Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon made sure his name remains in consideration for the 2019 season title by winning Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
But career victory #46 required a dramatic last-lap battle with his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate. Dixon had rookie Felix Rosenqvist charging in the closing laps and in the final pass through Turn 2 they had wheel contact.
Both cars bobbled, but they kept them straight, which led to a thrilling run to the checkered flag as Dixon drove with tires that had lost their effectiveness.
The margin of victory was 0.0934 seconds, the closest Indy car finish at Mid-Ohio and third closest on a road course in Indy car history.
“Oh, man, that was crazy,” said Dixon, who drives the #9 PNC Bank Honda. “(I was) just a sitting duck … and if I wasn’t his teammate I think he would have (knocked) me off.”
Rosenqvist, chasing his first career win in the NTT IndyCar Series, said the team told him to race hard for the lead while being mindful of Dixon’s position as a teammate and championship contender.
“A bit of a mixed (message),” Rosenqvist said with a laugh.
The driver of the #10 Clover Honda was confident Dixon would race him fair, and that’s what he did.
“He’s always on the right level of aggression and safety,” Rosenqvist said.
Said Dixon: “That’s what IndyCar racing is – it produces the best racing in the world.”
Dixon’s 46th career win pulled him within six of Mario Andretti (52) for second place on Indy car’s all-time list. A.J. Foyt ranks first with 67.
Dixon also scored his second win of the season, a record-extending sixth at this 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit and allowed Chip Ganassi’s team to break a tie with Newman-Haas Racing for second-most entrant wins in history with 108. Team Penske has won 210.
Chip Ganassi Racing also scored its first 1-2 finish since 2015 at Texas Motor Speedway (Dixon and Tony Kanaan).
Dixon caught a break on the final lap when series leader Josef Newgarden of Team Penske had contact with Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay in a fight for third place on the final lap in Turn 2. The engine on Newgarden’s #2 PPG Chevrolet stalled in a sand trap, causing him to finish 14th.
Newgarden’s spin allowed Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi to move up to fifth in the #27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda and draw to 16 points of the series lead with four races remaining.
“It was my fault trying to force the issue,” Newgarden said.
Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who finished sixth driving the #22 Menards Chevrolet, is third in the standings – 47 points behind Newgarden – heading to the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on Aug. 18.
Chip Ganassi’s team had both fuel strategies covered in the race that went caution-free for the second consecutive year. Dixon completed the 90 laps on two stops, Rosenqvist made it on three.
The podium finish was Hunter-Reay’s first in the #28 DHL Honda since finishing third at Circuit of The Americas race in Austin, Texas, on March 24.