Following the doubleheader weekend in Detroit, the Verizon IndyCar Series traveled to the massive Texas Motor Speedway for the second oval race of the season thus far.
The 1.455-mile superspeedway was the site of some tight racing throughout the 248-lap event, but no better action took place on the track than that at the front of the field. While the race was mostly controlled by Ganassi teammates Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon, the Penske cars that started first, second, third, and fifth on the grid all spent time leading the race in the early stages.
A number of cars were having both tire degredation and downforce issues in the early going, notably Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. These drivers and more made their way down pit lane for downforce changes as well as early fresh sets of tires, putting them down a lap or more before the race was even 40 laps old.
These issues continued for some drivers with Carpenter and Hunter-Reay, notably, having to pit twice before 60 laps were completed. Soon, Jack Hawksworth became the first driver to retire from the race with mechanical issues. Later in the race, both of the CFH Racing entries retired, both within a lap of each other, and both citing mechanical issues.
"We lost an engine," said team part-owner and oval-driver of the No. 20 entry at the ovals Ed Carpenter. "I'm not helping because I'm not coming up with a solution."
The race continued on, and battling dragged between drivers like Charlie Kimball and James Hinchcliffe's substitute Ryan Briscoe, but the Ganassi cars of Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon continued to put on a show; it became evident that one of these two, either one, would win the 370.84-mile-long race.
With 50 laps remaining, only the top four of Dixon, Kanaan, Castroneves, and Montoya, all Chevrolet-powered cars, were on the lead lap.
As the final green flag pit stop cycle began with about 20 laps remaining, Dixon came in while Kanaan stayed out for an extra lap. These two surrendered the lead to Castroneves who stayed out for an extra few laps, but when the cycle was completed, Kanaan was placed behind the fast No. 9 car of Dixon once again.
In the final five or so laps, Dixon's lead hovered around eight seconds; when he took the white flag and embarked on his final lap around the 1.455-mile oval, he led Kanaan by 7.8376 seconds. He held on to take the checkers by a margin of 7.8000 seconds, winning his second race of the season and the 37th of his career.
Finishing behind Dixon and Kanaan were Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Marco Andretti to round out the top five. It was Castroneves' fourth top five finish of the season, Montoya's sixth, and the third for Andretti.
Beyond being his second win of 2015, this is Dixon's second win of his career at Texas Motor Speedway. Additionally, he earned Chip Ganassi Racing its 99th Indy car win.
"First part of the night we had so much understeer on the Energizer car, but as the night went on we put a little bit of front wing in and it started to get loose," said Dixon. "In traffic we were really good. Took enough front end away that it enabled us to run at really good speeds. Towards the end this thing was just rocking."
Dixon also spoke about the tires that were a topic of conversation before and during the race.
"This racing is great and you've got to give Firestone a lot of credit," he said. "They gave us a tire that is very durable."
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to temporary street circuit racing next weekend for the Honda Indy Toronto on June 14. Juan Pablo Montoya heads to Toronto with a lead in the championship of just 35 points over Penske teammate Will Power.
Aaron Durant is the editor of the VAVEL USA Racing section. Follow him on Twitter at @DoubleA291, and be sure to follow the Twitter account of IndyCar coverage on VAVEL, @VAVELIndyCar.