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Race report
IndyCar Detroit

IndyCar Detroit: Dixon wins after tire and fuel gamble in chaotic race

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon used more of his fuel-mileage magic and the correct tire strategy to win a chaotic dry-wet-dry Detroit Grand Prix.

The 43-year-old New Zealander started fifth, pushed through the murky cycle of pit strategy, and fended off late chargers while saving fuel to claim victory by 0.8567s around the 1.645-mile, nine-turn temporary street circuit.

It is the 58th win of Dixon’s IndyCar career.

He explained of his fuel strategy: “At about lap 50, I said, ‘I think we can make it on no more stops from this point if we do one now.’

“Obviously, we didn't go that risky, but the team called it perfectly. We were on the right strategy. And we won, man. How cool is that?”

Marcus Ericsson made a late charge from fourth in the final stint, but was unable to put together enough of an effort to climb higher than second for his best result with Andretti Global to date.

Marcus Armstrong, the 2023 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year, scored his career-best finish en route to his first podium to give Chip Ganassi Racing two of the top three spots in the running order.

Andretti Global’s Kyle Kirkwood finished fourth, ahead of Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi in fifth.

Despite a horrendous day with multiple collisions and penalties, Team Penske’s Will Power rebounded for sixth, ahead of Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward in seventh.

Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist, who made a race-high 26 on-track passes on the day, overcame his miserable 22nd-place starting spot to finish eighth.

AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci was ninth, with Arrow McLaren rookie Theo Pourchaire collecting his first-ever IndyCar top 10 in 10th.

The race featured eight cautions for 47 laps of the 100-lap race.

Tale of the race

Pole-sitter Colton Herta led the field to the green flag but trouble struck shortly after as Lundgaard forced a three-wide move, going to the inside of Pourchaire, who was on the inside of Power. The situation led to contact, with Power getting tagged entering Turn 3 and creating a traffic jam that included Ferrucci, O’Ward, Rossi and the Dale Coyne Racing duo of Tristan Vautier and Jack Harvey.

All cars continued on, with Power receiving a rear wing change. Rosenqvist also pitted due to suffering a puncture during the sequence of events.

Palou, who started second, went from pressuring Herta after the lap 4 restart for the lead to suddenly losing the rear grip with his used alternates and going into a freefall down to seventh, dove to pit lane on lap 12 and switched to fresh alternates.

Lundgaard’s charge from 11th went as high as fourth before his alternates also started to go off and limit his progress, falling back one spot before diving to pit lane for used primary tires on lap 16.

And he caught a break with the timing as the caution came out at the same time; Ferrucci tagged the back of Helio Castroneves entering Turn 5, sending him into a spin. Simpson was also collected in the melee and suffered a broken front wing, but all three were able to continue.

Another caution came out on lap 33 when Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin crashed in Turn 1 while running second. Pressed against the tire barrier on the outside of the corner, the Indy 500 polewinner fell two laps down as his car was retrieved.

Herta pitted from the lead on lap 35, with Lundgaard assuming the top spot, ahead of Palou, Canapino and Power. Newgarden also pitted but suffered a fueling issue, which forced the team to change out the hose after the stop.

Then a rain shower led the majority of the field to swap to wet weather tires over the next few laps, but Lundgaard, Kirkwood and Dixon were among those that opted to remain on their respective used primary slicks. And that proved to be a pivotal call for track position as the rain let up and the track began to dry out.

When the race finally restarted on lap 41, Kirkwood propelled to the lead past Lundgaard as they approached Turn 3. Meanwhile, Rossi pitted to switch off the wets to the primaries ahead of the green flag.

Moments later, Power made a move to the inside of Romain Grosjean heading into Turn 3 and the two made contact, with Power pushing ahead and hitting Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, who was on the outside of the two drivers.

The result left VeeKay parked the wrong way at the exit of the corner and brought out yet another caution. Power was forced to drop to the rear for avoidable contact for his part in triggering the earlier crash.

This caution gave Lundgaard an opportunity to pit, along with the drivers that were on wet tires to switch back to slicks.

Another restart on lap 46 was once again halted by another caution, with this one coming after Herta, who was mired in traffic, made a late dive on Palou entering Turn 5 but locked up and drove through the corner into the runoff. He lost a lap in the process of getting refired.

It was rinse and repeat on lap 53 as another restart was interrupted with contact in Turn 3 bringing out a caution. Lundgaard charged into the corner and piled into Grosjean, climbing halfway up his sidepod and blocking part of the track in front of Armstrong and rookie Linus Lundqvist. Lundgaard received a drive-through penalty as a result.

The yellow flag came out once more on lap 64, which set up the last round of pit stops for Kirkwood, Palou and Rossi, which put Dixon, who pitted on the previous caution with 44 laps to go, in the lead.

Dixon led the field to the restart on lap 70, ahead of rookie team-mate Armstrong and Vautier. The racing didn’t last long as Newgarden, who served a drive through penalty after running over an airhose and nearly hitting pit crew members during an earlier pit stop, lost the rear of his car entering Turn 3.

Palou was blocked by Newgarden sitting sideways across the track, but both were able to continue on.

Then, mercifully, some green flag running happened when Dixon led the field once more to the restart on lap 74. Kirkwood made quick work of Vautier and moved into third and made a failed attempt to get by Armstrong for second.

