FORT WORTH — Powerhouse Team Penske seemed to have the field covered. Rookie Robert Wickens was surging toward the front. None of that mattered to Scott Dixon.
Dixon took the lead on a cycle of pit stops at the midpoint of the DXC Technology 600K and dominated the rest of the way Saturday night to capture his third victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
The four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion broke a tie with Michael Andretti for third on the career list with his 43rd victory.
Only Houston’s A.J. Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti (52) have more Indy car wins.
“I love winning at Texas, man. This place is awesome,” said Dixon, a New Zealander who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing. “We conserved a little bit at the start, made sure the balance was good and then put the hammer down.”
Simon Pagenaud finished second, 4.3 seconds back. Alexander Rossi, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the top five.
The Penske Chevrolets of pole sitter Josef Newgarden, Pagenaud and Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power dominated the early part of the race, holding the top three positions before and after the first round of pit stops.
As Wickens began picking off the top three, Newgarden pitted on Lap 98 of the 248-lap race with excessive wear and blistering on his tires. The other Penske drivers soon followed, making stops before their rivals.
“As the temperature dropped, it got a little bit more difficult for us. We adjusted the car the wrong way,” Pagenaud said. “It was quite fun, actually. You really had to keep up with the tires, keep up with the balance of the car throughout the stint.”
Wickens, Dixon and Rossi were the top three before Pagenaud and Power made their tire stops. After all the leaders pitted, Dixon’s No. 9 Honda was in front and paced the final 119 laps.
Dixon, who won in Denton County in 2008 and 2015, matched Sam Hornish Jr. with his third TMS victory. Helio Castroneves leads with four. Dixon also moved into second on the track’s list for all-time laps led (484).
Power, the points leader entering the race, crashed with 43 laps remaining and finished 18th. Zachary Claman De Melo was making passes on the outside in Turns 3 and 4, and Power’s car drifted up the track, as he was directly behind Hunter-Reay and had little downforce on his front wing.
Power squeezed Claman De Melo into the outside wall, and Power made hard contact with the fence twice. Power dropped from first in the standings to third.
“Just a bad situation. It’s very unfortunate,” Power said. “It can’t really be the guy on the outside’s fault.”
With 75 to go, Wickens dove inside of Ed Carpenter entering Turn 3. Carpenter moved down, and the resulting contact sent both cars spinning into the outside wall.
Carpenter accepted the blame for the incident, and Carpenter and Power will be assessed penalties for avoidable contact.
Nine cars finished on the lead lap — Pagenaud’s Chevy and eight Hondas.
Dixon, who won Race 1 of last week’s Detroit doubleheader, replaced Power as the season points leader. Rossi is 23 points back in second, and Power is 36 out of the lead. Hunter-Reay, winner of Detroit Race 2, is fourth.
Foyt had a rough night in Fort Worth. His No. 4 Chevrolet driven by Matheus Leist caught fire on Lap 7. AJ Foyt Racing’s No. 14 Chevy of Tony Kanaan went to the pits on Lap 27 with an apparent suspension failure. They finished last in the 22-car field.
The series is off next week, so Dixon is heading to France to race one of Ganassi’s Ford GTs in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It’s always nice to jump on a plane … and head to Paris and then to Le Mans,” Dixon said. “I’m pretty confident that Chip’s team and the Ford GT program is going to be strong.”
Jumps and dirt
Robby Gordon’s high-flying Stadium Super Trucks raced before and after the DXC 600. The trucks jumped into and out of the infield, raced down pit road, back up the front stretch and crossed over each other with a large dirt ramp. Gavin Harlien won the early race after Paul “The Dude” Morris ran wide in the final turn of the next-to-last lap and lost the lead. Morris finished second and Jeff Hoffman third. Gordon was fifth and Arie Luyendyk Jr. finished sixth.