Dixon wins race 1 in Houston, closes on point leader
Dixon dominated the caution-filled race to take maximum points and Castroneves had early transmission issues and finished 18th. As a result Dixon is now only 8 points back 513 to 505 points.
Simona de Silvestro finished second - her first podium finish and Justin Wilson took the final podium position.
This is Dixon’s 33rd career Indy car victory, 4th of the year, and he dedicated the win to "Mr. Beaux Barfield," making a snide remark against Barfield after being penalized by the IndyCar Chief Steward a few races ago for disparaging remarks against IndyCar after Barfield made a call Dixon did not agree with.
Dixon, who started third, had a bit of luck on his side Saturday. He pitted on Lap 64 just before a full-course caution for the stopped car of Oriol Servia. Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske got caught out and stayed out on the track and regained the lead on the exchange, but he had to pit for the final time on Lap 73, which put Dixon back at the front of the field for the duration. He won under caution.
“I hope they’re (Penske Racing) worried, man. It’s a 41-point turnaround today. And hopefully we can have another good race tomorrow. It would be nice to be in the lead going into Fontana. We know the Chevys are strong. Honda is definitely strong at the 500 mile. To have a little bit of buffer would be really nice.”
"Finally we have our podium," De Silvestro said. "We've been waiting for this for a long time. It seemed like a pretty good car the whole weekend. I qualified up there and then the race went actually pretty good. I really have to thank everybody at KV Racing, and also everybody from the Nuclear Clean Air Energy campaign for sticking with me. I also want to thank AREVA for bringing out the engineering students from Texas A&M. I guess they're my good luck charm and will have to show up tomorrow and hopefully we can do even better."
"Very happy for Simona," said Imran Safiulla, Director of the #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car. "It's a great day in her pursuit as she moves up the ladder in her IndyCar career. It's a great day for our team; a great day for our campaign. She has one more step to go and she'll get that soon. I'd like to thank all of our partners in the Nuclear Clean Air Energy campaign including Entergy and AREVA for continuing to believe in us; Chevy for giving us a great platform and for the entire team for all their hard work to get us to this point. Hopefully there'll be a lot more success. Hell of a job by Simona; she did a fantastic job and we're proud of her."
Rookie Luca Filippi put in another impressive performance, which was ruined when two-thirds of the way through the race, the Barracuda Racing team lost nearly 10 spots when the pits were closed at the start of a full-course caution. With 12 laps remaining, the team was P13. Filippi lead one final charge, passing three cars to finish in the top ten.
"The car was great to drive. Day by day we are improving. The team and I work well together and we continue to make steps in the right direction, which is the most difficult thing in any sport. I think we have to be proud about it."
Key Race Moments
Lap 38: #14 Sato black-flagged upon request from team due to broken radio. #15 Rahal to pits, four alternate tires and fuel.
Lap 39: YELLOW. #10 Franchitti spins, stalls in Turn 3. #83 Kimball to pits, four alternate tires and fuel.
Lap 42: #10 Franchitti to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 43: #15 Rahal to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #25 Andretti to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 45: GREEN. Restart order: #9 Dixon, #12 Power, #77 Pagenaud, #98 Filippi, #7 Bourdais. Single-file restart.
Top 10 at halfway: #9 Dixon, #12 Power, #98 Filippi, #7 Bourdais, #78 De Silvestro, #77 Pagenaud, #1 Hunter-Reay, #5 Viso, #83 Kimball, #4 Servia.
Lap 50: #9 Dixon leads #12 Power by 3.0151 seconds.
Lap 54: #9 Dixon leads #12 Power by 2.6660 seconds.
Lap 55: #19 Wilson to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #20 Carpenter to pits after extensive repairs in paddock.
Lap 56: #15 Rahal to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #6 Saavedra to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 57: #1 Hunter-Reay to pits, four primary tires and fuel. Observers report sour engine sound on #1 Hunter-Reay. Team reports gear-shifting problem. #16 Jakes to pits, four alternate tires and fuel. #18 Conway to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 58: #14 Sato to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 59: #67 Newgarden to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #1 Hunter-Reay out of race with electrical problems.
Lap 61: #77 Pagenaud to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #78 De Silvestro to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 63: #6 Saavedra assessed drive-through penalty for running over air hose on pit stop on Lap 56. #6 Saavedra serves penalty.
Lap 64: #9 Dixon to pits, four primary tires and fuel, just before YELLOW. #4 Servia stopped at exit of Turn 3. #12 Power takes lead. #83 Kimball to pits, four alternate tires and fuel. #4 Servia towed to pits.
Lap 68: #7 Bourdais to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #25 Andretti to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #5 Viso to pits, four scuffed primary tires and fuel. #83 Kimball to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 71: GREEN. Restart order: #12 Power, #98 Filippi, #9 Dixon, #77 Pagenaud, #78 De Silvestro. Single-file restart. #12 Power leads #98 Filippi by 1.0202 seconds.
