Helio Castroneves said he is coming after Scott Dixon this week at Texas Motor Speedway.
When the Brazilian last competed at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, in 2017, he was the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ track record-holder with four victories. Since then, Dixon has won three races at TMS to forge ahead with five in his career.
So, now five is the Texas standard, much to Castroneves’ chagrin.
“I’ve got to (regain) that record,” he said. “We’ve got to change that.”
Castroneves won at Texas in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2013 – all part of Team Penske’s record 10 wins at the track -- and he dogged Sam Hornish Jr. to the finish line in 2002, finishing .0096 of a second behind in a race that gave Hornish the season championship. That margin stands as the second-closest in track history behind Graham Rahal’s 2016 win (by .0080 of a second) and is the sixth-closest ever in the INDYCAR SERIES.
Dixon’s Texas wins came in 2008, 2015, 2018, 2020 and last year’s first race of a doubleheader. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver led a track-record 206 laps in last year’s victory.
In addition to the pursuit of Dixon, Castroneves likes the XPEL 375 as an oval-track tune-up to the most important race of the season, the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, where on Sunday, May 29 he will aim for a record fifth victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He won last year’s “500” for Meyer Shank Racing, the team he is driving full time with this season.
Last year, Castroneves went to IMS without having competed in an oval-track event since the previous year’s “500.” While that ultimately did not hinder his Race Day performance, he said racing at Texas could have been beneficial for the entire group fielding the No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda.
“It’s a good preparation,” Castroneves said of oval racing in advance of Indianapolis. “(Our team) didn’t have any preparation leading up to the Indy 500 last year, and now, knowing what I know now, going to an oval before (Indy), it definitely, definitely helps what we need to do to prove (ourselves) as a team, as a driver, as mechanics.”
Castroneves said having Simon Pagenaud on the MSR team will help with preparation for Texas and Indy as he has twice finished second at Texas and won at Indy in 2019. Pagenaud drives the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda after seven seasons at Team Penske, including the series title in 2016.
Dixon, who drives the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda, and Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) won last year’s races at Texas. Ed Carpenter (No. 33 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet), Graham Rahal (No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) and Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet) are the other former Texas race winners in this field. Power has won twice.
Practice begins at 11 a.m. (ET) Saturday, with NTT P1 Award qualifying at 2 p.m. and the second practice at 5 p.m. – all live on Peacock Premium.
Sunday’s 248-lap race begins at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC, Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.