INDIANAPOLIS – Scott Dixon realizes it should have been his day; that he had the car, the team, the speed and the experience to win the 99th Indianapolis 500.
Dixon’s Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet started on the pole and led 11 times for 84 laps. Compare that to the driver who led the second most laps – Simon Pagenaud’s 35 – and it would be easy to conclude that Dixon dominated the race. But, in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the current aerodynamic packages and aero kits used on the IndyCars kept any leader from driving away from his nearest pursuers.
So the end of the Indianapolis 500 became a battle between the three best drivers in the series – Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power.
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With four laps to go, 2008 Indy 500 winner Dixon was still in great shape to make a race-winning move before the handling on his Chevrolet started to falter. Montoya and Power battled it out among Team Penske teammates and Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Charlie Kimball, passed Dixon for third place.
So here was Dixon standing in his pit area while Montoya was celebrating his second Indy 500 victory 15 years after claiming his first in 2000.
“I think we generally had a pretty restart there (on Lap 185) and I was really trying to pace it but when I really needed to go I couldn’t turn the car,” Dixon said. “We were fighting the car overheating and were trying to through different ignition maps and there was a lot going on. As the laps were winding down I was trying to make something happen but every time I came to the apex of Turn 2 or Turn 4 the front of the car wouldn’t hang on there.
“Congrats to Juan. He drove a hell of a race and a good comeback from where he came from and Charlie Kimball did a good job, too, getting up with third. The Target guys did a fantastic job all month but unfortunately we came away with fourth.”
On the final pit stop, Dixon said he should have gotten a little more front wing or an air adjustment to keep the front end of the car planted.
“I was OK when I was in second place but if I were third or fourth it was really hard to get the car to turn,” Dixon explained. “That is what caught us out.
“We’ll come back. This is a strong team but this one really hurts.”
Dixon thought the style of racing was very decent with the new aero kits and it created a great battle with 37 lead changes among 10 drivers.
“It wasn’t too much of a drag race and you could get a good pull if you got close enough in those few moments in the tow,” Dixon explained. “I thought the racing style was very good. It was good for the fans and it wasn’t too compact.”
With 36 career victories, Dixon is fifth on the all-time IndyCar victory list. Next up is fourth-place Al Unser with 39, Michael Andretti is third with 42 wins, Mario Andretti has 52 and A.J. Foyt is the all-time leader with 67 victories.
But it’s the losses that a driver often remembers.
“Anything less than a win here is horrible,” Dixon admitted. “It’s tough at this place if you don’t get it done.”
Be sure to catch Bruce Martin’s Honda IndyCar Report on RACEDAY on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday from 6-8 a.m. ET.