This weekend saw the second double header of the IndyCar season when the series visited Houston, Texas. The first race, held on Saturday, was chaotic to say the least and saw on and off rain. Because of this, it was officially declared a wet start prior to the race. Due to a minor rain delay, it eventually became timed with a length of one hour and fifty minutes. Saturday’s race also saw a standing start. Graham Rahal stalled on the grid when the green waved, but he was able to restart and rejoin the race.
Early in the race, Takuma Sato took the lead and started to lap cars. Eventually, he came up behind the car of Marco Andretti and was attempting to pass. The battle between Andretti and Sato came to a point where officials showed Andretti the blue flag, which means that slower drivers have to move over for faster drivers. However, Andretti would not move over for Sato, despite being shown the blue flag for several laps. This resulted in a drive-through penalty during the race for Andretti. After the race, Marco Andretti was placed on probation and he and his team were each fined $2,500 for the incident.
The first in a quick series of caution periods came on lap 29, when Mike Conway made contact with the wall in turn 3. However, he was soon able to rejoin the race. Four laps later, the race went back to yellow when Aleshin and Sato made contact with each other. Aleshin, who was a lap down, tried to gain the lap back on the restart when Sato drifted over and hit him. On lap 37, the restart after the Aleshin/Sato incident was waved off because the leader started to jump the green. The race went back to yellow anyway as the car of Luca Filippi made hard contact with the inside wall in turn 10, then cut across the track and made contact with the wall on the front stretch.
After the restart, the race stayed green until lap 48, when Scott Dixon made contact with the wall and collected Charlie Kimball in the process. The car of Simon Pagenaud was also damaged from the incident after making contact with the car of Scott Dixon. The next two cautions came on laps 58 and 77, when Will Power went into the tire barrier in turn 9 and Sebastian Saavedra made contact with the wall in turn 4 respectively.
Perhaps the most controversial caution came on the last lap when the race was about to restart after Saavedra’s contact with the wall, with Tony Kanaan restarting in third and Graham Rahal restarting in fourth. Just before the green flag, Rahal sped up and hit the back of Kanaan’s car, causing Kanaan to spin. Rahal was later given a 30-second penalty after the race, which put him in 11th despite finishing 3rd.
The yellow came at an advantage for rookie Carlos Huertas, who gained his first win due to the last-minute caution period. Juan Pablo Montoya, Carlos Munoz, Sebastian Bourdais, and James Hinchcliffe rounded out the top five.
IndyCar finished up its doubleheader weekend in Houston the next day and it was considerably less hectic than the previous day’s race. Sunday’s race didn’t see rain or a standing start either. Instead, it was a clear day and had a rolling start.
The first of five cautions for the day came in lap 42 when Carlos Munoz pulled off track in turn 6 with a flat tire from contact with the wall in turn 10 on the previous lap. The next caution came seven laps later when Sebastien Bourdais and Helio Castroneves made contact with each other in turn 6. While Bourdais was able to continue with damage only to the car’s nose, Castroneves pulled into the runoff area in turn 6 and climbed out of his car. The yellow flag came back out on lap 63 when Josef Newgarden made contact with the wall in turn 4. Four laps later, there was another caution when Justin Wilson went into the tires after contact with Marco Andretti. The last caution of the day came on lap 76 when Takuma Sato hit the tire barrier in turn 8.
Simon Pagenaud was the eventual winner on Sunday with his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate Mikhail Aleshin coming in second. Jack Hawksworth, Charlie Kimball, and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five.