LEXINGTON, Ohio – It would be unfair to term Scott Dixon’s victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio as “Worst to First” because when it comes to racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Dixon is the all-time best.
Dixon started last in the 22-car field but his Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team made the right calls at the right time in terms of fuel stops and tire designation to get Dixon out to a commanding lead.
Once out front, the three-time IndyCar Series champion was able to “massively save fuel” and make it to the finish 5.3864-seconds ahead of Sebastien Bourdais to win at Mid-Ohio for the fifth time in his career – all in the last eight races at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course.
Prior to Sunday’s victory, no winner at Mid-Ohio had started worst than eighth – Al Unser, Jr. in 1995 and Juan Pablo Montoya in 1999.
It was the 34th IndyCar victory of his career tying him with Unser for sixth on the all-time list. Dixon’s previous Mid-Ohio wins were in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. It was also Chip Ganassi Racing’s 10th win at Mid-Ohio as the team continued it’s winning streak to six races which includes Dixon’s wins beginning in 2009, Dario Franchitti in 2010 and Charlie Kimball in 2013.
There is simply no category that Dixon is the “worst” at Mid-Ohio and the fact he started at the back of the pack was a spinout during Saturday’s qualification session on a rainy wet track that wiped out his fastest two laps and left him with no official speed.
The three-time IndyCar champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner had plenty of speed in his Dallara-Chevrolet on Sunday but also had the right touch to save fuel over throughout the race to make it to the finish without enough fuel to take a victory lap.
“It was very close,” Dixon said. “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 finally got back into the winner’s circle coming from last position.
“It was great pit stops from everybody on Team Target and our strategy was just spot on we got that yellow. Long, hard fourth day but huge thanks to Chevy and obviously we got fantastic fuel mileage here, too.”
Dixon had made his way all the way up to the lead after starting last and led the field to a restart on lap 43. With drivers battling for position behind him Dixon was able to open a gap over pole-winner Sebastien Bourdais. But Josef Newgarden drove with a determined pace and made his way up to second before closing in on Dixon.
Newgarden’s bit at victory, however, would be foiled when he pitted on lap 67 but ran over the air-hose in his pit area knocking one of his crew members to the grounds. IndyCar officials assessed Newgarden with a drive-through penalty for a pit-safety violation.
Dixon’s team pitted twice in the early stages of the race and once committed to a different pit stop strategy Dixon received an assist when Ryan Hunter-Reay brought out the second of two caution periods on lap 37 when he spun out in turn 12. That caution period lasted until lap 42 and gave Dixon a chance to make it to the finish when he made his final pit stop on lap 62.
Everyone else would have to pit after Dixon and by then he had a wide lead by knowing how to feather the throttle with just the right touch.