IndyCar: Dixon survives wild day at Portland to finish fifth and increase his points lead
The saying goes that sometimes you’d rather be lucky than good. Well, on Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland, Scott Dixon certainly had luck on his side.
The luck came in multiple areas. Dixon was caught up on a Lap 1 pileup sparked by contact between James Hinchcliffe and Zach Veach - Marco Andretti notably went airborne and flipped in the incident.
“I thought it was pretty bad. I couldn’t see anything. Once I got off in the dirt, it was just dust everywhere. And I kept getting hit and hit, and I’m like ‘Oh God, this is not gonna be good. Surely the car ix gonna be in a bit of trouble,’” Dixon told NBCSN’s Kevin Lee after the race.
However, while Dixon did slide off into the dirt in the aftermath, he somehow did not suffer any damage. He was also able to keep his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda running, found reverse, and rejoined the field without losing a lap.
“The car was still running, I selected reverse, and had enough room to back out. And once the truck moved I was able to pull away,” Dixon explained.
Luck again turned in his favor on Lap 56 when, following a penalty for a pit speed violation, a caution flew for a spinning Zach Veach. The yellow destroyed the strategy for drivers like Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi, who were running 1-2 at the time, but played right into the hands of Dixon.
While Newgarden and Rossi pitted under yellow and fell back to 16th and 17th, Dixon stayed out to regain track position - he restarted in fourth on Lap 61.
With the whole of the field needing one more pit stop to make the finish, Dixon suddenly found himself in position to pad his points lead over Rossi.
Indeed, Dixon ultimately soldiered home to finish an impressive fifth, and with Rossi only able to climb up to eighth at the checkered flag, Dixon increased his points lead to 29 ahead of the season-ending INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma.
“Huge day for the team,” Dixon added. “This feels like a win for us in these circumstances. Lucky to keep the car going. Then we had a drive-through penalty with speeding on pit lane, which must’ve been a technical glitch because I definitely turned it off after - it was nothing that I did. Crazy, crazy!
Still, Dixon is not putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. He acknowledged that, with double points in play at Sonoma, 29 points is not a big gap, and Rossi is still very much in the thick of it.
“Obviously, going into Sonoma, (29 points) is not huge amount,” Dixon finished. “We’ll have to see how it affected (Will Power) as well. But, just really happy for the team. These guys and girls have worked so hard. I’m just stoked for them.”