Lap 73: YELLOW. #14 Sato hits tire barriers in Turn 3 with right side of car. #3 Castroneves stopped in runoff area in Turn 3 moments after Sato’s contact. #12 Power to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #98 Filippi to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #9 Dixon takes lead, #78 De Silvestro second, #19 Wilson third. Power returns to race in 11th place, Filippi 13th.
Lap 75: #20 Carpenter black-flagged upon request from team due to broken radio.
Lap 78: GREEN. Restart order: #9 Dixon, #78 De Silvestro, #19 Wilson, #77 Pagenaud, #67 Newgarden. Single-file restart. #9 Dixon leads #78 De Silvestro by 3.9322 seconds after full lap.
Lap 79: YELLOW. #3 Castroneves stopped on outside edge of Turn 3, continues.
Lap 81: GREEN. Restart order: #9 Dixon, #78 De Silvestro, #19 Wilson, #77 Pagenaud, #67 Newgarden. Single-file restart. #9 Dixon leads #78 De Silvestro by 2.7759 seconds after full lap.
Lap 82: Top-three remaining push-to-pass: #9 Dixon 5, #78 De Silvestro 4, #19 Wilson 7.
Lap 83: #9 Dixon leads #78 De Silvestro by 3.3252 seconds.
Lap 84: #9 Dixon leads #78 De Silvestro by 3.3604 seconds.
Lap 85: #14 Sato out of race with handling problem.
Lap 87: #18 Conway hits barriers in Turn 9 with right-front wheel. #9 Dixon leads #78 De Silvestro by 1.3786 seconds.
Lap 88: YELLOW. #18 Conway stopped in Turn 9.
Lap 90: CHECKERED. #9 Scott Dixon wins Race 1 of Shell & Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston under caution. #78 Simona De Silvestro finished second, #19 Justin Wilson third.
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet, second): (About her first podium): “Finally. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. It seemed like a pretty good car the whole weekend. I qualified up there, and then the race went actually pretty good. I really have to thank everybody at KV Racing and also everybody from the Nuclear Clean Energy campaign for sticking with me. Finally we have our podium. Hopefully tomorrow we can even better it.” (About physical demands of the doubleheaders): “I think it’s going to be difficult, to be honest, but it’s the same for everybody. We just need to have a good meal tonight and rehydrate. But it’s definitely tough because you don’t have that much time to relax. The straightaways are really bumpy, so you really have to be on top of the car every time. I think to finish P2, I think you want to do it again anytime.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, third): “It was not a bad day today. The Boy Scouts of America car was great. We tried to move up at the start, but about 15 laps in, I felt the tire going down, and we had to come in a bit early. We knew the fuel window was going to be tight, but we just had to go for it. We had to conserve fuel a little bit, but I was just pushing the whole way. Hopefully we can be a little stronger in qualifying and have no problems and have a better chance to win one of these.”
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Chevrolet, ninth): “Well, definitely a very difficult race; very physical, very demanding for everyone in the crew. Strategy was crucial, and I think it’s one of the things we got right. Even if we hadn’t had the right strategy, we unfortunately got messed up by a yellow flag where they closed the pits just as we were on our way in (to pit). We needed to make up some spots after that spot, and we did – back up to ninth. I’m grateful for the team. I had a very competitive car even when the Hondas are fast this weekend. I think we still had a good chance of finishing in the top three or four.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet, 18th): “I am starting with the good news is that we are still leading (championship), and I didn’t know that. Second, we did have a much better car in the start of the race than in qualifying, and we are still leading. The team did a hell of a job, and I guess it’s just more excitement for you guys. Obviously, that was a tough finish for the Shell Pennzoil team. Early in the race, the car was bottoming out in a couple of places, and then I just couldn’t shift. It was a hell of a job by the Shell and Pennzoil guys to figure out the problem and get me back on track. It’s tough, but it’s something that’s out of our control. I tried to earn as many points as I could and really just focus on making the car better so we can be ready for tomorrow. On the positive side, we still have the lead in the championship, and I think we will be in good shape for Sunday. We need to have a good qualifying and bounce back with a strong race tomorrow.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, 12th): “It was very disappointing with not being able to keep the lead in the second half of the race. The Verizon Team Penske Chevy ran well, and we were in a decent position. Obviously, that yellow flag was good for Dixon in the points. It ruined our day and a few other people’s, as well. We know we have a strong car here in Houston, and we will give it a go in tomorrow's second race and hope for a better finish.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 T-Mobile Honda, 15th): “We were on a good strategy, and we were coming through the field. Then I tried to pass the No. 78 (Simona De Silvestro), and the brakes locked going into the corner. I braked a bit harder to avoid hitting her and spun. Then I got it going but grabbed the wrong paddle and stalled it. I grabbed the gear lever instead of the clutch because the steering wheel was spinning at the time. That was it, really. From then on, we lost a lap and tried waiting for the car to get going again. We waited for the safety team to get the car going and then the only guy that was on my lap was Saavedra, and I was trying to get to him, but Conway spun me in Turn 4. We managed to keep it going that time. That was it, really. Tough day, as I thought the T-Mobile car was quick. We just never really had a chance to show it from our starting position there with the engine penalty. It was great for Scott today, for him to win the race and put him back in the fight. So that’s something to be happy for, but really tough day.