INDYCAR News and Notes – June 8, 2015

Verizon IndyCar Series Headlines:

1. Texas win could signal another second-half surge for Dixon
2. Montoya chases Triple Crown of his own
3. Inside the box score – Firestone 600

1. Texas win could signal another second-half surge for Dixon: Is this the emergence of another Scott Dixon second-half surge?

Dixon’s decisive victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway – the ninth of 16 Verizon IndyCar Series races – was his second of the season and 37th of his Indy car career.

Additionally, and potentially more importantly, it drew him 20 points closer to championship front-runner Juan Pablo Montoya, who now takes a 35-point advantage over Team Penske teammate Will Power into the Honda Indy Toronto on June 14. Dixon is 43 points back.

Since the 2010 season, Dixon has amassed 15 victories. Twelve have been secured in the second half of the season. In 2013, he won four of the final nine races of the 19-event season on the way to earning his third Indy car title.

“We would obviously like to start the season stronger. I would say right now this is one of our better ones, even though we had a pretty awful start with the first two races,” said Dixon, who didn’t win until at least the 10th race three of the past five seasons.

The Honda Indy Toronto is up next on the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place circuit, where Dixon swept a doubleheader in 2013. Two short oval races, two on superspeedways and a pair on natural-terrain road courses follow. Dixon has won at five of those seven venues.

“This team has got a lot of resources,” Dixon continued. “You know you’re going to have a shot at winning each weekend you go to. But the competition, the Verizon IndyCar Series, is through the roof. Especially now with four Penskes and four legitimate drivers that they’ve got in their stable, it’s pretty tough.

“Right now it’s a good start for us, kind of mid-seasonish. But still a long ways to go. A lot of competition out there. We’re not going to obviously dwell on this (victory) too much. We have next weekend, and obviously we want to do well there. What we’ll try to do is carry some momentum from this race on to the next.”

2. Montoya chases Triple Crown of his own: American Pharoah became the 12th horse to claim horse racing’s Triple Crown on June 6. Later this summer Juan Pablo Montoya will try to become the second driver to complete Indy car racing’s Triple Crown.

Prior to American Pharoah’s accomplishment, Affirmed was the last Triple Crown winner in 1978 – the same year that Al Unser won the Indianapolis 500 and the 500-mile races at Pocono Raceway and Ontario (Calif.) to become the only driver in the same calendar year to win the three-set race that was part of Indy car racing from 1971-80. After Ontario closed in 1980, it was replaced by Michigan International Speedway and the Triple Crown continued until 1989.

For 2015, the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule features three 500-milers with the next 500-mile race, the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, scheduled for June 27. The final 500-mile race, the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, will take place on Aug. 23.

Montoya earned his second Indianapolis 500 Mile Race victory on May 24 in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. He’s won two of the last three 500 Indy car 500-mile races, taking the Pocono race last summer.

3. Inside the box score – Firestone 600: Numbers to note following the Firestone 600 – the ninth round of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

3 – Positions gained by Marco Andretti in the final 23 laps of the race (eighth to fifth).

3.59 – Average running position of winner Scott Dixon for the 248 laps of racing at Texas Motor Speedway.

9 – Drivers who led at least one lap, the most drivers to lead a Texas race since June 2002.

10 – Top-five finishes at Texas by Helio Castroneves, who finished third on Saturday night. Castroneves has four wins among his seven podiums at TMS.

11 – Positions improved by Ryan Briscoe (19th to eighth), most of any driver in the race.

14 – Lead changes in the Firestone 600, the most at Texas since June 2008.

35 – Number of laps in which Briscoe improved his position – most of any driver in the Firestone 600.

37 – Indy car victories for Scott Dixon, which ranks fifth all time. Dixon is two wins behind Al Unser Jr. for fourth.

40 – Indy car poles for Will Power, who tied Rick Mears for fifth all time and extended his streak of front-row starts to six races.

99 – Indy car wins for cars owned by Chip Ganassi.

242 – Consecutive starts by Tony Kanaan, extending his all-time record.

1,172 – Total on-track passes during the Firestone 600. Kanaan led all drivers with 87 passes. Castroneves and Briscoe each had 85.