NEWTON, IA – Scott Dixon had no business being there in the end. He admitted so. But, when all else fails, never count out the Ice Man in the NTT IndyCar Series. He’s a magician. After spending a majority of Saturday night’s rain delayed Iowa 300 a lap down, Dixon not only got on the lead lap in the end, he finished second.
Dixon, never had a top 10 car all night. He called his car “nasty” and not in a subtle good way. It was bad handling from the drop of the green flag as on the first stint, he fell outside of the top 15 in his No. 9 Honda.
“It was just nasty,” Dixon said of his car. “It felt like we were on a different track than everybody else. It was just so sensitive.”
But, when his team decided to keep him out longer than everyone else on the final stint, it paid off in a big way. Dixon, took over the lead on Lap 255 and was laps away from pitting for what he thought would be his final time. But, when Ed Carpenter crashed on Lap 264, it was a game changer for him.
See, there were only nine cars on the lead lap and if this caution doesn’t come out, Dixon has to pit and likely falls two laps down as a result. Instead, with only nine cars on the lead lap, he’s guaranteed to remain on the lead lap as Josef Newgarden and not only that, he was going to be in the top 10 as well.
To make matters even better, Dixon hit pit road again on Lap 268 with a few other lead lap cars while the top five remained out. So, he’d restart sixth, with fresh tires, in a race that he had no business being in at that point.
Dixon, charged with 15 lap fresher tires than those in front. He quickly made it into the top five and a handful of laps later, he passed James Hinchcliffe for second. Dixon, would hang on for his second straight runner-up on the season and the 45th of his Indy Car career. It was also his third straight top five of the season and 162nd of his career as well.
Dixon, was so happy with this result, he calls it like a win.
“Tonight we just ran the tires off so quickly,” a happy Dixon said. “Looks like me and the 10 struggled pretty quickly. We’ll take it. We didn’t quite get the win but oh my gosh, it feels like a win, we’ll take it.
“It wasn’t me, the team just stayed out on that long run there and luckily we caught that caution. Luckily, it was enough to get us in a great position on the lead lap. We could get new tires while others were on used tires and it was one of the opportunities that we stumbled on. We really struggled tonight. We had a rough night on track. This was pretty much a win.”
How much of a win could it be though when the guy that he’s chasing for the championship won? I mean, yes he did steal a finish he didn’t think he necessarily deserved, but the guy in front of him on the scoring pylon was the last guy that he needed to be there.
Dixon, sees it though as a bit of damage control.
“We knew they were going to be super strong here,” Dixon said of Newgarden. “It gets tough especially with all three (Penske cars) of them in a scenario like that.”
Now, Dixon heads to Mid-Ohio, a place he’s owned in the past 99 points off the lead.