|Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy|
Scott Dixon led 155 of 250 laps and held off Simon Pagenaud by 0.68s to win the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix race Saturday night under the lights.
Will Power came home third the last car on the lead lap. Tony Kanaan was one lap down in 4th to give Chevy a 1-2-3-4 sweep in IndyCar's return to the 1-mile bullring before a crowd estimated to be just under 15,000.
Graham Rahal rounded out the top-5 for Honda.
"The biggest thing was just maintaining and trying to keep pace with whoever was in front and behind us and trying to figure out what we needed to make the car better," said Dixon.
"We tried to put ourselves in position to be there in the end.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]"I can't give enough credit to Team Target. They did amazing job. The pit stops were flawless and the strategy let us stretch out the fuel when we needed to and we were able to put some good cars a lap down early on. It was a good race and a good start for a return to Phoenix."
This was Scott Dixon's first win of 2016 and the 39th win of his Indy car career, which ties him with Al Unser for fourth on the all-time list.
"It's mind-boggling to tie Al Unser," said Dixon. "I love doing what I do. I just feel privileged and lucky to one be driving in INDYCAR and two for a team like Chip Ganassi Racing. It's amazing to be part of this team."
It is his first win at Phoenix International Raceway.
Dixon has won an Indy Car race in 12 consecutive seasons, an Indy car record.
This was the 101st Indy car victory for cars owned by Chip Ganassi. It is the first-ever win for Chip Ganassi Racing at Phoenix International Raceway across all series that race here.
Dixon averaged 139.822 mph in winning in the Target Chip Ganassi No. 9 Chevy. The race was slowed by six caution periods and actually ended under the yellow.
The first was for a spin by Luca Filippi in Turn 2 on lap 50. He did not hit anything and the safety crew got his Honda refired.
The 2nd caution flew on lap 120 when Carlos Munoz made contact with the outside wall coming out of turn 4 and suffered right side suspension damage.
The green flew on lap 132 but the caution was right back out two laps later when Josef Newgarden and Charlie Kimball made slight contact in Turn 1. Both Continued.
The 4th caution flew when Sebastian Bourdais made contact in Turn 4 in the #11 KVSH Chevy but he too continued.
The 5th caution was for contact in Turn 4 on lap 196 by Ed Carpenter and he was done for the day and then with 2 laps to go rookie Alexander Rossi brushed the Turn 4 wall and continued but it caused the race to finish with both the yellow and checkered flying.
More to follow…..
|Dixon gets quick pit work from his Ganassi crew|
|Sam Cobb/LAT for Chevy|
SCOTT DIXON, NO. 9 TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET, scored the 39th victory of his career. The defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion has won a race in 12 consecutive seasons, a Series' record. He led the final 155 laps of tonight's 250-lap race, the first at Phoenix International Raceway for the Series since 2005. Quick quote: YOU MADE THAT LOOK EASY, BUT IT WASN'T, WAS IT?
"It was tough. It was definitely one of the toughest races on these short ovals. I definitely think we can make some adjustments to get some more side-by-side stuff going on. But right now, I'm just so happy for the team. Team Target did an amazing job. It's fantastic to have the lightning bulb back on the car. It's the first win for this team at Phoenix. Chevy did an amazing job. But I can't give enough credit to the crew. They did the best they could and I just tried to keep it on the track."
HOW PHYSICALLY DEMANDING WAS THIS RACE?
"It was a bit of both really. You had different paces. The car was super-fast. We, I think, had the best car out there. We got a lot of it done on strategy in some of the pit stops, but the Target car was just extremely fast the whole night. Yeah, definitely in Turns 1 and 2, there is a lot of loading and I can't thank the team enough. They did an amazing job."
THIS IS EARLY-SEASON SUCCESS. YOU'RE NOT USED TO THAT. YOU ARE USED TO TRYING TO MAKE-UP POINTS IN JULY AND AUGUST.
