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Scott Dixon puts in royal rebound effort to win second Detroit race

by racedaysaeditor | Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

Courtesy of the NTT IndyCar Series

DETROIT – On the same day he was bestowed an honor by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Scott Dixon wrote another chapter in his royal Indy car history.

Scott Dixon. Photo by Joe Skibinski

Dixon recovered from a crash and last-place finish on Saturday to win the second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader on Sunday. The victory was the 45th of the five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion’s career and moved Dixon within seven wins of tying Mario Andretti for second on the all-time Indy car list.


Dixon crossed the Raceway at Belle Isle Park finish line 1.9419 seconds ahead of rookie Marcus Ericsson, who posted his first podium finish in his eighth series race. A day after crashing on the 24th lap and finishing 22nd, Dixon led 44 laps – including the last 21 on the 14-turn, 2.35-mile temporary street course – in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

It was Dixon’s first win in 14 races, since the Honda Indy Toronto last season, and his third at Belle Isle to tie Helio Castroneves for most wins on the circuit. Dixon won the first race of the Detroit doubleheader last year and went on to collect his fifth season title.

Scott Dixon. Photo by Chris Owens

“Today was all about redemption,” said Dixon, adding he felt like “an idiot” for crashing by himself in Saturday’s race. “The team nailed the strategy, the car was super-fast. We were able to get the mileage we needed to, which was going to be really tough, with the exception of those last couple cautions.

“I can’t believe we ended up here today and it’s just fantastic. Fantastic.”

A day after the opening race of the weekend was delayed and shortened to a 75-minute time limit, Sunday’s race was run to the full 70-lap distance under blue skies. Despite the ideal conditions, the race saw five full-course cautions for incidents on the tight and bumpy circuit.

Dixon dodged the chaos and waited out a six-minute red-flag stoppage when teammate Felix Rosenqvist crashed in Turn 1 with five laps to go. Dixon easily held off Ericsson on the Lap 67 restart and pulled comfortably away to victory.

Before the race, it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II appointed Dixon the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his services to motorsports. It came as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List recognizing achievements of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom. Dixon’s native New Zealand is part of the British Commonwealth.

“It was definitely a huge honor to get the Companion Merit of Order, which is definitely very prestigious, something you don’t expect,” Dixon said. “For me, I think it’s not like a normal accolade, like a trophy or a race win. It’s something of a very different feeling, so for me it’s definitely been outstanding. Very proud to get that.

“Yeah, a huge day and definitely not one I’m going to forget.”

Ericsson, who joined the NTT IndyCar Series this year after five seasons in Formula One, was pleased with his second-place finish in the No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. The Swede’s best result in his first seven races this season had been seventh place at Barber Motorsports Park in April.

“It was amazing, my first podium since 2013 (in GP2), and you just have to thank the whole team at Arrow SPM,” Ericsson said. “They work so hard all year and we had so much bad luck, and I’ve done mistakes when we’ve been looking really good. So, to finally get a result like this and be on the podium, I think is a great reward for all of the hard work. Now, I think we can build on this.”

Will Power recovered from gearbox damage sustained in a five-car incident on Lap 1 that stalled his car on course on the Lap 5 to finish third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. The two-time Detroit winner and 2014 series champion was astounded with his turnaround in fortune.

“I couldn’t believe it. It was an amazing day,” Power said. 

“I definitely thought we were done. I couldn’t shift and then, obviously, I tried to reset it and then I stalled. But just a great recovery. I haven’t been satisfied with a race since Gateway (a win in August 2018), and this is the first time I’ve been satisfied with a race (since).”

Power’s teammates didn’t fare as well Sunday. Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden were involved in separate incidents in Turn 3 and finished 17th and 19th, respectively.

Pagenaud, winner a week ago of the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, was in the middle of the five-car incident on the first lap. He sustained damage to the No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet that sent it to the paddock for repairs and returned later, but finished 12 laps off the pace.

Newgarden, who won Saturday’s race, started on pole Sunday but came together in Turn 3 with James Hinchcliffe and Alexander Rossi in a battle for position on Lap 33. Sustaining damage to the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet that necessitated repairs, Newgarden wound up 21 laps behind the leaders.

Despite the outcome, Newgarden retained the points lead after eight of 17 races. The 2017 series champion is 15 points up on Rossi, who finished fifth Sunday in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, and 25 points ahead of Pagenaud.

