By Aaron Bearden, Open Wheel Editor
DETROIT — In the heart of Chevrolet country, it was Honda’s Scott Dixon that found championship form.
Dixon took the lead from Marco Andretti through the first pit cycle and fended off a late charge from Ryan Hunter-Reay to claim Race 1 of the first Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.
The win was the first for the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion in 2018, and came after his first laps led on the year. It also tied him with Michael Andretti for third on the all-time indy car wins list with 42 career triumphs.
Andretti led the field to the green flag to start the 70-lap race after claiming is first pole since July 2013 at Pocono Raceway, but Dixon kept within range of the Pennsylvanian from the opening circuit. The New Zealander ran within two seconds of Andretti for the entire opening stint. When Andretti Autosport suffered a slow stop with Andretti’s No. 98 on Lap 23, Dixon’s No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing crew took advantage to pass Andretti in the pits and give the veteran what would ultimately be the race lead.
Graham Rahal and Hunter-Reay combined to pace Laps 24 through 31 – the first after starting on the harder black tires and staying out later, and the latter as a result of his three-stop strategy – but it was Dixon that assumed the outright lead on Lap 32. He would relinquish it just one more time on Lap 35 for the rest of the event.
A group of late cautions for crashes with Rahal and IndyCar newcomer Santino Ferrucci brought the field even on tire strategies over the race’s closing stint, but Dixon was undeterred. The 37-year-old kept Hunter-Reay at bay over two restarts and the final green-flag run to earn a 1.8249-second victory.
Hunter-Reay followed in second to tally his first second podium of the season. Alexander Rossi used a late overtake of Andretti to round out the podium.
Andretti and Takuma Sato rounded out the top five, with Ed Jones, Will Power, Robert Wickens, Josef Newgarden and Spencer Pigot completing the top 10.
The returning James Hinchcliffe overcame an early drive-thru penalty for a pit exit violation to finish 11th in his first race since failing to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Ferrucci ended his IndyCar debut in 22nd.
Rossi leaves the first race of the Detroit doubleheader with a four-point advantage over Dixon in the standings. Power sits seven points back in third, with Newgarden 21 points behind in fourth.
The IndyCar field will return to Belle Isle Park for Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on Sunday.
- Scott Dixon
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Alexander Rossi
- Marco Andretti
- Takuma Sato
- Ed Jones
- Will Power
- Robert Wickens
- Josef Newgarden
- Spencer Pigot
- James Hinchcliffe
- Zach Veach
- Sebastien Bourdais
- Tony Kanaan
- Matheus Leist
- Jordan King
- Simon Pagenaud
- Gabby Chaves
- Charlie Kimball
- Max Chilton
- Rene Binder
- Santino Ferrucci
- Graham Rahal