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IndyCar Detroit

Ganassi aces content with recovery drives in Detroit

Scott Dixon, Alex Palou and Marcus Ericsson all expressed relief at a “good points day” as they remained firmly in the championship hunt.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Dixon, who started on Firestone’s primary tires, lost two positions on the opening lap and dropped to 11th after aggressive passes from those on alternate tires, which come up to temperature more swiftly.

But after Power, also on primaries, outbraked him for 10th on Lap 5, Dixon kept him firmly in sight and the pair of them, now with Palou on primaries also in close attendance, carved through to the front, and were running 1-2-3 by Lap 14.

Unlike the leader, Dixon and Palou opted to run their alternate tires in the middle stint, making their reds last for 16 and 17 laps respectively, and only losing one place, to the primary-tired three-stopping Alexander Rossi. It resulted in Dixon's first podium of the season.

“Honestly, going into the race being one of the lucky few that started on the blacks, you could kinda watch it play out,” said Dixon. “Kudos to Will, he drove aggressively at the start and jumped us, he was on the same strategy, and Rossi did a really good job as well, especially on those reds at the start.

“It just feels good to be back on the podium, it’s been a little bit… Hopefully we can get on a bit of a roll here. It was a fun race, and the tire deg was interesting but not too bad.

Regarding Indy, which he led for 95 laps but lost due to a drive through penalty for going 1mph over the pitspeed limit, Dixon said: “I can’t change anything about last week. I was gutted man, mostly gutted for the effort from the team.

“All we can do now is try our hardest and try and get some wins.”

Palou, who had drifted off the tail of Dixon while they were on red tires, saw Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward emerge from their second stops ahead of him, but he seemed more than content with his day’s work, having come through from 18th on the grid.

“Today was great, today was amazing,” said Ganassi’s defending champion who is fourth in points but only 14 behind leader Power. “Super-happy with our race, with the car, with the crew, everything.

“Unfortunately yesterday was not our day. Starting 18th and not having any yellows makes your day a bit harder, but we did the job. The job was to try and get up front. It was a shame I couldn’t get those two positions behind Dixon; I thought we had the potential.

“But yeah, super-happy. Congrats to Power, he did a hell of a drive, and we’ll go back at Road America.”

Unusually for the Belle Isle track, there were no caution periods, except the very last lap, when Rinus VeeKay crashed, but Palou said that yellows weren’t part of the #10 team’s pre-race plans.

“Our strategy was not depending on cautions,” he said. “You cannot really make a strategy depending on cautions. One or two would have helped us, but it was fun.

“And it was great to see we can do almost a full race distance at Detroit without a yellow; just two corners short!”

Indy 500 winner Ericsson lost his slot at the top of the points table, but is only three behind Power, so was reasonably content with his run to seventh

“It was an OK day today,” said the Swede. “We started eighth today and starting on the red tires we knew was going to be difficult because they didn’t last for very long. In the race, they lasted a bit better than we expected and I was trying to save them as much as possible. With hindsight maybe I was saving them a bit too much. We lost a bit too much time on that first stint.

“Stint two was good, we were catching the leaders and the group ahead of us. Last stint, yeah, good – catching up, doing good lap times but stuck behind Simon [Pagenaud] and struggling a bit with the balance. So an OK day, not much more than that.

“I think it was a good championship day for us, scored some decent points… We’re in the fight, we’re going to Road America which is an amazing track and I’ve been good there before, so confident of that.”

Ericsson graciously added that he was pleased for Power, who was leading Detroit Race 1 last year until his car failed to re-fire following a red flag period. Ericsson was the beneficiary on that occasion.

“I’m happy for Will,” he said. “He deserved it last year – you know what happened last year in Detroit. That was very tough for him – good for me! – but I felt bad for him so it’s nice to see him celebrate in the fountain. So well done to him.”

 

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