The NTT IndyCar Series returns to action Saturday, June 8 with the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. Live coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

‘What They’re Saying’ from Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear Race 2

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Fitzgerald Team Penske Chevrolet): “(James Hinchcliffe) checked me up and I had to go down a gear and then we were in a bad situation with (Alexander) Rossi behind us. I can’t blame anyone. It’s my fault, it’s ultimately my fault with the way this happened. I thought (Hinchcliffe) didn’t have to come straight across the track and I got held up. It’s still my fault; I should have made a better decision there. Obviously, it’s not the right thing that I did, and that’s on me. I feel bad, and it hurts in the moment. I feel sorry for my guys, sorry for my team, sorry to Chevrolet. We had a good day yesterday and thought we were going to have a good day today. I actually thought we were fine and then I picked up too much marbles on the inside, and (that lane) was too slick and as soon as I tried to turn the rear, I lost the rear. I just picked up too much debris. It’s a mistake. I should have analyzed that a little better, should have gone left (around Hinchcliffe), not right. It’s on me.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “We had a problem with the car from the beginning and we don’t know what it is. We have to go through the data and find out. It’s a shame for the team and myself. Look forward to Texas.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “The Detroit weekend for the No. 5 Arrow car had promising pace, but no result to show for it. Yesterday, we kept our nose clean in the rain, but guys that made mistakes caught a lucky yellow, so that one was tough, as well, with some fast racing. Today, we were legitimately running for the win. The Arrow car was solid. We got two guys in the first round of stops, got into the lead on our strategy in the second round of stops, and ultimately, was taken out by a guy with not enough patience. I feel gutted for the guys who were legitimate contenders for the race. The podium was in the cards and we really needed that right now. We needed a good result to boost us up. The pace is up. One of these days, our luck is going to change and we’ll find ourselves in the top step.” 

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It was amazing, my first podium since 2013 and you just have to thank the whole team at Arrow SPM. They work so hard all year and we had so much bad luck, and I’ve done mistakes when we’ve been looking really good. So, to finally get a result like this and be on the podium, I think is a great reward for all of the hard work. Now, I think we can build on this.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Most of it was just trying to keep track temp, or temp in the tires. 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.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I touched the wall on the exit of (Turn 11) and then I felt something weird in my steering. I was thinking about pitting. I told my guys on the radio that I probably broke the car, and then when I got to the straight before Turn 1, it got worse and when I turned in something broke in the rear and I spun around. Really, really a shame. We had a tough race. We got sandwiched at the start and fell back a bit, but we had a good strategy and the car was really quick. At that point it’s on me. I touched the wall (and) broke the car. It’s really a shame.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I couldn’t believe it. It was an amazing day. I’ve got to thank Chevy and Verizon for giving me a good car. I definitely thought we were done. We were done – I couldn’t shift, and then obviously, I tried to reset it and then I stalled. But just a great recovery. We went fast when we needed to in that sequence to get a bunch of spots. I haven’t been satisfied with a race since Gateway (2018), and this is the first time I’ve been satisfied with a race (since).”     

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Too bad we got caught up in that first lap accident. I had nowhere to go, got collected, hit other people, so onto Texas.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank/United Rentals Honda): “The strategy to start on primary tires played out. The yellow on Lap 15 or 16 kind of hurt those of us who were on that alternate strategy, though. It let the group bunch back up, but starting 22nd, you have to take a flyer (on strategy). We gained 15 positions today and there is no shame in that, we had a great day. I’m awfully proud of these guys and very thankful for the No. 30 car guys that pitched in and made it possible for us to get out there. Everything ran smoothly, so we’re pretty happy with that.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “It’s just a real shame –  the incident with Spencer (Pigot) – because ultimately, the SealMaster Honda No. 18 was in the mix. I think we had the right strategy. We were going to be in contention. The reds (Firestone alternate tires), as expected, fell off and the guys who tried to make it, didn’t. We caught up with them and I don’t know what Spencer was thinking. I had a run on the inside and he tried to make it to the pits from the center lane when I was to his right rear. Then he jumped on the brakes. I’m not sure what I was supposed to do. The Dale Coyne Vasser Sullivan guys did a great job fixing the car and we reset and went again. The car was a little hurt, but we were still pretty quick. It was definitely a tough run coming from the back, but there were a lot of incidents which bought us some positions. So, we’ll take our top-10 finish and move on to Texas.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda): “It ended up being a good thing to start on the prime tire (Firestone blacks). We led the race for a solid stint, but then we got an unlucky caution for us. If not for that we could have stayed up front. Our Cly-Del Manufacturing crew did a great job in pit lane. We also had great fuel mileage with the Honda engine and we were able to bring it home with a top-10 finish and salvage our Detroit weekend.”

