Dixon does more magic to stay in title hunt
It was Scott Dixon doing things like Scott Dixon on Sunday in the Portland Grand Prix.
Dixon, a six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, put himself in position to claim his record seventh series championship – which would tie AJ Foyt’s career mark – at the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
From 16th start to third place in this race, to third in the standings with one race to go. That’s what Dixon seems to do year after year.
Dixon and trail series leader Josef Newgarden Will Power by 20 points, with Newgarden remaining second thanks to his five wins to Dixon’s two. Power can get his second series title by finishing third or better at Laguna Seca, but as often happens, Dixon is hiding as the tiger he’s been behind for so many seasons.
It’s the 11th time in 21 years that the series veteran driver has made it to the final race with a chance to win the championship. It’s remarkable, especially after overcoming a poor qualifying effort in this one.
“We have to stop having these ‘pluses’ in races,” Dixon said. “It’s just frustrating.
“In qualifying, we don’t know what happened. We were super fast on black (Firestone Firehawk tires), we were second in our session and couldn’t (make it to lap two). So it was tough.
“Starting 16th with the competition we have now and without any real precautions (in this race), we had to come through the peloton today. But we are still in the fight.
Dixon’s signature move on Sunday capitalized on a battle between Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi in Turn 2 after the race’s only restart on lap 88. A few turns later, Dixon had the opportunity to pass Pato O’Ward for third place after O’Ward got caught up in a damaging fight with Power for second. O’Ward blocked Dixon and race control ordered O’Ward to give the position to Dixon.
“This reboot was vintage Scott,” said longtime friend and former teammate Dario Franchitti with a big smile.
Dixon said he knew Newgarden “got deep” and this was his chance to pounce.
“He got the corner with (Rossi) and that allowed us to get both,” he said. “We tried as hard as we could on that last one.”
Now Dixon and his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda are heading to Laguna Seca, a location where Chip Ganassi Racing tested last week with all four cars. He finished third there last year, 10 places ahead of Power and two ahead of Newgarden.
“Anything is possible,” Dixon said. ” We have seen it. We’ve won (championships) in the tiebreaker before.
“We’re in it and we’ll never give up as a team until it’s over. It will be interesting. It’s pretty tight I think between three or four cars, and ultimately if we can be there we’ll try everything we can do.
Title contender nuggets
Remember that moment: In the pit stop trade on lap 48, Power picked up a bonus point for leading a lap in the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, even though he wasn’t the leader.
Scott McLaughlin was leading the #3 Freightliner Team Penske Chevrolet, but his pit was in front of the start/finish line; Power passed McLaughlin and the score line to his pit, then came out of the pits behind McLaughlin. Nonetheless, it was a point to Power’s ledger.
McLaughlin earned the two bonus points for leading the most laps of the race at lap 60. He will head into the final race of the season 41 points off the series lead. He is one of five drivers mathematically eligible to win the title.
“It’s a hit,” he said.
Lundgaard slips at the end of the race
If the sign draped over Christian Lundgaard’s front wing late in Sunday’s race wasn’t bad enough, having to watch David Malukas overtake his car in peril was.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s #30 Lundgaard Mi-Jack Honda picked up the sign after passing Turn 1 on an attempt to pass Andretti Autosport’s Rossi in the #27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda. The sign was placed in the runoff area to deter cutting the corner, and Lundgaard could not avoid it. Then he couldn’t pull it off, a situation made worse by the fact that he had to drive most of the permanent 12-turn, 1.964-mile road course to get it removed.
It was a blow not only to Lundgaard’s chances of a good result – he was running eighth at the time after starting third and scoring as high as second – but also to his chance of winning the rookie award. of the year.
Lundgaard finished 21st, seven positions behind Malukas in Dale Coyne Racing’s #18 Honda HMD with HMD. Lundgaard was the last car in the lead lap.
These two rookies head to the season finale separated by just five points. Lundgaard leads.
Daly’s Burning Shoulder
A wild streak in the pits led to Conor Daly dropping out of the race.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Chevrolet BitNile crew had trouble with refueling, and an abundance of it spilled over the rear half of the car. A fire broke out.
The fire appeared to go out as Daly rolled down pit road, but he wasn’t sure it was without incident.
“I felt like it was in the cockpit,” he said of the fire. “It was a little scary for a while. I said, ‘I think my shoulder is, like, hot.’ But I could see the fire was going out, so I was like, ‘Well, let’s keep going.’ I was hoping science and the wind would take care of the rest.
The fire burned the clutch, making it impossible to continue.
“Usually fire does damage, so that’s what happened,” he said.
- Rinus VeeKay’s contact with Jimmie Johnson at the end of the front line immediately prompted the race’s first warning on lap 84 of 110. The last time an INDYCAR race at Portland went flag to flag without stopping, it was in 2007 when Sébastien Bourdais won.
- Graham Rahal, who finished fifth in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s No. 15 Quartz Engine Oil Honda, said he expects his wife, Courtney, to deliver their second child this week. Rahal’s finish was his second best of the season. He finished fourth in Toronto.
- American Olympian sprinter Fred Kerley, silver medalist at the Tokyo Games in 2021, rode in the back seat of the Ruoff Mortgage Fastest Seat in Sports. The 27-year-old Texan did it well too, shouting “whoo” and “yeah” enthusiastically during the pace lap. Hometown Kerley won the 100 meter world championships this summer in Eugene, Oregon.
- Next weekend’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES action begins Friday with the first practice at 5:30 p.m. ET, with live coverage on Peacock Premium, INDYCAR Live! and the INDYCAR radio network.
- Indy Lights will conclude its season next weekend with a doubleheader at Laguna Seca. Saturday and Sunday races will be on Peacock Premium, INDYCAR Live! and the INDYCAR radio network.