Written by Morgan Holiday
In a last lap drag race to the finish line, Penske’s Josef Newgarden took the win at the Texas Motor Speedway ahead of teammate Scott McLaughlin and Marcus Ericsson. A race full of cautions and crashes saw the Penske team take the top two spots on the podium, but there was plenty of excitement throughout.
McLaughlin was clearly fastest at the start, and took the lead from polesitter Felix Rosenqvist at the beginning of the second lap. Andretti’s Alex Rossi was penalised for jumping the start, but fell back almost instantly and retired with a battery issue. This brought out the first caution of the day.
Throughout the field other drivers made gains in their first stint, notably rookie Kyle Kirkwood coming from 23rd to ninth, and Colton Herta coming from ninth to fourth. Conor Daly was penalised for speeding in the pit lane, and the second caution of the day was brought out for Takuma Sato, who went into the wall after contact with Devlin DeFrancesco. During the caution Romain Grosjean retired with a mechanical issue and smoke coming out of his car, the third retirement of the day.
As pit stops continued, the Arrow McLaren team hit trouble. Rosenqvist had a slow stop as the team had trouble with his car, and his teammate Pato O’Ward ran into the man working his rear left tyre (the team member has been confirmed to be ok after a visit to the medical center). O’Ward served a time penalty for this contact, and Rosenqvist retired with a mechanical issue not long after.
The third caution of the day was courtesy of Kirkwood, who went into the wall after a scare with DeFrancesco sent him up onto the PJ1 covered section of the track. Not long after the restart, the fourth and final caution was brought out, this time for an incident involving DeFrancesco (again), Graham Rahal, and Helio Castroneves. All three went into the wall during the collision and retired from the race.
While McLaughlin held the lead for all of this chaos, at the fourth restart Newgarden took the lead, and a three way fight for the win ensued when Rinus VeeKay joined the fight. The lead passed between the three of them for several laps, and then Will Power joined the fight as well, taking the lead on lap 164. By lap 175 the top five were Power, VeeKay, Dixon, McLaughlin, and Ericsson, as Newgarden slipped to sixth.
The front runners all pitted shortly after the fight slowed down, and Herta had a slow stop that put him two laps down. When all the pit stops were said and done, McLaughlin had retaken the lead. From there the race calmed somewhat as the lap number ticked down.
Lundgaard, who had been running well, hit the wall with 17 laps to go, and had to pit with front wing damage that dropped him down 18th place. Jimmie Johnson, who had been fast all day, made his way up into the top five.
In the final few laps the fight for the win really kicked off between McLaughlin and Newgarden, and as the chequered flag was waved Newgarden took the win almost on the line, winning the XPEL 375 right ahead of his teammate.
Notable performers included Johnson, who took his best IndyCar finish by a long shot with a sixth place today. Santino Ferrucci also scored a top ten finish, despite filling in last minute for RLL’s Jack Harvey, who was injured on Saturday. The top ten finishers, in order, were Newgarden, McLaughlin, Ericsson, Power, Dixon, Johnson, Palau, Pagenaud, Ferrucci, and VeeKay.
Just missing out on a top ten finish was rookie David Malukas, who was the final car to finish on the lead lap. While most rookies faced trouble or simply weren’t as fast, Malukas kept the pace the entire race, and did well to hold his own in fights against the rest of the drivers.
IndyCar returns next month at Long beach, where McLaughlin will be looking to extend his points lead even further.
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