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Last Lap Pass Decides IndyCar’s Xpel 375 at Texas


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Photo: Jamie Squire (Getty Images)

The NTT IndyCar Series season had the second stop of its season at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. This round also meant dealing with another race on the PJ1-stained banking. The PJ1 compound is used at many NASCAR venues to increase traction. However, it can stain pavement and drastically reduce grip over time.

IndyCar and Firestone held a special practice session to rubber over the stained sections of the speedway. The race’s first half was confined to the unaltered low line, but as drivers ventured higher and higher a second line was rubbered in by the second half and improved the racing.

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The dark portion of the racing surface is stained with PJ1 compound

The dark portion of the racing surface is stained with PJ1 compound
Photo: Jamie Squire (Getty Images)

With an impressive qualifying run, Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist won his first oval pole. Though, Penske’s Scott McLaughlin passed the Swede for the lead during the race’s opening laps. His Penske teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power gradually made their way to the front to join McLaughlin. The Penske cars seemed to be the most consistently competitive over the entire race distance.

Things were certainly not easy for the rookies during their first oval race, primarily due to the PJ1-stained surface. Foyt’s Kyle Kirkwood lost the rear of his car and crashed into the wall on turn 4’s exit. Though, Andretti’s Devlin DeFrancesco was a menace to the field. The Canadian pushed up the track and made light contact with two-time Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato. Sato was sent up into the wall. He was initially able to continue but was eventually forced to retire his Dale Coyne car.

DeFrancesco’s day ended when he attempted to pass both Graham Rahal and four-time Indy 500 champion Hélio Castroneves into turn 3. He went low, creating a three-wide situation. He brushed the apron, sending his car up the track and putting all three cars in the wall. Thankfully, everyone involved was okay.

The Penske trio fought off attacks from other drivers, especially Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay. However, they would have to fight each other for the race win. Josef Newgarden used an opportunity created by lap traffic to pass Scott McLaughlin on the run to the finish line and win the Xpel 375. McLaughlin led 186 of 248 laps, Newgarden led just three laps.

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Newgarden got paid 600 dollars cash in victory lane by Roger Penske for securing Team Penske’s 600th race victory across all series. Scott McLaughlin leads the points standings by 28 points over Will Power. Also, honorable mention to seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson who performed excellently in his IndyCar oval debut and finished sixth for Ganassi.

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The IndyCar Series will return on April 10th for Long Beach Grand Prix.

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