"There's nothing wrong with that. We definitely had our bad luck; I think at St. Pete, we did with some overheating issues. We're a strong team. We're always strong; and if we can figure out the start of the season, I think we'll definitely make the end a little easier for us. But this is the Verizon Indycar Series; man, it's tough, no matter what. And you've got to get points whenever you can no matter what circumstances. But it's great to be back in Phoenix. Thanks to all the fans for coming out tonight. I can't wait to come back next week."
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD : YOU WERE CLOSE TONIGHT: “Yeah, it was close. The guys were awesome in the pits. We kept saving fuel and going long and catching those yellows. So, I’m just disappointed. I kind of ruined it for them in the last stop there for them and kind of locked-up and made a long stop, but I’m really happy to finish third. In missing the first race and dealing with a few health issues, I was really happy just to complete the race and I’m in a great position."
YOU HAD SOME CONCERNS ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD FEEL LIKE WITH A LONG STINT. WE HAD SEVERAL LONG STINTS: “Yeah, I got more energy as we went along. So yeah, I was worried about it, honestly; this being the first race and how physical it is. But I’ve just got to give it to the Verizon guys. The pit crew, man, they were awesome and I had fun out there. Congrats to Dixon."
TONY KANAAN, NO. 10 GE LED CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 4TH: ON FAST CAR LAST FEW LAPS OF THE RACE: “I knew I could, so we had a strong car. But the strategy didn’t help us. We lost a few spots on the stops. It is what it is. We did all we could. In a way, we did a lot of damage control the last 20 laps but ended up in top four. We missed a podium for sure. But we had a pretty good car for sure. I don’t think anyone passed more cars than I did."
HOW DIFFICULT WAS PASSING? “It was more difficult. For some reason we couldn’t work out the second groove. It’s always tough when you only have one race line. I found some, though! Thank God we could do it. It wasn’t as good as I’ve had in Phoenix before."
GRAHAM RAHAL, 5th: “I knew I had to make up a bunch of spots in the first few laps. I got a good start and got a couple of positions on the first lap and another when Luca dropped back. I felt decent about that, I was just trying to close the gap. The team was keeping me up to date on where (race leader) Helio was the whole time and I knew he couldn’t get through traffic. The frustrating thing is that I felt like I had the best car out there. I could catch everybody but I just couldn’t pass at all so I started to save fuel. We got two yellows and it helped a lot. The pit stops were amazing as always. I said it from the start that I felt confident today because of those guys. Had I not had that crew and those pit stops behind me, I wouldn’t have felt as good about this race going into it. Getting the points we did for fifth place helps us in the standings for sure. We’re going to keep challenging and pushing hard."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 21 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH: WAS THE RACE AS PHYSICAL AS YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE? “Yeah, it’s a tough race. Not the weekend we wanted with the Fuzzy’s crew. We had two really good cars. We couldn’t quite get it done today. Sixth was a good salvage position, I think; but we obviously wanted a little bit more. So, this was a tough weekend for us."
MAX CHILTON, NO. 8 GALLAGHER CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH: “I do think there were a few mistakes I made as a rookie just because I hadn’t experienced it before where we could have been top two or three. But I’m really happy with what we came away with this evening."
EMOTIONS AFTER THIS RACE: “I’m really, really happy with it. It’s weird that, considering this was my first ever oval experience in IndyCar, I’m slightly disappointed with seventh. Because we could have easily done what Pagenaud did, and he got second. We had a slight problem with getting into first gear on a stop. A half second is the difference in two places."
ON PIT STOP: It’s different. I thought we’d got Rahal in the last stop. He was half a nose ahead of me. There was a lot to learn. And the restarts were pretty mental!"
