The Verizon IndyCar Series will return to Texas Motor Speedway in a little less than a month for the DXC Technology 600. Since its Fort Worth debut in 1997, the open-wheeled division has showcased scintillating speeds and intense side-by-side racing at the 1.5-mile oval, leaving fans breathless for more.
It’s also had its fair share of surprises. For every dominant win by Helio Castroneves, Sam Hornish Jr. or Scott Dixon there was driver making a little history for themselves at Texas Motor Speedway. Here’s a look at our top-five most memorable Indy car winners in history ….
- Al Unser Jr. – June 7, 2003 With more than 30 open-wheel victories over his storied career, it was hardly a jaw-dropping moment to see one of the most iconic surnames in the sport’s history park his No. 31 in Texas Motor Speedway’s victory lane. However, Unser Jr. went nearly 70 races without a win in his last four seasons in CART and won only twice through his first 39 starts in Indy car. Start No. 40 at the age of 41 would be one to remember, though, as Unser Jr. held off Tony Kanaan by 0.081 of a second for what would end up being the 34th and final win of his storied career.
- Mark Dismore – October 17, 1999 A quick look at the box score would show that this was hardly a surprise. In fact, Dismore was the only driver to complete the scheduled 208 laps that day, finishing an entire lap ahead of second-place Davey Hamilton in the season finale. But while the dominant win remains the largest in track history, the truly amazing fact was that it came nearly eight-and-a-half years after a near fatal crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It also helped Dismore jump from 11th to third in the standings, the best finish of his career.
- John Paul Jr. – September 20, 1998 It had been a little more than 15 years since Paul Jr. last visited victory lane in an open-wheel series. His CART win at Michigan in 1983 saw a who’s who of auto racing finish behind him, with Al Unser, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears and Bobby Rahal rounding out the top-five, respectively. With nothing better than a sixth-place finish to his name during the ’98 season, Paul Jr. rekindled some old school magic to pick up the lone Indy car win of his career. And he’d do it by once again holding off an Unser at the finish line — Bobby Unser.
- Billy Boat – June 6, 1998 It’s hard to believe that Boat won only one race during an Indy car career that spanned eight years and 63 races. What’s more surprising is that he only had one win in 1998. Boat took the pole position in six of nine races that season, including the Indianapolis 500. He never finished better than ninth in any of those races, but did pick up the victory at Texas Motor Speedway, leading 108 of 208 laps after starting second.
- Jeff Ward – June 8, 2002
Not only was Ward’s win at Texas Motor Speedway his only Indy car victory, but it was also one of the closest in track history. Ward led just 31 of 2,511 laps in 2002 – 29 at Homestead, one at Fontana, and one at TMS, coming on the final lap against an open-wheel hall of famer. Ward passed Al Unser Jr. on the final lap and then held on by just 0.0111 of a second.