Where do we even start? Scott Dixon, man. He’s the master of open-wheel racing.
That pretty much sums it up, but let’s give him the props he deserves, even if actually achieving that is nearly impossible.
Earlier today, Dixon captured another win on Belle Isle, the first being in 2012. He started P2 in the first race of this weekend at the Detroit Grand Prix, behind pole-sitter Marco Andretti. Thanks to strategic pitting and creating a significant gap between himself and the field (nearly 15 seconds at one point), Dixon was able to keep the No. 9 PNC Ganassi Honda out front and defend his position successfully through two restarts.
The first full course caution came on Lap 47 and was due to Graham Rahal making hard contact with the wall on the outside of Turn 13. His No. 15 United Rentals RLL Honda jumped the curb going into the right hand turn and got just the right amount of disconnect from the pavement to create a situation that Rahal couldn’t correct. He had a hard left side impact, pretty much destroying the front left wheel and suspension. He commented after the incident,
“It was about the worst hit you could take around here. I think the car did its job. Obviously, we were going to finish third, at worst, and it looks like a lot of our competitors are struggling today. I’m disappointed in myself. We’ve got to go back and look at what happened. I just lost it before I even really turned in. I don’t really know what happened. It was shaping up pretty good for the United Rentals team so it’s disappointing.”
Three laps into the restart, we had another accident. This yellow flag came out for the spinning car of No. 19 Paysafe Dale Coyne Honda of rookie, Santino Ferrucci. Today was his IndyCar debut and despite not finishing, he’s been an impressive talent this weekend. He outpaced Bourdais and was looking at a solid finish in the top half of the field. Sadly, a punt to the back left end by Carlin Racing’s Charlie Kimball ended the rookie’s day prematurely when he spun down the stretch of track between Turns 6 and 7, narrowly avoiding other competitors, and came to a stop with the nose of his car in the tire barrier of Turn 7. The No. 23 Chevy was assessed a stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact, something that Kimball admitted fault for and explained post-race,
“Honestly, that one was on me, because I expected him to be a little more consistent than he was. With a rookie, I should’ve given him more benefit of a doubt. I feel badly for the team on that front, but the good thing about the Dual in Detroit is that we get to come back and try again tomorrow. We’ll try and qualify a little higher up, so we don’t have to fight quite as hard in the back to get back up front.”
Kimball’s former teammate, Dixon, had a much smoother day, cruising into victory circle for the 42nd time in his career. His 17-season career is in the midst of completing year number 18, and today was the first win of said season. It’s his third time standing on the podium in 2018, all three of them happening in a row – P2 at the IndyCar Grand Prix in Indianapolis, P3 at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, and of course today up on the top step at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear. Dixon only went win-less in 2 seasons – 2002 with CART and 2004 with IndyCar.
This was Dixon’s first win since Road America in 2017. He finds himself second in the championship standings, with Alexander Rossi ahead of him by a mere 4 points. Dixon is fighting for that fifth series championship in his signature humble and ‘dark horse’ method, even though he’s one of the most legendary drivers in the field and let’s be honest, in the history of racing.
Speaking of history, Dixon further solidified his place in the Indy car history book when he tied Michael Andretti for third on the all-time wins list this evening. And in an odd twist of fate, he did so by fending off three of the Andretti Autosport cars – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, and Marco Andretti. Rossi, who made a boss move with his No. 27 Ruoff Honda (kind of becoming his thing) on Andretti in the final restart to earn P3, spoke about Dixon and his continuing accomplishments,
“…We respect him not only as one of the best drivers in IndyCar history but also in the world, and it’s a pleasure to race against him, and any day that you can beat him is a good day. I think he definitely had the upper hand on us today, and he’s been strong all weekend. We’ve got four very good cars that we can go analyze tonight and hopefully draw all the strengths together and come up with a package to beat him.”
Dixon fully embraces the tight competition of the current IndyCar field and fully intends to come into tomorrow battling for win number 43.
“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of influx of rookies, and really damn fast rookies, and it’s good to see for the sport. Some different names coming in, which is good for the future. You know, I feel lucky to race some of the veterans that I have for a while but also some of these guys that have raced in different series throughout the world, and then have come over here to try it, too. Yeah, I have the utmost respect for almost the entire field. The depth of the IndyCar Series right now is like no other.”