• Newgarden stars in qualifying
• Aleshin leads rookie contingent in 9th
Taking advantage of fresh tires fitted to his Honda-powered Dallara during a late-race caution period, Simon Pagenaud fought his way to a fourth-place Verizon IndyCar Series finish in a thrilling final two laps of green flag racing in the Firestone 600 Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
Pagenaud ran in the lead group throughout the 248-lap contest, and was one of six cars on the lead lap when the caution flag waved for the third and final time of the night with just seven laps remaining. After sixth-place Will Power pitted for new tires during the caution, Pagenaud’s Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports team made the same call one lap later. When the green flag waved on Lap 246, Pagenaud was able to pass the Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars of Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon on the final two laps to finish fourth.
Pagenaud’s rookie teammate, Mikhail Aleshin, finished seventh in his first appearance on a high-banked oval track to lead the four rookies in the field. Josef Newgarden qualified a career-high second for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and ran in the lead pack during the first half of tonight’s race, before fading slightly with handling issues to finish 11th. Justin Wilson was another Honda-powered driver to feature during the opening third of the race, but was eliminated in a Lap 118 crash with Sebastien Bourdais. Neither driver was injured in the race’s only accident.