Veteran driver Tony Kanaan predicted a boring race with IndyCar making changes to reduce pack racing at Texas Motor Speedway.
Fortunately for TMS and IndyCar, Kanaan isn’t the second coming of Nostradamus.
Instead, Saturday’s DXC Technology featured enough moments to make it memorable and this era’s top driver extend his active wins record.
Scott Dixon showed his dominance in leading the final 119 laps to take the checkered flag for the third time in his career at Texas. He won from the pole position in 2008 and started seventh in his 2015 victory.
Dixon started seventh again this year.
Dixon won the race by more than four seconds ahead of runner-up Simon Pagenaud and third-place finisher Alexander Rossi. There wasn't much passing and the margin of victory could be viewed as a negative, but this race went better than expected.
And seeing one of the best drivers in the sport's history have a dominant performance is never boring. It's like watching an NBA great drop 50 points, or an NFL quarterback throw for 500 yards.
It marked the 43rd career victory for Dixon, breaking a tie with Michael Andretti for third all-time in IndyCar wins.
"I love winning in Texas, man," Dixon said during his celebration. "This Victory Lane is very special. The car was just fantastic."
Dixon also downplayed Kanaan's concerns going into the race, although acknowledged it's difficult to gauge how the race may unfold off practice.
"It's always tough at Texas because we do our practices during the heat of the day," Dixon said. "The track changes significantly once we get to the nighttime. Once the track temp goes down, the grip really comes up. I had that sensation at the end of the last practice last night. Once the track temp started to come down, the grip level really came up. I knew it was going to be a pretty good situation for the race.
"I think some may have wanted it to be a little bit more closer, but it looked like in the mid pack, at least from my view when I was having to pass people, the racing was pretty tough. Definitely some side-by-side stuff, some action. It wasn't just follow the leader. It was pretty cool to race out there."
Track temperature was at 110 degrees when it started at 7:45 p.m.
The race saw a couple contenders taken out on wrecks.
Will Power, the series' points leader who started third, made what IndyCar determined was "avoidable contact" with Zachary Claman De Melo coming out of Turn 4 on Lap 205.
Rookie Robert Wickens, who led 31 laps, saw his chances end when veteran Ed Carpenter got into him on Lap 173. IndyCar penalized Carpenter for "avoidable contact," and Carpenter acknowledged fault.
Kanaan, meanwhile, had a forgettable night. He had something break in the rear suspension early on and wound up finishing 21st.
His teammate at A.J. Foyt Enterprises, 19-year-old Brazilian rookie Matheus Leist, endured a scary incident during Lap 7.
Leist had his power go out between Turns 3 and 4, and flames engulfed his car. He exited within five seconds to avoid injury, but the track’s fire crew took more than 30 seconds to reach the car.
TMS president Eddie Gossage defended his track’s fire crew in how it handled the incident.
"The fire crew was ready, but they can’t move until they are dispatched by the control tower,” Gossage said. “You’re going to have to ask [IndyCar]."
An IndyCar official said it simply had to do with the circumstances of the incident. The nearest safety vehicle is located between Turns 1 and 2, and the car stopped between Turns 3 and 4.
Additionally, IndyCar has to ensure the track is suitable for the emergency vehicles to enter to avoid incidents with the other cars on the track.
"That’s rarely a spot where we see a car stop," the IndyCar official said. "Our safety personnel wants to reach those incidents as quickly as possible, but we still have to wait for cars to go around and slow down before we dispatch them."