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THREE’S COMPANY: CAN THIS YEAR’S INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER ALSO VISIT VICTORY LANE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Well, we’re already halfway through the month of May, which means Verizon IndyCar Series is now less than a month away from speeding back into Texas Motor Speedway.
The DXC Technology 600 will take place under the lights on Saturday, June 9 at 7:45 p.m. Traditionally, “America’s Original Nightime Race” has always come after the Indianapolis 500, which will drop the green flag for the 102nd running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 27.
Over the years, there have been seven different INDYCAR pilots that have won an Indianapolis 500 and Texas Motor Speedway’s June INDYCAR event. However, only three have ever done it in the same season. Here’s a look at who made this unique list …
Arie Luyendyk Sr.
The first driver to ever win a Verizon IndyCar Series event at Texas Motor Speedway, Luyendyk Sr.’s victory on June 7, 1997 came just 11 days after he celebrated with a milk bath at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Luyekdyk’s victory in the Indianapolis 500 on May 27, 1997 wasn’t without controversy. A caution on Lap 199 left many thinking the race would end under caution conditions. But when the pace car failed to pick up the field, the green flag was waved for the final lap despite yellow lights still being displayed around the track. Luyendyk managed to hold off teammate Scott Goodyear for the win, but the officiating error certainly left this as one of the strangest finishes in 500 history.
Luyendyk Sr.’s victory less than two weeks later in the inaugural INDYCAR event at Texas Motor Speedway was just as divisive. After Billy Boat was first declared the race winner, Luyendyk Sr. was eventually awarded the win the following day after a scoring error determined that he not only won the race, but completed two laps more than the rest of the field. Add in a Victory Lane skirmish between Luyendyk and Boat’s team owner, A.J. Foyt, and it remains one of the most memorable races in TMS history.
Of these three drivers, Dixon is the only one to achieve the feat and go on to win the championship that same season.
This year’s Indianapolis 500 will mark the 10th anniversary of Dixon’s dominant victory in 2008. On May 25, 2008, the New Zealander led 115 laps from the pole position for the first and only Indy 500 victory of his career. Dixon led the final 29 laps, withstanding a late charge by Vitor Meira by 1.75 seconds to take the checkers.
Dixon didn’t lead the most laps on June 7 at TMS. In fact, with seven laps to go, he didn’t even have the lead. But a late pass of Marco Andretti with six laps remaining gave Dixon the head position, leaving a battle for second between Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay. The two ended up tangled, bringing out the caution and handing Dixon his third win of the season.
Dixon went on to win three more races in 2008, holding off Helio Castroneves by 17 points for his second career INDYCAR championship.
One of the best drivers to never win a championship, the recently retired Castroneves has three Indianapolis 500 wins and four victories at Texas Motor Speedway. But only once did he complete the sweep in the same season.
Castroneves cruised to the win on May 24, 2009, leading a race-high 66 laps to become the first foreign-born driver to ever win three Indianapolis 500s and the sixth driver to do it overall.
Two weeks later, Castroneves utilized a strong final pit stop to get out ahead of race leader Ryan Briscoe with 53 laps remaining. While Briscoe remained hot on his tail for the final 50-plus laps, the Brazilian would never relinquish the lead as Castroneves would cross the finish line just .390 of a second ahead of Briscoe.
Castroneves’ victories at Indianapolis and Texas were the only two wins of the season for him in 2009.