Scott Dixon’s sixth career IndyCar championship has been sorely hurt after the Kiwi ambled around aimlessly on worn tyres, finishing only ninth while title rival Josef Newgarden cruised to a dominant win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Newgarden’s carved 32 points out of Dixon’s erstwhile 72-point lead. It means Newgarden can theoretically usurp Dixon at the head of the championship race tomorrow with another commanding performance.
The damage for Dixon was truly done in qualifying where he could only grid up 12th.
A troubled start saw the Chip Ganassi racer hold position, only making his first move forward on Lap 7 when he swept past Max Chilton.
Dixon then flat spotted his tyres when dicing with Alexander Rossi on Lap 58 of 85. It set up a challenging run to the flag as he relinquished three spots after an off track excursion along the back straight to eventually finish ninth.
Newgarden’s only challenge up front was Colton Herta who had found himself in the lead with the Penske driver in tow. With 25 laps and a pitstop left to play out, Herta then missed his braking zone into Turn 1 and gifted the spot to Newgarden.
By the time he made his final stop and had scythed his way through lapped traffic, Newgarden’s lead was insurmountable.
Surprisingly, this is Newgarden’s first victory at IMS and the only circuit on the calendar he has not won at.
Herta fell back to fourth as Rossi and rookie racer Rinus VeeKay rounded off the podium. The latter unable to translate his impressive pole-position performance from yesterday into victory today.
“I’ve always wanted to get up here,” Newgarden said from the victory podium.
“It’s still a bit of a hill, but now it’s smaller.
Behind Herta, Felix Rosenqvist was the first Chip Ganassi car home in fifth, eight seconds up the road from Power who put in a late recovery surge after a difficult first stint.
Dixon will now need to outscore Newgarden by at least 19 points to safely seal the championship in tomorrow’s second leg of the IMS doubleheader.
Newgarden will be aiming to continue his fine form which includes two wins and a second place from the last four races.