Fuel conservation was fresh on Dixon’s mind as he feathered the throttle in corners while holding a 3.3s lead over his team-mate with 20 laps to go. Armstrong did eat into Dixon’s lead the next two laps, taking out a sizable chunk to be 2.4s back.

Meanwhile, Newgarden’s day of misery continued as a tap of the wall with the left-rear out of Turn 4 put him back on pit road for repairs with 18 laps left.

Kirkwood began to lose ground to Armstrong, fading to nearly 2s back of him and more than 5s from Dixon with 14 laps to go. And Kirkwood’s struggles began to show even more when team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who started ninth, passed him in Turn 3 to move up to third.

With 10 laps to go, Armstrong continued to make up ground on Dixon and was 1.6s behind. Dixon’s conservation mode allowed Herta unlap himself and remained in front of the six-time IndyCar Series champion.

The gap between the top two tightened to 1.1s with seven laps to go, with Dixon then calling over the radio for Herta to move aside as they were both Honda drivers.

Ericsson, Herta’s team-mate, was able to also close on the Dixon and Armstrong to make it a three-car battle for the win with six laps left. The following lap saw Dixon make a lunging pass by Herta entering Turn 3. Herta then circled back to dive down pit road to not impede the other frontrunners, including his team-mate, in the closing laps.

Ericsson made a push for second into Turn 3 with four laps to go, pressing to the outside of Armstrong, who held the spot with some stout defending.

Dixon was able to widen the gap to 2.5s with two laps to go while the runner-up spot was being contested. Moments later, Ericsson made an inside pass on Armstrong to move into second and push toward Dixon.

Dixon held a 1.8s lead when he took the white flag, with Ericsson charging hard but was not able to muster a proper challenge after only chopping out 1s of the lead.

   
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Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval Mph Pits Points Retirement
1 New Zealand S. Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 9 100

2:06'07.9684

  92.177 2    
2 Sweden M. Ericsson Andretti Global 28 100

+0.8567

2:06'08.8251

0.8567 93.569 2    
3 New Zealand M. Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing 11 100

+4.9129

2:06'12.8813

4.0562 89.220 4    
4 United States K. Kirkwood Andretti Global 27 100

+6.1249

2:06'14.0933

1.2120 91.894 2    
5 United States A. Rossi Arrow McLaren 7 100

+8.9532

2:06'16.9216

2.8283 91.540 4    
6 Australia W. Power Team Penske 12 100

+10.1045

2:06'18.0729

1.1513 90.616 7    
7 Mexico P. O'Ward Arrow McLaren 5 100

+11.4821

2:06'19.4505

1.3776 91.821 4    
8 Sweden F. Rosenqvist Meyer Shank Racing 60 100

+15.4998

2:06'23.4682

4.0177 91.571 5    
9 United States S. Ferrucci A.J. Foyt Enterprises 14 100

+18.2882

2:06'26.2566

2.7884 92.324 6    
10 France T. Pourchaire Arrow McLaren 6 100

+18.8912

2:06'26.8596

0.6030 93.183 4    
11 Denmark C. Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 45 100

+23.3158

2:06'31.2842

4.4246 77.720 5    
12 Argentina A. Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing 78 100

+27.3674

2:06'35.3358

4.0516 91.476 4    
13 Brazil P. Fittipaldi Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 30 100

+28.3686

2:06'36.3370

1.0012 91.313 4    
14 Netherlands R. van Kalmthout Ed Carpenter Racing 21 100

+29.4122

2:06'37.3806

1.0436 90.893 4    
15 United States G. Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 15 100

+30.1565

2:06'38.1249

0.7443 90.389 4    
16 Spain A. Palou Chip Ganassi Racing 10 100

+39.0438

2:06'47.0122

8.8873 90.520 5    
17 United Kingdom J. Harvey Dale Coyne Racing 18 100

+46.3377

2:06'54.3061

7.2939 91.836 5    
18 France T. Vautier Dale Coyne Racing 51 99

+1 Lap

2:06'20.3437

1 Lap 92.777 5    
19 United States C. Herta Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian 26 99

+1 Lap

2:06'33.2229

12.8792 91.147 5    
20 New Zealand S. McLaughlin Team Penske 3 99

+1 Lap

2:06'40.7466

7.5237 90.213 5    
21
R. Robb A.J. Foyt Enterprises
41 99

+1 Lap

2:06'54.9977

14.2511 91.591 4    
22 Sweden L. Lundqvist Chip Ganassi Racing 8 99

+1 Lap

2:06'55.2725

0.2748 91.771 6    
23 France R. Grosjean Juncos Hollinger Racing 77 97

+3 Laps

2:06'39.1904

2 Laps 91.037 4    
24 United States K. Simpson Chip Ganassi Racing 4 96

+4 Laps

2:06'56.8918

1 Lap 90.911 8    
25 Brazil H. Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing 66 95

+5 Laps

2:07'07.6110

1 Lap 89.357 6    
26 United States J. Newgarden Team Penske 2 94

+6 Laps

2:07'02.1853

1 Lap 93.250 8    
27
C. Rasmussen Ed Carpenter Racing
20 24

+76 Laps

1:52'14.4086

70 Laps 1.186 1   Mechanical

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