(Texas Motor Speedway on Twitter)
It was a battle between two gunslingers at Texas Motor Speedway for the NTT IndyCar Series XPEL 375 between Team Penske teammates Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden that settled itself coming off turn four on the last lap.
Arrow McLaren SP driver Felix Rosenqvist led the field to green Sunday afternoon, but as the cars came up to full song at 220 miles per hour, Scott McLauglin beat Rosenqvist to the line to lead the next 56 laps.
The first caution of the day occurred on lap 12 when Alexander Rossi, who had jumped the initial start of the race, suddenly slowed on the apron of the track and retired the car with engine issues.
During the first stent of the race, the most impressive driver on track was the young AJ Foyt Enterprise's driver Kyle Kirkwood. After a brief caution, the rookie restarted 23rd and was on rails. Moving into the top 10 after four green flag laps.
Lap 98 would mark the second caution of the day as Tukuma Sato, and Devlin DeFrancesco made contact in turn one as the battled for 17th. Sato was sent up the track and made contact with the wall in turn two. As the field made its way down pit road, smoke was seen coming from Romain Grosjean's car which ended the Swiss driver's day. Arrow McLaren SP drivers both had terrible pit stops as Rosenqvist slid through the box and O'Ward hit the left-front tire changer.
On the Lap 114 restart, Kyle Kirkwood got loose trying to pass DeFrancesco through turns 3 and 4. Kirkwood went around into the outside wall, ending his day
The cautions kept coming through this part of the race as on lap 129, Helio Castroneves went to the outside of Graham Rahal, DeFrancesco pulled to the inside to make it three-wide through three and four and got loose hitting the transition between the racing surface and the apron and collected Castroneves and Rahal which ended his day. Under the yellow, Rosenqvist pitted with a mechanical issue and retired the car.
The race restarted on Lap 149 and Rinus VeeKay was charging on fresh Firestones and by lap 159, VeeKay took the lead from McLaughlin. Scott Dixion has other ideas by taking the lead five laps later after McLaughlin and VeeKay saved fuel so they could finish the race with one stop remaining. Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson made his way into ninth place.
Johnson continued to impress on his oval debut. By lap 246, Johnson passed Dixon for fifth place. By this time, all eyes were upfront as McLaughlin caught lap traffic which allowed Newgarden to catch up.
Coming off of turn four, Newgarden passed McLaughlin on the final lap to win the XPEL 375. The margin of victory was 0.0669 seconds.
Newgarden - Team Penske - Chevrolet
McLaughlin - Team Penske - Chevrolet
Marcus Ericsson - Chip Ganassi Racing - Honda
Will Power - Team Penske - Chevrolet
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi Racing - Honda
Jimmie Johnson - Chip Ganassi Racing - Honda
Alex Palou - Chip Ganassi Racing - Honda
Simon Pagenaud - Meyer Shank Racing - Honda
Santino Ferrucci - Rahal Letterman Lanigan - Honda
Rinus VeeKay - Ed Carpenter Racing - Chevrolet
In what may be the last NTT IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway if all the rumors are true that the series may replace the Texas date in 2023 for the Milwaukee Mile, I don't think the series should leave Texas Motor Speedway.
While yes, Milwaukee has amazing history with IndyCar but with fans wanting more ovals on the schedule and this race being a reminder to all fans on why we love racing on ovals. The expectations were that the race would be a single file snooze fest because of the stained areas of racetrack from the PJ1. With the addition of new aerodynamic additions to the car for this race, it allowed for side-by-side racing throughout the entirety of the race.
For Jimmie Johnson, this has been the best showing of him so far in his IndyCar career. Even though it was at an oval, this certainly gives him confidence as the Month of May inches closer. His battle with Scott Dixon was some of the best racing I have seen from him since his last championship season in NASCAR. This should also make me believe that this run could add confidence throughout the rest of the season as this was the first example of him belonging in the series.
Another impressive outing was Santino Ferrucci filing in for the injured Jack Harvey. Harvey was in a single car accident during Saturday's practice session. With only six laps of practice to get a solid top ten run gives him confidence as we see him next at the Indy 500.
Overall, for two races into the season, this has been a great start to the series as we head to the first "crown jewel" event for the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The next race for the NTT IndyCar Series is the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 10th. Coverage begins at 3:00 P.M. EST on NBC
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