By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin — It seems that no matter what happens to Scott Dixon on the first lap of a road course race, he’ll always find a way to get a great result if he’s not out of the race.
Such was the case in Sunday’s REV Group Grand Prix at Road America as the five time NTT IndyCar Series champion had first lap contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay that sent him down the running order.
No action from @IndyCar Race Control on this incident involving Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) June 23, 2019
The INDYCAR stewards investigated the incident but took no further action. Upon seeing the replay for the first time post-race, Dixon asked if Hunter-Reay was penalized but found out that all close calls on Sunday had no further action taken.
“As long as it stays that way, I think for us all, all we try to do is make sure we know how we can race,” said Dixon. “I asked specifically if we can do what Rossi did last year where he got on the corner and just ran the other guy off at the driver’s meeting and they said it was fine so I guess it’s pretty much have at it.”
Dixon started 12th and ended the first lap in 23rd (last) position. However, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver managed to climb his way to 10th place after the first round of pit stops.
“I think we were almost ten seconds behind the field and we had to try and catch up,” said Dixon. “It’s racing, man. You get into these issues where you get the accordion effect. Got tapped from behind, spun us around and we tried to make the best of the day to be honest and a fifth place was pretty good. Luckily we’re at a track where you can use the strategy a little bit but you can pass if you’ve got a fast car.”
Dixon gained two more spots after the second round of pit stops but made his final moves in the dwindling laps. The 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner got around James Hinchcliffe for sixth and Colton Herta for fifth in the last few laps. That determination has helped minimize the bad days for the championship but Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden are still the drivers to beat at the top of the championship table and both finished ahead of Dixon.
With five wins between the two of them to Dixon’s sole victory at Detroit, Dixon currently sits 94 points behind points leader Newgarden. Rossi is second in points, just seven away from the Tennessee native.
“I think we’re at a point in the season where we need to make a run and when the two leaders are taking all the points it makes it harder to close the gap so it’s frustrating,” said Dixon of race winner Rossi and third-place finisher Newgarden. “We’ve really got nothing to lose, even some moves like when I went around the outside of Marco in Turn 12, stuff like that I’d probably wait a lap or the next corner but we’ve got nothing to lose right now, we’re 94 points back. It’s kind of a fun way to race, we’ve been this far back in previous championships and come close or won. The top two, Josef and Rossi are definitely doing a fantastic job and credit to them.”
Next up is Toronto, a track at which Dixon has won at three times. The Honda Indy Toronto is July 14th.