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IndyCar Indy RC: Dixon spins and wins by 0.4s over Rahal

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won the IndyCar Series race at the Indianapolis Road Course on Saturday, recovering from an opening lap spin to beat all the regular strategy runners.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Dixon won by less than half a second from Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward.

Title contenders Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) endured a wild first lap in which both made contact with Marcus Armstrong, with Newgarden losing a lap as Palou escaped relatively unscathed and finished in the top six.

Poleman Rahal led the 27-car field to the rolling start, leading team-mate Christian Lundgaard from the front row, but Andretti Autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco made an unbelievable lunge around the outside from fifth on the grid to snatch the lead.

Chaos then unfolded further around the track, as the cars fanned out four-wide on the approach to Turn 7. Palou backed out but, at the apex, team-mate Armstrong turned across his bows and they made contact, with the third Ganassi car of Dixon getting spun around as he got into the back of Palou and was hit from behind by Romain Grosjean (Andretti).

Armstrong also spun and was stranded across the track, where he was collected by first Grosjean and then Newgarden, who bounced up on top of Armstrong’s nose and got stuck.

From 25th on the grid, after he qualified 19th and took a six-place grid penalty for an engine change, Newgarden lost a lap getting restarted and returned to pits with no nose section.

Dixon pitted under yellow on lap five, but all was not lost as his poor qualifying would pay back in the race as he had extra sets of unused alternate tyres to enjoy throughout his burn from the stern.

At the restart on lap 8, DeFrancesco led Rahal, O’Ward, Lundgaard, the McLarens of Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist and Scott McLaughlin (Penske). Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti) was eighth, despite a scare getting started off the dummy grid, ahead of Palou.

Rossi passed Lundgaard for fourth at Turn 1 straight after the restart, while Rahal left it a lap longer to pass DeFrancesco for the lead. Making good use of his alternate tyres, Rossi mirrored his earlier move on team-mate O’Ward on lap 9 and then passed DeFrancesco for second.

O’Ward overtook DeFrancesco at Turn 1 on lap 11 to head the primary starters in third, with Lundgaard also moving past DeFrancesco on the same tour at Turn 7, and Rosenqvist demoting him further a lap later.

Lundgaard passed O’Ward for third, while Palou stumbled over getting around DeFrancesco, the two banging wheels and allowing Kirkwood to slip past him for eighth. Kirkwood then dived into pitlane for an early first stop on lap 15, ditching his primaries for the preferable alternates. O’Ward stopped from fourth a couple of laps later to do likewise.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Rahal led Rossi at one quarter distance by 1.2s, with Lundgaard 3s further back. Palou was up to fourth, with the fourth Ganassi entry, Marcus Ericsson, now up to fifth from 17th on the grid.

Rossi pitted from second on lap 21, switching to fresh primaries, with Rahal running three laps longer and switched to scrubbed primaries. He rejoined right in front of Rossi and managed to keep him at bay.

Lundgaard led until he pitted on lap 26, going for more alternates, and he rejoined third just behind Rossi. After a lap behind him, he took full use of his tyre compound advantage and overtook Rossi at Turn 1.

Lundgaard closed to within 1s of Rahal by the halfway point, while Palou pitted from third, just rejoining behind Rossi, who was now back on alternates.

Rahal pitted again on lap 48, forced to switch to used primaries as he’d lost his Q3 alternates due to locking up on them. Lundgaard stayed out on his alternates, now with clean air to attempt to overcut his team-mate.

Rahal countered by using his push-to-pass at this critical phase, and retained his advantage when Lundgaard pitted two laps later for used primaries. But Lundgaard suffered a slow stop due to an issue getting the refuelling hose connected, losing 3s to Rahal, and O’Ward jumped ahead of him to grab second.

Despite a big slide at Turn 12, Rahal pulled out a 5s lead over O’Ward, who was holding Lundgaard at bay, with Rossi a further second back, ahead of Palou. In the final stops, O’Ward rejoined just in front of Lundgaard and Rossi.

