Dixon Earns 3rd Straight Runner-Up In INDYCAR Grand Prix, Despite Bad Handling Car, Makes Him Big Po
INDIANAPOLIS – After this race last year, we were questioning when Scott Dixon was going to turn it on. See, Dixon had just earned a runner-up finish in the INDYCAR Grand Prix in 2018 after finishes of sixth, fourth, 11th and sixth respectively. His team owner Chip Ganassi said that we should just be patient that watch out for Dixon for the rest of the year.
He’d do just that.
Dixon, came into the Month of May in 2018 in seventh in the standings. He’d leave it in fourth. He’d end up winning his fifth career series championship when it was all said and down.
Fast forward to this year.
Dixon, finished second once again. This time though, it was his fourth podium result in five tries in 2019. Now, he sits only six points in second place in the standings heading into the May 26 Indianapolis 500.
Last year, he trailed the leader by 31 points, this year it’s six.
While Dixon was frustrated to lose out in the end, he was happy to have made up 27 points on Newgarden in the championship.
See, Dixon entered Saturday’s race 33 points out. Now, he’s six. But to lose out this time to a Penske driver that didn’t dominate, was that a tough pill to swallow?
“I’ve been part of many of these,” Dixon said after watching a Penske car win again. “You’ve just got to take them. You’ve got to take the highs with the lows and I think finishing second is something you’ve got to be proud of. These wins are harder and harder to get. You can even see the expression with Simon (Pagenaud) after the win. It’s hard to get a win right now. You just roll with it. If you just keep knocking on the door, it’s going to open.”
Dixon, was in the drivers seat there in the end of it. See, he started off as a top three driver but the pit strategy of others took him out of it. Newgarden, was in position to win after starting the race on Blacks. But, on his pit stop right before his teammate Helio Castroneves went off course to bring out the third and final caution, Newgarden’s crew elected for Reds for a second straight stint to close it out. That move was pivotal.
Dixon, had just taken the wet tires on Lap 60 and here three laps later it was raining even harder. Newgarden, didn’t go to wets and that cost him dearly.
The top runners under that caution had to come back and pit again for wets. Dixon, inherited the lead because of that.
Newgarden, then had a tire come out of his pits during his stop and was later penalized for it. He’d only finish 13th as he’s failed to score a top 10 finish in all six of his starts. That opened the door for Dixon to close the gap already.
Plus, Alexander Rossi was involved in a first lap incident and fell four laps down early. He’d finish 22nd. Takuma Sato was fourth in the standings and only finished 14th. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth and was caught up in a chain reaction incident when Colton Herta spun on the Lap 15 restart.
See why Dixon despite not having a good car in the rain was still pleased with his result?
“I think you always doubt it,” Dixon said on if he thought his lead was big enough in the closing laps. “I think with 10 laps to go I was getting worried. Then, I saw the gap was getting bigger but once the 22 got past Harvey, I knew it wouldn’t take long. Once he got by it was only two laps before he was on top of us.
“I just couldn’t turn, even the first gear corners I had to almost stop to get it to turn. It felt like I needed more on the front wing. Sometimes is kind of goes like that depending on how your mechanical balance is. Whatever the balance was we couldn’t get the car to rotate. I had tremendous grip, I just couldn’t get it to turn in the slow corners.”
Dixon, now has 109 podiums and 158 top five finishes in his storied career. While he only has one win at Indy in his career, another runner-up in this race is good enough for him. It’s all about the bigger picture.