Mid-Ohio IndyCar: Ganassi's Scott Dixon comes from last to victory
|By Mark Glendenning||Sunday, August 3rd 2014, 22:24 GMT|
Scott Dixon came from last on the grid to take an extraordinary IndyCar win at Mid-Ohio on Sunday.
The Ganassi driver was one of several to be put to the back of the grid after spinning and causing red flags during Saturday's wet qualifying session, but an aggressive strategy and great fuel mileage combined to deliver Dixon his first win since Houston last year.
It was his fifth win at Mid-Ohio in eight years, and also Ganassi's first IndyCar triumph of 2014.
Dixon capitalised on an early caution to stop on the second lap, and he stopped again just seven laps later to rid himself of the harder black tyres. That left him with three sets of new red tyres for the remainder of the race, and he used them to full effect.
With each stop he fell progressively more in line with the conventional pit strategy, although he was still carrying around two laps less fuel than the cars behind him as the race entered its final phase, and it seemed to be touch and go as to whether he could go the full distance on fuel.
Dixon wasn't being conservative - in the closing laps, he was 0.4 seconds faster than the cars behind him - and the true picture of just how close it was didn't emerge until he pulled the car to the side of the track just after taking the chequered flag.
Polesitter Sebastien Bourdais was forced to settle for second. The Frenchman spent much of the race scrapping with Josef Newgarden, but the Sarah Fisher Hartman driver's hopes were scrapped by a slow pitstop followed by a drive-through for running over his air hose.
His misfortune allowed James Hinchcliffe to claim the final step on the podium ahead of Carlos Munoz and Graham Rahal.
It took just one lap for IndyCar's two-year caution-free streak at Mid-Ohio to be broken. Tony Kanaan was turned around by another car, and Marco Andretti had no opportunity to avoid him. The ensuing crash ended both drivers' participation in the race, and cost several other drivers positions as they took to the grass to avoid becoming involved.
That would prove to be the only major incident of the afternoon, but a handful of more minor ones could prove to have a significant impact on the championship battle.
The first came when Helio Castroneves, who headed the points coming into the weekend, suffered a mechanical problem during the parade laps and lost five laps undergoing repairs.
Initially, things were looking better for Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was among the frontrunners during the opening half of the race. His day took a turn when his haste to beat Bourdais out of pitlane earned him a drive-through for speeding, which he followed almost immediately by spinning while running ninth.
Both drivers' setbacks proved a boon for Will Power, who finished a relatively quiet sixth but still heads into the next race at Milwaukee as the new points leader.
Results - 90 laps: Pos Driver Team/Engine Time/Gap 1. Scott Dixon Ganassi/Chevrolet 1h52m45.2043s 2. Sebastien Bourdais KV/Chevrolet +5.3864s 3. James Hinchcliffe Andretti/Honda +7.3335s 4. Carlos Munoz Andretti/Honda +9.3551s 5. Graham Rahal Rahal/Honda +11.8508s 6. Will Power Penske/Chevrolet +15.9769s 7. Charlie Kimball Ganassi/Chevrolet +16.8533s 8. Ryan Briscoe Ganassi/Chevrolet +17.502 s 9. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt/Honda +18.6160s 10. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti/Honda +20.0766s 11. Juan Pablo Montoya Penske/Chevrolet +21.7366s 12. Josef Newgarden Fisher/Honda +22.0987s 13. Mike Conway Carpenter/Chevrolet +23.8352s 14. Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt/Honda +29.806 s 15. Justin Wilson Coyne/Honda +44.6415s 16. Jack Hawksworth Herta/Honda +58.7211s 17. Carlos Huertas Coyne/Honda +1m02.5847s 18. Takuma Sato Foyt/Honda -1 lap 19. Helio Castroneves Penske/Chevrolet -4 laps Retirements: Sebastian Saavedra KV/Chevrolet 24 laps Tony Kanaan Ganassi/Chevrolet 0 laps Marco Andretti Andretti/Honda 0 laps