Recapping what NTT IndyCar Series drivers said after Saturday night’s Genesys 300 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, where Scott Dixon dominated for his 47th career victory:
Scott Dixon — Winner: “Actually, the whole day was good. The car rolled off really well. I know we’d be working extremely hard on just trying to fix some of the issues we had last year. We had some new people, plus a ton coming back over from the GT program. The engineering depth and everything got a lot stronger, so development was good through the winter. The DIL, the simulator with Honda that we’ve been using for the last three weeks in preparation for Texas, has been really good. Lots of things we didn’t think we would try or have the time to try on track, we were able to kind of do that. Gave us some ideas. We were able to sort of verify them once we got here.
“The PNC Bank No. 9 was strong all night. We had a couple little issues in the pit stop there. I don’t know if I went long. We had a bit of a bauble and I went from first back to third. The car just had some really good speed. It was just nice to drive in traffic. Never really had to push too hard. Just trying to make sure we could stay ahead of the rest of them. Not often you get a car like that. Just very thankful to have that. The team gave me an amazing car. It was a fun night for us on the No. 9. It’s great to be back in the car after such a long break, to do it like that.
”It feels amazing (to be close to matching the feats of Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt), don’t get me wrong. I think we’re all in this business to win. With how tough the competition is, they come around a lot fewer than they used to. I think when you can pull it off, especially just how dominant the car was tonight, it’s always nice. To me, or for me, to even be kind of listed with those names is amazing. It doesn’t ever really sink in to be honest.
“I feel very lucky and privileged to do what I do, to get to race with the best in the world. To still have A.J. and Mario come to the track, I think that’s the coolest thing. And the Unsers, a lot of legends of the sport. I don’t know. I just feel lucky and very privileged to be with this team, able to come here and try to win races.”
Simon Pagenaud — Second: “We knew coming in it was going to be a tough situation for the IndyCar Series putting together the race and making sure we could put on the show to entertain people. That’s what we do, that’s what this business is about. I’m very proud to carry the DXC Technology colors here, you know they are from Texas. It was just an intense night. We had balance changes – some stints we went really loose, one stint we had understeer, it was very difficult to understand so I had to be really cognizant of that with the adjustments in the race car. At the end, we managed to take some front wing out and it came back to us and it was a lot of fun, I enjoyed it.”
Josef Newgarden — Third: “I feel like we won the race with how bad we were. My team fought. We have an incredible fighting spirit and do everything we can to finish the race as best as possible. We were just struggling with vibrations and the tires. Our setup philosophy for whatever reason kind of fell apart on us. It wasn’t favoring the race conditions, and I just struggled. I was really struggling. So congrats to Scott (Dixon). They were amazing. The Chip Ganassi cars were amazing tonight. They definitely deserved a win. But I’m really happy to fight for a podium. I feel bad for XPEL. We got the pole, they were pumped to try and win this race. I said hey, we’ve got to do the best we can to try and win. But we got a good result. It’s great to have them on the car their first time out. We’ll have another race with them and try to get another victory at some point. We were close, just didn’t have what it took to fight for a win tonight. There were times I felt we were going to wreck the car, and we kept it off the wall.
“We came home with a podium finish, and that is what we needed to do. You have to have nights like this. Tonight was a night to swallow your pride and get the best out of what you got. If I can go out there and win the race, I’m going to try and do it. But tonight wasn’t that night. We weren’t good enough throughout a tire stint to challenge Scott. He was just so, so good all night. But that is what this team is capable of doing. They are the best in the business and give me everything they can to put me up front. Now, we just got to regroup. I’m not pleased with third because I want to go win a race. But tonight, third place for us almost feels like a win.”
Zach Veach — Fourth: “I had pace to stay in top five or six all night. Tonight, we just executed, which was great. My Gainbridge car felt great all night. I just had the pace to stay in that top five, top six all night. Honestly that’s a lot easier than trying to come from 16th, so I’m going to try my hardest to make this a habit. We’ve always had the faith in ourselves and the belief, it’s just last year, we were just trying too hard, and a number of things didn’t go our way. This year, we just went into it with the mindset of just having fun and enjoying the process of going out there and making a quick race car. Once I stopped trying inside the car, we started picking up speed. I’m just so thankful we were finally able to kind of put it together.
“I’m not against (one-day shows). I just want to do more ovals. The racing is so much fun. We just had a great time tonight. If this is the way of the future, I know this is how Formula E does a lot of their events, we’re not against it from the driver side. I think it’s a little tough on the crew guys.
“I wanted to start 2020 off good because 2019 was so rough. This kind of momentum will be great to go into the Indy GP and hopefully have the season we’ve been needing to have. The guys did an awesome job. My engineer Mark Bryant, the car was amazing and all my pit crew: They were awesome for everything, and that played a big part in a race with not many passes. I’m just happy and a big thank you to Andretti Autosport.”
