Scott Dixon says his crushing victory of the GMR Grand Prix of Indy was a result of his team’s aggressive strategy but admits his triumph was very fortunate and he won’t be taking the rest of his campaign lightly as IndyCar prepares to continue its mammoth month of July.
Dixon came into the race having finished runners-up at the venue in the past three seasons but his weekend failed to truly take off on Saturday when he missed out on the Fast Six shootout in qualifying.
Meanwhile, Team Penske, who had until yesterday boasted having claimed all six victories of the Grand Prix, look to reassert their dominance as Will Power notched his 58th career pole with Dixon only able to muster seventh.
Before the start, all three Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared cars opted to eke out a lengthy opening stint by donning the more durable yet harder primary black tyres.
The leader of the trio, Dixon made one spot off the line but then struggled to challenge his rivals further up the road, patiently waiting for the most opportune moment to peel off into pit road.
It was a difficult first stint for the Kiwi made worse by the ordeal that he would be compelled to take one extra pitstop compared to the vast majority of the field who would only have to stop twice.
However, a safety car almost directly after Dixon had made his second stop for the softer alternative tyres then allowed the Kiwi to narrow the margin to the leaders and use his tyre advantage to quickly scythe his way towards the front of the pack and duly claim his second successive victory for 2020.
Speaking after the race, Dixon said the team’s bold strategy was what kept him in the race and the timing of the race’s sole full course yellow paid dividends after a difficult opening stint.
“I think we kind of got a little bit lucky, but I think it also played into our strategy,” said Dixon.
“We were able to pick up one spot on the start, and that kind of set us into a pretty aggressive three-stopper, and that’s when our window was to pit. Then three, four laps later the yellow came out and we were the ones that cycled towards the front.
“Definitely a little bit of luck there, but honestly it was just the strategy we were on, and hung out the leaders for sure. We kind of struggled in the early part with the rear of the car and the same with the red tires. I think I went out a little bit too hard on the first set and the rears got abused a little bit and we made several changes to the car throughout the next couple of stops and the car was just on rails after that.
“The track went through some changes, as well. It’s kind of like the track cooled off a little bit and grip came up, and the PNC Bank No. 9 was just too strong for the last half of the race.”
Dixon will have four more races to contend with over the next fortnight, starting with a double-header at Road America next weekend.
The five-time series champion has finished on the podium twice in the last three seasons at the venue including a trip to victory lane in 2017.
The back-to-back races will then be followed another double-header at Iowa Speedway for the second oval event of the delayed 2020 season, capping off five races in just 15 days for the Kiwi.