IndyCar newsflash: Duel of the generations and a maiden victor in Texas

IndyCar newsflash: Duel of the generations and a maiden victor in Texas
Joe Skibinski

Scott Dixon and Patricio O’Ward race into Victory Lane in Texas double header – Zak Brown fulfils O Ward’s F1 dream – Four winners from first four races 

After the two youngster victories by Alex Palou and Colton Herta at the start of the season, reigning champion Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) struck back at the first Texas round. With a dominant performance, he drove ahead of compatriot Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) and Patricio O’Ward (McLaren SP) to his first win of the season.

But it took less than 24 hours for the youngsters to bounce back. In the second race the following day, 21-year-old O’Ward drove to his first IndyCar Series victory. In the process, the Mexican beat veterans Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) and Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing). 

Race 1 – Dixon rewrites history

The six-time champion did not just secure his fifth win at Texas Motor Speedway with his victory on Saturday night. Above all, the New Zealander rewrote the history books, having now won at least one race in 19 different IndyCar seasons. Dixon is now the sole record holder ahead of IndyCar icon A. J. Foyt (18 seasons).

Rookie McLaughlin put in a strong performance with second place in his very first oval race. The three-time Australian Supercars champion almost managed a sensational victory. But veteran Dixon didn’t miss a beat in the tight final stages and kept his compatriot at bay. O’Ward scored his first podium of the season with a carefree third place.

Race 2 – Melee at the start, O’Ward scores maiden win

The second race on Sunday produced a moment of shock right at the start. Sebastian Bourdais (A. J. Foyt Enterprises), hit by Pietro Fittipaldi (Dale Coyne Racing), triggered a mass crash in the midfield in the ensuing chain reaction. Fortunately, the six protagonists involved were all uninjured.  

O’Ward, who had started in fourth place, narrowly beat Newgarden after a late restart. The caution was triggered by O’Ward’s team mate Felix Rosenqvist. Rahal secured third place in a close finish ahead of Saturday’s winner Dixon.

O’Ward takes his first winner’s trophy in the IndyCar Series – Credit: Chris Owens

F1 dream will come true for O’Ward

For O’Ward, the first IndyCar victory tasted twice as sweet eventually. McLaren boss Zak Brown had promised the Mexican a F1 test in advance if O’Ward achieved his first victory.

Brown has already confirmed that he will keep this promise and invite the 21-year-old to the “Young Drivers Test” at the end of the F1 season. Subsequently, O’Ward announced that this is a dream come true, but that he continues to have his heart set on the IndyCar Series.

Championship battle as thrilling as ever

After four different winners in the first four races of the IndyCar Series, an exciting and unpredictable battle for the IndyCar crown is currently shaping up. Dixon currently leads the standings with 153 points thanks to almost unbelievable consistency. The Kiwi’s worst result is his fourth place on the Streets of St. Petersburg (Florida).

O’Ward, meanwhile, is second in the championship with 131 points, while season opener winner Palou is third, just four points behind. Both drivers dropped a massive amount of points in St. Petersburg, finishing 17th (Palou) and 19th (O’Ward). Herta, who dominated in St. Petersburg, is only in seventh place with 100 points after having retired from two races already.

Dixon leads the championship going to Indianapolis – Credit: Chris Owens

May will be crucial for the further course of the championship. On 15th May, the fifth round of the season will take place on the Grand Prix circuit of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two weeks later, on 30th May, the prestigious Indy 500 will be the highlight of the IndyCar season. According to current statements by officials, up to 135,000 spectators (40% of capacity) are expected to be admitted for the Indy 500.

Chris Liemann