By: Spencer Neff
March 17, 2022
Sunday marks the first oval race of the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, the XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway. The 248-lap race on the 1.44-mile track in Fort Worth will be the second event of the season and the 35th contested at TMS.
For this week’s edition of Rewind, IndyCar1909 looks back at the 2003 June race, the Bombardier 500.
Two weeks after a thrilling Indianapolis 500, Team Penske’s Gil de Ferran and the IRL INDYCAR SERIES made the first of two scheduled trips to Texas Motor Speedway.
With de Ferran still nursing a back injury from a March crash in Phoenix, the week off was welcome amongst the traditional post-race obligations of the Indianapolis 500 winner.
After leading the most laps but falling short of victory at Indy for the second time in as many years, Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tomas Scheckter earned the pole. Teammate Scott Dixon lined up on the outside of the front row.
From the drop of the green flag, Scheckter and Dixon held steady up front, as de Ferran and others experienced issues.
On Lap 42, A.J. Foyt IV tagged the wall in Turn 2, prompting the first caution of the evening. Scheckter continued to lead as the race got restarted on Lap 48. By the second caution on Lap 87, the No. 10 had been up front for nearly half of the scheduled 200 laps.
After eight laps under the yellow for debris, Kelley Racing’s Al Unser Jr. was first off pit road and up front, the first driver aside from Scheckter to lead. Unser Jr. had been battling fiercely before the debris caution.
Soon after the green flag, Scheckter took back the top spot and held the point for another 54 laps. With 50 laps to go, Scheckter made his final pit stop of the night.
Unfortunately, a fire broke out after he left, leaving his crew scrambling to dilute the methanol. Scheckter would be given a drive-through penalty for leaving pit road with equipment.
With 26 laps to go, his luck ran out as the G-Force/Toyota made heavy contact with the outside wall in Turn 2. The race would restart with 15 laps to go but the run would be short-lived.
With 10 to go, Tora Takagi collided with Scott Sharp, which pushed Sharp and Felipe Giaffone into the Turn 3 wall. A fourth caution of the evening. Another quick clean-up set the stage for a two-lap battle for the win.
Unser Jr. would hold off Kanaan by .081 of a second to snap a 20-race winless streak dating back to Gateway in 2001.
Despite falling short of victory, Kanaan extended his points lead to 36, with Unser Jr. slotting in behind him. Unser Jr.’s 34th career win left him one short of his Uncle Bobby. Following the season, he moved to a part-time role and ultimately competed for the last time at Indianapolis in 2007.
In October, de Ferran earned the victory at Texas in the season finale, his 12th and final win. Scott Dixon would earn his first championship.
On Sunday, the six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion goes for his sixth win at Texas and third in the last four races.
Header Image By INDYCAR