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Angie’s List Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, 22nd): “We just got in trouble at the start when I had nowhere to go after Hinchcliffe's car stalled on the standing start. I was trying to avoid him and hit the wall, doing quite a bit of damage to our car. The No. 55 team worked so hard to get our car back out on the track and gain some data for tomorrow so that we have a shot at doing well in quals for Race 2. This has been a really tough day for us in the Angie's List car, but I know that the team will help put me in the best possible position for a second shot at things tomorrow.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet, 24th): “It’s just one of those things, man. The bad news is I don’t get to just leave and put this one behind me. The good news we get the chance to do it again tomorrow.” (About where he places his frustration): “It’s all over the place. I’m just frustrated. It’s an unfortunate situation. I feel bad for the guys, for sure. We’ve had troubles all weekend with something electrical on the car, and then we finally got it sorted for qualifying, did what I think was a pretty good job in qualifying to get the GoDaddy car up there. We were ready, it was go time, and then we didn’t go. We’ll regroup. We’ll get it tomorrow. I’ll calm down, but it’s just tough, man. It’s tough to come all this way, work this hard, especially with the kind of weekend that we’ve all had here in the series, and to not be able to go and put on a show for the fans here, GoDaddy, and for the finish my guys deserved. We’re just really disappointed with our run today. You hate coming all this way and getting everyone working as hard as they have with the trouble that we have had with the track and everything, but we were about ready to put on a good race, and the GoDaddy PINK car was good starting in the third row. These guys (Andretti Autosport) are always good in the pits and good on strategy, and I was really confident. I was looking forward to my first standing start because we didn’t make the one in Toronto. It’s just tough. It’s a tricky thing to do, but I guess the good news is that we have the chance to do it all again tomorrow. I really wish we had been able to run, though; I was for sure looking forward to it. Thanks to Andretti Autosport and the fans who are sitting out here in this ridiculous heat and sticking by us all weekend.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, 23rd): “Vautier got right in front of me at the start. Then he made a last second move to miss Hinch. I tried, too, but clipped him. The ECR/Fuzzy’s guys did a super job to replace the whole right corner of the car. They have been flat out since early last week with Fontana test, the trailer fire and this incident. We thought we might get out to gain a few points but, of course, Kanaan and Vautier got back out just in front of us. It was one of those days. We have Sunday now to get better.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet, 13th): “The race was there, but it takes too long to get there. I have to sneak up on it and lose too much time coming up on tires. I lose my strength in the restarts because I don’t have predictability. The car doesn’t tell me what the limit is and it could potentially stick. It’s very unpredictable, which makes for a long 90 laps, so hopefully we can find predictability tomorrow for the No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda, fourth): “It was a great day for us. The HP car is flying when everything is up to temperature, so we know that we're not far off. We just need to understand how to make it work a little better on restarts because that's where we struggled today. Once we figure that out, we'll have a great shot at the win tomorrow. We're still in it for the championship and are only 50 points out now. The past four races have been really interesting, and today was a good points day for us. I'm really excited for tomorrow now.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda, 11th): “It was another fighting run for the No. 83 car. I don’t think anyone can say that the NovoLog FlexPen crew doesn’t dig deep and fight hard, so, a lot of credit to them. They gave me the information I needed to overcome the problems we had on the starts. To come back and end up nearly in the top 10 like we did, I’m pretty happy with that. We have a pretty fast race car, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet, eighth): “Well, we should be happy because we started 14th and finished eighth in the No. 7 McAfee Dragon Racing car. We had a pretty fast car, running the third-fastest lap of the race. We were making a lot of passes and were able to run our way to the front in all the way to fourth. Unfortunately, on one of the yellows the pits were closed for no reason, just a car stuck on track. No danger or anything. It hurt positions one, two and three, and Dixon had pitted, so that just killed our race. I know it’s a tough business, but we just need more consistency. So it was a disappointing finish, but we have a fast car. Tomorrow we will have another shot at it and see what we can get.”
LUCA FILIPPI (No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda, 10th): “I think we had a great race. We had a great strategy and we were fast, but it was just unlucky that the yellow came at the wrong moment. I think we did the right thing. We were pushing hard and we were driving faster than most of the teams out there, so I believe it was a good call to stay out. I think we did everything right, but it was just bad luck. The car was great to drive. Day by day, we are improving. The team and I work well together, and we continue to make steps in the right direction, which is the most difficult thing in any sport. I think we have to be proud about it.”
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