Scott Dixon last to first at Mid-Ohio

Scott Dixon

Start him in the back, start him in the front, make it a fuel run – it doesn’t matter when you're Scott Dixon at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Scott worked his way from last to first en route to an easy cruise to victory, followed by Sebastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Carlos Munoz and Graham Rahal.

Dixon has owned the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course for years and on Sunday that domination continued as Dixon got his first win of the season and 5th at Mid-Ohio winning the Honda Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio over polesitter Sebastien Bourdais by 5.39 sec.

Dixon was marginal on fuel and ran out of gas a few hundred yards past the finish line.

It was the 34th career win for Dixon, tying him with Al Unser Jr for 6th on the all-time win list. His previous wins at Mid-Ohio were in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012

Helio Castroneves’ championship hopes took a hit before the race even started when the throttle failed, causing him to start 4 laps behind the leader. Helio finished 19th, while Will Power finished 6th.

Dixon celebrates

Not only was Dixon good enough to stay ahead of the competition – at one point holding the fastest lap of the race designation – but he managed to manage his fuel while his car ran 2-3 laps longer than those chasing him.

Even before the first lap, though, the points chase took a hit. Helio Castroneves’ throttle "cable" (an electronic doo-dad) failed, causing him to start 4 laps behind the leader. Helio finished 19th, while Will Power finished 6th. Ironically, Castroneves ultimately captures the fastest lap of the race, probably adding to the pain of the day. When the dust settled, Will Power lead by 4 points over Castroneves, with Ryan Hunter-Reay 59 points behind Castroneves, and Simon Pagenaud a single point behind Hunter-Reay in 4th.

Full course cautions have been rare here – nary a one for some 8 years – but today there were two. The first came out on lap 1 when Tony Kanaan got together with Josef Newgarden in turn 4. “I went on the inside of Newgarden and it was really tight for both of us and I don’t know if he saw me or not.

I was all the way alongside him and then towards the middle of the corner he was actually a little bit ahead, so there was contact there and he touched my front wheel and I spun." In the melee, Marco Andretti collected Kanaan, and both were done for the day, albeit unhurt from the incident.

The green flew again on lap 5, with Sebastien Bourdais leading a very competitive Newgarden. Bourdais had a strong day — leading 38 laps, finishing second.

Some of the back markers started their alternative strategies — Jack Hawksworth pitting on lap 9, Justin Wilson and Scott Dixon on lap 10, Takuma Sato on lap 11. Sato would later find out the limits of his fuel mileage when he failed to make it to the pits for fuel on lap 38, putting him a lap down. Sato finished 18th — but it might've been worse had not Ryan Hunter-Reay spun off of the course on the prior lap, causing the second full-course caution. Hunter-Reay previously got a speeding penalty, and ended up finishing 10th.

Dixon wasn't the only driver to move through the field in the early stages, on a Mid-Ohio track that is notorious for finishing orders looking like the starting grid. Sebastian Saavedra moved into 4th spot by lap 21, but his oil pressure went away on lap 25, and on lap 31 he was pushed behind the wall. A dejected Sebastian later commented, “'Thing sucks… We couldn’t catch a break. We’re still trying to figure out what happened. We haven’t slept trying to put (this thing) together. Unfortunately it was not our day."

The green flew permanently on lap 42, with Scott Dixon in the lead (albeit with 8 more laps since his last pit stop than most of the field), followed by Bourdais, Carlos Munoz, Joseph Newgarden and Graham Rahal. Ryan Hunter-Reay was the last car on the lead lap, in 17th. And at this point, aside from some lead changes during pit stops, Scott Dixon not only checked out on the field for the rest of the day, but did so while nursing his fuel — his fuel light came on with 1 1/2 laps to go. He took the lead for good on lap 68, and cruised to a 5+ second victory on Bourdais, leading 45 laps on the day. “There is no miracle there. They (Scott Dixon, No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) were just the class of the field today," remarked Bourdais after the race. "He made an incredible fuel mileage run, holding the same pace that we were and maybe even a little quicker. So hats off to the Target Chip Ganassi team. We had nothing for these guys and we probably had nothing for Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) either, but we made it stick."

Josef Newgarden's day, which had started out on the front row, even running second as late as lap 50, went bad in his last pit stop. His crew managed to tangle the air and fuel hoses, a crew member fell, and to add insult to injury, he ran over stuff on the way out. When the pass-thru was served on lap 71, he fell from 4th to 13th, and finished 12th.

