By David Morgan, Associate Editor
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Sunday at Road America was another entry in the Book of Dixon, with the six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion charging from deep in the field to a fourth-place result.
The trouble started for Scott Dixon in practice on Saturday, when he and Will Power collided in Turn 12, leading to a heavy shunt into the wall. After a brief shoving match between the two and having their cars towed back to the paddock, it was determined that Dixon would have to go to a back-up car for qualifying and the race.
Though his team was able to get the back-up car prepared in time for qualifying, Dixon struggled to get up to speed with his new machine, timing in 23rd fastest, providing an uphill battle heading into Sunday.
While the odds were against him and his team, a glimmer of hope appeared in Sunday morning warm-up practice, where Dixon was second-fastest during the half-hour long session.
Heading into the race, that momentum was crucial for Dixon and the team as they methodically worked their way forward, breaking into the top-10 by lap 21.
13 laps later, Dixon had cracked the top-five, where he would stay for the remainder of the day, aside from a brief stint outside of it after making his final pit stop.
Eventually, the veteran reached fourth-place, with a podium finish in sight. The only driver standing in his way of making that a reality was Pato O’Ward.
Though both he and O’Ward have had their issues this season, namely their run-in at Long Beach, Dixon minded his P’s and Q’s and waited for the opportunity to strike. However, that chance never came and he gladly settled for fourth when the checkered flag flew.
“One spot away from a podium, which would have been nice, but huge credit to the PNC Bank No. 9 crew and Honda as well,” Dixon said. “It was definitely a day where you needed drivability and trying to look after those Firestones and also fuel mileage. It got a little rough there on the back a couple of times. Pit strategy went the way it should have.
“It would have helped us a bit if they hadn’t waited for that Grosjean crash. They keep doing that. It would have benefitted us a lot more.
“Congrats to the 10 car (Palou). He’s having a hell of a championship right now and definitely a great lead there going on. It’s time to get to work and see if we can all start closing that gap.”
Even though he wasn’t able to get past O’Ward to get on the podium, Dixon still fired a warning shot across the bow making it known that he hasn’t forgotten about Long Beach and the payback that is still to come.
“That day will come. We’ll see,” Dixon said with a smile. “There’s a time and place for it. We were trying to get close. He had more OT than us. It is what it is. For the most part, we try and race as clean as possible depending on what it comes down to.”