Scott Dixon flexes muscle in surprise win at Indianapolis road course after early spin

Just a lap into the Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it looked like Scott Dixon was out of contention.

Starting deep in the field, Dixon had nowhere to go when Marcus Armstrong spun off the bumper of teammate Alex Palau in the Turn 7 heavy braking zone, and was spun when Romain Grosjean ran into him from behind.

The spin forced Dixon to pit on lap five, taking him out of sequence with the rest of the field. But being out of sequence freed his Chip Ganassi Racing team to choose an aggressive strategy.

After a momentous drive through the field, choosing to pit early, with a fresh set of the preferred alternate tires waiting in his box, cycled Dixon to the lead. And, though he had a hard-charging Graham Rahal behind him on fresher tires, Dixon was able to block in the final five laps and hold on for the win.

It’s a big win for the Kiwi driver, too. In his 319th consecutive start, he’s now won at least one race in nineteen consecutive seasons. That just adds to the stellar record of a driver who now has 57 career victories, second only to AJ Foyt.

“What a day to win on,” said Dixon as 3-year-old Kit came to greet his father.

“It makes it so fun, especially for this little guy. He gets to see it. It’s been a little while since I’ve had a win, probably over a year. It makes it worthwhile, and we’re going to keep trying to win on No. 320.”

Dixon was able to hold off Graham Rahal even when the Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing driver caught him, ultimately winning by .478 seconds.

Despite his runner-up finish being a season-best for the driver, capped off by starting the race on the pole, he was disappointed getting out of the car.

Pato O’Ward was on the same strategy as Rahal and didn’t have the pace or the tires to reach the leaders at the end of the race.

With the only restart coming after the Lap 1 incident that collected Dixon, O’Ward didn’t get to see the field bunched up for an extra chance.

“It was a very physical race and we had to work for that one,” he said. “The team did an amazing job. It depends so much on the strategy and that was the right strategy for our car.”

“We honestly wouldn’t have picked to do anything else. I’m happy with the work that I did. We’ve still got some work to do to catch up but solid points for us,” he added.

Points leader Alex Palau ended up seventh, which was enough to extend his lead at the top of the championship table.

“Finishing the race today was important,” Palou said. “A good result for the team with Scott winning the race today and a good result for us in the championship.”

Scott Dixon took over second in the standings with his win after Josef Newgarden got collected in the Lap 1 incident – alongside Palau and Dixon – and finished a lap down after sustaining damage.

The NTT IndyCar Series returns for its final oval races of the year at the 1.25-mile World Wide Technology at Gateway. The third-to-last race of the season at the short track will air on NBC on Sunday, August 27th.

NTT IndyCar Series Results – Gallagher Grand Prix
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
Indianapolis, Indiana

1. (15) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
2. (1) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
3. (4) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 85, Running
4. (2) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 85, Running
5. (3) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 85, Running
6. (16) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (8) Alex Palou, Honda, 85, Running
8. (10) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (13) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 85, Running
10. (17) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 85, Running
11. (19) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (12) Linus Lundqvist, Honda, 85, Running
13. (11) Colton Herta, Honda, 85, Running
14. (14) Jack Harvey, Honda, 85, Running
15. (18) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 85, Running
16. (27) David Malukas, Honda, 85, Running
17. (24) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 85, Running
18. (6) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 84, Running
19. (5) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 84, Running
20. (21) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Chevrolet, 84, Running
21. (22) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 84, Running
22. (23) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 84, Running
23. (20) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 84, Running
24. (7) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 83, Running
25. (25) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 83, Running
26. (26) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 79, Running
27. (9) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 68, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 111.647 mph
Time of Race: 1:51:24.7579
Margin of victory: 0.4779 of a second
Cautions: 1 for 6 laps
Lead changes: 8 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders
DeFrancesco, Devlin 1 – 8
Rahal, Graham 9 – 23
Lundgaard, Christian 24 – 26
Dixon, Scott 27 – 31
Rahal, Graham 32 – 47
Lundgaard, Christian 48 – 51
Dixon, Scott 52 – 58
Rahal, Graham 59 – 63
Dixon, Scott 64 – 85

Owen Johnson