However, with the exception of Newgarden, the last 20 laps or so seemed to be a parade, and it looked like a typical Mid-Ohio race — Dixon in the lead, and a parade behind him. When the checkers flew, Dixon stopped his car at the end of pit road, afraid he'd run out of fuel a couple of miles away. Bourdais finished second, followed by James Hinchcliffe, Carlos Munoz, and Graham Rahal.

Quotes

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It was very (close). We didn’t run out of fuel there, but we would have on the backside of the circuit and it would have been a long walk back. It was great to see the hospitality and everybody camping out here. We got finally back into the winner’s circle coming from last position. Great pit stops from everybody on Team target and our strategy was just spot on once we got that yellow. Long, hard fought day but huge thanks to Chevy and obviously we got fantastic fuel mileage there, too."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "That start was pretty crazy. Going down into Turn 4 there, it was like the seas parted in front of me. I felt bad for the guys that got involved in that wreck, but it allowed us to get up there a little bit. The car was really fast, we were running off some really good lap times there. We got caught behind a couple of guys at some point we might have been able to pick one more spot up. I’m really proud of the United Fiber & Data guys. Great in the pits. Awesome car. Fun driving with Sebastien (Bourdais) there in the end. Obviously, big congrats to (Scott) Dixon. I don’t know why they don’t just give him the trophy when we get here on Thursday. Good job to those guys."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "We got a little unlucky on that one obviously. The team wanted to go straight to blacks on the first pit stop, and I thought maybe it was a bit early. A lot of guys did go on reds as well on the first pit stop. It was the right choice until the yellow came out, and then we had to do the restart on a green track with black tires. That was tough. Hats off to Dixie (Scott Dixon) and the (Chip) Ganassi guys. We didn't have anything for them. They were clearly the class of the field and deserve it. It is a one-two for Chevy so I couldn't be any happier with the Mistic boys. We will keep rolling!"

CARLOS HUERTAS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "My race started out well when I moved up five positions on that first lap incident, but didn't go as well after that. I was running fast laps and keeping up with the leaders. I think I was actually running second for a while. When I got that penalty I dropped back and couldn't recover. At the end, I was fuel saving and ended up needing to make an extra stop to make it to the end. I wish I could have done better today, but sometimes things just don't go your way."

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Honda): "When the safety car went out for the caution, unfortunately I was already in the pits. Pit lane technically became closed at that moment by INDYCAR, so I had to drive through and come back in a second time for my pit stop. When I came back in for service, I accidentally went over the pit speed limit on my exit, which resulted in a penalty. It was an unlucky race, but I'm glad I finished and that the car was fast. It didn't go our way today, but we gained some points today and know that we'll have a fast car on the next road course."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda): "Unfortunately, we just didn't have the pace today. Qualifying really hurt us, and we were stuck in the pack for most of the race. We definitely have some work to do to prepare for our next road course race in Sonoma. We need to focus forward and make sure we maximize every opportunity we have in the next few weeks. One positive takeaway from Mid-Ohio is that the other championship contenders also struggled. We're getting down to the wire now, and this could still be anyone's championship."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers KV AFS Chevrolet): "What an unfortunate situation. The entire No. 17 KV AFS Racing crew has put a huge amount of effort in this weekend and it's just unbelievable that this situation has happened. Somehow we need to get out of this run of bad luck we have been having. We have the car. We have the mentality. And we just need to find a way to show it. We will move on and look forward to a good weekend in Milwaukee in a couple of weeks."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "Proud of the Verizon Chevy boys today. We didn't quite have the pace on the red tires that we wanted, but it was as good as we could do. As far as the standings go, we have a small lead but the key from here on out is to finish ahead of the other guys week in and week out. If we can do that, we will be in good shape to challenge for the Verizon IndyCar Series Championship."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "We didn't get it right. It's a shame. We had such a strong car and, man, we had a great strategy. What a killer idea going with blacks there. All we had to do was hang onto (Sebastien) Bourdais there – we knew he was going to be stronger on reds. We just hung with him and it fell right into our seat. It was just a perfect strategy call, which was so much fun for me. I kinda knew what was happening the whole time and we planned that originally. You don't always stick with your plan but we did that today and it unfolded perfectly for us. It was a shame that it didn't work out, but I think everyone knew we were strong today and definitely had a shot at winning the thing. And that's all you can ask for, we've had a couple of those this year and we'll have a couple more before it's done."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "It was a disappointing race. We made a good start, picked up a couple positions in Turn 1, but then there was a multiple car accident in front of me and I couldn't avoid it. I damaged the front wing so we pitted and changed it. We went back racing again, but unfortunately we ran out of fuel and I couldn't get back to the pits, so I had to be towed and we lost a lap. We kept going and the boys gave me great pit stops, but our position never changed because we were a lap down. It was a really tough race. We just have to keep our motivation up and go on."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 National Guard Honda): "To finish fifth at my home track feels really good. It was a good day for us, but you always want to do better. Certainly there is nothing to be disappointed about though because we're getting closer. I've said time and time again that this team is creeping up on it. This team can win races and can compete and I can compete as a driver. I just need to keep working hard as a team and push ourselves forward and the wins are going to come. I was really struggling at the start of the race because it was really slippery. I obviously avoided the wreck on the start, which was a good thing and we just worked our way through. We didn't have the quickest car out there today, but we were close and that's what we have to keep doing, getting closer and closer. All in all it was a good day and the guys did a great job with the pit stops. I'm proud of this National Guard team and the effort. For me, to have the National Guard here was extra special because it was the Ohio National Guard being that I am from Ohio and a lot of kids that I met are from the area I am from. It was very cool to spend some time with them."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "Man I hate it for all the guys on the No. 3 Hitachi Chevy team. At first, I thought the throttle issue was a quick fix because as soon as they started the car for 'gentlemen, start your engines' I knew there was something wrong. Then, during the parade laps, I noticed that it was stuck. That could be a big problem and cause a big crash. When we came back down pit road we figured out it was a bigger problem. There was just a bit of a mistake in our fuel mapping. It was a tough race, knowing that I was on a lap by myself the entire time. We will just to rebound from this. We might have been knocked down but we will get back up. On to Milwaukee!"