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 11 TEAM HYDROXYCUT KVSH RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH: “It was a less than perfect race from my end. I made too many mistakes and I feel bad for the guys because they really deserved a better finish than eighth. I think we had a “P" (positon) three or four car, but I locked up going into the pit box and made a mess of it. Then a Penske car got me to go around his outside in turn three and four after a restart. There was already marbles and I hit the wall. I guess after that it was pretty much salvation and a bonus because it is very rare that you actually manage to hit the wall and finish the race on an oval. I feel very lucky about that and just glad we could get some points. It is not the best we could have done, but the guys did a solid job in the pits and we are becoming a team again."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 2 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 9TH: HELIO CASTRONEVES CUT A TIRE AND THEN YOU DID. ANY IDEA WHAT HAPPENED THERE? “Mine wasn’t a cut tire. Mine, I picked-up a vibration and every time I followed somebody, the vibration kept getting worse and worse. I passed (James) Hinchcliffe and the vibration was unbearable and I put wheel on it and it just blew up completely. It wasn’t like a cut tire that just goes down. I was like completely done. So, it’s kind of disappointing. Our Verizon Chevy was so good again I felt we had a car to win again."
WHAT WAS THE RACING LIKE? “It was okay for me. It was more of saving the car because every time I pushed behind anybody I picked-up the same vibrations and I just felt being where we were, the last thing we needed was to go two laps down again because of a tire. So, I just couldn’t do anything. "This was more of an attrition race because we are the fastest cars but you get hit with yellows and cut tires so it's not a true sense of what our cars were capable of. Simon and Will showed through, but with Helio and myself we got caught up with a cut tire, so it would have been a totally different race. Phoenix is a short oval and the speeds kept up, but everybody was on alert and everybody was pretty close. I thought there would be a lot more gaps, but everyone was pretty much in the same zone. The car kept getting a vibration and then it would settle and then would go from a three car gap to a 15 to 20 car gap. Overall, the Verizon Chevy was pushing pretty hard and was still able to stay in the top ten. Not the finish we wanted, but we'll look ahead to Long Beach and go from there."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 REV GROUP TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH: ON WEEKEND: "First of all, It was great to start on pole and to get the track record for our new sponsor REV. I wish we could've done the same in the race. Unfortunately, we cut a tire. There was never an indication there was any problem with the tire so by the time we realized it was going flat, it was too late. Everything was going so smooth, it was too good to be true. Once you go slow on a one-mile oval like that it's like an eternity to get back to pit lane. We lost a lot with that. Really, to finish on the lead lap and in the top 11 shows just how good the REV Chevy car was this weekend."
DID YOU THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE RUN OVER EVERYTHING TO CUT A TIRE?
“No, I was taking it easy. I was taking care of the tires because we knew we have some vibration. And I was just having such an incredible run and all of a sudden as soon as I made Turns 3 and 4, I noticed something was wrong. I thought I was going to crash right now and I thought, oh boy, this is going to be close. But we were able to save. But once you go a lap down or slow down on a 1-mile oval, you lose like two or three laps and it’s very frustrating. When something like that happens, it’s difficult for us to do it because we don’t have many things like that happening. So, it was a very tough one. Once you got in the back, I guess there was not much of a movement or passing. It was so difficult. The groove on the outside groove was very difficult to pass. Oh, it’s just frustrating. We had a great opportunity here but you’ve got to move on and go to the next."
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA CHEVROLET, FINISHED 21ST: INVOLVED IN ON-TRACK INCIDENT ON LAP 196: “It was really hard to pass down there, which is surprising. After the warm-up, I thought it was going to be a really racy race, but everyone kind of equalized tonight. I got a run on Will (Power) out of (Turn) 2, thought I would be able to get inside in 3. It wasn’t going to happen. He raced me hard but clean, and when I backed out to fall back in line I picked up a bit of understeer and got in the marbles. It’s just a shame for the Fuzzy’s Vodka car. We were just a couple laps away from pitting and should be out there fighting for the win. I feel terrible for the team. I only get five races a year on the ovals."
“The team has put Josef and I in a great position all weekend. It’s been really hard to pass out there, which is surprising. After the warmup I thought it was going to be a really racey race but everyone just kind of equalized tonight. I got a run on will out of 2, thought I was maybe going to be able to get inside in 3 . It wasn’t going to happen. He raced me hard but clean. And, when I backed out to fall back in line. I just picked up a little bit of understeer and got the marbles, which is a shame for the Fuzzy Vodka car. We were a couple laps away from pitting there. You know, we should be out there fighting for the win. That’s on me. I feel terrible for the team. I let these guys down. I only get 5 times a year at this on the ovals."
