IndyCar race wins “feel better” as you get older, says Dixon

IndyCar race wins “feel better” as you get older, says Dixon

Dixon, 43, scored a win that means he’s taken a victory in each of the last 19 seasons of IndyCar competition. He joined the series, in its CART incarnation, in 2001 and became its youngest winner as a 20-year-old at Nazareth.

His only winless seasons came in 2002, when he first joined Chip Ganassi Racing in a third car after PacWest Racing folded due to financial issues, and 2004 – when his Toyota engine was at a disadvantage to Honda.

“Over time I think these ones feel better,” he said. “Maybe in the early parts of your career, you really don’t care too much about wins. Another one will just come along.

“I think with how competitive it is, what these teams have got really good at is covering all strategies. The days of where maybe us or a couple of others would go on an alternate strategy, now you might have half the field that would do it.

“Now I can say I got a spin and win at Indy, which is pretty cool. I know it’s on the road course and doesn’t count, but I’ll still go with that story!”

Race start

Race start

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Dixon was punted into a spin by Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean at Turn 7 on the opening lap, as he checked up to avoid colliding team-mates Alex Palou and Marcus Armstrong.

When asked at what point he felt that he’d be able to pull off a last-to-first result, Dixon said it was when erstwhile race dominator Graham Rahal failed to make a net gain on him in the middle stages of the race.

“Probably halfway through the second-to-last stint on used tires where we were maintaining a gap,” Dixon replied. “[Rahal] was behind me where it pops up on my dash that he’s the next car. We had a like a six-second lead. I kept looking at it, running the lap times.

“He wasn’t gaining on us. This is crazy, this might actually work out.

“For me, the pace was not too difficult to get. But I think we were kind of in a happy spot of having to get fuel mileage and also looking after the tires where maybe some of those guys pushed quite hard early on like I did on my last stint.

“That was my first ‘a-ha’ moment where I’m like we’re definitely in a strong position here to pull that off.”

Dixon only qualified in 15th place, which meant he had multiple fresh alternates left for the race, and said the team was planning on running a two-stop strategy – which is essentially what it then did after he got rid of the primary tires and topped off with fuel on lap five under caution.

“I was actually shocked just by the pace that we had,” he admitted. “The car just kept doing the same lap times, mid-73s to 74-flats. The fuel mileage, huge credit to Honda and HPD, it was remarkably easy to get.

“We were going to kind of try the two-stop early anyway. I think we were planning to stop between lap five and 10 anyway, we kind of wanted to get rid of the black [primary] tire pretty quickly. Hoping to have great faith that the red [alternate] was actually going to last, and it did.”

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