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Dixon Emerges from Chaos To Win on Streets of Detroit

DETROIT (Sunday, June 2, 2024) – Yet again, Scott Dixon created clarity from chaos to win an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race.

Dixon provided another master class in devising tactics on the fly with strategist Mike Hull and saving fuel in his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, prevailing in a caution-strewn Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear on Sunday on the streets of Detroit.

Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Dixon beat fellow Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson by .8567 of a second in Ericsson’s best result of the season in the No. 28 Delaware Life Honda fielded by Andretti Global. Marcus Armstrong finished third in the No. 11 Root Insurance Chip Ganassi Racing Honda for his first career podium finish.

“The team called it perfectly,” Dixon said. “We were on the right strategy. We won, man. How cool is that?

“It’s just always the variables. Trying to stay out of trouble, trying to keep your car on track. We had rain. It was all over the shop out there. You had no idea how the transitions were going to fall or even the strategy. So stoked for everyone on the team. That was cool.”

Dixon took the championship lead by 18 points from teammate Alex Palou with his second victory of the season, joining his win in April at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Dixon earned his 58th career victory, pulling him within nine wins of tying A.J. Foyt’s record of 67 career wins.

“For sure; I think it always is,” Dixon said when asked if he’s focusing on tying Foyt’s record of seven series championships. “Until you’re out of it, you’re going to keep chasing it. It’s a team effort.”

Kyle Kirkwood finished a season-best fourth in the No. 28 AutoNation Honda fielded by Andretti Global, while Alexander Rossi continued his strong recent form by rounding out the top five in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Rossi has finished eighth or better in his last three starts.

Dixon and Hull once again made magic, electing to make their final pit stop under caution at the end of Lap 56 and hope enough yellow flags continued to fly to stretch fuel until the finish at Lap 100. The strategy worked to perfection, as there were two more caution periods after Dixon’s last stop to let him save just enough Shell 100% Renewable Race Fuel to reach the finish while parrying the charging Ericsson.

We’ve seen this movie before in Dixon’s legendary career – many times and recently.

Dixon pulled off an improbable fuel save to win in April at Long Beach and did the same last August at World Wide Technology Raceway, making one fewer stop than any other driver to win. That oval victory came one race after Dixon won on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course despite being punted into the grass and falling to the back of the field in Turn 1, using Hull’s strategy to get to the front and his trained right foot to stay there despite dwindling fuel.

Today in downtown Detroit, it appeared Dixon might cruise to Victory Lane until the last 13 laps of the race on the nine-turn, 1.645-mile temporary street circuit. Then Ericsson passed Kirkwood for third place and then set his sights on Armstrong while lapping nearly a second quicker per circuit than the fuel-sipping Dixon.

Meanwhile, Dixon was dealing with the turbulence and slower pace of the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda of NTT P1 Award winner Colton Herta, directly ahead of him on the tail end of the lead lap. Just 1.6 seconds separated the top three on Lap 94.

Dixon finally got under Herta on Lap 95 for clean track and air. Ericsson had taken a look under Armstrong a few times but couldn’t complete that pass for second until Lap 99, falling 2.1 seconds behind Dixon at the white flag.

Still, Ericsson made the most of his final lap, cutting Dixon’s margin more than in half. Still, it wasn’t enough to catch “The Iceman” although Ericsson was thrilled to rebound from the Indianapolis 500, in which he was eliminated on Lap 1 after being caught in Tom Blomqvist’s spin.

“After the Month of May we had, it was really, really tough mentally,” Ericsson said. “I’m new in this team. I want to show myself as a top driver, as they hired me as. It was really important.

“We had so much pace. One more lap, and we might have been able to get that win. But great day.”

The first three-quarters of the race were pure chaos, with all eight caution periods and 47 caution laps in the first 73 laps. The longest stretch of green-flag racing during that span was 13 laps, making strategists’ heads spin on the pit wall as they mulled options on the fly while on the radio with drivers.

Add in a rapid change in tire strategy in the first 15 laps when the prevailing wisdom of the Firestone Firehawk alternate tire being the quicker rubber was proven wrong when Palou, who started on used alternates, lost grip far earlier than expected and to pit at the end of Lap 11.

Then toss the arrival of a passing rain shower on Lap 34, which caused strategists and pit crews to scramble up and down pit road as drivers and teams decided whether to pit for rain tires or stay out and gamble that the rain – which didn’t even appear on team radar screens – would leave the area quickly.

Dixon, Ericsson and Kirkwood were among the eight drivers in the 27-car field who never stopped for rain tires. That helped move them higher in the running order and get into position to earn top-five finishes, as their dice roll worked when the light shower left the area in a hurry.

That trio only made two stops the entire race. Dixon took the lead for the first time and for good on Lap 66 when 2023 Detroit winner Palou made the last of his five stops in the No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Two-time and reigning series champion Palou finished 16th, snapping his streak of 23 consecutive finishes in the top eight in points-paying events.

The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES event is next Sunday, June 9, with the XPEL Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Live coverage starts at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race Results

DETROIT – Results Sunday of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 1.645-mile streets of Detroit circuit, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

  1. (5) Scott Dixon, Honda, 100, Running
  2. (9) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 100, Running
  3. (19) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 100, Running
  4. (6) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 100, Running
  5. (16) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 100, Running
  6. (8) Will Power, Chevrolet, 100, Running
  7. (12) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 100, Running
  8. (22) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 100, Running
  9. (10) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 100, Running
  10. (7) Theo Pourchaire, Chevrolet, 100, Running
  11. (11) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 100, Running
  12. (17) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 100, Running
  13. (15) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 100, Running
  14. (18) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 100, Running
  15. (20) Graham Rahal, Honda, 100, Running
  16. (2) Alex Palou, Honda, 100, Running
  17. (26) Jack Harvey, Honda, 100, Running
  18. (24) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 99, Running
  19. (1) Colton Herta, Honda, 99, Running
  20. (4) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 99, Running
  21. (23) Sting Ray Robb, Chevrolet, 99, Running
  22. (21) Linus Lundqvist, Honda, 99, Running
  23. (14) Romain Grosjean, Chevrolet, 97, Running
  24. (27) Kyffin Simpson, Honda, 96, Running
  25. (25) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 95, Running
  26. (3) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 94, Running
  27. (13) Christian Rasmussen, Chevrolet, 23, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 78.251 mph
Time of Race: 02:06:07.9684
Margin of victory: 0.8567 of a second
Cautions: 8 for 47 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 6 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Herta, Colton 1 – 33
Newgarden, Josef 34
Lundgaard, Christian 35 – 40
Kirkwood, Kyle 41 – 64
Palou, Alex 65
Dixon, Scott 66 – 100

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Point Standings:
Dixon 216, Palou 198, Power 185, O’Ward 160, Rossi 150, Kirkwood 148, Herta 147, McLaughlin 141, Rosenqvist 140, Newgarden 128, Lundgaard 122, Ferrucci 117, Armstrong 116, Ericsson 108, VeeKay 103, Rahal 101, Grosjean 86, Lundqvist 81, Simpson 76, Canapino 74, Fittipaldi 67, Harvey 60, Pourchaire 58, Rasmussen 55, Robb 46, Tom Blomqvist 46, Callum Ilott 39, Conor Daly 21, Kyle Larson 21, Takuma Sato 19, Castroneves 15, Ed Carpenter 14, Luca Ghiotto 14, Vautier 12, Nolan Siegel 10, Colin Braun 10, Ryan Hunter-Reay 6, Marco Andretti 5, Katherine Legge 5

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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