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "That start was pretty crazy. Going down into Turn 4 there, it was like the seas parted in front of me. I felt bad for the guys that got involved in that wreck, but it allowed us to get up there a little bit. The car was really fast, we were running off some really good lap times there. We got caught behind a couple of guys. At some point we might have been able to pick one more spot up. I'm really proud of the United Fiber & Data guys. Great in the pits. Awesome car. Fun driving with Sebastien (Bourdais) there in the end. Obviously, big congrats to (Scott) Dixon. I don't know why they don't just give him the trophy when we get here on Thursday. Good job to those guys."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): "Today's crash was just a victim of being in the back. Obviously there was a lot of carnage, but as soon as, I think it was Hinchcliffe, in front of me made an evasive move, I was right on top of Tony (Kanaan) and I didn't know he was backwards. I could have used a spotter there, that would have helped. That's what happens when you qualify back there. I need to improve on that."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "It was one of those days we really needed to capitalize. I don't know what happened with the pit lane speed situation. I don't know if I double clicked the button or what, but I hit it the first time and we ended up violating the pit lane speed. We had to come through for a penalty and that put us back in the field. I had a spin there. We recovered from that to put the DHL car in 10th, narrowed the points margin to the points leader, but not enough. We'll have to get pretty creative here the rest of the year."

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM Honda): "I think it's a great finish since that first corner when Tony (Kanaan) spun around. I lost a lot of positions. We got them back, but we ended up losing the third position in our last pit stop. I'm really happy with the Cinsay car – it was really fast out there, so I'm happy with fourth. Last year I also finished fourth, in Indy Lights, now I've finished fourth in IndyCar and it's great points for the championship and for my rookie championship. Three more races until the season is finished and each time I'm more and more comfortable."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "We started eighth and shuffled our way back to 15th. In Turn 1 there was a crash and I managed to avoid it all, but the whole field passed me while I was avoiding it. I had to use a little grass. It was just the typical wrong place, wrong time again. Then we tried to get off sequence so we could get some clear track and run fast and a couple of cars jumped out ahead of me. We seemed to really struggle in traffic so after a couple of laps I ran off my tires and lost some pace again. It was just a tough day. We gambled on the last pit stop trying to pit early and pray for a yellow, which never came. It was very tough. We were going so slow trying to save fuel that the brakes were cold. There were a couple of times when I went to use the brakes and nearly crashed it because there was nothing there – the brakes were just stone cold. It's frustrating. I understand the strategy that we were trying to do, but it's just a frustrating end to what had been a good weekend."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "I got a good start, but I was forced to the outside with the crash there. I had to avoid it and went on the grass and when I came back on the track I think I tagged the back of Ryan Briscoe. That bent the front wing. So we struggled with that most of the race. We kept adding front wing to see if it would help. It was hard to tell how the strategies were playing out and I was just pushing hard to the end. It was a tough day as it can be at Mid-Ohio. It was hard to move forward throughout the day. The first stint the track just didn't have much grip at all and that made it hard. We tried the black Firestone tires to see if things would improve. But it was much better. Now we just have to gear up for the Sonoma track later this month. It's a track I really like."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "It feels good to get back up there with a top 10 result after a few disappointing finishes and I couldn't be happier for Dixie and the Team Target guys. We had some issues early in the race with the front wing after the incident with Tony and Marco on the first lap and we decided to stay out on the damaged wing for a while longer. We finally came in and changed it and then worked really hard to move through the field from the back. The No. 8 NTT DATA Chevrolet made some awesome passes to get up there and the team did a great job getting me back out there after the wing change. I still think NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing is knocking on the door of a win, so we'll keep our heads down and get ready for Milwaukee."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet): "Today was a great day for Chip Ganassi Racing and a huge congratulations to Dixon and the No. 9 Team Target crew for getting the first win of the season for the team. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys fought hard all day and came through to get a solid top-10 finish from starting 20th. So much credit for this seventh place finish has to go to the crew of the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet in pit lane. They got me spot on every stop and I just had to go out and go fast. I'm looking forward to our test in Sonoma next week and then the race in a few weekends in Milwaukee."

