Scott Dixon overcame a six-place grid penalty, Lap 1 contact and a drive-through penalty for a famous victory in this morning’s Grand Prix of Monterey, finishing ahead of Scott McLaughlin, who was also involved in several incidents.
It’s Dixon’s third win of the season, all coming in the past four races. He has now won 55 career races, pulling three clear of Mario Andretti.
McLaughlin’s result also sees him jump to third in the championship in the season’s final race.
Marcus Armstrong had been in contention entering the last 25 laps but spun on the eighth and final restart to drop down the order. He would impressively recover to finish a commendable eighth to claim the Rookie of the Year title over Agustin Canapino by 34 points, despite not having run on ovals.
The first of eight caution periods would come in chaotic circumstances on Lap 1 at Turn 1, with Christian Lungaard clipping Scott McLaughlin while attempting to take second. Further back, Armstrong, Juri Vips, Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden came together.
Turn two on Lap 1 was no different, with Dixon, who had started 11th following a late engine change, Rinus VeeKay, and Kyle Kirkwood all coming together. Dixon was later awarded with a drive-through penalty for the contact, which was met with criticism over race radio.
Green flag running was limited following the Lap 7 restart, but championship winner Alex Palou had enough time to take the lead off pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist, while Will Power moved up to second. The cause of the caution was Newgarden, who spun on his own at Turn 4 and hit the tyre wall.
Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward would pass Power on the Lap 11 restart as McLaughlin continued his charge through the field to threaten the top 10 by quarter distance. Palou, meanwhile, had extended his lead to 9 seconds despite narrowly avoiding Helio Castroneves, who had spun and rejoined at Turn 3 in front of the leader.
There would be a third caution came shortly after when Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson came together, the pole-sitter stranding in the gravel.
Lap 27’s restart was short-lived when rookie Benjamin Pedersen was hit by Power and hit Callum Ilott into a spin. McLaughlin’s race was further compounded at Turn 1 when he made contact with the rear of Santino Ferrucci, which required a stop for a new front wing.
Dixon, meanwhile, opted to run an alternate strategy to the leaders, having made an extra stop under caution. He sat 13th on the Lap 42 restart, having worked his way forward from the rear of the field after serving his penalty.
Yet another caution was called on Lap 58 when David Malukas and Devlin DeFrancesco came together. This would prove Palou’s undoing, having just passed pit entry when the intervention was called, having controlled the majority of proceedings until that point.
Ilott would spin on his own entering pit lane, losing significant time as he corrected and blocked Kirkwood from entering the lane as he did so.
Armstrong and Dixon emerged at the front when the next caution was called when Ferrucci went airborne after collecting the rear of Palou on the final turn on the restart following the previous intervention.
Tom Blomqvist was another unfortunate casualty at this point, having driven a clean race and avoiding the unfolding chaos as he gets up to speed in an unfamiliar vehicle. His retirement would come from contact with DeFrancesco on the same restart where Ferrcucci collected Palou.
Armstrong would lead in Dixon for their final stops under this caution, both dropping down in the top ten but with many ahead still requiring to come in.
The ensuing restart saw Armstrong as an unfortunate victim when he was clipped by Pedersen while attempting to run an outside line into the final turn. He would stop on track, as would Ericsson, who had nowhere to go to avoid making light contact with his teammate.
Track crews worked wonders to restart Armstrong’s car, which saw him remain on the lead lap, just outside the top ten.
O’Ward led the penultimate restart over Romain Grosjean, DeFrancesco, Canapino, Ilott, who had recovered well from his pit lane spin, Palou and Dixon.
Grosjean took the lead at the green flag, while Dixon got away superbly to work his way to third, ahead of McLaughlin, after Palou was compromised off the restart.
Castroneves and Herta coming together was the cause of the final caution, the latter becoming stranded in the sand with gearbox issues that had been sustained earlier.
Grosjean and O’Ward both made their final stops at this point, elevating Dixon to the front over McLaughlin, Ilott and Palou. Armstrong had also worked his way back into contention for a top-ten finish.
Dixon would never be pressured off the final green flag, slowly pulling clear of McLaughlin to take a comfortable 7.3-second victory. Palou passed Ilott in the closing stages for third, as did Power to recover to fourth after Ilott ran wide on the final corner.
McLaughlin would also slowly pull clear of the championship winner to come home three seconds ahead in second.
Armstrong worked his way to eighth with a late pass on Canapino, who was compromised with front wing damage. O’Ward finished ninth behind Armstrong, which was enough to boost McLaughlin to third in the championship by just four points over the McLaren driver.
Header Image: Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones