MADISON, Ill – Until last weekend in Pocono, Scott Dixon hadn’t exactly fared well on ovals in 2019. For whatever reason, the pace in his No. 9 Honda just wasn’t there. He finished 17th in the Indy 500 as well as in Texas. He finished second though last weekend in Pocono. All three were on superspeedway’s.
Now, it’s to the second and final short oval of the season. Back in July, he finished runner-up at Iowa but that was with a terrible car. Dixon, knew his day would be bad from the get go and fell to outside of the top 15 from the start. He’d ride back there until having a gutsy pit strategy call goes his way.
See, Dixon was a lap down for most of the race but on the second to last stint, he went longer than normal to try and catch a yellow. It worked too. When there were less than 10 cars on the lead lap at the time, Dixon pinned himself back on the leaders pace. Then, he got an extra pit stop under caution for fresh tires. It paid off and he drove up to a second place finish.
Can he luck out on Saturday night in Gateway? He will have to do so from the eighth starting spot. As luck may have it, he won from eighth two races ago in Mid-Ohio. He won from sixth in Belle Isle back in June. In fact, three of his last four race wins, Dixon started sixth through eighth.
Also, in his last two starts on the 1.25-mile oval, Dixon has finished second and third respectively. He led 145 laps in last year’s race. While we know Team Penske will likely be the ones to beat, Dixon’s championship hopes ride on getting a little luck again and having to finish on the podium. Luckily for him, he has four straight top two finishes on the year and two podiums in his last two Gateway tries.
“Just three to go now, right?” said Dixon. “I’ve been pretty happy with the past several races. The whole PNC Bank team has done a great job finishing either first or second. It’s what you have to do. But we still need more wins. This is the go time part of the NTT IndyCar Series season. This championship is just so tight – you cannot afford to make any mistakes from here on out, or you’ll be on the outside looking in – really fast. We’ve been on the podium here the past two years but haven’t been able to get that top step on the podium. This Saturday would be the perfect time to break through. The track and everyone here does such a great job promoting this event, and it really shows. It’s a great place to race and we’ll see how it goes this weekend.”
He’s gone from 98 points down to 52. He’s just 17 points shy of moving into a tie for second in the series standings. Dixon is coming and his rivals have taken notice.