"We had two cautions – TWO of them – that put us laps down. Just had a heck of a time out there. Some of the best starts I’ve ever had, some of the best restarts I’ve ever had, and to come away from it with 10th is a pretty dejecting result. We should have finished second tonight. You have to move on and keep a good attitude about it. I wanted a better result for DHL and Honda, but racing is like that sometimes."
"The result tonight wasn’t what we were looking for. The yellows weren’t in our favor and we didn’t have what we needed. We’ll move on to the (Indy oval) test this week and work on a better result for the next one."
"I think that the finishing position is really upsetting. Before we had to fall to the back, we were P7, I think. We’ll have to look at how we maybe could have done that better. I think the car was good for most of the race and the crew did a great job. I’m glad we got the first oval race under our belt… But I think there’s more to come next time."
“It’s a shame how we finished. I got in a crash. Something mechanical broke on the car, you know. When I was turning, nothing happened and I hit the wall. It’s a shame. We were recovering a lot of positions from where we started. It’s a weekend to forget. I just have to say thank you for the guys that worked so hard yesterday to get the car back together. This is racing. We lose and we win together. So, I’m focused now on the upcoming Indy test."
“That was really interesting! It was really nice to have a car to fight like we did. I thought the car was well balanced, I could race people and I had really good restarts. We just made some mistakes in the pits which is part of the game but I felt like I passed a lot of cars out there! Sadly, we had a few issues but it’s still the beginning of the season and things like this are bound to happen. I’m just really pleased with the car, I thought our pace was really good and I thought the way we raced was really good. We just have to get ourselves starting up a bit further up and eliminate small mistakes. It was more active than I thought it was going to be out there. Certainly crazy when you got off line. Some really interesting moments and some really hairy moments but I’m just glad we made it to the end and made it through unscathed. We gained a lot of experience today for sure."
“(About his spin) Everything was going well and I was with a group and the pace was quite consistent, the same as the guys around me. Helio (Castroneves) was a couple of laps down, faster than me, but when he made a move into Turn 1, it was a late move and in order to avoid contact I had to go on the marbles. I eventually saved it, but unfortunately the engine died and we lost a few laps, so the race was pretty much over at the time for us being that many laps down. That was very unfortunate because everything was going fine. “After that, I was just trying to be smart on the restarts with the guys around that were racing each other. I was trying to gain experience and keep learning more about the car and racing on an oval but at the same time I was just staying away from trouble. It’s a bit of a shame because I couldn’t really race as hard as I wanted but at least it was a great experience. It was important for me to finish the race and experience the changes from the first lap to the last one. The car was good and I felt confident in driving the car. The guys did a solid job to give me a car I liked."
|9||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||249||5.8277||0.7745||4||56||3||185.345||Chevy|
|15||14||Takuma Sato||249||1 LAPS||1 LAPS||5||0||20||180.723||Honda|
|16||18||Conor Daly||248||1 LAPS||2.3001||5||0||18||181.603||Honda|
|17||7||Mikhail Aleshin||247||2 LAPS||29.4856||4||0||13||181.575||Honda|
|18||5||James Hinchcliffe||247||2 LAPS||9.6639||6||0||22||179.865||Honda|
|19||41||Jack Hawksworth||245||4 LAPS||1 LAPS||6||0||17||179.923||Honda|
|20||19||Luca Filippi||243||7 LAPS||3 LAPS||4||0||16||180.461||Honda|
|22||26||Carlos Munoz||116||3 LAPS||9.4218||2||0||21||181.262||Honda|
UNOFFICIAL VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES POINT STANDINGS
|3.||Juan Pablo Montoya||74|
|10.||Max Chilton (R)||39|
UNOFFICIAL SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR POINT STANDINGS