Scott Dixon has moved into second in the 2021 IndyCar Driver’s standings after easing home to fifth in the Grand Prix of St Petersburg this morning.
Dixon ran a relatively quiet race, using a solid middle stint on the faster red tyres to move into the top-five.
The Kiwi went on to finish eight seconds behind eventual winner Colton Herta.
Herta, who earned his fifth career pole the day before, led all but three laps en route to his fourth IndyCar victory.
At one stage, Herta had established a 10s lead over Josef Newgarden in second place. However, a late caution with 20 laps to go regrouped the field.
Newgarden was on the red tyres for his final stint, while Herta was running the primaries.
Another caution came out three laps after the restart, meaning Newgarden was running out of time to make a move on Herta.
The tale of the day had been how quickly the red tyres degrade, and Newgarden knew he had to get ahead of Herta quickly to prevent the Andretti driver from fighting back.
Herta fended off Newgarden at the restart before using most of his push-to-pass to keep the Penske car at bay for the final ten laps.
The pair crossed the line separated by 2.4s. It was a robust rebound drive after both were eliminated in a lap one crash at Barber Motorsport Park a week before.
Simon Pagenaud ensured two Penske-powered cars finished on the podium after getting ahead of Jack Harvey in the first pitstop phase.
Dixon spent most of the race running in tandem with Takuma Sato. The duo ran a similar strategy, though the Kiwi did run one lap longer than Sato for his final pitstop.
Pitting earlier meant Sato closed the margin, and when Dixon re-emerged from the pitlane, there was little splitting the pair.
But Dixon successfully hung on for his second top-five result of the season.
Scott McLaughlin looked on course for his maiden top-ten result, sitting tenth after his second pitstop.
However, a wily move by Will Power at turn one on a late restart dropped McLaughlin to 11th.
Power went on to finish eighth while McLaughlin maintained his 11th-place – his best IndyCar result to date.
Next week sees the IndyCar field head to Texas Motor Speedway for the first two Oval races of the season on May 2-3.
|17||Alex Palou||In Pit|
|18||James Hinchcliffe||1 LAPS|
|19||Pato O’Ward||1 LAPS|
|20||Ed Jones||1 LAPS|
|21||Alexander Rossi||2 LAPS|
|22||Jimmie Johnson||5 LAPS|
|23||Dalton Kellett||Off Course|