The on-track action in Saturday night’s Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway saw sparks and flames, a mirror of the high emotions between Jack Harvey and Graham Rahal well after Scott Dixon ended the night in Victory Lane.
The two athletes shared a moment on the backstretch midway through the 212-lap race. Rahal, in the No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda, was tracking down Harvey in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda.
Exiting Turn 2, Rahal attempted to pass Harvey on the inside, but Harvey had begun to change his line toward the inside, as well. The two continued toward the bottom of the racetrack, and Rahal dipped below the white line to avoid hitting Harvey.
As they approached Turn 3, Rahal got the better of the pair as Harvey backed off and let him have the position. INDYCAR race stewards ruled that the action was a racing incident, and Rahal went on to finish fifth, Harvey seventh.
After the race, Rahal was furious with Harvey’s actions on the fast, 1.5-mile oval.
“I have a lot of respect for Jack, but we need to have a man-to-man talk about that,” Rahal said. “He could see the run that I had was tremendous, and we were going to go by. You just don’t need to risk anybody like that.
“And also, it hurt him more. It kills your momentum. The best thing to do is to lift a little bit and fall in line. I understand he did the same thing to Alex (Rossi) on the frontstraight, so we need to have a discussion about it. I respect him a lot, but we need to talk about it, for sure.”
Harvey, who drives for Meyer Shank Racing, was eager to have a talk with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Rahal, insisting that he did nothing wrong in the incident. Harvey admitted he squeezed Rossi into the grass on the frontstretch and intended to apologize to the Andretti Autosport driver. But he wasn’t prepared to apologize to Rahal.
“I’m not sure why Graham’s not happy,” Harvey said. “I’m well within my right to defend. Graham knows where I’m at if he wants to come and have a word. I think some of these guys sometimes are so used to our car being part-time or whatever that they think they can just come by us any time they want or whatever. I moved first … he still had room. He knows where I am.”
Rahal said he wanted to have a chat with Harvey before the two took to the track in Sunday’s XPEL 375 (5 p.m. ET, live on NBCSN and INDYCAR Radio Network).
Herta’s Yo-Yo Season Continues
Just last Sunday, Colton Herta put a tough race behind him and laid down a dominating performance to win the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
He’ll need to do that again Sunday in the XPEL 375.
While running fifth in the late stages of the Genesys 300, Herta’s No. 26 Gainbridge Honda started experiencing brake issues. Herta slowed going down the backstretch and entered pit road. Upon entering his pit box, his right rear brakes caught fire and ended Herta’s night in 22nd place.
“Something distorted or melted something on the right rear, because as soon as I went through (Turns) 1 and 2, the car just got super loose, and that was it,” Herta said. “Something is broken, probably caused by the brakes, but I don’t know exactly what happened.”
Herta opened the season at Barber Motorsports Park with a 22nd-place finish in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst. He was involved in a Lap 1 accident after Josef Newgarden spun and collected multiple cars, including Herta’s machine.
After that result, the young American rebounded to lead 97 of 100 laps in St. Petersburg. He’ll look to do the same Sunday in the XPEL 375, pulling his season yo-yo back upward.
Bourdais’ Strong Start Ends in Wall
After scoring back-to-back top-10 finishes to open the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, Sebastien Bourdais’ strong start hit a wall Saturday in Texas.
On Lap 56 of the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, Bourdais was running sixth when a couple of cars bunched up in front him in Turn 2 trying to prepare themselves for a move to pit road. Bourdais eased off the throttle in his No. 14 ROKiT AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet, but Josef Newgarden made contact with Bourdais’ car with his hNo. 2 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet and sent him spinning into the outside wall. Bourdais was unhurt in the incident and finished 24th.
Two-time champion Newgarden was penalized for avoidable contact and sent to the rear of the lead-lap cars on the ensuing restart.
“Just a really tough break for the ROKiT No. 14 Chevrolet,” Bourdais said. “We really struggled in practice when we came here a few weeks ago, and really struggled bad this afternoon. The engineers did a great job (for the race). The car was actually really racy and pretty darn good.
“It just slowed down, and Josef just runs into the back of us for no reason, really, and takes us out. I don’t know, man. It’s such a shame.”
The wreck ended a strong opening run Bourdais produced for A.J. Foyt Enterprises. He was one of just five drivers to open the season with back-to-back top-10 finishes, alongside Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Will Power and Rinus VeeKay.
What’s more, with his fourth-place finish in the 2020 season finale and his fifth in the 2021 season opener at Barber Motorsports Park, the Frenchman delivered the legendary A.J. Foyt’s team its first back-to-back top-five finishes in eight years.
Odds and Ends
- With his win in the Genesys 300, Scott Dixon broke a tie with A.J. Foyt for the number of seasons with a win. The two legends were tied at 18, but with Saturday’s win, Dixon extended the record to 19. Dixon also extended his personal record for consecutive seasons with at least one win to 17.
- James Hinchcliffe ended what was already a tough day in the No. 29 Genesys Honda in the wall on Lap 160. After getting passed by the lead-lap car of Felix Rosenqvist, Hinchcliffe got loose in the wake of the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and spun, making hard left-rear contact with the SAFER Barrier. He was unhurt in the accident and finished 23rd. Rosenqvist finished 13th.
- Marcus Ericsson was quietly having one of the most consistent starts to the season of anyone in the paddock. He entered Saturday’s race as one of just five drivers to score top-10 finishes in the first two races of the season, alongside Scott Dixon, Will Power, Rinus VeeKay and Sebastien Bourdais. After running in the top 10 most of the day, a late-race pit stop derailed his continued success when the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda team struggled to bolt on the right rear tire. He fell one lap down and finished 19th.
- Two INDYCAR and Indianapolis 500 legends are paying it forward this weekend in Texas. Four-time INDYCAR SERIES champion and three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti is on the box for Alex Palou, helping coach the new driver of the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Meanwhile, 1980 INDYCAR SERIES champion and fellow three-time “500” winner Johnny Rutherford is with Arrow McLaren SP this weekend. The team ambassador is working with Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and Felix Rosenqvist in the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
- 2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Alexander Rossi will shift Month of May festivities into high gear Tuesday when he installs his driver street sign in downtown Indianapolis. “Rossi Boulevard” will be installed at the west spoke of Monument Circle near Market and Meridian Street.