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Dixon frustrated by IndyCar race control calls as title bid comes up short

Scott Dixon’s third place at Portland confirmed his title defeat to Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Alex Palou, as he lamented calls by race control that lost him a place.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Palou's Portland win provided Ganassi with its 15th IndyCar title – Palou’s second since joining the team in 2021 – and with a race to spare. Meanwhile, Dixon secured second in the overall standings with his fifth podium of the 2023 season.

“Congrats to Chip on his 15th championship and Alex's second,” Dixon said. “They had a fantastic race [yesterday].”

The 43-year-old New Zealander started fourth, led 15 laps and appeared to be the only runner on pace and strategy to be able to mount a challenge to Palou. Dixon double-stinted on the harder primary, black sidewall tyres, which spanned the opening 60 of the 110-lap race.

Palou’s second stint was on the softer alternate, red label rubber, which allowed Dixon to close by the end of the sequence. The two swapped compounds on their respective next stop, favouring the Spaniard to slightly pull a gap to Dixon.

That gap built up to 8s after Palou pitted on lap 79 and Dixon followed two laps later. During this time, though, Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist was at the front of the field when rookie Agustin Canapino spun off and was stalled at Turn 11 with 27 laps to go.

The Juncos Hollinger Racing driver remained sidelined just off course, but the race remained green for several seconds after until Rosenqvist made his pitstop on lap 84. Then, the full-course caution came out, slowing the field and allowing Rosenqvist to return sandwiched between Palou and Dixon.

At the time, Dixon ranted over the radio: “Can't ****ing do that man. That is so ****.”

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Despite his best efforts, Dixon was not able to fight to the finish after the restart on lap 88, coasting to the 136th podium of his IndyCar career.

“It was a little bit frustrating with some of the traffic and some of the pit sequences that we were in and kind of lost some time during those crossovers, but it is what it is,” Dixon said.

“Everybody probably fought with it for most of the race, and then race control kind of messed with the finish of the race a little bit. I don't know why they keep doing it, but I guess that's the way we race under those conditions now.

“Huge weekend for the team and it's kind of cool. I can't really change anything in the championship. I shouldn't say cool, but relaxing I guess going into the last one. I can only be second, so maybe go on vacation.”

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Dixon went on share his viewpoint on why race control’s decision to hold the yellow flag until all cars have cycled around with a pitstop is a significant problem.

“I think it was the #78 spun off probably in the most dangerous part of the track in Turn 11, and then they just let him sit there until the leaders pit,” Dixon said.

“The issue there is that as soon as the leaders pit, they make it to pitlane, they go caution, so the leaders don't have to eat the out-lap, which can be several seconds.

“It's just they feel like they're probably helping people, but they're making it worse in a lot of scenarios, but I'm happy that it helped Felix. He is a good friend and a guy I like a lot. If it was somebody else, I would have been a little more pissed off.”

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