Scott Dixon continues to have what is quite possibly the best season of his career to date after claiming the fourth victory of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season.
The New Zealander had to hold off Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato in the remaining laps of race No. 1 for the Bommarito 500. Sato had closed the gap inside 20 laps to go and made up the difference within 10 to go. At one point, the 2020 Indy 500 winner was on the back bumper of Dixon but Sato could not make the move he needed to pass. Eventually, Dixon held off Sato for his 50th career IndyCar Series victory and won by 0.1414, the second-closest finish at the World Wide Technology Raceway.
“It’s awesome,” Dixon said. “I can’t thank the PNC Bank crew enough. Superb race all day. Sato was going to be strong at the end, but I didn’t realize how strong he was coming. We were kind of going into a reserve mode, looking after the engine, and he was there with a head of steam. Just so happy for this team. Last week at Indianapolis was a bit of a bummer. So, it was nice to get a win. Fifty – that sounds awesome. We’ve got to keep on truckin’ and get a few more. But I can’t thank Honda and HPD enough. I’m proud to be powered by them and what they’ve done, especially this year, is just phenomenal, and how quick their cars have been. This is just awesome.”
With threatening weather in the area, series officials had bumped the race up a few minutes prior to the original command, which was slated for 2:40 p.m. local time. Instead, the green flag flew at 2:35 p.m. local time.
However, the initial green flag didn’t really work out as there was carnage on the first lap. When the green flag flew, several cars piled into the back of each other. The incident was caused by the No. 55 of Alex Palou and the No. 7 of Oliver Askew, who jumped out of line early, and caused a collision. Drivers involved in the wreck were Alexander Rossi, Zach Veach, Simon Pagenaud, Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter, Marco Andretti, Marcus Ericsson, and Pato O’ Ward.
Due to causing the accident, Palou and Askew were penalized for avoidable contact and were sent to the rear for the Lap 13 restart.
Finally, after 12 laps of caution, the green flag flew on Lap 13. Only one driver was able to break away from the field and that was the No. 12 Verizon Chevy of Will Power. Power led through the first round of pit stops before eventually pitting on Lap 62. The first round of green-flag pit stops lasted until Lap 70 when Aarow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward emerged as the new race leader after beating Power out of the pits. O’Ward led second-place Dixon by about 2.5 seconds.
When the green-flag stops were completed, Pagenaud was out of his car on Lap 74 due to early damage from the Lap 1 crash. Unfortunately for Pagenaud, he would be credited with a 19th place finish.
For a while, no driver was a match for the Spaniard, as O’Ward had a steady pace of two seconds over Dixon with the race approaching the halfway point. When the halfway point came, drivers began making more pit stops. However, the second caution of the race flew on Lap 108 for weather in the area. Due to the unfortunate timing, Power, Askew, VeeKay, Harvey, Daly, Hunter-Reay were caught a lap down during the pit stop cycle when the yellow came out.
There was some concern in O’Ward’s pits, as had the race continued to run under the yellow flag, he would run out of fuel while leading the race. Thankfully, the light moisture that prompted the yellow, moved out of the area and allowed the race leaders to pit under the caution flag.
The next restart came on Lap 121 with O’Ward and Dixon making up the front row. O’Ward held Dixon to a gap of 1.2 seconds. As the race went on, Dixon started to cut the gap down to as little as 0.5545 seconds on Lap 150.
The changing moment of the race was during the final cycle of stops at lap 162. This was when race leaders O’Ward and Dixon were on pit road. O’Ward’s pit box was a little further back then Dixon’s, as Dixon had the No. 1 pit box which allowed him to have an easy out. When both team’s pit stops were complete, it was Dixon who beat O’Ward off of pit road.
However, Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato was utilizing a different strategy by staying out and trapping Dixon and O’Ward a lap down so that Sato could at least have a chance of another victory. His plan almost worked out until his final stop on Lap 174, when the pit crew was slow on the left-front, thus causing him to lose valuable time on the racetrack.
Once Sato left the pits, Dixon took the lead and was looking for another checkered flag. But the victory wasn’t all that easy for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver. Sato made a thrilling pass on O’Ward with 21 to go for second-place.
From there, Sato began his chase to win for a second consecutive week. The closest Sato could ever get to Dixon’s back bumper was 0.3333 seconds with just two to go.
Nevertheless, Dixon held off a hard-charging Sato to continue his dominant 2020 season and achieving his first career win at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. O’Ward, Herta, and Ericsson rounded out the top five in the running order.
By scoring 50 wins, Dixon is now third on the All-Time IndyCar wins list. He also increased his championship points lead by 117 points over second-place Josef Newgarden.
There were two cautions for 25 laps and six lead changes among seven different leaders.
Official Results following Race No. 1 at the World Wide Technology Raceway from Gateway.
- Scott Dixon, led 28 laps
- Takuma Sato, led 14 laps
- Pato O’Ward, led 94 laps
- Colton Herta
- Marcus Ericsson
- Rinus VeeKay
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Felix Rosenqvist, led one lap
- Tony Kanaan
- Conor Daly
- Jack Harvey
- Josef Newgarden
- Charlie Kimball
- Oliver Askew
- Alex Palou
- Santino Ferrccui
- Will Power, 2 laps down, led 61 laps
- Graham Rahal, OUT, Mechanical
- Simon Pagenaud, OUT, Contact
- Ed Carpenter, OUT, Contact
- Zach Veach, OUT, Contact
- Alexander Rossi, OUT, Contact
- Marco Andretti, OUT, Contact
Up Next: The NTT IndyCar Series will remain at Gateway as part of the double header weekend with race No. 2 scheduled for 2:45 p.m./local time on Sunday afternoon live on NBCSN. Takuma Sato earned the pole position earlier today on lap 2 of qualifying, which set the lineup for Sunday’s race. Saturday race winner Scott Dixon, will start six.