Scott Dixon was the class of the field all weekend at Belle Isle Park and he showed it to a strong race-day crowd here in Detroit as he paced all 60 laps on his way to his first IZOD Indy Car Series win of the season
Dixon survived two late restarts and fought off a charge from his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti to take the win, pulling away decisively from Franchitti to lead the final seven laps. The race was shortened from 90 to 60 laps at the halfway point due to large chunks of the racing surface coming loose and causing an unsafe situation.
Dixon held an 11-second lead over Power when the initial caution flag came out for the track, this caused when a hunk of the track caused James Hinchcliffe to stick his Andretti Autosport machine into the fence. Track marshals worked hard for more nearly two hours to try and patch all of the areas that were affecting the race, and the cars sat on Pit Lane as they fixed the track.
The win is Dixon’s first of the year, and the 28th of his IndyCar career, and gives TCGR a 1-2 finish for the second week in a row, while Simon Pagenaud made it a Honda podium sweep in the Chevrolet-sponsored event. Series points leader Will Power ended his day in the fourth spot, maintaining his advantage atop the standings as his closest competitors Helio Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe finished 17th and 21st respectively.
"It's a nice way to come back and it’s really important for Team Target, having their first-ever back-to-back 1-2 finish," Dixon said. "It was a fun day and a big day for us, moves us to second and fourth in the championship and we're definitely giving ourselves a chance to win the championship. That's all we can do is to grab every spot we can and try to catch Will."
Dixon rolled away from Power at the drop of the green flag as the polesitter led the first two cars out to a 16-second lead over third-placed Pagenaud. Meanwhile the field stacked up behind the KV Racing machine of E.J. Viso, who at one point had 11 cars piled up behind him as Ryan Hunter-Reay and the rest of the top ten could simply not find a way to get around the Venezuelan. Viso held up the crowd to such an extent that he was 36 seconds behind the leader when he finally pitted out of fourth place. That would be the end of his competitiveness as Viso restarted in 17th after the first round of stops.
After the long break, behind the three leaders, Tony Kanaan benefited from an early pit stop to gain track position, moving from 18th on the starting grid to restart fourth. Kanaan was the first driver to pit, and was at the end of his fuel run when the red flag came out, and he was able to pit under caution and stay in the front running pack. Franchitti restarted sixth after the red flag, and picked off two cars on the restart, then got two more on a subsequent restart three laps later, necessitated when Viso got turned and stalled after contact with Marco Andretti.
"Most of the passes I made were on restarts, but there was no way I was going to catch Dixie," Franchitti admitted. "I thought I might but he was pushing as hard as anybody I've seen. It was a great show to watch him bouncing off curbs and throwing sparks. My old friend Colin McRae would have been impressed watching Scott throw the car sideways."
Kanaan came home in the sixth spot, just behind Oriol Servia. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Charlie Kimball, Mike Conway and Alex Tagliani rounded out the top 10, Tagliani scoring a top-10 spot with a late pass of Marco Andretti. Graham Rahal had a top-10 run scuttled after the red flag as his car would not refire after the break, leaving him to finish 19th. Indy 500 antagonist Takuma Sato crashed on the same lap that claimed Hinchcliffe and finished 20th.