Scott Dixon made work of a three tire stop and took home the checkered flag in the GMR Grand Prix on the fourth of July weekend at Indianapolis. Though, the New Zealander wasn’t the most dominating car until midway.
“We kind of got a little bit lucky, but it also played into our strategy,” Dixon said about the victory. “You know, we started pretty aggressively, all three Chip Ganassi Racing cars on the black tire which was definitely pretty tough. We were able to pick up one spot on the stop and be able to maintain, and that kind of set us into a three stopper (race) and that’s when our window was to pit. Three or four laps later, the yellow came out and we put one set on. A little bit of luck there, but honestly, it was just the strategy we were on and hung out the leaders for sure.”
Team Penske’s Will Power qualified on the pole Friday afternoon, in what was his third overall pole at the Indianapolis Road Course, his first since 2018.
Power was dominant early by leading the first 17 laps until his first pit stop. Various drivers also played strategy and tried to make it a two stop race by staying out longer. Those trying different strategy were Graham Rahal, Spencer Pigot, Conor Daly, and Santino Ferrucci who didn’t pit until lap 26. At that point, Power who came out seventh on his pit stop, cycled back out into the lead on lap 27.
In the early stages, the GMR Grand Prix was mainly a caution free event, leaving very little room for error amongst the drivers. However, the first caution flew on lap 36, when the rookie Oliver Askew pounded the outside wall off Turn 14 which prompted a full course yellow. Under the yellow, numerous drivers pitted as the yellow threw somewhat of a curve ball to the strategy. Almost everyone except for Rahal pitted and by doing so, Rahal re-started as the race leader on the lap 40 restart.
Alexander Rossi, in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport machine, had troubles getting going on the insuring restart. There were reports from Rossi, that a ‘misfire’ was the potential issue, which caused his car to stall. The California native brought the car down to pit road for his team to diagnosed the problem. Rossi later said, ‘he lost power’ in his No. 27 Honda. With the power issue, Rossi was regulated to a 25th place finish in the running order.
Meanwhile, as Rossi sat on pit road, Rahal extended his lead over Pigot by a second on lap 45. But, Dixon rose to the occasion on lap 48, when he passed Rahal for the lead and checked out by eight seconds over Rahal. While passing Rahal for the lead, Dixon also set the fastest lap time of the race (1:11.751). As soon as Dixon passed Rahal, however, Rahal made his final pit stop of the race with 26 to go for four fresh tires and fuel. A lap later, Dixon came down for his final stop.
During the final pit stop cycle, pole sitter Will Power’s car stalled once the stop was completed. The Australian lost several seconds on pit road, as the team was trying to get the car to fire again. Once Power left the pit lane, he was back in the race, running in the 23rd position.
As Dixon pitted, he was 10th in the running order, and had to be patient and manage his pace to not make a mistake. Once the top nine made their final scheduled stop, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, was back in the lead with 18 laps to go. In those final 18 laps, there were a couple of nervous moments for Dixon. One of those moments was Rahal, who had plenty of push to pass seconds left in which had he caught Dixon, he could have passed him for the lead. Though, Rahal was too far back, as Dixon had well over a 15 second lead. Another intense moment came, when Zach Veach went off the track and could have caused a caution had he hit the wall. Fortunately for Dixon, Veach saved his car from any contact with the wall. And finally, with around six laps to go, teams began bringing rain tires as they were monitoring a isolated storm, just six miles northwest of the speedway.
Despite the concern of rain, the rain cell never made it and no one was a match for Dixon as he went on to take his second consecutive victory of the 2020 NTT IndyCar season.
Dixon led twice for 26 laps en route to his 48th career IndyCar Series win. The victory gives Chip Ganassi his 110th IndyCar victory as a team owner.
There was one caution for four laps and there were eight leaders among 10 lead changes.
- Scott Dixon, 26 laps
- Graham Rahal, led 18 laps
- Simon Pagenaud
- Colton Herta
- Rinus VeeKay
- Marcus Ericsson, led 1 lap
- Josef Newgarden, led 4 laps
- Pato O’ Ward
- Santino Ferrucci
- Takuma Sato
- James Hinchcliffe
- Conor Daly
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Zach Veach, led 1 lap
- Felix Rosenqvist
- Max Chilton
- Jack Harvey, led 1 lap
- Charlie Kimball
- Alex Palou
- Will Power, led 28 laps
- Dalton Kellett, 1 lap down
- Marco Andretti, 1 lap down
- Sage Karam, 1 lap down
- Spencer Pigot, Mechanical
- Alexander Rossi, Mechanical
- Oliver Askew, Contact
Up Next: The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Road America for a double header weekend, which is scheduled to take place on July 11 and July 12.