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Glad Chevrolet): "I went on the inside of Newgarden and it was really tight for both of us and I don't know if he saw me or not. I was all the way alongside him and then toward the middle of the corner he was actually a little bit ahead, so there was contact there and he touched my front wheel and I spun. I was in a tough position there. Marco didn't see me unfortunately and I feel bad for Marco, and I feel bad for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing boys. We had such a great streak of podiums and this was going to be a great race but it's just one of those things."

Results

Pos No Name Laps Diff Gap Pits Led ST Engine PTS
1 9 Scott Dixon 90 0.0000s 0.0000s 4 45 22 Chevy 440
2 11 Sebastien Bourdais 90 5.3864 5.3864 3 38 1 Chevy 400
3 27 James Hinchcliffe 90 7.3335 1.9471 3 2 17 Honda 366
4 34 Carlos Munoz 90 9.3551 2.0216 3 0 4 Honda 416
5 15 Graham Rahal 90 11.8508 2.4957 3 0 7 Honda 296
6 12 Will Power 90 15.9769 4.1261 3 0 6 Chevy 548
7 83 Charlie Kimball 90 16.8533 0.8764 5 0 20 Chevy 343
8 8 Ryan Briscoe 90 17.5020 0.6487 3 0 19 Chevy 368
9 77 Simon Pagenaud 90 18.6160 1.1140 3 0 9 Honda 484
10 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 90 20.0766 1.4606 4 2 5 Honda 485
11 2 Juan Pablo Montoya 90 23.1001 1.1912 4 0 11 Chevy 447
12 67 Josef Newgarden 90 22.0987 0.3621 4 3 2 Honda 307
13 20 Mike Conway 90 23.8352 1.7365 4 0 12 Chevy 235
14 7 Mikhail Aleshin 90 29.8060 5.9708 5 0 13 Honda 314
15 19 Justin Wilson 90 44.6415 14.8355 4 0 8 Honda 326
16 98 Jack Hawksworth 90 58.7211 14.0796 4 0 18 Honda 301
17 18 Carlos Huertas 90 62.5847 3.8636 5 0 10 Honda 278
18 14 Takuma Sato 89 1 LAPS 46.7628 4 0 21 Honda 246
19 3 Helio Castroneves 86 4 LAPS 3 LAPS 3 0 15 Chevy 544
20 17 Sebastian Saavedra 24 7 LAPS 2 LAPS 2 0 14 Chevy 239
21 10 Tony Kanaan 1.4791 0.5892 0 0 3 Chevy 389
22 25 Marco Andretti 12.1756 12.1756 0 0 16 Honda 383

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 108.140
Time of Race: 01:52:45.2043
Margin of victory: 5.3864 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 10 laps
Lead changes: 7 among 5 drivers
Lap Leaders:
Bourdais 1 – 25
Hunter-Reay 26 – 27
Bourdais 28 – 39
Dixon 40 – 61
Newgarden 62 – 64
Bourdais 65
Hinchcliffe 66 – 67
Dixon 68 – 90
Point Standings: Power 548, Castroneves 544, Hunter-Reay 485, Pagenaud 484, Montoya 447, Dixon 440, Munoz 416, Bourdais 400, Kanaan 389, Andretti 383

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