, the NTT IndyCar Series season has started, but it will take another long break before the next race – the July 4 GMR IndyCar Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
That is when Dixon will continue his pursuit of the greats, including Andretti’s 52 wins and A.J. Foyt’s 67.
“It feels amazing, don’t get me wrong,” Dixon said. “I think we’re all in this business to win. With how tough the competition is, they come around a lot fewer than they used to.
“I think when you can pull it off, especially just how dominant the car was tonight, it’s always nice. To me, or for me, to even be kind of listed with those names is amazing. It doesn’t ever really sink in to be honest.
“I feel very lucky and privileged to do what I do, to get to race with the best in the world. To still have A.J. and Mario come to the track, I think that’s the coolest thing. And the Unsers, a lot of legends of the sport.
“I just feel lucky and very privileged to be with this team, able to come here and try to win races.”
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