Dixon thanks team for superb strategy after “fantastic” win in Detroit

by Jordan Groves

Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon has given thanks to his team after completing a fantastic turnaround to win the second race of last weekend’s NTT IndyCar Series Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader race weekend. Dixon made an uncharacteristic error in Saturday’s race and crashed out into retirement. However, just twenty-four hours later he was on the top step of the podium after having secured his first race win of 2019.

It was perhaps the biggest shock of the entire of Saturday’s race when cameras cut to the damaged #9 Honda of Dixon after the New Zealander had crashed into the tyre barriers. Scott had qualified well inside the top ten and was on course to finish similarly high-up the order.

However, in the mid-stages of the race, Dixon would misjudge the improved grip as the racing conditions improved and the track dried from earlier rain. As a result, he would turn in slightly too much for turn seven and would clip the inside wall with his right-front tyre. The steering arm of Dixon’s car would immediately break upon impact, sending Scott into the wall on the outside of the corner.

The damage from the second impact into the wall would be too much for Dixon to carry on in the race, meaning that he would fail to finish an NTT IndyCar Series race for the first time since the 2017 race at Texas Motor Speedway. Additionally, it would be his first retirement as a result of his own mistake in almost four years.

“It was unfortunate,” a disappointed Dixon would state after Saturday’s race. “I just clipped the inside wall and got into the tire barrier. Driver error. I think we broke the suspension and the upper toe link. The PNC Bank car was really good and we were setting up for a good finish I thought. I’m glad the tyre barrier was there. Whenever you go right toward a wall you never know. But I’m fine and we’ll have to bounce back strong tomorrow.”

Bouncing back was exactly what Dixon would do in Sunday’s race. Scott would qualify in a decent sixth-position for the race and would assume the lead of the race in the mid-stages on an alternate tyre strategy from the race leaders. Whilst Dixon remained towards the front of the order, chaos reigned around him. Previous contenders such as Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden and others would all be involved in incidents that would drop them out of contention for the win.

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

The only hurdles that Dixon had to deal with came towards the end of the race when multiple caution periods would take place after numerous crashes on the track. Dixon was on course for an unpressured run to the finish in the final ten laps of the race when his team-mate, Felix Rosenqvist, would crash at turn one. The race would be red flagged to allow track workers enough time to clear up the track and restart the race, thus setting up a three lap shoot-out for the race win.

Of course, Dixon handled the pressure of the situation with relative ease. He would build up a lead of over a second on the first-lap after going back to green flag running. He would go on to cross the line at the end of the seventieth lap to take the chequered flag and win the race by just under two seconds over second-place finisher Marcus Ericsson.

The win would be Dixon’s first of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series and would come at the same track where he took his first win of the 2018 season, which would end with Dixon being crowned champion. Scott will be hoping that history repeats itself again for the remaining races of this year and that he can use the momentum of his Detroit win to take more victories in the next few races.

Like Josef Newgarden, the winner of the race on Saturday, Dixon would give major credit to his team for giving him a strategy that enabled him to take the victory. He would go on to state that he could not believe that he had won the race given where he had been just twenty-four hours previously after burying his car in the wall.

“Most of it [the race]was just trying to keep track temp or temp in the tyres,” Dixon said on Sunday, “It was such a tricky situation, especially on the blacks [Firestone primary tires]. When they had a few laps on them, it just felt like they picked up the concrete.

“I can’t thank the PNC Bank crew enough. It was a tough day yesterday. I had a pretty good headache and my wrist was pretty sore after that one [yesterday’s crash]. I just drove the wheels off it and they did all the strategy, and the strategy is what nailed it. So I can’t believe we’ve ended up here today and it’s just fantastic. Fantastic.”

As a result of his win on Sunday, Dixon now sits in fourth-place in the standings, fifty-two points off of the championship-leader, Josef Newgarden. This weekend, Dixon will return to a race-track that he has tasted victory at on three occasions during his career; most recently, last year. The 2019 DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway will take place this Saturday, June 8.

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