Kiwi IndyCar driver Scott Dixon's pendulum ride in the 2012 championship continued at the weekend with his first "did not finish" in nearly two years. The Kiwi had led most of the laps, 133 of them, until series leader Will Power sneaked past on lap 171 as Dixon's tyres began to wear causing severe understeer.
Two laps later the rear end of Dixon's car snapped around and he slid into the barrier on Turn Four. The car was too damaged to carry on and Dixon had his first non-finish since Toronto in 2010.
The Kiwi has had an up and down season so far with the last two races being a high, having finished second at the Indianapolis 500 and following that with a win at Detroit. No such luck in Texas, though.
"We had been getting loose at the end of stints," said Dixon in a post-race interview.
"For the last 10 laps of that last stint I was just really fighting to hold on. That time there I kind of got into the middle of few people we were trying to lap and I was trying to get back up to Power. I turned in and the rear just started to slide and I kind of dipped down onto the apron and shut around again."
Dixon's team-mate and defending champion Dario Franchitti didn't fair much better finishing 14th three laps down having had to make an unscheduled pitstop.
Meanwhile, up front Justin Wilson won his first oval race from Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe. Rahal clipped the wall with just two laps to go allowing Wilson to slide underneath to take the win.
Championship leader Power, while in contention for the win, was hit with a drive-through penalty late in the race for an unfair block on a restart baulking Tony Kannan. He eventually crossed the line eighth and still has the series lead from Dixon and James Hinchcliffe.
Inkster on Targa
Having spent most of his racing life on gravel, Glenn Inkster and co-driver Spencer Winn are proving they've got their heads around the black stuff. Inkster is now two from two in Targa rallies having won the Targa Rotorua tarmac motor rally at the weekend.
Inkster mentioned at the beginning of the year he'd be keen to snap up all three Targa events in 2012 and he now has the Rotorua title to go with his Targa Bambina title he won in March.
Perennial favourite Tony Quinn in his fire-breathing Nissan GTR-35 was fighting for the lead until slamming into a bank wrecking the car too much to continue.
Driven would like to pass our condolences onto Stuart and Bret Scoular who had a massive accident when their car slid off the road at high speed coming to an abrupt stop against a concrete underpass. Stuart was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries while Bret is believed to have suffered only minor injuries.
"I haven't been able to establish the exact nature of the accident but the tracking system shows that the speed wasn't excessive and no one else at that point of the stage was showing excessive speed," said MotorSport New Zealand general manager Brian Budd.
Halliday hangs on
New Zealand FIA GT1 driver Matt Halliday and his French co-driver Mike Parisy had another difficult hit out at round four of their world championship but salvaged two top 10 finishes.
Racing in Slovakia over the weekend in their Porsche GT3 R, the pair finished fifth and eighth in the two one-hour races. The team struggled back from starting 14th after Parisy spun off hitting the barriers in practice.