Chip Ganassi Racing driver, Scott Dixon, has said how proud he is of all of his crew after they gave him the tools he needed to take his first win of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series last Saturday.
The win came in the first race of the Chevrolet Duel in Detroit, with the New-Zealander sealing the forty-second win of his career in the race before following it up with a strong fifth-place finish in the second race on Sunday.
After a strong day of practice, Dixon entered the first of two days of racing hoping to take a pair of strong results. He finished second in both of the Friday practices and then followed that up by qualifying second for race one. He was delighted with his grid position, but naturally, he was hoping to go one better in the race.
For the first of the two seventy lap races, Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing put in a clinical performance. Scott spent the first stint of the race running behind the pole-sitter, Marco Andretti. He looked to have the pace to take over the lead, but he could not quite get close enough to make the move.
During the first round of pit-stops, the team saw an opportunity to get Dixon back out on the track ahead of Andretti, who had pitted shortly beforehand. Dixon put in a great in-lap on his way to the pit-lane, with the team then doing a superb job to service his car one second faster than Andretti’s crew. He emerged with the lead over Andretti, a lead that he would not give up for the remainder of the race.
A late caution bunched up the field, but no one was able to get by Scott. He would cross the line to take the victory by just under two seconds over second-placed Ryan Hunter-Reay. It was Dixon’s first win of the year and the forty-second of his career; putting him in a tie for third on the all-time wins list with Michael Andretti. It was also a great day for his sponsor’s, PNC Bank, as it was their first win as a primary sponsor.
After the race, Dixon praised his crew for their fantastic efforts and also went to state that he thought that the overall competitiveness of the series was as high as it has ever been.
“It’s always nice [to win],” Dixon said, “I think right now, with the competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it’s just through the roof. If you look back a few years, you can sort of run off five or six victories in a season, and it seems those days are pretty much gone.
“I’m super proud of everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing, and obviously PNC Bank’s first victory. Finishing third in Indy is nice, but really people only care about who wins at that place, so it’s always tough leaving Indianapolis unless you’ve won. But it’s always nice to rebound strong in Detroit.”
Dixon would go on to give his thanks to his manufacturer, Honda. The Detroit Grand Prix is big event for their rivals, Chevrolet, who is based in the city. Honda outperformed Chevrolet for much of the weekend, with their smoother power application proving to be a great help for Honda over the bumps of the tricky street circuit.
“Honda has done a superb job,” Dixon added, “Top six for them here in the Motor City is a pretty big deal and congratulations to them. We’re going to come back and do it all again tomorrow. Would have been nice to celebrate a bit tonight.”
As Scott eluded to, their work was not done on Saturday. They entered the second race of the weekend on Sunday hoping for a possible replication of their win, but sadly the pace was not quite there. Scott qualified in fifth place and stayed there for much of race two, picking up fourth place late in the day when Alexander Rossi lost his potential win after two lock-ups and an unscheduled pit-stop due to a puncture. Dixon’s team-mate, Ed Jones, who had qualified just ahead of him, finished the race in third place.
Nevertheless, Dixon was happy with the result. His weekend had seen him finish first and fourth, earning him valuable championship points as the season approaches the halfway point. He now sits second in the standings, five points away from Will Power at the top of the table.
“That was a job well done there by the whole PNC Bank team,” Dixon said after race two, “I’m just not sure what happened to the red [Firestone alternate] tires there as they just really fell off and went away on us. We didn’t really change anything on the car from yesterday other than a few little things to stabilize the rear end.
“It was a good day overall for us and we got some good points.”
The next race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series takes place this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The 2018 DXC Technology 600 will be run in the evening on Saturday, June 9. Dixon will return to the track as a two-time winner of the event.