Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Scott Dixon Smooth on Path to First IndyCar Win of 2022; Ties Mario Andretti for Second in All-Time Wins

Scott Dixon win Honda Indy Toronto Scott Dixon 52 wins Dixon ties Andretti
Scott Dixon was calm and methodical on a day full of aggressive action as he scored his first NTT IndyCar Series win of 2022 in the Honda Indy Toronto over Colton Herta. Photo courtesy Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto was an aggression-filled event, where drivers seemed to be in a take-no-prisoners mindset throughout the duration of the race. But at the end of the 85 laps around the 1.786-mile Canadian street course, it was Scott Dixon, who utilized a smooth and methodical approach to score victory.

For the 41-year old Dixon, this triumph marks his first win of the 2022 season, it’s his fourth victory all-time in Toronto, but the most significant number at the end of the race was 52. This win, the 52nd of Dixon’s IndyCar career, ties him with the legendary Mario Andretti for second all-time in Series history.

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“It’s amazing. To be close to Mario — every time I’m asked these questions, I’m just so thankful we have A.J. [Foyt] and him in the pits,” Dixon explained. “We get to see them and talk to them it’s just fantastic.”

Following Sunday’s race, Andretti took to Twitter to congratulate Dixon for reaching his mark of 52 wins in IndyCar competition.

Dixon now only trails A.J. Foyt, who has the most IndyCar wins all-time at 67.

The six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, Dixon came into the day sixth in the championship point standings. After his win, Dixon vaulted to a tie for fourth in the standings with Josef Newgarden and he sits just 44 points out of the point lead.

Now, the driver from New Zealand thinks his performance on the streets of Toronto could be the signal that he is back in the hunt for a seventh IndyCar championship.

“Hopefully, we’re kind of in the title hunt now,” Dixon said in his post-race interview on Peacock.

Dixon continued by saying, “I’m hoping this is the start of the roll. The team definitely deserves it. I know we’ve been working as hard as any.”

The win for Dixon, who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing, comes on a week where his team has been embroiled in a contract extension controversy with the 2021 Series Champion Alex Palou.

Dixon crossed the finish line 0.8106 sec. ahead of Colton Herta, who started from the pole. Felix Rosenqvist, who was chasing down Herta in the closing laps, settled for a third place finish while Graham Rahal scored his best finish of the season in fourth and Marcus Ericsson came home in fifth.

Palou, who has been in the center in the odd 2023 contract situation with Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren, finished a quiet sixth.

The aggressive trend of Sunday’s race got started early as Takuma Sato was pushed wide by Simon Pagenaud in the opening couple of turns of Lap 1. As Sato attempted to rejoin the racing groove, he found himself three wide with Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward. There was not enough real estate and Sato found himself in the outside wall.

The collision with the wall broke the left front suspension on Sato’s car and he was done for the day and would finish dead-last in 25th.

Herta led the way over the opening 17 laps of the race, but he made his first pit stop on Lap 18, and on the exit of pit road he was slowed by another car impeding his path. As a result, Dixon got around Herta as the Andretti Autosports w/ Curb-Agajanian driver attempted to blend back onto the track from pit road.

While Dixon got around Herta on Lap 18, it was not for the official race lead, as several drivers — including Pato O’Ward drove a long open stint of the race. When O’Ward would relinquish the lead as he went to pit road on Lap 32, Dixon was finally scored the leader of the race.

Jimmie Johnson, who like O’Ward, had stayed on track with a long opening stint, actually held up the field behind Dixon and Herta, which meant when the pit sequence had cycled out, Dixon and Herta were in a race of their own.

But the massive advantage that Dixon and Herta had built on the remainder of the field evaporated when Rosenqvist made an aggressive move on Alexander Rossi in Turn 3 on Lap 45.

Rosenqvist, who got to the inside of Rossi, sideswiped the driver of the No. 27 machine, which knocked the steering wheel out of Rossi’s hands and sent him hard into the outside wall. Rossi’s day would come to a quick end and he would be credited with a 23rd-place finish.

At this point, Josef Newgarden was in third and looked to be primed to benefit from the caution. Unfortunately, for Newgarden, trouble on pit road would drop him to 11th in the running order. Newgarden would never recover from the rough pit stop and would finish the day in 10th.

It was under this pit stop that Dixon and Herta led the field down pit road for their final pit stops of the race, but Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly would remain on the race track. Despite being short on fuel, VeeKay and Daly played the strategy to see if there would be an opportunity to score a surprise win.

By Lap 55, chunks of concrete from the street course would break loose to bring out the caution and the final caution of the day occurred on Lap 60 when Jimmie Johnson cut down on Kyle Kirkwood, which sent Johnson spinning.

Kirkwood, who was called for an avoidable contact penalty, would see his race end 27 laps short of the finish in 22nd.

By the end of the Lap 60 caution period, both VeeKay and Daly had hit pit road and the race was back in the hands of Dixon. And all Dixon did was drive a perfect final 25 laps to score his first win since the third race of the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season at Texas Motor Speedway.

Next up for the NTT IndyCar Series is a double-header race weekend at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 23rd and Sunday, July 24th. Saturday’s Hy-VeeDeals.com 250 will be broadcast on NBC at 4:00 PM ET, while Sunday’s Hy-Vee Solute to Farmers 300 will be carried on NBC at 3:00 PM ET.

Toby Christie
Toby Christiehttps://tobychristie.com
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of TobyChristie.com. Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is an award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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