NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Scott Dixon notched another monumental achievement in IndyCar lore on Sunday taking his 53rd career win after a dismal performance in qualifying the day before.
Dixon started 14th and appeared not to be a factor for the win, but in pure Scott Dixon fashion, he found a way to get on the right strategy and cautions fell his way for him to move his way up and take the checkered flag in the Music City Grand Prix.
“It was a wild day,” Dixon said. “We had a good start. I thought things were going well, and then we came in for the first stop, and the air jacks failed or the hose failed. We went all the way to the back and got into the chaos.”
During the race, Dixon pitted off sequence to check on some suspension damage. The left rear tire changer had a tough time getting the tire on and off all day long because of it.
Scott McLaughlin was the pole sitter and led 22 of the race’s 80 laps around the streets of Nashville. An early caution would force both Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta to go a lap down, however, both would be factors late in the race.
By Lap 23 the third caution was already apparent with championship contender Pato O’Ward having to retire with no drive in his Arrow McLaren SP car.
The lead would eventually cycle to Josef Newgarden who pitted on Lap 38 and would be bailed out by a Devlin DeFrancesco caution allowing him to move to the front, that same caution also allowed both Rossi and Herta to get back on the lead lap. Rossi would go on to finish 4th, Herta 5th.
“Really didn’t think that we were going to be that good after getting taken out going a lap down, but the damage on the right front wasn’t terrible to the wishbones, and so it was still drivable,” Herta said. The guys in the pit did an amazing job getting me probably six spots today on two stops so, they were pretty stellar.”
Still, Newgarden was off-cycle and tried his best to make his tires and fuel last out front, even with a few more cautions helping him. But, he had to surrender the lead and pit for new tires and fuel giving the lead to Alex Palou.
Palou and McLaughlin would battle for the lead with Dixon stalking.
After the final round of pit stops, Dixon took fuel only, no tires, and found himself upfront in a battle for the lead with Will Power, who benefited from a late caution brought out by Jimmie Johnson. But he fell quickly off the pace and Dixon inherited the lead.
The race would come down to a de facto “green, white, checker” finish with the final caution coming out with four laps left forcing a red flag to try and get a green flag finish. Josef Newgarden and Romain Grosjean go into each other with Grosjean coming out on the losing end. Newgarden would end up 6th.
On the restart, Dixon held off McLaughlin for a 1-2 Kiwi finish. Alex Palou was third.
“The car was bent and broken, but for us I think strategy-wise to take no tires on that last stop was probably the key,” Dixon said. “We were able to jump a couple and have enough fuel to get towards the end, and to the end.”
With his 53rd career win, his second this season, Dixon is now in sole possession of second place in the championship standings after having come into the day fourth. He also surpassed Mario Andretti (52) for second all-time in career IndyCar wins.
Despite his 11th place finish, Will Power remains the championship leader heading into the series’ next race at Gateway in two weeks. Dixon is 6-point back from Power. Earlier leader Marcus Ericsson has dropped to third 12-points back and Josef Newgarden is keeping pace 34-points back in fourth.