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Race report
IndyCar Laguna Seca

IndyCar Laguna Seca: Dixon wins chaotic season finale

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won a wild final round of the IndyCar Series at Laguna Seca on Sunday, despite a penalty for a collision on the opening lap.

The six-time champion kept his head when many around him lost theirs, beating Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) and his champion team-mate Alex Palou after a race punctuated by eight caution periods caused by a series of wildly over-optimistic lunges and collisions that had a definite end-of-term feel.

Poleman Felix Rosenqvist (Arrow McLaren) led the 27-car field to green on his final start with the team, before Christian Lundgaard (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) clipped McLaughlin in the battle for second at the Andretti Hairpin, triggering a multi-car collision further back between Marcus Armstrong (Chip Ganassi Racing) and RLL duo Juri Vips and Graham Rahal that took out Penske’s Josef Newgarden – who was pinballed multiple times into the gravel.

“Wrong place, wrong time there,” said Rahal. “We hit Juri, we hit Josef – I told the medical team I’ve seen more of them than I’ve seen my wife this year.”

Ganassi’s Scott Dixon made a late engine change, which dropped him to 11th, but he smacked Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing) on the exit of Turn 2. Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti) also took damage.

At the restart on lap 7, Rosenqvist led Palou, Will Power (Penske), Pato O’Ward (Arrow McLaren) and Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport, who appeared to jump the initial start but it wasn’t called for it).

Palou grabbed the lead at the end of that lap, barging Rosenqvist down to third behind Power – who was the only car on alternate tires in the top 10. The race soon went yellow again, when Newgarden spun all on his own into the tirewall on the exit of Turn 4.

At the restart on lap 12, Rosenqvist shoved his way past Power at Turn 2 and took O’Ward with him. Power clung to fourth, as Scott Dixon (Ganassi) and Lundgaard were pinged for contact on the opening lap and served drive-through penalties.

Herta held fifth from Romain Grosjean (Andretti), with Agustin Canapino (Juncos Hollinger Racing) up to seventh from 19th on the grid. McLaughlin recovered in 12th after his trip to the gravel and got rid of his alternate rubber.

Palou led Rosenqvist by 9s by one quarter distance, with O’Ward in third well clear of a battling Power and Herta. Palou endured a big scare when Helio Castroneves – in his final fulltime IndyCar race for Meyer Shank Racing – spun at Turn 2, then rejoined and half spun at Turn 3, where he rejoined across the bows of the race leader.

Rosenqvist pitted from second for sticker alternates on lap 28, with O’Ward in a lap later and sticking with primary tires.

Rosenqvist was then punted into a spin at Turn 2 by Marcus Ericsson (Ganassi), cutting his tire that caused a second spin into the gravel at Turn 3, and brought out another caution. Palou dived into the pits, rejoining on another set of primaries, ahead of Power. Herta had to take emergency service and tumbled down to 18th.

An attempt at a restart on lap 27 failed when Benjamin Pedersen (AJ Foyt Racing) was punted by Power and clipped Callum Ilott (JHR) into a spin too. Moments later, Santino Ferrucci’s Foyt car got sent into a wild moment at Turn 1 by a punt from McLaughlin, who needed a new front wing.

The race restarted on lap 42 with Palou leading O’Ward, Grosjean and Canapino, after Lundgaard (11th) and Dixon (13th) pitted. Grosjean ran wide on the exit of Turn 2, coughing up third to Canapino and fourth to David Malukas (Dale Coyne Racing). Grosjean regained fourth by divebombing Malukas at the The Corkscrew.

O’Ward pitted on lap 58, seconds before Malukas clashed with Andretti’s Devlin DeFrancesco at Turn 3, causing another caution. That proved disastrous for Palou, who pitted under yellow and fell from the lead back to 15th.

Another calamitous restart attempt led to Ferrucci flying through the air over the back of Palou and into the gravel at the final corner and a sixth caution. Tom Blomqvist (MSR) was also forced to a halt when he connected with DeFrancesco.

That led to more pitstops and a race off pitlane between Dixon and team-mate Armstrong that Dixon won.

The next abysmal restart attempt was the same story with different players: Ericsson connected with team-mate Armstrong, after the Kiwi had been clipped into a spin by Pedersen.

O’Ward led at the restart with 23 laps to go, ahead of Grosjean, DeFrancesco, Canapino, Callum Ilott (who’d spun in the pit entry not too many tours ago), Palou and Dixon. Grosjean passed O’Ward into Turn 2 to hit the front, while Palou had a terrible exit from the final turn, allowing Dixon to rocket up to third, followed through by McLaughlin.

A couple of laps later, the yellow flew again as Castroneves took out a gearbox-troubled Herta at Turn 3. Grosjean and O’Ward pitted under yellow, dropping to the mid-teens, promoting Dixon to the lead from McLaughlin, Ilott and Palou.

It restarted with 17 laps to go, with Dixon going early and spreading the field out.

Power and Rossi passed Canapino, who was carrying front wing damage, to run fifth and sixth respectively.

Palou passed Ilott for third with 12 laps remaining, and Power demoted him further with four laps to go after he went off at Turn 9.

Lundgaard, Armstrong, O’Ward and Hunter-Reay also overtook the hamstrung Canapino, who tumbled down the order, to fill the top 10 places. Lundgaard then grabbed sixth from Rossi at the penultimate corner.

Read Also:
Cla Driver  Car / Engine   Laps   Gap 
9 Scott Dixon Dallara/Honda 95  
3 Scott McLaughlin Dallara/Chevrolet 95 7.3180
10 Alex Palou Dallara/Honda 95 10.6111
12 Will Power Dallara/Chevrolet 95 14.6669
77 Callum Ilott Dallara/Chevrolet 95 21.1289
45 C.Lundgaard Dallara/Honda 95 21.3750
7 Alexander Rossi Dallara/Chevrolet 95 22.2153
11 Marcus Armstrong Dallara/Honda 95 27.1310
5 Patricio O'Ward Dallara/Chevrolet 95 28.3907
10  20 Ryan Hunter-Reay Dallara/Chevrolet 95 32.3407
11  28 Romain Grosjean Dallara/Honda 95 39.0207
12  51 Sting Ray Robb Dallara/Honda 95 43.9875
13  06 H.Castroneves Dallara/Honda 95 58.3175
14  78 Agustín Canapino Dallara/Chevrolet 95 1'01.1843
15  8 Marcus Ericsson Dallara/Honda 94  
16  55 B.Pedersen Dallara/Chevrolet 94  
17  14 Santino Ferrucci Dallara/Chevrolet 94  
18  21 R.van Kalmthout Dallara/Chevrolet 93  
19  6 Felix Rosenqvist Dallara/Chevrolet 93  
20  18 David Malukas Dallara/Honda 93  
21  29 D.Defrancesco Dallara/Honda 91  
22  2 Josef Newgarden Dallara/Chevrolet 91  
23  26 Colton Herta Dallara/Honda 80  
24  30 Jüri Vips Dallara/Honda 71  
25  27 Kyle Kirkwood Dallara/Honda 65  
26  60 Tom Blomqvist Dallara/Honda 61  
27  15 Graham Rahal Dallara/Honda 0  

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