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IndyCar Pick ‘Em: Xpel 375

Scott Dixon

Scott Dixon

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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IndyCar doesn’t run on very many ovals, so when they do it is special. Make that a 1.5-mile high speed oval like Texas Motor Speedway and all bets are off. Except they’re not, really – not really anyway. Last year, seven drivers swept the top 10 in Indy’s two-day Lonestar Showdown and they give us a great starting spot for this week.

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Team With Most Top-10 Finishers

The choice this week comes down to Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing. In the first race this season, Ganassi edged Penske and Andretti Autosport with three top-10 finishes to their two. But last year Penske placed six drivers in the top 10 in Texas’ two races compared to Ganassi’s four.

Advantage: Team Penske

Starting Position of Winning Driver

The Grand Prix of St. Peterburg was won from the pole as Scott McLaughlin led nearly half of the race. Last year, Patricio O’Ward started fourth and Scott Dixon started fifth before winning at Texas. Add in another second-place start for Dixon in 2020 and a pattern emerges.

Advantage: 1st-4th.

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Drivers Leading Laps

Last year in the 212-lap Genesys 300, only two drivers led laps as Dixon dominated. With 48 laps added to the 2021 Xpel 375, nine leaders popped up and that more closely matches the five-year trend with six leaders per race.

We’ll go a little higher this week than last, but respect the trend.

Advantage: 5

Time Lapse 1st – 5th (in seconds)

Twice in the past five years, a Texas race has shown a margin of victory of more than four seconds and if this race goes green for a long while at the end, the gap to fifth could be quite considerable.

Advantage: 8.5001 – 9.5 seconds

Lead Lap Finishers

Last year, 13 drivers finished on the lead lap in Race 2 with 18 completing the distance in Race 1, but those results bucked the five-year trend. In the previous four seasons, the most lead lap finishers was 10 in 2020 and the low was six in 2017. Go low and hope for some long green flag runs.

Advantage: 1-11

Best Rookie

Our pick for the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, David Malukas, crashed early. That is always a danger when dealing with rookies. None of them cracked the top 10 in Florida and most were on the cusp of 20th, but Christian Lundgaard was the best in 11th. With limited data at this level, we’re playing it safe.

Advantage: Christian Lundgaard

Best Finish, Former Winner and Race Winner

With three wins and a fourth-place finish in his last five Texas races, Dixon stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field. But you certainly don’t want to ignore Newgarden, who has top-threes in three of his last four races plus a sixth. Newgarden also won at Gateway in the most recent oval race.

Advantage: Scott Dixon

2022 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
2021 MotoGP Grand Prix of America