Scott Dixon short pits his way to win in Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway

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FORT WORTH – Late-race pit strategy in the form of short pitting for fuel strategy paved the way for Scott Dixon to win the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Dixon led a race-high 97 laps on the way to his second win of 2015 and his second win at TMS, the first coming in 2008.

Dixon, in the No. 9 Energizer Chevrolet, beat his teammate Tony Kanaan by 7.8 seconds, with Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Marco Andretti rounding out the top five.

“A big credit to the team, we were unsure what downforce to run towards the end,” Dixon told NBCSN. “We were struggling with that and we made some big changes after that. We made some big changes after the first stint, had a whole lot of understeer. TK was fast and we knew we had a good car, we just had to get it dialed in.

“I can’t thank the crew enough,” Dixon continued. “We had a run with this thing where we would constantly win. I am just over the moon with it, over the moon.”

The rest of the 23-car field, including polesitter Will Power and second-place starter Simon Pagenaud finished off the lead lap.

Pagenaud took the lead from Power on Lap 8 and led through green flag pit stops that began on Lap 28. It would be 60 laps before another car took over at the front of the the 23-car field, when Kanaan took point.

A consistent theme of the night was pit stops. Lots and lots of pit stops. The first car to pit was Jack Hawksworth on Lap 22, and teams would short pit throughout the night to deal with tire fall off.

Hawksworth’s No. 41 Honda was the first car to retire from the event, heading to the garage on Lap 77, while six laps later, the first and only caution waved for debris near the start-finish line.

Montoya was first off pit road followed by Castroneves, Kanaan, Dixon and Power. Pagenaud was the last off after a weight-jacker issue, then stalling in his pit box.

Power eventually told MotorSportsTalk and PopularSpeed.com that at that stage in the race, he began feeling ill in his No. 1 Chevrolet. Power finished the race in 13th, four laps down.

Montoya established the lead on the Lap 97 restart, but by Lap 103 had dropped to seventh with a loose car, giving Kanaan the lead again until teammate Dixon reached his car around Lap 120.

“I was really loose and started losing track position,” Montoya said. “I was like sliding in the corner sideways and I said at the caution ‘We need to take some of the wing out.'”

Montoya suggested a half-turn, but in “the rush” of the pit stop, it wound up being a half-turn in the wrong direction.

“I was leading at the restart and I (ran) four or five laps leading and I was like ‘this is going to get really, really loose, really fast,” Montoya said.

Another set of green flag pit stops began around Lap 135, during which Dixon assumed the lead from Kanaan.

While battling Kanaan to keep the lead, Dixon lapped Power, the polesitter, on Lap 154.

With 101 laps left, Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing was wiped out. Defending Firestone 600 winner Ed Carpenter exited his No. 20 Chevrolet with a blown engine. His teammate Josef Newgarden exited two laps later with a mechanical issue.

After another set of green flag stops, Dixon had a 5.5 second lead over Kanaan with 48 laps to go.

Dixon short-pitted with 21 laps to go, which gave up the lead to Charlie Kimball, who pitted with 19 to go.

Dixon’s pit strategy put him six seconds ahead of Andretti and Carlos Munoz with 15 laps to, setting up the final run to Dixon’s seven-second win.

RESULTS

FORT WORTH, Texas – Results Saturday of the Firestone 600 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.455-mile Texas Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (7) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 248, Running
2. (8) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 248, Running
3. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 248, Running
4. (5) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 248, Running
5. (11) Marco Andretti, Honda, 248, Running
6. (4) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 247, Running
7. (9) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 247, Running
8. (19) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 247, Running
9. (12) James Jakes, Honda, 247, Running
10. (20) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 246, Running
11. (2) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 246, Running
12. (10) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 245, Running
13. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 244, Running
14. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 244, Running
15. (6) Graham Rahal, Honda, 243, Running
16. (13) Takuma Sato, Honda, 243, Running
17. (22) Pippa Mann, Honda, 242, Running
18. (21) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 241, Running
19. (23) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 239, Running
20. (16) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 156, Mechanical
21. (14) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 149, Mechanical
22. (15) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 147, Mechanical
23. (17) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 62, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 191.940
Time of Race: 01:52:47.8511
Margin of victory: 7.8000 seconds
Cautions: 1 for 13 laps
Lead changes: 14 among 9 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Power 1 – 7
Pagenaud 8 – 66
Kanaan 67 – 86
Montoya 87 – 102
Kanaan 103 – 138
Dixon 139 – 140
Castroneves 141
Jakes 142 – 143
Dixon 144 – 184
Kanaan 185
Castroneves 186 – 191
Andretti 192 – 193
Dixon 194 – 228
Kimball 229
Dixon 230 – 248

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Montoya 348, Power 313, Dixon 305, Castroneves 286, Rahal 261, Andretti 255, Bourdais 244, Newgarden 215, Kanaan 215, Kimball 214.

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E Team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”