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IndyCar Laguna Seca

How Dixon shrugged off “heated moments” for IndyCar finale victory

Six-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon admitted he got “pretty pissed off at times” before scoring his third win of 2023 in the Laguna Seca finale.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

A seventh IndyCar title eluded him for the third consecutive season, but Dixon’s charge to close out the runner-up spot with three wins in the final four rounds shows he remains a force to be reckoned with.

There were question marks going into August if the 43-year-old Kiwi would endure an ultra-rare win-less 2023, something that hadn’t happened since 2004. Then, he rattled off a remarkable run of victories to finish second in the championship Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Alex Palou.

Dixon’s performance to close out the year means he has scored three wins or more on nine occasions dating back to 2003. And growing his win total to 56 has him inching closer to the legendary AJ Foyt, who has the most all-time wins with 67.

Dixon's performance in last Sunday’s Grand Prix of Monterey began with an engine change following an issue in morning warm-up, which dropped him from his starting position of fifth to 11th. Then on the opening lap, he was caught among the carnage in Turn 2 which led to Race Control giving him a drive-through penalty.

Turn 2 chaos on opening lap at Laguna Seca

Turn 2 chaos on opening lap at Laguna Seca

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

All this did was enrage him as the radio chatter was filled with expletives, followed by a furious charge that was executed by three well-timed pit stops that propelled him to the lead by lap 76.

He was untouchable the rest of the way and led the final 20 laps around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course to win by 7.3180s over Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin.

“All in all, great day,” Dixon said. “It's nice to rebound like we did. Definitely some heated moments throughout the race.

“Pretty pissed off at times. It's always nice to finish the year like that.”

With two of the wins coming after incidents on the first lap, the other being at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Road Course last month, Dixon could only smile and also mention this one, like his victory at the 1.25-mile oval in St. Louis, also included an engine change.

“We're two for two on that,” Dixon said. “We know the sweet spot now. We'll keep doing it.”

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Chip Ganassi, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Chip Ganassi, Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

Overall, Laguna Seca offered up a near-perfect weekend for the team with Dixon winning, Palou finishing third and officially hoisting the Astor Challenge Cup, along with Marcus Armstrong, who ended up eighth, being awarded Rookie of the Year despite running a partial season.

“It means a lot,” Dixon said. “I think the year that everybody had, even with Marcus [Ericsson] collecting on the first race of the year, to come out and win.

“I think we definitely hoped, but having a 1-2-3 in the championship was going to be difficult. …  It's a good year. We've had years like this. It's been a long time ago.

“I don't think I've ever been part of a situation where you come into the last race and you can't fight really much for anything in the championship. We were locked into second. Alex was locked obviously for the championship, which was quite bizarre.

“Everybody's stress level was a lot lower. You could all just kind of fight for the win. I think that played out for a lot of people to watch. Everybody was just going for a win because everybody was trying a bit of everything throughout the day.

“Huge, huge year for the team.”

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