Ed Carpenter — Fifth: “I’d been pretty aggressive!.I had a good shot at getting Josef (Newgarden) on the restart out of (Turn) 2, and I got way loose and kind of lost my run. He was struggling so much in 1 and 2, I was trying to pressure him and just got too close, and that opened the door for Zach. I’d rather go for a podium than fourth or fifth. The ECR team did a great job all night. Pit stops were awesome. It was obviously a track position race. I think we had a car that if we ever could have got to the front, we could have challenged. We were kind of in the back of the line all night slowly picking people off and getting people in the pits, but it was a tough night. Long race but was great to be back. Good to be back racing. Firestone did a good job in tough circumstances. I know they can bring a better tire than that. But when you can’t make tires because of COVID, this is what we get, so hopefully the fans enjoyed it. Lot better stuff yet to come.
“It was tough. Everything I kind of asked (teammate) Rinus (VeeKay) to do, he didn’t really do. I wanted him to just be patient, be careful. Last thing I told him before the race was don’t go high. Stay out of the marbles. So we’ve got a little work to do there on the sponginess of him, but he can drive the car. He was coming forward with virtually no practice and never running an oval IndyCar race. He’s going to get there, it’s just going to be challenging here at times. But we still love him.”
Conor Daly — Sixth: “I was really confident in our car. It was so great to drive, but the driver didn’t drive it well enough in qualifying. That’s on me. But one area we improved so much on and the team helped me with was our in and out laps. They did a great job in the pits. We had such a great, reliable car all night. I’m so thankful to be here. It’s so great to start a season like this. I don’t think I’ve ever started a season this weel. And I’m here for the whole thing. … I got up to fifth on the (last) restart, but then I was looser than a herd of turtles going through 1 and 2 and driving it sideways like a rally car like old Pastrana would. To be honest, we probably should’ve been in the top five, but we just got a little loose in those last three laps and just couldn’t hang onto it.”
“But it’s such an awesome way to start for Gallagher and this team. We’re only a one-car team this weekend, and that’s tough, and Trevor’s doing his best to make sure we can be two cars the rest of the year, and I can’t wait to be a part of this team as we continue to grow because the car was such a step higher than where we were last year, and it’s just all development and working, and every weekend we want to keep improving it. The team had great pit stops, really incredible pit stops all night. The car was fantastic to drive and it really gave me the confidence to go forward. I’m just super thankful to Carlin and Gallagher for giving me the opportunity to be here with the team and to be in the series. It’s such a great way to start out the championship.”
Colton Herta — Seventh: “I didn’t do much passing. I don’t think I had such a fantastic car tonight. I kind of struggled with it all night. But we got it there in the end. We were just kind of picking it off one by one, trying to get guys that were making mistakes. P7 at the end. Pretty happy with that. Good start to the year and then we can go from there.
“I’m happy with that to start the year for the 88 Capstone Honda. Super happy to represent the Steinbrenners and super happy to represent Hank. Congrats to Zach (Veach). He did a really good job. I’ll take a P7 from starting P14. We have some stuff to work on, but, again, great points to start the year and go off of this for the rest of the season.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay — Eighth: “We had to come back from adversity today two times. With the tap of the wall this morning and repairing the car and coming back and qualifying up at the front, and it ended up being a track position race, so that really would have helped us.
“Unfortunately, we just had a simple electrical issue where Honda had to plug into the car. Because of the impound rule, we got penalized twice. We got sent to the rear of the field, and then we had to do a drive-through penalty. We were a lap down, had to unlap ourselves and comeback and finish eighth, so what a day. Long day. We had to work a little bit harder than necessary, but hats off to this 28 DHL Honda team. They did a great job, especially turning the car around for qualifying. Great to get back in the car. We really miss our fans, but hopefully we’ll be back doing that again soon. I’m not really sure why the cartoon anvil keeps dropping on the 28, but it’s frustrating. We had a good car to represent our partners and our teammates great today, but we were robbed.
“(The Aeroscreen) was hot. Really hot. Just a lot different, the lack of airflow that you’re used to, so it definitely was a physical race. And then the lights reflecting inside. Everything was a bit strange tonight, but we all got through it. Just wish we could have had a better result.”
Oliver Askew — Ninth: “It ended up being a great day for Arrow McLaren SP and the No. 7 team. The whole crew and Chevrolet put a great car under me, and we were able to execute our game plan perfectly. To finish in the top 10 in my first-ever INDYCAR race is more than I could have asked for. We are carrying a ton of momentum into the Indy GP, and I think we will only get stronger as a team. This is a great way to begin the partnership between Arrow, McLaren and Schmidt Peterson, and I’m happy we could have a good result after months of preparation. Thank you to everyone at Texas Motor Speedway, INDYCAR, Roger Penske and the state of Texas for making this race happen.”
