Race Preview: Texas Motor Speedway



Posted on 03/30/2023

Race Preview: Texas Motor Speedway

Chip Ganassi Racing will venture to Fort Worth, Texas, on a wave of momentum after defending Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson claimed the season-opening win for the team on March 5.

CGR has tasted victory at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) before – seven times to be exact, with Scott Dixon responsible for five of those wins, the most at the track across INDYCAR SERIES history.

The team has showcased exceptional speed throughout the years at TMS. They hold several track records, including the fastest qualifying lap (2017 – Kimball), the fastest lap turned in a race (2017 – Kanaan) and the shortest overall time elapsed in a winning performance (2015 – Dixon).

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato will make his anticipated Chip Ganassi Racing debut this weekend in the No. 11 Niterra Honda, as he seeks to become the 16th race-winner with the team.

Chip Ganassi Racing will tackle 250 laps in the PPG 375 on Sunday, April 2, at 12:10 p.m. ET. Learn more about how to tune in across the entire race weekend

Marcus Ericsson - No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda

Ericsson: "I’m really looking forward to Texas, as it is one of the most extreme tracks on the calendar. It’s quite fun with really high speeds and close racing. We were strong there last year with a podium finish, but we want to get a bit better this year obviously coming off the win in St. Petersburg. It’s going to be a great weekend and I am looking forward to it.”

Fresh off his fourth career INDYCAR win, Ericsson returns to Texas Motor Speedway where he scored his first career podium (P3) on an oval course in 2022. He displayed an impressive performance where he was tied as the third-biggest 'mover' on the day with a net gain of +11 positions.

Ericsson has improved every single year on oval courses with Chip Ganassi Racing and just last year, registered the series' 2nd-best average finishing position in such races (2022: 5.0; 2021: 12.8; 2020: 16.2). Ericsson has found success amid continuity across his No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda team over that span and will make his 49th start with the team this weekend.

Scott Dixon - No. 9 PNC Bank Honda

Dixon: "I love racing at Texas and I'm really looking forward to this race weekend. There have been a lot of configurations that we've had throughout the years. I think this year, the series has done a good job of bringing some updated aero pieces which will tighten the pack and allow for some side-by-side racing … I think it’s definitely going to show a lot of the development and off-season work that the team has done and this should be a fantastic weekend for us.”

Dixon is no stranger to donning the cowboy hat at Texas Motor Speedway’s victory lane. He’s taken the checkered flag five times before, more than any other INDYCAR driver in track history. He has also led the most laps at TMS (1,043), which is more than two times the number of the next closest driver. Dixon has also finished in the top-5 in 14-of-his-24 (58%) career starts at the track. 

The Iceman put on a clinic in Texas' first race in 2021, setting a track record for the most laps led by a race winner (206-of-212).

Dixon has a chance to make history once again as he enters this race weekend tied with Mario Andretti for the most all-time top-5 finishes (193) in series history.

Alex Palou - No. 10 The American Legion Honda

Palou: "We've been working hard. This has not been my best race, but we did finish top-10 last year. Hoping to get a little bit closer and have a better race in terms of overtakes with the downforce that we have. Super excited for this weekend and hope to see you at the track."

Palou, the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, has led a lap in each of his 3 races in Fort Worth with CGR. He’ll look to claim victory this weekend in what would be his first career win on an oval.

Palou has registered a podium finish in 14-of-his-34 races with CGR with one such finish coming in an oval race (P2 in 2021 Indianapolis 500). 

Takuma Sato - No. 11 Niterra Honda

Sato: "I'm thrilled about returning to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, and for my very first outing with Chip Ganassi Racing. Texas Motor Speedway is an iconic ultra-high-speed track with such a high banking that provides us with unbelievably intense racing all the time. In terms of preparation, it's very limited and certainly there is a lot to learn in a short time. It's very challenging for me since there has not been any testing. In the limited time, I have gotten very comfortable and confident with my new environment. I know the crew well now and spent a good amount of time with our engineers as I experienced in St. Pete. I am also very excited about representing our primary sponsor NGK's new brand group name launched "Niterra" this weekend with beautiful Niterra blue, black and white and can't thank NGK enough for their support. Of course, Niterra will be alongside Deloitte, Panasonic, Honda and everyone with me. This is an extremely exciting time, and I can't wait get back behind the wheel.”

Sato will make his 215th career INDYCAR SERIES start in Fort Worth, Texas, this weekend, but his first with Chip Ganassi Racing. He will pilot the No. 11 Niterra Honda to navigate the 1.5-mile oval, where he will seek his seventh career victory, and fourth in an oval race. 

Sato claimed oval victories previously at the Indianapolis 500 twice (2020 and 2017) and at World Wide Technology Raceway in 2019. He has been knocking on the door since his last race-winning season, as he has led a lap in 5 of the 9 oval races across the past two seasons (1 of 4 drivers to do so).