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Scott Dixon wins 4th Detroit Grand Prix; first one on downtown streets 'feels awesome'

David Goricki, The Detroit News on

Published in Auto Racing

DETROIT — Scott Dixon avoided the chaos on the narrow, tight, bumpy 1.7-mile, 9-turn course on the streets of downtown to win the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.

Detroit always has been kind to Dixon, who won on Belle Isle in 2012, ’18 and ’19 and now adds an impressive victory in a race which returned on the streets of downtown last year.

Dixon, 43, a six-time NTT IndyCar series champion (2003, ’08, 2013, ’15, ’18, 2020), also took the points lead (216-198) over his Chip Ganassi teammate Alex Palou in his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

Yes, Dixon and Honda played villain to race sponsor Chevrolet with the first four finishers running in Hondas. Alexander Rossi of Arrow McLaren was the top Chevrolet driver, finishing fifth.

So, what made this win so special for Dixon, who started fifth?

“It’s just always the variables, trying to stay out of trouble, trying to keep the car on track,” Dixon said. “We had rain all over the track out there, and you’re not really sure how the transitions are going to fall or even the strategies.”

So, did Dixon enjoy winning on yet another venue in Detroit?

“The new one feels awesome man,” Dixon said. “It’s cool. It’s a new venue and it’s gone back to historic years of downtown city racing. I want to say a huge thanks to all the fans. Any win is special, but it’s kind of cool to win at two different places.”

The race had nine cautions for 47 laps in the 100-lap event.

It was Dixon’s 58 th career win, putting him just nine shy of A.J. Foyt’s record 67.

Palou, the defending race champion and defending series champion as well, had his chance of victory come to an end when Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden, who repeated as Indy 500 champion last weekend and running fourth with 30 laps remaining, clipped Kyle Kirkwood’s No. 27 Honda, causing Palou to slow down behind them.

Palou finished 16 th, forcing him to lose the points lead.

Newgarden’s mishap sent out the ninth caution with 47 laps run under yellow or more than half of the race at the time.

Newgarden’s No. 2 Hitachi Astemo Chevrolet later would hit the wall, causing left rear damage and forcing him to the pits. He finished 26 th in the 27-car field.

The final 27 laps were run under green, and Dixon was fantastic, avoiding mistakes and making a pass on Colton Herta out of Turn 3 with five laps remaining to punch his ticket to Victory Lane, as Herta was trying to slow him down so his Andretti Global teammate Marcus Ericsson could close in on him.

Ericsson finished second, followed by Dixon’s teammate, Marcus Armstrong, Kirkwood and Alexander Rossi.

“Going into this weekend after the month we had, it was tough mentally,” said Ericsson, who was involved in a first-lap accident in the Indy 500. “That month of May was draining. We worked so hard and got so little, but I think the whole group has really come together well. We all talked together and said let’s reset. The car felt great all sessions really and today we showed in the race that we had the pace to fight up front all day. It was not an easy race, so everyone did good decisions to get us on the podium.”

 

And, on all the wrecks?

“I think people are driving a bit reckless on the restarts,” Ericsson said. “Obviously, I haven’t seen the race because I was driving it, but I felt like in my mirrors every time on the reset it was like four or five (wide) in my mirrors, and I was just praying that I wouldn’t get hit.”

Armstrong earned his career-best finish in his second season.

Kirkwood felt he had a shot at a win.

“It’s hard to say you’re disappointed with a fourth,” Kirkwood said. “We led a lot of laps and had a really good shot of winning this race. Obviously, Dixon got a little lucky with the cautions that came out. I was happy with the 27 Auto Nation car. It was a strong all day and it gave us a shot at winning this thing.”

Will Power finished sixth, followed by Pato O’Ward in seventh.

Herta started from the pole in his No. 26 Gainbridge Honda for Andretti Global and led the first 31 laps, building close to a three-second lead on Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin, who crashed into the tire barrier on Lap 32.

Rain drops soon followed with drivers allowed to continue in rainy conditions on a street course with them opting to go to rain tires.

On Lap 37, Herta was sliding around during the caution and entered the pits for rain tires.

Some drivers stayed with their regular tires, including Linus Lundqvist in his No. 8 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Kirkwood— Herta’s teammate— and Dixon— Lundqvist’s teammate, along with Ericsson.

On Lap 41, racing resumed, and Kirkwood overtook Lundqvist for the lead with Dixon taking third.

Herta’s chances of a victory came to an end on Lap 46 after yet another caution, when he failed to navigate a turn and went into the runoff, crashing into the tire barrier, causing the sixth caution of the day.

It didn’t take long for the cautions to come out with Power colliding with Arrow McLaren rookie Theo Pourchaire on the opening lap, forcing a six-car pileup, including O’Ward who finished second in last weekend’s Indy 500.

Power and O’Ward had to play catchup the rest of the day. And, they did a great job to finish in the top 10.

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