Tony Kanaan — 10th: “It’s awesome. We had an extremely busy day. We had the track position to start. i was extremely cautious at the beginning of the race and then for the first time in my career, actually, i got a pit lane speeding penalty. That never happened. First time in 23 years. I don’t know. I made a mistake. We lost a lot of track position, and today was all about that. But at the end with the last yellow, we got extremely lucky, so I’m happy about the result. Happy about running these (7-Eleven) colors. It was a really emotional day for me. Glad that it’s done. Too bad it’s another month before I get back in the car, but I can’t wait.”
Charlie Kimball — 11th: “A disappointing result for a really strong night for the Tresiba Chevrolet team. The car was so good. We unloaded pretty well, and I think we made it a little bit better, qualified solidly and then the green flag came out and the car felt so good I was able to make moves and move forward. A small miscalculation in pit lane meant that we had to make an unscheduled pit stop, which was unfortunate which put us back, and we got caught up and ended up with a little bit of damage at the end of the race. Still two AJ Foyt Racing cars finishing 10th and 11th , I think it’s a solid start to 2020. I can’t wait to get back in the car for the next NTT IndyCar Series race.”
Pato O’Ward — 12th: “”I think it was a good first race for everyone at Arrow McLaren SP. Our first objective was to finish and the second objective was to get into the top 10. We were just two positions shy of getting into the top 10, but my teammate Oliver did a fantastic job and ended up in ninth. I ended up 12th because of a personal mistake during one of the pit stops. I think for not practicing much and coming into this track not knowing anything about it, coming out with a 12th -place finish after starting from the back is a huge positive. It’s something that will give us momentum going to the Indy road course in a month. I think it was a great start for the whole Arrow McLaren SP team, our fans and our partners. It definitely left us wanting more.”
Will Power — 13th: “The Verizon Chevy was really good, it was just so hard to pass. Obviously, we had a mishap on a pit stop and that put us at the back and, man, there were four cars that went 36 laps on the first stint. They should be penalized, it’s unbelievable. That could be four more positions for me. It was a frustrating night. We had a mistake that put us in a bad place and it’s just unfortunate.”
Marco Andretti — 14th: “Glad to get the season started for the 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb team. The car overall felt good today. We were able to make the adjustments we needed to in practice to be in the top five and had decent qualifying, but the race didn’t go our way. This was a track position race, and we moved back with a couple of pit stops when we needed to move forward. With those and fighting through traffic, we didn’t end where we had wanted.”
Alexander Rossi — 15th: “I think we came into this weekend with a lot of unknowns. We tried to get through a lot of things at practice. We probably gave away a couple spots in qualifying, but ultimately I think we did a good job considering we had a pretty difficult practice. We were pretty optimistic for the race, starting toward the front and being there for the night, but unfortunately couldn’t get the car started on the grid because of an ECU issue. I was among a couple of other cars that that happened to. We had to start from the back and had a drive-through penalty. Then during the drive-through, there was an issue with the pit lane speed limiter, which followed up one drive-through penalty with another. From that point our night was pretty much over, but we tried our best to salvage what we could. The fact we ended up 15th was better than nothing, and I think the one takeaway is that the NAPA / AutoNation team did really well in pit lane. That was one of our big focuses in the offseason. This is a good step in the right direction, and we will be back in four weeks at Indy.”
Jack Harvey — 16th: “It’s been a super busy and eventful day. We made some good gains in the race, and we had some genuinely good moments. As a whole, Texas is a hard place to come to. I’ve never been here before. I’ve never done an oval in an Indy car outside of Indy before, so it was a big ask coming here and cramming it all into one day. We also had a tough pit box, which made it hard to get in. It was a fine day, not exactly what we wanted, but we brought the car home in one piece.”
Graham Rahal — 17th: “This one got away from us, for sure. Our car was fast and I think the guys did a great job, but we just had a lot of unforced errors and a couple of stop-and-go penalties. The car wouldn’t start on the grid and needed to be reprogrammed. I said to the guys that the car was built perfectly; the car was fast today. I’m disappointed to come out of here with no points for either car considering we had fast race cars. Off we go to the GMR Grand Prix and turn this around.”
