Scott Dixon might not be the best known driver in IndyCar. He’s an unassuming guy who isn’t prone to fill up a quote sheet.
But make no mistake — Dixon is among the best IndyCar drivers of all time. He showed why once again Saturday with a dominating performance to take the checkered flag in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I knew we had a good car, we just had to get it dialed in,” said Dixon, who won his 37th career race and second at Texas (2008). “I am just over the moon with it, over the moon. I’m stoked. It is so good to have the Energizer car in Victory Lane again.”
Dixon won the race by more than seven seconds over his Chip Ganassi Racing Teams teammate, Tony Kanaan. Helio Castroneves finished third followed by Juan Pablo Montoya and Marco Andretti.
Those five were the only drivers to finish on the lead lap for a race that will go down as the fastest in the track’s history with an average speed at 191.940 mph. The previous best mark was 185.710 mph in 2006.
It was also a green flag-heavy race with only two cautions, tying the record for the fewest, also achieved in 2006.
But having the fastest speeds and a clean race doesn’t exactly make for an entertaining race. Boring races have bogged down Texas in recent years, and this didn’t change that perception with low drama and no wrecks.
The lack of wrecks is a positive for IndyCar, of course, after having four significant wrecks in the days leading up to the Indianapolis 500. That forced them to adjust their superspeedway aero kits, aimed at preventing lift when a car is traveling backward at high speed during an accident.
That proved to be the case with only one wreck all weekend — Ryan Hunter-Reay slamming hard into the wall during the first practice session Friday.
The other adjustment, however, didn’t produce the desired results. They adjusted the degree of the rear wing angle to increase the overall downforce with the hope that it helped enhance the overall racing, which didn’t happen, depending on whom you ask.
The drivers weren’t ready to concede the race becoming another snoozer, even though it was predominantly a single-file race yet again with predictable leader board.
Chevrolet dominated yet again with the top four finishers, and have now won seven of the series’ nine races this season. The only surprise may have been pole-sitter and Chevy driver Will Power relinquishing the lead after seven laps, and fading away as the race wore on.
But Castroneves and Kanaan pointed to the different downforce options teams had to choose, but that doesn’t have the broad appeal to your average fan.
Dixon backed the racing, too, saying: “Obviously I’m going to be biased, but from my standpoint it was fantastic. You were going side-by-side, it was close, the traffic was manageable. If you had a faster car, you could break away. Those are the races here I think are very good.”
More important for Dixon is notching another win in his stellar career and earning his second of the season. He is now third in the points standings, 43 points back of leader Juan Pablo Montoya.
Dixon grabbed his initial lead on Lap 139 when then-leader Kanaan headed to pit road, and stayed among the leaders the rest of the way. He ended up leading a race-high 97 laps, including the final 18.
There was never a doubt he would win in the closing laps with a comfortable lead that only would have been in jeopardy with a late caution or unforeseen accident.
Another win for a driver who will go down as one of the greats.
“As much as he can, he wants to be out of the spotlight,” Kanaan said. “Me and Helio like to be famous, not Scott. But he’s an incredible driver. If you ask any driver that races against Scott, they’re going to respect him a lot.”
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760