A four-stop pit strategy for Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz and James Jakes failed to pay off Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, as the Honda drivers were forced to conserve fuel to make the finish and dropped down the order in the closing laps of the Firestone 600.
The first Saturday night event of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series ran at a blistering pace, slowed only by one caution – for debris on the track – to become the 12th fastest race in Indy car history. Andretti and Jakes both briefly led portions of the 248-lap event – and Detroit race winner Munoz was constantly a part of the lead pack – but all three had to turn down their fuel mixtures in the final 20 laps as Scott Dixon took his second victory of the season with a new race record average speed of 191.940 mph.
Andretti finished fifth, just ahead of his sixth-place Andretti Autosport teammate, Munoz. Also saving fuel, Jakes fell to ninth in the closing laps – still a career best oval finish for him – and followed his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate Ryan Briscoe in eighth place at the checkers. Driving for Bryan Herta Autosport, Gabby Chaves continued to solidify his hold in the series Rookie of the Year standings with a 10th-place run.
Carlos Munoz (#26 Andretti Autosport Honda) started 4th, finished 6th: ““I think I gave 100 per cent, everything I could. We needed to save a little bit more fuel than the other guys - we did one less pit stop. It was hard to save fuel, so we lost some positions there. We finished sixth – a great position, and I think I did quite good with our stops and pushing hard. It was good for experience, another top 10, and now we’re looking forward to Toronto.”
James Jakes (#7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) started 12th, finished 9th: “We said we wanted to get top tens until the end of the year, but honestly, I’m a little bit disappointed with ninth. I felt we had a better car than that. The crew did a great job all night and we just came up a bit short by going off strategy and then having to save fuel to make it to the end. We can still count it as a good finish and add some points. Now we move on to Toronto.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “After our strong performances last weekend in Detroit, winning Saturday’s race with Carlos Munoz and taking eight of the top 10 finishing positions on Sunday, we were looking for another good result here in Texas. As we saw the various race strategies develop mid-distance, the Andretti and Schmidt Peterson teams made the worthwhile call to complete the race with just four pit stops, but unfortunately having to save fuel at the end – along with the usual tire fall off – cost them positions at the end of the race. We’ll take what we’ve learned here and apply it to the remaining oval races later this year, and meanwhile focus our efforts for next weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto.”