Rahal pitted for the final time with 23 laps to go, taking used alternates for the final stint. Having beaten everyone in his fight, it was Dixon’s completely alternate strategy that would pay off.

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Dixon, who broke the all-time record for consecutive IndyCar starts with his 319th that separates him from Tony Kanaan, routinely led laps during the pit cycles as he worked his way back towards the front. Having benefitted from the extra sets of alternates that he didn’t get to use in qualifying, as the final pitstop sequence unravelled, Dixon led by almost 5s.

His only concern was the fact he’d stopped four laps before Rahal, who emptied his push-to-pass allocation to catch him. With 10 laps to go, the gap was just over 3s.

Dixon lost time lapping Ryan Hunter-Reay (Ed Carpenter Racing), with the gap closing to under 2s, but Rahal got similarly balked. With five laps to go, the gap was down to 1.2s, as Dixon caught DeFrancesco to lap him, who jumped out of their way.

Rahal was right on his tail with two laps to go, but just couldn’t fashion an opening and Dixon held on to win by 0.4779s.

O’Ward finished a distant third, ahead of Lundgaard, Rossi, Palou, Will Power (Penske), McLaughlin, Kirkwood and Rinus VeeKay (ECR).

IndyCar Indianapolis Road Course - race results

Cla Driver  Car / Engine   Laps   Time   Delay 
9 Scott Dixon Dallara/Honda 85 1:51'24.7579  
15 Graham Rahal Dallara/Honda 85 1:51'25.2358 0.4779
5 Patricio O'Ward Dallara/Chevrolet 85 1:51'32.8504 8.0925
45 C.Lundgaard Dallara/Honda 85 1:51'34.0790 9.3211
7 Alexander Rossi Dallara/Chevrolet 85 1:51'34.5514 9.7935
12 Will Power Dallara/Chevrolet 85 1:51'39.4508 14.6929
10 Alex Palou Dallara/Honda 85 1:51'42.4084 17.6505
3 Scott McLaughlin Dallara/Chevrolet 85 1:51'46.9556 22.1977
27 Kyle Kirkwood Dallara/Honda 85 1:51'48.1817 23.4238
10  8 Marcus Ericsson Dallara/Honda 85 1:51'55.1536 30.3957
11  21 R.van Kalmthout Dallara/Chevrolet 85 1:51'57.4307 32.6728
12  60 Linus Lundqvist Dallara/Honda 85 1:51'59.8769 35.1190
13  26 Colton Herta Dallara/Honda 85 1:52'07.1934 42.4355
14  30 Jack Harvey Dallara/Honda 85 1:52'11.7876 47.0297
15  06 H.Castroneves Dallara/Honda 85 1:52'12.9303 48.1724
16  18 David Malukas Dallara/Honda 85 1:52'26.6992 1'01.9413
17  77 Callum Ilott Dallara/Chevrolet 85 1:52'34.3544 1'09.5965
18  28 Romain Grosjean Dallara/Honda 84 1:50'52.9235  
19  29 D.Defrancesco Dallara/Honda 84 1:51'28.7685  
20  20 Ryan Hunter-Reay Dallara/Chevrolet 84 1:51'30.6138  
21  78 Agustín Canapino Dallara/Chevrolet 84 1:51'38.0810  
22  51 Sting Ray Robb Dallara/Honda 84 1:51'53.0587  
23  14 Santino Ferrucci Dallara/Chevrolet 84 1:52'16.5292  
24  11 Marcus Armstrong Dallara/Honda 83 1:51'45.8749  
25  2 Josef Newgarden Dallara/Chevrolet 83 1:52'13.2375  
26  55 B.Pedersen Dallara/Chevrolet 79 1:51'45.0036  
27  6 Felix Rosenqvist Dallara/Chevrolet 68 1:31'00.7320

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