ED JONES (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet): “It was a frustrating day. We got caught up in the Turn 3 crash on the first lap. I avoided it as best I could with the front of the car, but I got hit from behind. The contact damaged the rear of the car, which caused me not to have second gear for pretty much the whole race. Considering this track has a lot of slow corners, that really caused problems for us the rest of the day. We did the best we could with that we had at the end there. We had really good pace despite everything else. We will come back stronger for my next race at Road America.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “We went off strategy, but the car was going to be pretty good. Obviously, (Scott) Dixon and I were both struggling a lot on those tires, getting passed left and right. It was very easy for all other drivers to see and it wasn’t going to take much to get by us. Coming out of (Turn) 13, as soon as I could, I got over to the right to signal I was coming into the pit lane. There’s obviously public radio as well that (said) we’re pitting; everyone can hear that. I just felt a massive hit from behind. It caused a lot of damage, and obviously, with the tires in that state, you have to brake a little early coming to pit lane. I don’t know if that’s what caught (Sebastien Bourdais) off or what, but it’s definitely unfortunate.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “A sensor was damaged after the contact, then I couldn’t select the gears, it couldn’t restart. The car wasn’t too badly damaged. But yeah, that was it, had to wait for the car to come back. The guys did a great job fixing it. We got back in the race and we scored six points, which could be important in the end. We had the fastest lap of the race by half a second, so the car was just honestly really, really good. It was a bit of a shame we didn’t get to race because I really think we would have challenged for it today. It could have been a huge day for points, but at the end of the day you also have to remember, I think we got pretty lucky today. Unlucky for Josef (Newgarden), of course, you don’t want to see that happen, but (Alexander) Rossi didn’t score too much, which for the both of us is a good thing.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “Overall, it was kind of a mess. We wanted to get off the reds (Firestone alternate tires) as quickly as we could. The yellow came out of the first lap – we dodged into pit lane, as everyone else did. I went a little long on my marks, which hurt us, and we had an issue getting the fuel probe in. So, we didn’t get any fuel in the car on that first stop and lost about six stops in pit lane. We just had to put our head down and push through that. Our pace was OK. I felt like I could have done a better job, but luckily, we got to pass some cars and stay out of the mayhem. We’re taking home another top 10.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda): “This weekend was more missed opportunities, but at the end of the day, the NAPA team did a really good job and we capitalized on the two guys in front of us having problems. A win continues to elude us here, but we had a fast race car and that’s good enough, I guess.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Somehow toward the end, we picked up a puncture or leak and were losing pressure on the right rear. Then we had to stop for the red flag, and the more you sit still, the quicker it deflates – it really dumped out on that red and was pretty much dead flat after the race. It was amazing we could salvage that. The DHL team fought hard all day, all weekend. It wasn’t the qualifying we hoped for, but I think we salvaged a good weekend all-in-all. It felt good to come home on a flat right rear. Happy with that end, but could have been a bit better, I think.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda): “There were a lot of ups and downs today. We had a difficult qualifying (session) today. We were a second off the pace yesterday and today was 1.2 seconds. Being eighth in our group meant I started 16th, so it was a bummer. We had to experiment with a different concept in terms of setup for the race and we just hoped we would be competitive. Starting the race, I was pretty lucky. There was a huge incident in Turn 3 and I was able to avoid everything, so I went from P16 to ninth immediately, so that was really good. I started from the softer tire which grained heavily so we wanted to change the tire immediately after. All the strategy worked really well, and on the restart I gained another position, and at one stage I moved up to P3. It all looked really positive, but at the end of the day the speed wasn’t there, so the cars coming from in front and behind got us. Eventually we had a lot of hard battles and in the end we damaged the car, got a puncture and had to come in and finished 13th. It’s a shame that we couldn’t have a strong finish again. The team learned a lot and overall his weekend we gapped a little closer to the point leader. Hopefully we have a strong weekend in Texas.”

PATRICIO O’WARD (No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet): “I’m proud of our race today and how strong we were able to come back after such a bad start on the first lap that put us at the back of the field a lap down. We were really close to avoiding that first lap incident, but unfortunately, we just had nowhere to go and got caught up in it. The No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet was hit fairly hard and lost the front wing completely, so once we were restarted, we had to come in for a new front wing. The guys did a great job on that wing change and really on all of their stops all race, the strategy was really solid and we were able to get our lap back, and ultimately, move our way into 11th. We were really hoping to move forward from our starting position of eighth and we definitely had the car to do it, but after the way the race started, I’d say we’re more than happy with 11th.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was a massively eventful, long race with lots of yellows. During the longest stretch without a yellow, I thought we were looking very good. We were doing very good fuel saving with good pace, I thought, well enough for a top-10 finish for the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. Just the way it fell meant we ended up coming back out last on the lead lap and it was just yellow after yellow from there. There just wasn’t a great deal that we could do. We got a lot of things right today, we just didn’t have the pace we needed at the times we needed to overtake.”

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda): “We had really good pace and the car was strong today, but unfortunately, we kept moving back during the race. The No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda guys worked really hard and we didn’t get to show it again, but I’m excited to get back to racing next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.”  

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 AutoNation/Curb Honda): “Today was all good considering. I qualified so bad, and that can just make your race miserable and a bigger challenge right from the start. But the AutoNation crew gave me a car that could pass on track. The car was good – everybody did a great job just to hang in there. We salvaged a decent result.”

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