Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo
With half of the track bathed in sunlight and the other half in the shade, the DXC Technology 600 would start clean. Polesitter Takuma Sato would lead the field to green, pulling away from second place Scott Dixon by a full second after only five laps. Eventually Sato would buildup a nearly two second lead, however that lead would dwindle as the leaders caught up to the back of the field.
The leaders would make their first round of pit stops on Lap 61, just past the expected window of 55 laps. Sato’s pit stop would be trouble as he slid through his pit box, striking one of his crew members as he came to a stop against the pit wall past his stall. Sato would go down multiple laps from his pit stop and would be assessed a stop-and-go penalty for his actions, effectively ending his race as he would go four laps down after that cycle.
Ryan Hunter-Reay would inherit the lead on Lap 64 after making his pit stop three laps earlier than the rest of the leaders, leading Dixon and James Hinchcliffe. The next several laps would see the cars of Matheus Leist and Charlie Kimball retire from the race. Leist would retire due to handling issues, as he was running quite a bit slower than the rest of the field. Kimball would suffer from a right-rear wheel bearing failure.
Leader Hunter-Reay would pit on Lap 115, giving the lead to Dixon for the first time in the race. Dixon would hold the lead until his second pit stop on Lap 123, handing the lead back to Hunter-Reay who would lead by nearly four seconds.
Hunter-Reay would be on a different pit strategy than Dixon, with Hunter-Reay doing a four-stop strategy while Dixon would only plan three stops. The biggest difference in these strategies would be that Dixon would need to save fuel while Hunter-Reay could run at full power all race long.
The first caution of the race would happen on Lap 135 when Zach Veach would get loose and contact the wall on the backstretch. Veach would do his best to hold on to the car, but a broken toe link would cause him to spin nearing the entrance to Turn 3 despite some spectacular driving to keep the car from making any more contact with the walls.
The ensuing restart on Lap 143 would see Hunter-Reay lead Dixon and Rossi into Turn 1. Dixon would try to pass Hunter-Reay going into Turn 1 on the next lap but would have to back off going through the turn. Tony Kanaan would be assessed a drive-thru penalty for jumping the restart.
Lap 164 would see Dixon finally pass Hunter-Reay for the lead entering Turn 1. Dixon would hold the lead for eleven laps when Rossi would make the pass for the lead in Turn 1 on Lap 175. Unfortunately for Rossi, he would only lead for two laps before being passed by Dixon.
Hunter-Reay would take his third of four pit stops on Lap 179, causing him to go a lap down for the time and desperately needing a caution. Rossi would reassume the lead on Lap 186 but would pit only one lap later on Lap 187, giving the lead back to Dixon.
Dixon would pit for the last time on Lap 191, giving the lead to championship leader Josef Newgarden who would hold the lead until his final pit stop on Lap 198. Rookie Marcus Ericsson would inherit the lead, his first career lap led on an oval.
Through the cycle of pit stops, Newgarden would come out with the lead on Lap 203 with no more pit stops remaining thanks to a great strategy call by Tim Cindric.
The second caution of the race would happen on Lap 219 when Hinchcliffe would get loose and contact the wall exiting Turn 2.
The restart on Lap 225 would see Dixon get a big jump on Newgarden, but their wheels would touch in Turn 1 causing Dixon to back off. Just one lap later, Herta would get a run on Dixon going two-wide through Turn 3. It appeared that Dixon drove down on Herta before the turn and the two cars would make contact, putting both cars into the wall and end their races.
“I just heard ‘looking, looking’ so I started tracking down to try to close him off” said Dixon of the incident. “This was my fault. I was pushing, trying to get the most out of it and ended both of our days.”
Rossi would need to drop onto the apron to avoid the crash, requiring many steering corrections to not crash.
“Going down onto the apron at that high of a speed is always sketchy” said Rossi in evading the crash.
The final restart would happen on Lap 236, with only twelve laps remaining. Rossi would try passing Newgarden, nearly going side-by-side through Turns 1 and 2. Rossi would spend nearly every lap trying to pass Newgarden on the outside in Turn 1, but would ultimately be unable to pass giving Newgarden his third win of the season and extending his points lead to 25 points over Rossi.
“This win was down to the team right here” said Newgarden. “They keep putting me out front, putting the pressure on me. I guess it’s a good thing. It’s good when they put you out front, put it on you. They did a great job tonight. I knew once we pitted and got back to where — basically got back to where we were before the pit stop on the green flag sequence, I knew once we got back there, we had such a fuel advantage on everybody, if we could get to the lead, I could crank out super quick laps and jump everybody. That’s what we did.”
“I think we had a good car, could obviously get a good run on him off of three and four” said Rossi. “Lane two was really never there for me. We could get halfway around the outside, would have to bail out. Ultimately then it became about trying to beat him for the line. But we took out a lot of the tire life going in lane two there, so we just didn’t have the rear tires there at the end to stay close to him.”
Finishing third was Graham Rahal with a very quiet night. “It was a physical race tonight. I don’t know who has been through here before me, but that was a freakin’ physical race” said Rahal. “The first 150 was a long 150. I thought everybody raced pretty clean. I knew at the end it was going to pick up. To be honest, I wasn’t quite good enough to win. I was getting pretty loose on the long runs. I had to kind of baby my tires in the early phase of the stint.”