James Hinchcliffe — 18th: “We’re all thrilled to be back racing. Hopefully it was a good show for the fans watching at home. For us, it was a disappointing day. We raced our way in and around the top 10 in those first two stints. We had some kind of wheel gun failure, not sure what the cause was, and it put us back a couple laps. From there we kept working on the car. It wasn’t stellar over a long run. We were decent on short stints, but the guys were working on it and near the end we got pretty good. That last stint we were pushing it all the way to the end, and it got loose on me. We got involved with that deal with Felix (Rosenqvist). I was just super loose, and I was trying to save the car, and he went on the outside. I tried to stay out of it. I feel bad for him. It’s a tough break when you’re running that well. We’ll regroup and attack at the Indy GP.”
Marcus Ericsson — 19th: “”It was a tough race, especially starting from further back than we would’ve liked. Going first in qualifying is always going to be difficult. But I think we were playing the patient game and trying to pick off guys throughout the race. It was working out really well, and we were running really good. The car felt really good out there. The No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing car was flying out there. Every time we had some free air, it was looking really good. The track today was a bit difficult to overtake. Offline had really low grip, so a couple times throughout the race I was stuck behind slower cars. But still, with 10 laps to go, we were looking strong for a top-eight finish, which would have been a really good start. But unfortunately we picked up a problem. I don’t know exactly what the problem was, but we couldn’t put in fuel in the last pit stop. So, with eight laps to go, we ran out of fuel. I lost a lot of laps and pretty much the race. A shame after a really strong night. A lot of positives, though. We had a really strong car and good driving with no mistakes. But it’s disappointing to not get that top-eight finish that I think we deserve.”
Felix Rosenqvist — 20th: “I can’t blame others for whatever situation I have. Obviously, we came out on new tires, and I don’t know if James (Hinchcliffe) was on really old tires there. It’s my judgment. I went for the outside, and I probably shouldn’t have done it. It’s one of those things where you sit there and you’re going like 40 mph slower than you want to go behind another car. It’s kind of tempting to just move up one lane, but it was so slippery. I just feel very sorry for my guys. Our NTT DATA car was just unbelievable tonight. It was really my breakthrough on ovals, I think, and I had a really good shot there and I threw it away. So really disappointed.” (Could you have caught Dixon for the win?) “Yeah, because we pitted earlier and had clear track. I think we did one (lap) 215 (mph) and one (lap) 214 (mph) in a row there. We had two really good two out laps there. Not sure where that put us. Scott (Dixon) was really, super quick, as well. It was going to be close. But even a second place tonight, I would have taken it. I didn’t feel like I was going crazy for the win. I just kind of wanted to roll in on a good finish with good points and just one silly thing screwed everything up, so yeah. Tough.”
Santino Ferrucci — 21st: “We were having a great race. My SealMaster Honda was on rails. We started last and didn’t get a chance to qualify. These guys worked up a sweat going into the race here, and we had a great car. We got a little antsy on that last stop. I pulled the shift a little too soon in the air, and when they dropped the car down to release me, something might have happened on the right rear. Man, you know, that’s racing. We haven’t been out here in a long time. Hats off to my crew, my team and everybody at INDYCAR for putting on this show. I’m excited to get back to it.”
Rinus VeeKay — 22nd: “I got a little too high around Santino (Ferrucci), lost the rear in the marbles and made contact with Alex (Palou). It’s very, very unfortunate. I expected my debut to be a lot different. I’m so sorry to the team. We’ll get better from here. I had very limited time, a lot of learning, but unfortunately I crashed twice. I will have to sleep and think about it for a month. But our Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy was good.”
Alex Palou — 23rd: “I don’t think there was much I could have done. In hindsight, I should have gone high instead of going low, but that’s easy to say now. I have to watch the replay. Maybe I could have done something different, but not with the oval experience I have right now. It’s a shame because the Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh car was really good. I was getting comfortable and getting up to speed. Every lap I was getting better and better and keeping up with the cars in front. I was trying to get the car balanced right for the last stints. Unfortunately, we were not able to do that.”
Takuma Sato — 24th: “I’m sorry to all the fans that I couldn’t race. The boys did all they could to repair the car after the crash in qualifying. It’s really hard to believe and understand what happened. It was before the actual timed lap; it was only the warm-up, and usually you build up speed and feel the car. When I approached Turn 1, I immediately lost the rear end. Perhaps I was maybe a little outside to make a better feeling of it, but unfortunately the track today was extremely slippery, which I really didn’t know. Unfortunately I crashed into the wall. In normal circumstances, I think the boys would be able to quickly repair the car, but since it was a compressed one-day event and not enough time before the race, they did absolutely everything they could up until the last minute, so I want to thank them. I have been waiting for eight months to race and have to wait another three weeks now and am extremely disappointed. I also feel bad for my teammate Graham (Rahal). He had an absolutely fantastic qualifying and he drove the race so hard, but it was unfortunate neither car scored points today. I’ve been pretty disappointed today, but I have to stay focused and come back stronger in three weeks’ time.”